Why I Reject Religion – Part 2

The same house with the same people that I posted about yesterday that were trying to get the devil out of me when I was in my mid-20s (Part 1 of Why I Reject Religion) – this is part of what I remember as a kid, from Chapter 9 of my book Unheard:

“Our church is called The Four Squares. It’s a small Pentecostal church, the same one where Daddy met Bianca. I think Four Squares is a dumb name for a church, but I figure it has something to do with the family of four that runs it. I have to attend church every Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night.

Gertrude, Bianca’s mother, goes to our church. I have to spend a few days with her while Daddy and Bianca spend some time together alone. Gertrude is an overweight lady with pretty skin, and she constantly preaches about the Lord. She yells and cries for no reason, calling for Jesus and praying to him to save her marriage from her unfaithful husband. Her yelling and screaming scares me at times, especially when she tells me that the devil is inside of me. That’s only if I say or do something she doesn’t like. More than anything, that makes me mad, and I feel like telling her the devil must be in her since she yells and scares kids away.”

For a child to experience this is pretty frightening. It’s like using the boogie man to scare children, but instead they use their god and hell and damnation. The thing is – I always questioned everything, but their answers never made sense. For example, I asked about dinosaurs not being in the Bible. I can’t recall the answer I was given at the time, but it didn’t make sense. I asked about timelines and relevant things that were contradictory in the Bible, but every answer I was given was also contradictory or made into some other uneducated explanation. I asked about children dying or people getting cancer, and I was told that was God’s will, which wasn’t an acceptable answer for me either. And this is a good one – why do women have to serve men? Because that shit didn’t fly with me, even when I was a child. Nothing made sense to me whatsoever, and I thought that “God” sounded like a total misogynistic, selfish asshole. By the time I was a teenager, I had made up my mind that church was not a place I ever care to go. If you’ve never experienced something like this in life or as a child, let me tell you – it’s not only weird, it’s pretty damn creepy! But not as creepy as what I’m about to share.

A girl I’d been friends with since fourth grade lived down the street from me. Her parents were very strict Christians, and even being only about nine years old, I noticed some very strange behavior. One thing was her older brothers pissed their beds (I believe they were either in high school or close to it), and looking back, that is a sure sign of abuse, whether physical or sexual. My friend was rarely allowed to play outside much, but sometimes I was allowed over when their father was there. Now this is where it gets really weird, and today I am 99.9% sure he was a goddamn pedophile. From Chapter 1 of Unheard:

“[My friend] was never allowed at my house, and I stopped going to hers when I was ten because her father kept making me sit on his lap, facing and straddling him as he held me close. He gave me the creeps. When I tried to scoot away he forcefully continued to pull me forward. He also liked to hug me a lot, which I also thought was creepy. I wasn’t used to hugs much from home, but I knew that my grandparents never hugged me like that. I knew in my stomach that something was wrong about it.”

Around the time I wrote and published my book, I was getting in touch with old friends on Facebook, including the friend mentioned above. I’m pretty sure she read the book but didn’t know if I’d written about her, because I kept her details and identity fairly private. I know she was going through a lot of her own difficulties, and at one point she did ask me about her father holding people too close, mentioning that people thought it was weird. She made some excuse about his actions, but I wasn’t buying it. I am certain that man probably did a lot of disgusting things to children.

These people that I had experience with in the religious sector had to be some of the craziest, sickest people a child could be forced to interact with. To this day, the only time you will see me in church is for a wedding or a funeral. But this still isn’t the end of my church stories just yet.

Why I Reject Religion – Part I

While I appreciate and accept other people’s paths in life, religion is not for me whatsoever. Even when I was a small child, I had interest in the occult, which major religions seem to despise.

If you’ve followed me long enough or read my first book, Unheard, you’ll know that religion was a big part of my childhood that led to the ultimate demise of the relationship with my biological father.

