Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Reverse Rejection of 'Coming Out"

I hadn't realized the full magnitude of the last 5 years until I read a succinct summary in a recent letter from a friend.  She would know, we've been friends for 15 years. I suppose I sensed a shift as I read new articles, learned new ideas, walked through my day to day, but looking back  - she is right. I've changed. I would say that I hardly recognize myself, but that would be untrue.  I know exactly how I got here.

But she doesn't, not fully.  Not enough to feel like she went through it with me.

Enter another challenge.  I am a proud introvert.  I love my own company and default to preferring predictably quiet days with Joel and Bowie. Connecting with people is absolutely not a struggle for me, nor is it without its life-altering rewards, but socializing goes down easiest when planned and when I've had enough time to reflect on my own beforehand.  Couple this with depression and top it off with an extremely fatiguing pregnancy and you have a recipe for hermitude - an isolation so severe that it pushes far outside of the scope of introversion.

Perhaps a downside for others (and one I've always wished didn't hurt people) is that I work best hashing through hard times alone.  Even Joel often knows only a piece of of my internal mash-up. I may reach out to the deep, real friendships I enjoy,  but even these gifted and intuitive women know a fraction of my internal pain until I choose to reveal it.  That reveal usually occurs post-tribulation, presented as a tidy story with beginning, middle, and end.  

I'm not hiding, and I'm not lying.  But I am not easy to know. I guess. 

But maybe that's bullocks. Maybe me hearing internal accusations that I am hard to love because I am hard to know is a tired, toxic, ancient story.  Maybe it's not even mine - maybe I inherited it.  Who knows.

Because the truth is no one can know 100% of the data any other human brain contains. Some humans are more expressive than others, but more words do not translate to deeper intimacy.  The words must be careful and self-aware for them to carry the potential of true connection. So maybe I am absolutely, profoundly easy to love. Who knows.


Out of the religious closet:


The change I speak of is that in the last five years, I somehow made the incongruous leap from Christian academic to atheist* feminist.  

*How I cringe to write that word. How it makes my heart skip a beat.  I've never written it before, not as a confession anyway.  I don't cringe because it's untrue, I simply dislike the limitation of the word. It is not precise enough.  It's too brazen, too ignorant, to full of hubris to claim that there is absolutely no deity.  I hope my perspective is more humble than such stubborn, limiting proclamations. 

I also cringe because I can feel it breaking my parent's hearts. I cringe because it hurts, confuses, and isolates friends who ascribe to that belief system.

So in what or whom do I believe?  I believe in questions - big, vast, painful questions. I believe my soul will die if it stops asking who, what, when, where, and why. I'm no longer able to be satisfied with answers that others fed me, answers that always felt incomplete somehow.  Answers containing gaping holes in logic, evidence, and human consideration.  So I chose to question it.  My pastors told me God encouraged doubt.  I believed them. Plus, I didn't chose to be a skeptic.  I have always, always been this way.

I believe in being brave, in speaking with near-shocking vulnerability and honesty.  As a conflict-avoidant, but still outspoken Christian, this was easy for me.  I believed what everyone around me believed.  But now, being honest with others about my worldview is wrought with shame and hidden in shadow.  I feel like I am standing naked, coaxing to be knifed by any passerby.

Please know that I do not equate changing belief systems to accepting and 'confessing' one's sexual orientation. Inviting anyone to the complex table of your personal sexuality is vulnerable enough when you don't have to fight societal norms. I never had to tell anyone that I was heterosexual, never had to confess how attracted I was to boys, never had to admit to anyone my bedroom secrets.  I consider coming out of the heterosexual closet an act of ultimate human courage.

Confessing that I was no longer a Christian was nothing near as painful nor did I suffer the loss of relationships.  My parents still love and talk to me. My friends still want to be friends. Further more, they all still want to listen to what I have to say.

Reversed rejection:

But there is something this recent correspondence hit me with. Over the years, I was so internally focused on my own evolution that I didn't consider how it would be perceived as a direct affront to relationships I have with Christians. 

I never considered my change as a full and complete rejection of my past. I never slammed a door everything I was. I didn't renounce Christianity because I was angry or because the church irreparably wounded me. Over 5 years (and for the rest of my life), my rich religious past will deeply inform who I become.  

I now see see how renouncing Christianity could be perceived as renouncing Christians. In my mind, I took a step away from a religious culture, not a step away from relationships. I never imagined that choosing into a new belief system would also send Christians the message that I though they were stuck, stupid, unenlightened, and small-minded.

I sprinted so fast away from Christianity, all the while assuming all my relationships were keeping pace there - or at least cheering on the sidelines. When I finally stopped, hands on knees, bent over trying to catch my breath, I realized they weren't there. When did they drop off?  Where did I loose them? I don't know. I don't even know if I could trace my steps back...the route got crazy twisted.

My rejection of their worldview in turn made them feel rejected by me.

But how could I fight these assumptions or extend myself to help them understand when I was simultaneously buried under the weight of a sad hermitude?

