Patriarchal Religion and Star Trek Don’t Mix

Star Trek is a fantasy.  Co-existing with other intelligent alien life forms and accepting them as respected equals is a fantasy.   As long as religion pulls the strings of our thinking, a possible future like we see depicted in the Star Trek universe, cannot be.

If we can’t even accept in our own species, that all of us are created equal, with equal rights over what happens to our bodies and equal rights to pursue our own happiness, how can we possibly embrace and accept the habits and behaviors of other intelligent, sentient cultures?

Because of religion we have sexism.  Because of religion we have bigotry and racism.  Because of religion we have intolerance and eagerness to judge others.  Because of religion we want to think in black in white and absolutes.  Either you are good or evil, followers of either a god or a satan, destined ultimately for either a heaven or a hell.

If some habit or behavior that is perfectly normal and healthy and positive for one group of people seems alien and beyond the comprehension of another group of people, it is regarded with suspicion, as are the people who engage in it.  

Human beings must be the entire reason why the immensity of the universe was created.  Human beings with our massive egos who want to believe we are the reason billions of years of evolution has taken place, and billions of other galaxies, along with ours, were created.

We are the center and everything else spins around us, and more specifically, human males are the center.  Even human females were created simply, just like other life on this planet and the Earth itself, to satisfy the wishes and needs of human men.  And even some races deem themselves superior to other races, god’s chosen people, with people of other tribes or races perfectly okay to overwhelm, invade, enslave, conquer, rape, or exterminate completely if the male made male, patriarchal god so commands it.

It’s a pie in the sky dream that human beings think we can reach out for the stars and co-exist with life elsewhere.  I have always been a devoted Star Trek fan, but at the same time that vision saddens me.  How can we hope to accept cultures so incredibly alien to our own, if we can’t even accept each other as equals?  Accept ourselves?

Christian Blinders

When a Christian spouts off about all the other evidences and proofs out there that a biblical Jesus existed, other than, that is, the four gospels written by anonymous church-hired writers in the New Testament, demand they kindly provide these proofs.  Are they going to list Josephus or other Roman historians that either did not live during the time of Jesus or did not actually write about him per se, but rather the appearance of the new religion Christianity.

It is largely accepted that the few passages in Josephus that mention Jesus were added in later, as the paragraphs are out of context with the sentences that come before and after.   And even if a historian is found who lived during Jesus’ alleged lifetime and did write about him, all that proves is that a person named Jesus existed.  I believe in that part of the world, it is not an uncommon name.

All I ask for is evidence.  Christianity lost credibility for me when I realized that the bible is not true.  When I figured out that there were verses clearly put into it not because they were god’s teachings but because some religious group wanted to dictate certain laws and rules over the common people, and especially to subjugate certain people, most especially women, as is typical of all man-made, patriarchal religions.

Once I figured out that some verses in the bible couldn’t possibly be from god or god inspired, then all of a sudden the entire book became suspect.  How am I, with my puny little mind, supposed to weed out what is really from god and what isn’t really from god?   Between that and the blatant errors in the bible (god the all powerful can’t smite chariots made of iron?  Hello???), the bible stopped being, in my eyes, anything real.

Some Christians readily admit the bible is nothing more than a fairy tale or myths–legends, etc.  But they still believe.  I fail to see how the religion can have a leg to stand on if the bible is not true, if the story of Adam and Eve and original sin is not true?  Without that story of original sin there ceases to be a need for religion, or god, or saviors.  There ceases to be a need for Christianity.  This is the only reason why the Christian bible still has the old testament included–because they need that all important absurd story of talking snakes and the original sin.

Talk to a Christian, they will tell you about Christian writers who disagree.  Well, no surprise there.  I say, read the testimonials of learned Christians–men and women who went to Seminary and taught this stuff and knew the bible inside out and STILL unconverted–lost their faith–stopped believing.   These are the people I would be interested in hearing from.  Not the people who just say the same things I had to hear over and over and over–repeating the same well worn pages and hi-lighted verses, and ignoring completely the other three quarters of this book.

Before a Christian has the right to tell me their god is good, they need to read the entire bible.  They need to tell me how a good and loving deity does what the god of the old testament does, and answer the illogic of an all knowing god deliberately creating flawed human beings, and then punishing them for being flawed.

Woe to You Who Disagrees w/ a Christian!

I once really liked this story in the New Testament.  I used to think it literally meant you have to be humble, not proud, to be great in heaven.  But now, seeing this as an atheist, a second meaning  becomes clear.   In the first part Jesus is teaching his followers they must be humble like a little child, not proud.   What’s funny is from my recollection of childhood, children are not humble but rather very self-important; they very much see themselves as special and want to be treated that way; they want to COUNT, to be the favorite child, to get the gold star from the teacher.  So what I really think the point of this verse is–to believe in what Christianity teaches you must be gullible like a little child–have magical thinking like a little child–accept rather than to question what you don’t understand–like a little child:

Matthew Ch: 8–

2 He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. 3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

Matthew Ch: 8–

This next part that immediately follows is a warning to non-believers like myself that there will be dire consequences for us if we should say or produce any evidence or logic that might cause one of God’s “little ones” to stumble in their faith, start to question their faith or… lose it altogether:

6 “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. 7 Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come!”