This is an excerpt from Unheard: a Memoir – as told from a child’s point of view:

Grandmaw got Daddy to go to a big church called Calvary where Aunt Marylou went, and he became born again. That meant that he loved Jesus, who was the only person to show him how Daddy was getting to Heaven. They told me I should be born again too, but I decided that I would be baptized with the Holy Spirit. The spirit part scared me, because I thought that God’s son was a ghost. One night I was baptized in a big bathtub at the big Calvary church in front of a big audience. That’s when they handed me a microphone and I told them I love Jesus, even though I wasn’t sure I trusted Him, because I was afraid that I wouldn’t go to Heaven with the rest of my family if I didn’t do exactly as He said in the Bible. I think that water must have been dirty because I got sick a few days later. Maybe it was because my sins were still washing away. I wasn’t sure I liked the Calvary church because it was boring and they made us read like they did in school instead of color and do crafts like some of the other churches we went to. Besides, they made me feel stupid when I didn’t know what some of the Bible meant.

I stopped liking the Sunday school after they asked us what we knew about Abraham. I raised my hand. I knew all about Abraham from school.

“Abraham was the sixteenth president of the United States!” I proudly announced.

“No,” the teacher scrunched up his face. “We’re talking about Abraham from the Bible.”

I guess he thought I was a dumb kid because he never called on me again. I liked the story about the president Abraham better anyway because he freed the slaves.

I was an impressionable child that believed what adults told me as truth, because that was what I was taught (even when my gut said not to). There was another portion of Christianity that I was exposed to but thought it was not only horse shit, but outright nuts – the Pentecostal church. This is another excerpt from my book Unheard:

Grandmaw stopped going to the big church because they asked for too much money and started going to the new small Pentecostal church next to her house. I wasn’t sure I liked that one much either, because the music was old and boring, and so were most of the people. Most of the congregation was a bunch of people raising their hands and talking in a funny language they said was their tongue, even though I thought my tongue looked the same as theirs. The preacher would call up people to the front of the church and start yelling at them and push them on the head until they fell over raising their hands in the air and crying for Jesus. All of that yelling made me want to vomit sometimes because it scared me. The only part I liked about going to that church was meeting other kids and when Grandmaw gave me mints out of her purse when I sat next to her. The other part I liked was when they had food after the service because I was always starving by the time it was over.

Once I educated myself and had a mind of my own, I realized that religion is complete and utter bullshit that was invented by men to control the masses and take property from single/widowed women they deemed as “witches.” One college class I enjoyed most was World Religion, where I grew to learn about and respect other religions, which I feel pretty much all have the same basic beliefs and values. I gravitated towards Buddhism, Paganism, and anything considered “occult” because none of them were religions; they were ways of life and not defined by rules like Christianity or any of the other major world religions. Plus, they made sense.

One of the last times I visited my father was when I was in college. My daughter and I went to my stepmother’s mother’s house for New Year’s Day dinner. During the visit, my father asked me about what I’m doing in college, and at the time I was planning to become an art therapist, but first my plan was to become a high school teacher before working my way into art therapy. Both he and my stepmother discouraged me from teaching in public schools (my stepmother homeschooled all of their children), but I was determined to do whatever I wanted. (This was in the late 90s when schools aren’t what they are today.) After explaining how art and psychology helps people, my father basically told me psychology was a bunch of “hogwash” or whatever Southern term he came up with. That hurt me more than anything, because he has never helped me as an adult, nor have I ever asked, and I was doing my best raising a child and going to college and working on my own. He gave me no credit whatsoever. Everything I said made me wrong in his eyes. I was never good enough, no matter what I did for either him or myself. His words also made me angry, and they saw it. And then things got really fucking weird.

At that point, my stepmother said, “Let’s pray for Susanna!” … and they put me in a chair in the center of her mother’s living room and tried to “take the devil out” of me. By that, I mean they were praying loudly and speaking in tongues and putting their hands on my head and saying things like, “Let Susanna believe in God and let Susanna believe in Jesus! Rebuke the devil in the name of the Lord!”