The compassionate middle ground where Lake Union and  Lake Washington connect

The realization of hurting her and others cut me deeply. I have a new seed of compassion for parents of homosexuals who didn't see it coming, who felt/feel rejected themselves because their child rejects heterosexuality. I have a renewed respect for those parents who grabbed their lesbian daughter's hand and refused to be left behind...even if it meant they fought all along the way.

I am deeply satisfied to internalize the realization her correspondence gave me:  the reverse rejection paradox. It forces me look hard to find new bridges...new ways to know and be known, to understand and be understood. And mostly, to be patient and compassionate in conflict.

Perhaps human reciprocity is my real gospel.

crm




Thursday, January 1, 2015

Year in Photos: 2014

Though it's sometimes hard to recall immediately
or difficult to feel, in one moment,  the full weight of a trip around the big star,
I know the goodness of these past 365 days in all my knowing places.

I don't say 'goodness' as in lack of bad,
dark,
scary,
desperate,
confusing,
or sad.

I speak good using a definition as it resonates in me
whenever I speak of anything.
All the parts of it wrapped up
and then seeing it outside of itself.
Reflecting and re-framing.

And the goodness, in my way of thinking,
is defined as wholeness.

The package.
Shit and all.

I see as good.
But only at the end.

Oh how I crave the wisdom only the end can bring.
And how deeply I resent starting out,
cold and weak like a slippery child.
Incapable of anything but breathing.
And heart-pumping.
And wailing.
Maybe, if I am lucky one,
I'll learn to feed and thrive.

But this starting always, always has an end.
Be it morose or maudlin,
I find ultimate hope in the penultimate
end.



YIP 2014 by candacemorris


I hope this year's goodness sits well with you today.
crm

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Twelve: An anniversary homage

Unlike others before him
Errantly pursuing heart before head.

Via my mind did he win  my love.



Through discussions over coffee every Mon, Wed, and Fri morning.
Through challenging everything and everyone, motivated only by the earnest desire to learn.



Through wool sweaters and academia.
Through discussions of Bart, Kierkegaard, Pannenberg, Volf, Zizioulas.
Through his curiosity of my own love of Bronte and Shakespeare.
Through educating me on Ethiopian coffee and the french press method.



Through the quick learning of how to help me thrive but never suffocate or dominate.
Through chasing me down after Hermeneutics with Dr. Spawn to suggest an album I might like because he'd heard that I like electronica.
Through a beat-up Morcheeba CD. 



Through taking me to his home very early in our relationship.
Through the love of his parents and sisters.
Through Snoqualmie Falls and Ballard Locks and ferry trips to Bainbridge Island.



Through that hair.
Through his gift of allegory. 
Through his love of space and sky.
Through being a feminist before we were brave enough to label it as such.



Through those eyes, pure and unquestioning.
Through long drives.
Through the mix of surprising naivete and piercing wisdom
(he had not dated anyone before me).



Through that height.
Through arms so strong yet always wanting to be touched.
Through an openness I've never gotten to the bottom of.
Through the Orange Avenue apartment.



Through pipes.
Through games of chess.
Through a 1973 orange Dodge pickup with a hole in the floor.
Through Rush and ELO and Massive Attack and Debussy.




Through loving the ones I loved



Through introducing me to souls I'd long been curious about,
 knowing love cannot come from one source.
That we must diversify to survive.

Through a bookstore proposal.

He stood there, holding his hands out with all of these offerings,
and one more thing.

He told me he had no doubts about me
because I would always purse new ideas and chase down change.  
He was right.  
As Virginia Woolf says,
 "A self that goes on changing is a self that goes on living.”


And changed we have.  I have.
Sharply.
And I often question and evaluate our love within that new change.
And thankfully, magically
that love has changed with us.
Many are not as lucky.

If we can learn to love the evolution of persons one human will journey through in this life,
then we need not fear the loss of love.

He found my deepest respect, continuing admiration, and intellectual vitality.
The way to my heart, as it so happens.

So we go on living.

-crm


Sunday, October 5, 2014

where we go

I'm not sure how it started.
Most likely in the normal way.
Let's get the girl out of the house and let Mother Nature
babysit.

One success breeds desire for repeat results.






She was cautious at first, as she is wont to be.  
Staying close and preferring sand to sea.
But we kept coming back, to the Golden Garden.







And now she she wants to be in the water.
At all times.
Even though the chill of Autumn has cooled the Puget Sound waters considerably.

We just keep coming back.
There's rarely a week of our lives that we don't drive due west 10 minutes.



In late winter, she hated the sand.  
Now, she wants to immerse her soul in the grains.
And sand control has become part of our lives.
Finding it under covers and folded into socks.

And it has taught me a lesson I was sure I wasn't capable of,
to let go
to not be bothered.
At least not by sand.






video






It's our spot.  
It's where we go
To feel our lives.
To force breath into all the anxious nooks and crannies,
To dig deep and deeper into the fine grain of minutia.






video

To slow down and look at rocks.
To see how light changes your view
And how shadows hug you tight.


And to occasionally see baby seals taking naps in the sunset.
And to eat Paseo's.
And to reset bad days 
And to better good days.

But mainly, we go back 
to be shocked back into our own skin by the unparalleled beauty of 
right now, right here.

crm

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Adieu, weekend













It is with sadness that I reluctantly bid the weekend goodbye.

crm