SO in other words, assuming Jesus actually lived and actually said these things, which I highly doubt, what I believe his real point is, you have to be gullible like a child to believe all this stuff and get into heaven, and any of you who refuse to be or can’t be gullible–shame on you for trying to talk sense into any of these who can–you will be gravely punished if you succeed in making them stumble.

Not only does this warn believers against relying upon their own judgment or reason (to do so would not be humble but rather arrogant), but it also puts a “hands off” sign on believers directed at non believers.  Meaning that if I had a spouse or a parent I saw lost to a belief I know is false, I am to remain silent about it or bad things will happen to me if I in any way, try to interject a different opinion, perspective, or interpretation.

Would This Feel Like Heaven?

This is something I often wondered growing up as I did, raised by a very devout Christian widow who…well…let’s just say it was very important to her that her children would go to heaven.   Which is why to this day I have never told my mom I no longer believe, and haven’t believed in what is now three years or more.

If I were to imagine heaven, it would be a place where there are no tears, no sadness, no heartache, no despair, no disappointment, no discouragement, no worry, no regrets, no hunger, no thirst, no loneliness, no yearning for things to be different.  Heaven would be all the best things I could ever imagine, like all the most breathtaking natural beauty the earth could offer, only so much more, the colors so much brighter, the sounds so much sweeter.  The air would be like standing in a grove of lilac trees, or in the center of a greenhouse filled with roses.  All would be so glorious you’d want to stand there forever, drinking it in, content to stay still in that moment forever.

As a Christian I had friends who were not, family who were not.  And it bothered me.  Really really bothered me.  My dad’s cousin Evelyn died, and she was an atheist who told me once to my face she had never sinned.  Because she did not believe in sin–which in her view was a man-made invention that made religion necessary.  So when Evie died, I was very sad.  I didn’t want to think of Evie in hell.  It upset me to think of such a wonderful loving lady in such a horrible place.

I have heard it said that hell is not what the bible describes in a literal sense.  Hell is to be eternally separate from God.  Hell is to be able to gaze across a divide at all the joys of heaven, and not be able to go there, not be able to be among all those happy people, but to be stuck forever and ever in a place apart from God.   That’s what hell is.

Now if I were one of those lucky people who managed to make it into heaven, and I looked across and I could see–or even if I couldn’t see, but I just knew, I had friends or family like Evie, in some other place, and they were suffering.  If I knew that because of choices they made in their life as puny and ignorant mortals they were doomed to be punished forever, unforgiven, to a place of despair, of sadness, of pain, of separation, of never knowing the utter bliss I was getting to enjoy…  Would that be very nice for me?  Would I be in heaven?  Would heaven be a happy paradise for me, if I knew across the divide there were people I knew and cared for, suffering–and doomed by my God to suffer forever?  Would that be a happy thing for me?

The only way I would find Heaven a happy place for me under those circumstances, would be if God made my heart very hard so I wouldn’t care anymore.   So I would regard those friends I once cared for and family I cared for as deserving to languish in agony and despair forever.   They would be like my enemy and I would feel how right it was for them to suffer for eternity while I enjoyed happiness beyond my wildest dreams.

If I had to have my heart hardened for Heaven to be a happy place for me–for me to no longer care about people I once cared for now having to suffer, how much more brittle and hardened would God’s heart have to be, considering he supposedly is merciful and “love” is one of his names?   For him to be merciful and loving by nature, and yet able to condemn billions of souls to eternal torment and still go on his merry way being happy in his paradise despite all that suffering going on….wouldn’t he have to shut his ears and harden his heart and cease to be merciful and loving?

He would no longer be a loving God.  He would no longer be a merciful God.  He’d be a cruel and unforgiving God–by so enforcing an eternal horrible punishment upon mortal beings who did for whatever reason, not jump through the right hoops while they were living, and so now they must suffer forever.

It would be different if the rule book were crystal clear and not subject to this interpretation or that interpretation.  But the rule book is not clear.  There are verses in the bible that contradict other verses.  The bible says Thou Shalt not Kill and yet time and time again God kills, or orders his followers to kill.   There is a verse that says not by works are you saved, but it is a gift from god, and there’s another verse that says good works are just a part of what you must do to have eternal life.  There’s a verse that says you should make it known what good works you do, and another verse that says you should keep it secret, and not boast.

Which verses are the correct ones, and which are not?  Why are there cities placed in the wrong countries in the bible?  Why was there a census mentioned in the bible shortly after Jesus’ birth, but the year is off–there was no census at that time per actual history?