I was pissed and wanted to get up and scream, “What in the holy HELL are you people doing?!!” But I also didn’t want to scare the small children, because it would “prove” to them that the devil was surely inside of me, and I didn’t want to be a part of the children witnessing “the devil” that only exists in their small minds. They had never even asked me what my beliefs were, and at the time, they were probably a little different than they are today.

My daughter was probably about eight at the time, and I believe she was scared for me and scared of them. It was confusing and weird and a total WTF moment. She and I have a bond like no one else, because it was just her and I for several years. I was fuming mad that they humiliated me like this in front of my young siblings (around her age) and my child. I left so angry, and I vaguely recall my daughter and I speaking about it on the way home, and she said that was the weirdest thing she’d ever seen. No shit. To this day, it’s one of the weirdest things I’ve ever experienced. This was only the beginning of the end of my relationship with my father – by his choice (although there are other theories I’ll write about later).

Answers After Abandonment

I just reread a post I wrote about a year and half ago about dealing with abandonment issues that stemmed from my childhood and how this is a recurrent theme in my life. I am still trying to figure out what it is about my choosing of people that are inclined to abandon or ghost without explanation. Sometimes I do get explanations, although they may be months or years down the road. Other times, I have to suck it up and realize that some people are just cowardly assholes and I’m better off without them.

I recall the time when I was in the army and received a letter from the ex-boyfriend that I’d lost my virginity to. Initially, I was shocked at receiving anything from him at all, as it had been about two years since I’d seen him, and I was far beyond over him. I can’t remember everything the letter said, but he’d apologized for treating me like shit, told me how beautiful I was, and said something about me looking like Mariah Carey (which made me laugh – must have been the hair!). Years later, he attempted to date me again, but that wasn’t happening; I don’t repeat the same mistakes with the same person.

Most “abandonment” that happened pre-internet was just what it was, and I believe it was easier to move on, because there was no communication available if someone moved or changed phone numbers. Out of sight, out of mind. People would just wonder what happened to that person until their class reunion. But today, there is no excuse – or maybe poor excuses – like the one “friend” that suddenly quit talking to me, because she blamed me for working in a place where her ex knew people and some other lame-ass excuse. That was total bullshit, and I realize now so was our “friendship.”

What I don’t need in my life are fair-weathered friends. We all go through things in life that are inevitable and difficult to deal with – sickness, death, divorce, etc. It’s another thing if the issues are just drama type of bullshit that can be avoided, but if someone else can’t handle the problems you never invited them into in the first place, that’s on them. What’s really shitty is when you’re at your worst place and you get abandoned by those you thought had your back, especially when you would never do that to them.

With that being said, I had a male friend that I’d known since my days in the military, and about three years ago, he suddenly disappeared. I knew he was taking a break from social media, but I did have his email and phone number. I also knew he’d had some health issues, so I was truly concerned for his well-being, especially since I hadn’t heard from him and my emails and phone calls went unanswered. It was really out of the norm for him not to keep in touch at all. But then I happened to log into an old Facebook account where we were still “friends,” so I messaged him asking how he was, excited to get back in touch, because I truly enjoyed corresponding with him most of the time. Immediately, I was blocked. I thought how fucking bizarre and dramatic is this? I thought maybe he’s dating someone, and he can’t be friends with other women. Later, I was unblocked so that he could send me a very lengthy message describing in detail how he blocked a bunch of people a few years ago that weren’t adding positivity to his life. Ummm, okay, that’s understandable, but I’m not exactly sure how I fit in there, being that we live 3000 miles apart. He added something about the drama in my life, which wasn’t drama at all – I had a family member with cancer, and around that time a close friend had died. That’s not drama – that’s life! But what I really think happened is this – since we’ve known each other, he’d wanted a romantic relationship with me, and I wasn’t interested. I recall probably telling him a little too much about my personal dating life, and I honestly think he was jealous. I mean, I understand if I wanted someone romantically and they were rejecting me, but the reality of it is we’d never get along in that type of relationship anyway, not to mention the distance. Besides, I didn’t drag him into my “drama” or whatever you might call it; he tends to do that himself with other people’s business. Either way, at least I found out the truth behind the matter, and he seemed very sincere about it, which is a lot more than I can say for other people in my life who have done the same type of thing.