If God’s good news is so important, so critical that the punishment is so horrible indeed for those of us who don’t hear or hear but don’t believe…then why isn’t God’s word perfectly clear?  Wouldn’t God insist on it being absolutely clear?  Without flaw?  Without human tampering?    And if our salvation is so important to God, why does he not simply make his existence fact, rather than keep us all guessing?   In all the world there is not one scrap of non-biblical proof of the existence of God, or Jesus for that matter.   Now if God is real, and if his good news is real, and if our salvation is so important to him, so we don’t end up in hell suffering forever while he, God, is forced to shut his ears and turn his back and never forgive–why isn’t evidence of his existence or Jesus’ existence, as plentiful to find as the bones of dinosaurs are?  Why doesn’t God appear and end the doubting that will ultimately cost so many eternal life?  Or for that matter, why did God make Lucifer in the first place, or human beings so fallable as to be capable of sin and then place them right where he knew his imperfect angel was lying in wait?

Or if God doesn’t want to appear?  If our salvation isn’t worth him revealing himself, why not perform the impossible to prove miracles really do happen?  Like, allowing the amputee who has been praying really hard, to have his lost arm or leg grow back?  Or give the woman who had her eyes gouged out by the chimpanzee, new eyes–regrow them in her head?   If God can do anything, these things would not surpass his power–and would leave very little doubt that the supernatural exists.  And yet he doesn’t.

Anyway, I have digressed and I’m sorry.  My point is, even if I were still a Christian, and even if I did make it into this paradise Christians look forward to.  It wouldn’t be heaven to me because I would know my Aunt Evie was being punished in hell–and she was a really neat lady who does not deserve torment and pain for all eternity.  So heaven would become hell for me,  knowing Evie isn’t there and knowing there’s nothing I can do to appeal to this merciless deaf God to hear her cries of torment and forgive.

That wouldn’t be heaven for me, and that would not be a god I would even want to follow.

As a Woman, what Should I Be?

This is just me writing this time.  Nothing informative.  Just writing how I feel and how I’ve felt a very long time.  As long as I can remember.  It has to do with religion, and with society in general and how I was raised to think and how it has effected me as a person and how I feel it has effected other women too.  Based not on fact, but just what I’ve observed in my almost 50 years.

People have this idea that little kids are oblivious and ignorant of such things as human rights.  I guess as we get older we forget how it was to be young.  I still remember very well, and I suspect my experience is like anyone’s.  I was aware.  I had an opinion.  Things appealed to me or disgusted me or spoke to my heart then just as they do now.  I had perceptions, and a sense of fairness, of right and wrong.  In short, (literally) I was just a little person, as all children are.  When I’d hear adults refer to myself and my friends as “little ones,” ugh!  I hated that term!   I didn’t feel like a little one.  I didn’t feel like anything less.  Not then, and not now.  Because I’m not.  Nobody is.

I remember from a very young age being annoyed to the point of angry at the commercials we were bombarded with.  I was a tom boy when I was little…and I never completely lost my interest in playing in the dirt, as even as an adult I liked digging for fossils and splelunking and hauling up rocks or petrified wood or whatever treasure I could find.  But watching those commercials, what I could see of them through the often side-ways tilted or rolling black and white screen.  Women…raising their families. Women, making dinner.  Women, advertising mops and laundry soap.  Women using Windex, or irons or making cookies, cleaning house, or shopping.  Always made up and wearing dresses, perfect, wearing lipstick even in bed–never a hair out of place.  While men in those commercials washed cars, went camping, or fishing, or were shown building tents, lounging in hammocks, digging, climbing ladders, fishing, playing ball with their sons, working on cars.

Always in the TV shows I watched I would silently rage at the helpless females I’d see portrayed.  I liked the old campy Science Fiction shows back then, the old movies, and always whenever those rare moments would come that a woman would be needed in a scene, she’d faint, or stumble, or fall exhausted to the ground unable to go on, slowing down our heroes from the horrors pursuing them, just waiting to be rescued.  It was the most predictable thing.  I’d sit there and think okay, and now she’s going to fall down…and then she would.  I remember yelling at the TV, even as a small child, “run you guys!  Just LEAVE her!  Run!”

Recently I, out of curiosity, tried to watch some old “Lost In Space” reruns.  OMG…the mother and daughter Penny in that old show were next to useless.  They were only objects to protect…their job…to look astonished, or afraid, or confused, or helpless and vulnerable.  These were the kind of role models I had to grow up with.  If it wasn’t for Vasquez in ALIENS and Zena and Gabrielle in “Zena ,Warrior Princess…”

(I pause in silent homage to the pioneers that had the courage to write women that way–with grit, tenacity, strength–all the qualities I can admire!)

In my last blog some Muslim guy commented that that’s how men should be.  That’s their role and we women in Western cultures who get to actually live our lives and be (at least to some extent) more like what we were made to be, have forgotten this–the fact that some deity designed us to be soft, dependent, loving servants of men–be all those warm and fuzzy wholesome things while our great big sweaty bare-chested males thump their pectorals and lug home dinner to their adoring, families.

Oh please.   And yet it still exists.  Ever watch QVC?  Just watch and listen to the hosts when they’re selling what is traditionally something a MAN would want to buy, vrs. what traditionally a woman would want to buy.  If I called QVC during a presentation to sell a ladder, they might ask me if this was for my husband or my son or my father.  I would say no, you frickin idiot!  It’s for ME.