Am I guilty of ghosting anyone? Absolutely! But there is a difference when you’re not getting along with the person or you’ve had a falling out rather than just never speaking to them again without warning. I wish there was an abandonment meter when meeting someone, because it is truly heartbreaking when it happens, and I would definitely avoid those types of people. It’s completely unfair and selfish, not to mention immature, to abandon someone close to you without warning or explanation, and it says a lot about that person’s character.

Living Without a Purpose

It’s days like today I wish I’d been an abortion and wonder why in the hell I’m even on this planet. It’s also days like today that remind me of why I refuse to own a gun or glad I don’t have a gas oven. Oftentimes, it’s the people that you love the most that remind you that your purpose in life is unclear and nothing you do is important or good enough, no matter how good your intentions are, especially when already deeply depressed.

I realize that it’s been a long time since I felt I had a sense of purpose. How long? I cannot even remember, but maybe ten years or more. That was a time when I was married and had my home business. I would get up every morning and write or do other work, take care of household chores and pets, and deal with a teenager. I suppose having a relationship (that helped with financial stability) and a child at home helped me to feel a sense of purpose as well, made me feel like I mattered to someone, even if it was only for cooking and cleaning and being there when someone needed me. Plus, I was happy with the work I was doing. It was the time when I wrote my first book, wrote screenplays, and had articles and photography published in various places. I often feel like that was the shining moment in my life, and I won’t get it back or see it again. Although I would love for it to happen again, I also feel that I would be chasing unicorn dreams instead of facing reality.

Another time I felt a sense of purpose was about 19 years ago. Since I was a child, I wanted to be just like the teachers that I looked up to, so I became a teacher. I started out truly enjoying what I did, even though it was stressful. I quickly realized I was not going to make the cut of one of those “great teachers,” because I had too many personal responsibilities that wouldn’t allow me to focus solely on my career. Then things changed dramatically in our flawed American public education system, and teaching was no longer rewarding. I went to work every day feeling dread, came home feeling unappreciated and overworked. Health issues started when I was at my last teaching job; the amount of stress put me in the hospital, which of course caused more financial stress. I realized that I had to move on to another field if I wanted to keep my sanity and health.

Shortly after my divorce, I found a job working for a new company that seemed promising, so I thought maybe this is where I’m needed in life, and just maybe I could build from there. The starting pay was terrible, however, the hours were what I wanted, and I was told things would change financially within a few months. The only thing that changed was financially worse and discovering I was working for people running a scam, and their business (not surprisingly) went under.

A couple of years ago, even though the pay was pathetic and nearly minimum wage, I became a home health aide, thinking that maybe it would be rewarding, because I’d be helping someone in need. Anyone that has worked in this field quickly finds out that family members of the people you take care of and spend hours and hours with don’t always appreciate the work you do, even when you do extra things not required. In fact, they start expecting more, and no matter what, you don’t get paid more. The only thing it did was make me more depressed than I already was, because not only did clients pass away, I was sitting around in someone else’s house all day and/or cleaning it and taking care of the family’s large, annoying dogs that were another job in itself.

There are many days I wake up eager for night to fall again just so that I can go back to sleep. I don’t want to look at or speak to anyone or leave the house. When I’m not feeling well physically, like I have been lately, it exacerbates the depression. I do my best to force myself to either write or do artwork or at least clean the house or a closet or something to get myself moving. It’s a daily struggle, and it has been for years, and no one that hasn’t been through it will ever understand what it’s like to wake up every single day without a purpose or feeling that you matter in the world.