To be fair the opposite is just as true.  If a single man needed an iron and called QVC and got on the air, probably they’d ask him who the gift is for.

The point being, the programming continues on today.  It’s still apparent in our commercials, and in how we are treated.  I remember when I went to Cycle Barn the first time to look at buying a motorcycle.  The place was crowded with men or men with their sons and all the salesmen were busy.  It took over an hour of standing there looking interested before one of them thought to come over to me.

Happily so much has changed since I was young, since even when I was in my 20’s.    Happily now a young girl can dream big and actually have some possibility of obtaining her dream.  When I was little if I had said I wanted to be a fire fighter or a astronaut or President of the United States for that matter, it would have been a joke to any adult who heard me.  Oh, they’d say “good for you, Diane!” I’m sure.  But they know.  And they would no doubt think that as I grew older I’d put aside these childish dreams and discover a desire to hum as I work, dust as I walk, cook wonderful meals for my man and wait on him hand and foot, making sure a spotless house and well mannered children were there to greet him when he got home.

(Sound of Leave It To Beaver theme music.)

I think organized religion has made boxes and tried to tuck people away inside them.  Women, you go in this box.  It means you can’t be or have or experience anything that’s over here in this box, because this box is only for men.  And men, same goes for you.  Women can’t be masculine because then no man will want them and men, you can’t have feminine interests because that would make you a fairy…a gay…a homo…an undesirable by society.

In other words, anyone who dares to march to the beat of their own drummer…just better not if they want to be loved, accepted, appreciated, all those things we all want to be.

Well I never liked wearing dresses and my favorite color was blue and the only dolls I liked playing with as a child were my brother’s G.I. Joes…and all the cool helmets and fabric clothing and jeeps and guns that were their accessories.  As a child I liked catching snakes and tadpoles and frogs and I liked playing Capture the Flag and building forts with the few boys I found willing to play with me.  I liked to play rough.  I had no interest in jewelry or make up, and I scoffed at grade school girls who wore these things when being a kid was so much better.

Was I abnormal for a girl?  What would have happened to me had I been born and had to grow up in some of these Middle Eastern societies that have these ideas of what women should be vrs what men should be?  Could I have endured being denied the freedoms I saw my brother enjoying?  Hell no.  And if a book told me it was god’s wish for me because I was cursed by being born a female, I wouldn’t feel any love at all for such a god, and in fact I wouldn’t have followed such a deity. Ever!

I did follow the biblical god for over 30 years, because I had blinders on and I didn’t let myself see that the god in the bible is just as sexist, if not more so, than the god the Muslims worship that Christians like to point fingers at and criticize.  But now I see no difference between them, and in fact it seems if you just look at the Quran and the bible and not at the religions and how people interpret these books, it seems from what little I’ve read–the Quran is actually less harsh toward women than the bible is.
So that’s it.  Just felt like writing and saying WHATEVER.  I am glad I didn’t get born 20 years earlier than I did.  I’m glad I was born in the 60’s after all the hardest work was already done by the brave women before me who had the gumption to rail against being forced into boxes. I hope we never, as women, forget how hard our recent forebears had to fight to get the rights we enjoy today, and I hope we never give up fighting–that we never again believe in books written only by men telling us how we as women, ought to be.

What do Bigots Dream?

Just thinking about orders or organizations like the KKK.  Just the fact that people of equal beliefs (in how the world SHOULD be according to their view) exist in numbers great enough to form whole organizations. That’s scary. That’s a lot of hate.

To the members of the KKK specifically I would ask… why?   Nursing hatred is an accurate term because hatred needs to be fed.  And you feed it from within.  It depletes you.  It needs energy and fuel, and it needs to grow to survive.  Where there is hate it is next to impossible for love to exist.  Tenderness.   Caring.  Compassion.  Because hate hardens the heart, and burns away every other feeling.

That said, I’m trying to imagine this glorious utopia that would exist if such a group had its way.  Seriously.  This is just what I’m imagining a bigot might want to make his country his own again, and of course in the below example my bigot is a white male because I’m imagining he is KKK.   As I hope most of us understand bigots can be either gender and come in any color.  But what I see of hate spam email I sometimes get….a lot of it expresses indignation by whites toward non whites or people of other ancestries/languages.

So ok, what would be the possible changes we might see if the KKK or people like them (skin-heads, the more extreme conservative Christians, etc.,) could have their way.

Well, all or most people who aren’t white enough would be kicked out of the country, for starters.  Doesn’t matter if your grandparents or even their grandparents were born here in the good old US.  Doesn’t matter if the only language you speak or have ever learned is English and you have a respectable job in a nice neighborhood and drive a nice car and your kids are straight A students in school.  You’d be out.  Sent packing.  Because your skin isn’t white.  Because you clearly are therefore UN-American.

Doesn’t matter if you or your mom or dad or their parents fought or maybe even died fighting for this country in a war, either.  You’d be pointed in the general direction of the country where your ancestors are assumed to have originated from and you’d be told to “go home.”  Most likely you’d be allowed to pack a few suitcases but, really, with the guys swarming around your yard in white cloaks and throwing bricks and burning crosses, and brandishing guns & threatening your children, how motivated would you be to abandon your stuff to save yourself?

That’s if you’re lucky.  Some might not be so lucky.  Some might be told they can only stay if they give up their right to person-hood, their right to consider themselves human beings.  They’d be told you can stay but you’ll live in only crappy neighborhoods, only allowed to earn under minimum wage (if that) and be limited to menial labor type jobs, and you’d only be permitted to breed in small numbers.  Your kids, if they are allowed to learn to read or write, would never make it past the six grade, and certainly any hope of college would be cease to be.   You of course would not be able to use the same doorways as white people, or drinking fountains, or even go into many restaurants you used to enjoy.

Again, that’s if you’re lucky.  Perhaps those guys in white cloaks would deny you even the chance to live in slums and live independently.  Perhaps instead you’d be reduced to being thought of as livestock and forced to work for free, facing the terrifying possibility of being whipped or beaten to death or lynched or burned or have your ears, fingers and genitals cut off if you should try to run away.

As for women, well ladies, forget being able to vote.  Why would we need to, anyway, right?  We have our husbands to do it for us.  Or at least the 50% of women in this country who happen to be married do.  I’m sure we’d lose our right to own property.  Perhaps we too would be denied a higher education.   Certainly we’d be denied enough right of person-hood to have any say over what happens to our bodies.  We’d be forced to carry babies whether we want to have a baby or not.  In that way we’d be breeding stock, and of course this is a good thing because it would mean more white babies in a world where white people are (horror of horrors) fast becoming a minority.

I’d say too there’d be no inter-racial marriage anymore–in fact anyone of any other color just looking at a white woman would probably meet with a terrible end.   But would there even BE people of other races allowed to live here anymore?  Possibly not.

Let’s see.  What about the pros to living in this country once all the UN-Americans are driven out or taken control of?  There’d be less people here for one.  A lot less people.  Your opinion would again be the voice of the majority.  You could decide who gets to be successful and who does not.  Male only clubs would thrive once again and women would be denied the chance to play most sports.  White males would have their land of opportunity for ALL back but for only themselves to enjoy again.   Everyone else would be put in their place.   Children would address adult men as “sir,” and little girls would only be allowed to wear dresses and only cross their ankles.

As for gays, sorry guys and gals, but you’d be out too.  But in a much more permanent way, I’m afraid.  Because, you see, you are an abomination in the eyes of God, so you’d be perfectly okay to slaughter on sight–in fact they might put a bounty on you to encourage your demise until you return to hiding in closets and pretending with all your might to be something else.

Witches too, I’m thinking, would be in danger, or really anyone with a faith that isn’t the national religion, which of course would be Christianity in its most conservative form.  The bible would be taken literally.  Women would not be allowed to speak in church or instruct or have any authority over men (sorry Sarah Palin).   Women who committed adultery (or raped without crying out in a city) would be killed or severely punished, while the men could do whatever they please….

Hmmm.   Have I left anything out?

Of course I’m exaggerating here.  But by how much?  What do bigots dream?  If this country is so not right to them, what would they change about it?   What would they want to keep the same?  How far back in time would our society plummet?   What would be required to make them content?  I’m pretty sure i can safely bet that English would become THE only language permitted.   Of course if you’re lucky you might still be allowed to speak your native tongue in the privacy of your own home.  I’m also pretty sure discrimination would be okay to openly demonstrate/practice again.  Women would go back to having lower wage secretarial type jobs.  And as I said above, minorities would find their rights greatly diminished–assuming they’re even allowed to still live in this country.

So ok, this is getting long.  I was just in the mood to have a rant this morning and now I have.  Yes, I am white and yes, I also sometimes find having to hear Spanish and other languages being spoken around me rather annoying.  But nothing in this world remains the same.  It’s too bad that it can’t be the way it was–back in the day when immigrants came to the United States to become Americans rather than be whatever nationality they are, here.   Used to be immigrants would gradually learn the national language and become, well, Americans.

Perhaps this newest wave will too, eventually. At one point when Europeans first came here, Irish, Norwegian, German, etc., they too spoke their own language and were discriminated against by others who did not.  How many generations passed before they were mostly speaking English too?   I like to think that the great melting pot is still what it is, and we just happen to be seeing a new wave of first generation immigrants coming into our country.   Do we open our arms to them and adapt, which is what America has been tooting its horn about that this is what our nation stands for?  Hoping they too will make some effort to adapt to us rather than try to replace us which may be how it also seemed when the first non-English speaking Europeans came here?   Yes, our country will change.  Nothing stays the same, ever.  We have new cultures now pouring into the mix.  But this is America.   Land of the Free, Home of the Brave, and the equal chance to pursue happiness for all.

Or I would like to hope.