Another maddening trip to Walmart

Have I mentioned how much I hate Walmart? I don’t know whether to believe they hire the dumbest fucking people on the planet or they’re just playing games making everyone walk around the entire store looking for one item. Or maybe they’re trained to do that by the evil Walmart demons.

I had to buy something for my mother in law. I’m in Walmart walking around in circles, and I have the following conversation with another one of their genius employees:

Me: Do you have a foot scrubber? You put it on the shower floor and go like this… (I demonstrate) and wash the bottom of your foot with it.

WM: If we had anything like that, it would be in stationary.

Me: Stationary?!

WM: Yeah, stationary.

Me: Do you understand I’m asking you for something that goes in the shower? It’s for elderly people to be able to wash their feet.

WM: Yeah they have bathroom stuff in stationary.

Me: Okay…. Do you have a section with shower nozzles, or walkers, or hand rails, stuff for elderly people?

WM: Yeah but I ain’t never seen what you’re talkin’ about there.

I knew nothing like that would be in “stationary,” but I went and took a look anyway. I walked out empty handed. There was no such thing in “stationary”. Moron!

Who determines our worth?

How it feels to be a wife

(NOTE: This and several upcoming posts were written several years ago when I was married. I thought it would be fun to share them.)

I suppose enough criticism from everyone in your environment can help you to determine whether or not you’re a worthless wife. Your family, your kids, your significant other, and even your neighbors can all contribute to that cause. After all, wives should be perfect in every way, 24/7, in sickness and in health, and do it with a smile on their faces.

“Alex’s mom is cool. She looks like a movie star and lets us stay up as late as we want,” the kids might say.

Nice. Alex’s mom is also a two-bit whore who screws her husband’s best friend.

“What’s for dinner tonight?” the husband might say. “I’m hungry.”

Dinner? It’s only one in the afternoon. I’m still digesting lunch.

“You should be helping your husband mow the lawn,” the neighbor might say.

Sure thing. I’ll get out my razor and make a landing strip as soon as he picks his dirty clothes up off of the bathroom floor.

“You two should plan sex at least two or three times a week. You need to keep your husband happy,” the mother might say.

Plan sex? Oh how romantic! Is that why you’re such a bitch after 3 “happy” marriages?

I’ll shut up now. After all, isn’t that what women are supposed to do?

Another Lonely Holiday for the 4th

(**I’m a little rambly today… didn’t sleep well last night.)

I’m stuck at work today. I mostly work alone, and combined with the personal part of my life in which I am alone often, it just seems like I’m shut out from the world. My family rarely gets together except for (sometimes) Thanksgiving, Christmas, and maybe Mother’s Day. My friends all either have boyfriends or families they’re spending time with. However, I may visit some married friends later. But being the third wheel is no fun.

Weekends and holidays are a stark reminder that I’m a single middle-aged woman, and by societal standards, it can be tough. Sometimes I’m afraid that I’m alone so much and have been for so long that I’ll end up unable to have any sort of relationship, because maybe I just won’t know how. I go places and see couples and families together all of the time. Sometimes it makes me sad that I don’t have anyone I can share my time with. While I do like my space and freedom, it would be really nice to have a partner for these occasions and to do other fun things. But being alone nearly 24/7 doesn’t seem healthy.

The other day I was reminded in an article that people in relationships live longer, are healthier and happier, have a sense of purpose, and have a reduced risk for dementia. At this rate, I suppose I’ll be dead in 15 years (joking…). But then I started searching for other topics – positive ones – about how being single can be healthier. I suppose it’s all about who you choose to be with, because an unhealthy relationship can cause irreparable damage.

I’m not living the life that I’ve always dreamed about. Not only am I just single; I’m fucking broke. The two do not go hand in hand whatsoever. I’ve been working multiple jobs, some get canceled unexpectedly, and I’ve had some major expenses over the years that I’ve been unable to catch up with. Being broke makes me anxious, makes me worry, makes me lose sleep, increases pain, and obviously doesn’t enable me to travel and do the things I want to do. I know I have to get another job that pays me better and makes me happier… finding it is another story.