Questioning the Truth of It

It might seem odd to someone who doesn’t know me as a person, why my blog seems to be this odd mix of my celebrating my new-found atheism and….personal issues like depression, aging, stuff like that.   I’m sure there will be more than just these two themes as I go, but these two are currently very much what I’m juggling in my life.

First I learned some really hard things about what had been my reality.   When you start to mistrust the very ground you used to always take for granted would be solid, you start mistrusting everything, and searching for new solid ground.  That’s where I am now.

I didn’t learn until about 6 years ago that the one parent who raised me had done so mentally ill.   She was the one i was always scrambling to win points with.  My brother was her golden boy .  He could do no wrong.  I, on the other hand, from the day I stood at the cemetery at my first and last visit to my daddy’s grave and as a six-year-old asked my mom if my daddy was really under ground and got slapped for it, until this very day, my mom has viewed me with suspicion.  At that point or shortly after she suffered her first break, though I didn’t know it, and neither did my brother.  Our house became haunted.  I believed it because my mother did, and she took us kids away for a week fleeing these dark entities that chased us from hotel to hotel.

Anyway, it’s a very long story.  She’s always known about the voices in her head, but never told anyone until six years ago when she really started unraveling after chemotherapy.   I always wondered why she didn’t like me telling other kids about our haunted house.  I think we moved out here from Wisconsin because my mom was afraid of losing us kids.  My Uncle had the police out looking for us that week we were fleeing those demons my mother saw.   I believe she feared he questioned her ability to raise two little kids.

So fast forwarding…   I married the first guy who said he loved me back.   There were lots of signs during my marriage that I chose to ignore, but in the end I was made to realize my husband didn’t love me and according to him he possibly never did.  That was after 16 years of marriage and the last six of them with me trying to save my marriage because I still loved him very much, but he didn’t love me, nor did I feel any love from him those six years we didn’t touch, and he couldn’t even tell me if he loved me, he just said “I don’t know.”

The only way I could get away from that marriage was switch my focus, and I did.  I found another person who was in pain as much as me, and I focused on cheering him up and along the way I fell in love with him.   He found out and then proceeded to stay at my apartment and then my condo with me letting me care for him because he developed a life-threatening illness and none of his other friends were stepping up to the plate.

Long story short again, three years later after he got better he said “thanks, but I don’t need you anymore” and then proceeded to convince his friends whom I also had grown to like very much, that I had smothered him, when in fact his illness had prevented him from leaving a situation that apparently had grown wearisome to him–and yet it was nice for him not having to pay rent or contribute very little and have everything pretty much paid for him, including transportation.

So I turned to other friends for solace, and one of them was a head bartender at a popular restaurant all my theatre cohorts loved to go, and that bartender let me believe we were friends like he was friends with these other guys I had gotten to know.  Long story short again, he too was pretending all so he could win my trust.  And in the meantime he learned how lonely I was, how unloved and unlovable I felt–he took advantage of me.  Then after that there were several years of head games from him–with me trying to believe he was my friend when in fact I guess or at least I have been told by another friend, I was just a big joke to him all along.

You have three men pretend with you, three men seem like they’re one thing and then they turn out to be something else altogether, you start having doubts about everything you thought was real about the world.  Between that and the fact I learned my mother was a schizophrenic–suddenly I had to reevaluate everything I grew up to believe about myself, and all the things I just assumed were true.

I became very earnest about protecting myself from further hurt.  I had always questioned the parts about my faith that I questioned and tried to ignore or shrug off.  If I asked any pastor about them, I was given pat answers too, that never satisfied me.  I’m sorry but “God works in mysterious ways” is not an answer.

Religion had taught me that I was a bad person.  It reinforced everything my mother drummed into me.   I could never be good enough.  Oh, I was a Christian, yes.  But I was always a very bad Christian because I didn’t go to church, or read my bible enough, or walk the walk enough, or whatever.   It was never enough. I was never enough.   A few times I would try to get back into going to church…

One time I started regularly attending the Westgate Chapel in Edmonds WA.  They had a fabulous  music program and I loved to sing, so it was enjoyable there for me.  But I was also an amateur paleontologist volunteering for the Burke Museum in the U-District.  Every year we had our little Dino-Days at the Burke, and I and my husband (I was still married then) would volunteer).   I loved digging for fossils, cracking open rocks and seeing evidence of live no human eyes had ever seen.  It fascinated me.  It awed me.  It put things into perspective re. how very OLD the planet is and how fleeting our little moment on this world is.

Then one Sunday service at Westgate the head minister stood up and told about taking his children to Dino-Days at the Burke.  He ridiculed us, those of us who ran the event, as acting so sure about our belief that the planet was old, and the age of the fossils, and evolution itself.  He made it sound like paleontology itself was the devil’s work.

After the service I approached this pastor because his words had me rather upset.   I was in disbelief because the man had implied my favorite thing was against God.  So I asked him, straight out, if it was wrong of me to dig for fossils.  I told him I worked at the Burke and contributed like the rest of my group, NW Paleontologists, to the Burke.  He looked at me and said “Do you think it glorifies God?”   I looked him straight in the eye and said “yes, I do.”   He gave me a look, and turned to talk to someone else and I felt completely snubbed.

So.  I am put on this earth to glorify God.  Writing this note, if it doesn’t glorify God, I guess I shouldn’t do it.  Raising Canaries–if it doesn’t glorify God, I shouldn’t do it.   This was the beginning of the end of my faith for me.  That one day even before the ending of my marriage I walked away with a very sour taste in my mouth, and I was angry.   I was angry that this man would judge me the way he did.  Yes, I think science would glorify God, if a god existed.  But I don’t believe one does because as far back as recorded history, religion has feared science, or has discouraged against it, or even called it a sin.   Once upon a time people were afraid to look at the stars because “star-gazing” was banned by the church–it was devil’s work.   We once knew as a species the world was round–our ancient forbears had compasses and knew how to navigate on the sea.   Then along came religion to warn about there being an edge where boats just fall off and horrible monsters beneath the waves, inciting fear in people’s hearts.  Fear to explore.  Fear to discover.  Fear to learn and fear to question.   We were dumbed down as a species, and it was all so we could believe in fantastical explanations and live and exist the way the church wanted us to.

If there really is a God, science would not be a threat to any true religion that followed him.  Science would be uncovering more and proofs for his existence, and would be welcomed, rather than feared.

I have always just wanted my life to be true, and what I am led to believe about the world, to be true.  Most of my life has been one false belief after another.  First belief in my mother.  Then my husband.  Then this man I thought was my friend who let me care for him thinking he was.  Then the bartender who I confided all my insecurities to, who then used that knowledge to exploit and then slander me.  And religion–that was one of the last dominos to fall, and the biggest.   But have I regretted for a moment the loss of the delusion?  No.  No more than I regretted not getting to believe in Santa anymore.   Do I want to live thinking everything I do has to glorify god?  Like growing up, everything I did had to be about pleasing my mother, and during my marriage everything I did had to be about getting my husband to love me again, and then that friendship where I cared for that man who I thought was my friend and I thought if I did enough good and supportive things for him he’d appreciate me as the good friend I was…

No.  This is the pattern in my life that has only caused me harm.  I am living to glorify myself  and I am living for myself and to find myself, who I am, and to live for me.

Depression Isolates Us

I sometimes think, now that I’m becoming aware just how many people out there feel like I do, feel all the same feelings…that we’re more like a subgroup of society.  We start out, probably many of us, outcasts as children.  Either outcast by our families, or outcast by our peers, or both.  We grow up lacking confidence other kids take for granted.  We are always trying. But there’s always some reason we don’t fit in.  We’re not good looking enough, so people of the opposite gender look at us and think “I can do better,” like having outward beauty or our programmed notions of what beauty is–makes some people “better” than others?

Regardless, we grow up, those of us who didn’t quite fit in, or came from homes that didn’t really want us, and as adults we still try.  But the long nights of crying ourselves to sleep, losing sleep, or just huddling in fear of some real or imagined terror…now there’s something stuck in our heads.  Something wrong.  We are either mentally ill, or our brains are wired wrong or we have a chemical imbalance or a combination of the above.   Because we grew up trying harder than other kids, the popular “better” kids.  And now what are we?  We’re that sub-group of society that end up alone.  Our friends aren’t there, despite how we try to be there for them.  Our families…sometimes it’s not good being around the people that caused the harm in the first place or trigger memories of the harm that was done.

So we’re alone.  And here we still are, trying.  Trying to fit in to that other part of society we too have been programmed to believe is normal.  Thinking if we do this or this or THIS we might be accepted and loved and wanted like other people.

And when we can’t fight our illness hard enough, we are forced to endure more loneliness.  When we do have our little triumphs, there’s nobody around anymore to see.

I hate depression.  I hate this illness nobody understands or wants to make any effort to understand.  I have been locked in closets all my life and I still am.   All because of this belief we carry around, that we grew up with, that to be like one of the crowd is better, our ultimate goal that’s always just out of reach…to fit in…that’s what gives us worth–that’s the key to being wanted, being successful, being SOMETHING.   And until we have it, until we get over this illness we’re being punished for having, we must be shunned.  We must be outsiders.  We must be looked right through like we’re not even there.

This is what I say to that.  Bullshit.  What kind of society does this?  Banishes its ill from the mainstream?  They did that to lepers once; you would think in 2000 years our society would be a little more aware, a little more educated, a little more understanding.   But no.  We have not evolved very much at all, have we?

So how do we break from this box they’ve put us in?  We say bullshit.  We are not less than anyone.   People look at us and say they can do better?  Excuse me–we might be ill but we’re still whole people, and worth it.   If you know us you’ll get to know the beauty we still carry around  inside.  All of us, like any other people.  Like you we are unique, full of dreams and hopes and love and caring.   Shame on anyone who dares to look down their nose and outcast us for having too many bad days when here we’ve put up with other people having many bad days too.  Why is the playing field so one-sided?

Who decides worth of a person?  How is it measured?  Is it measured by looks?  Popularity?  Is it measured by how much money someone has or what kind of car they drive or what neighborhood they live in?  Or is it measured by the kindness and caring a person has in their heart?

I see a lot of value in us.   This little sub-group that finds ourselves struggling with our depression or anxiety all alone…punished for being ill, rejected by friends for being ill, despite how tired we are from always trying, despite how lost and despairing and scared and hurt we sometimes feel. 

You know who I think has worth in our society?  You know who I think are really great people–the kind of people I wish I could be?  People who can still give of themselves when they themselves have nothing, and care and encourage, when they themselves feel their world is crashing down.

I am most thankful for the kind of people who can still care for others, even despite the hurts they feel themselves.   If we have to be separated and made some kind of subgroup, I’d rather be counted as someone like this.

Self-Induced Depression

So we’re sad, those of us battling depression. Lonely. Feeling unloved. Feeling like failures. Whatever it is. Ever imagine what we must look like to the casual observer? The expression on our faces or the set of our shoulders or how we walk?

Do you ever find yourself drawn to other sad, unhappy-looking people? Do they make you smile and feel good or is your first inclination to oh-oh, better stay away!

The problem with depression is…we show this black mood on our faces and on our demeanor. We’re sad, and people can see it. We hate or excessively find fault in ourselves, and people see that too. Trouble for us is, most people seem as a rule to seek out happiness and fun.

I know I do. I long to be among people who make me happy or help me be happy. Trouble is those people are also searching for happy people to give themselves a lift. Are they going to notice me looking sadly at them hoping they’ll include me? If they do, probably I’ll be the last one they’ll want to connect with or talk to, because my demeanor shouts to them all the doom and gloom I’m feeling inside.  They can see at a glance they’d be doing all the work to make me happy,while ignoring their own desire to stay that way.

What does this do? I am left isolated even when I do dredge up the energy to go out and try to be among people. Because I transmit sadness, and most people don’t want me bringing them down. So I sit isolated, watching other people get the companionship I am yearning for, and then I feel even more isolated, unwanted, unloved, unaccepted, etc. etc., which of course makes me even more miserable inside. It’s a vicious cycle. Unwittingly, I cause myself to be alone.

This all goes back to the whole belief that we need other people to be happy. And that’s the other thing. How many people go out on the town thinking “tonight I’m going to find a sad person to talk to…tonight I’m going to expend all my energy helping a depressed person be happy…even if it destroys my chance to have fun?”

Not bloody likely. And yet here I am sitting at some bar or wherever, hoping to connect with someone fun and entertaining to brighten my mood.  And of course when no one steps up to the plate, I bow my head, I stare at my hands, I blink back tears and transmit even more misery to the people around me trying to have fun, and not only do they then not want to deal with me–they silently resent me for being such a black cloud on their otherwise good time and are wishing I’d just go away.

Depression is self perpetuating.  It generates more depression because of how we respond to it.  It’s so easy to hope the external world will distract us–give us those little happy moments we crave and hope they’ll last when of course they never do. The external world lets us down and we feel sad all over again. Dependency upon other people to make us feel better or happy…this is a huge contributor to making ourselves feel worse. No dependency is a good thing–addiction to that happy feeling we get being around happy people–is like any other addiction. The feeling accepted and happy doesn’t last–we end up back on the street again searching–or huddled alone in tears suffering withdrawal.

When we were children it was easy to appreciate just playing by yourself. You could imagine whatever you wanted, become whatever you wanted, do whatever you wanted. There were no rules. No one bossing you. No expectations.  Why is it as adults we find it so hard to be like that and just have fun & be content by ourselves? Why do we need other people to affirm our worth for us, to help us succeed at being happy? Who says we can’t go out and do whatever we want to, for ourselves, just to make our own fun?

The term “making friends” is an interesting one. “Making” implies something you have to work at to have happen, or pursue, or seek out. Like it’s a task that needs doing. Why not just stop caring so much about having friends? Enjoy your own thoughts, be your own company, whatever the activity is you like to do. Don’t go do something with the point being making new friends.  Go do something for the sheer fun of it, and the friends will just…happen.   Don’t try so hard.  Don’t care so much.  Don’t be something you’re not to earn someone’s caring or appreciation. Be yourself. Do your thing, walk the path of your journey. Relax.. Find little things to smile about.

Don’t look to other people to find happinesses for you. Enjoy what is (recommend the book “Loving What Is” by Byron Katie), rather than fret about what is not. Your demeanor will change. You will have a lighter step and the stress or pain will leave your face. You will smile more, breath deeply and relax, see more of the good in people and situations and less of the bad. People will sense that about you and then it will be YOU they’re drawn to, YOU who is the happy one they’ll hope will lift them up.

Why compare yourself to someone else?  You are not them and they’re not you. And really, does it matter what other people think? It’s really only your opinion that matters–you’re the one who has to live with you–and if you’re doing what feels good–feels right for you, isn’t that all that should count? There will be no dependency on others–no pressure put on other people. Your happiness will be real–natural.  Because it comes from within you, not from without.