Why…?

For quite a while, I’ve felt like I really don’t have a group of people that I can really call a core  ‘community’.   Yes, I’m a Christian, but   I am tolerant of others’ choices for their own lives, even if I don’t understand them, or in some situations have any interest in hearing about them ( I don’t want to hear about anybody’s sexual interests… not. my. business.).  I refuse to shun the person.   Why do I have to believe the same as some other human?  Just because they’re a pastor or Bible teacher doesn’t mean they got it right (just watch late night TV preachers… they cast a shadow of doubt on a LOT of Bible teachers, no matter what level.)   I do believe that many are good pastors… but I won’t support any preacher who cherry picks which people are worth their compassion and attempts to understand.  I won’t support any preacher who promotes intolerance.  God made us all.  Period.  And we’re all flawed. Period.  Not one of us is better than the other.  Why do Christians tolerate intolerance?  I don’t have to agree with someone to understand that the choices based on the free will GOD gave them is their prerogative- and it doesn’t have to be mine.  I don’t have to shun them.   I feel like  an outcast most of the time.  I feel shunned by the ‘shunners’.    Add to that that the country is going down the tubes, and I really don’t like most people.     Why do people insist on continuing to prove that they are best avoided?   Or simply say they’re  one thing, and then never back it up?

I haven’t been a regular church goer for a long time (work hours when I was working, then  medical issues that make being away from home for more than a brief time logistically difficult).   Now the folks who went to the church I grew up in will take THAT statement as the reason for all of my frustrations… but my personal faith in God/Jesus is  stronger than ever.  God is the only constant and hope I have.     I KNOW what it was like growing up in a  subculture of evangelicalism- and as a kid I loved going to church.  It was a great experience in the youth groups, choirs, and babysitting in the church nursery.  I truly loved it.  Since it was essentially my only source of social contact, there were no conflicts.  I was still ‘one of them’.  We all believed the same. For the most part.  My folks enjoyed a glass of wine now and then, and dad might have a beer (one) once in a while, where as many were convinced that even one drink was a sin (drunkeness is a sin… a social drink is not, imho).  But the ‘big stuff’ was all part of the church teaching.  Without any personal thought involved. Back then, it was just how things were.   I’m very thankful for a solid church upbringing (and the vast majority of my core beliefs are the same);  it was a consistent environment.  It just didn’t allow for exposure to the actual world as a whole.   I had no idea that things could even BE all that different among other people.

As a kid, it really didn’t matter to me what or who was out ‘in the real world’, since school and (figure) skating were my pretty much my only exposure to people who didn’t go to that church (there was the trip to Europe in the summer of 1977, where I first saw men openly holding hands while walking down the streets of Amsterdam, and hookers had storefront windows with literal red lights that glowed if they were ‘busy’).  It was a time period where society wasn’t as cruel as it is now, and the anonymity of the internet wasn’t even on the radar- so any criticizing, mocking, and name-calling was done in person, and ONLY among  very close friends- unless it was overt cruelty towards strangers.   I was a kid, so not really expected to know any different.  People were simply more decent.  The ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ philosophy had little to do with anything related to sexual orientation in my world,  but included politics, money,  and religion when being amongst folks whose views weren’t already known.   Why did people find it OK to reject others as ‘the enemy’, when they don’t even know them, most of the time based on assumptions from one comment?

Well, then I grew up.  After nursing school, I moved 1200 miles away on my own to start out my life out from under the shadow of being “the principal’s kid”.  I was not only in a different state and overall culture, but was in a city that had  a huge variety of people whose demographic groups I’d never encountered.  The first cross-dresser I ever saw was at a Walgreen’s checkout.  He was buying the make-up for himself, which I hadn’t even thought happened ,   until he turned around and smiled politely at me with full face make-up (foundation, mascara, eyeliner, blush, lipstick).  I was gobsmacked !  Where in the world had I landed? Why does the church exclude simply informing the youth growing up about the various types of people in the world, and how best to show kindness?  Why don’t they teach about using one’s brain to determine if a situation is safe- and not just a blanket “help your neighbor”?   Though now, I’d guess that there is some exclusion clause to avoid anybody gay, who’s had an abortion, or is on food stamps.  Those issues seem to earn rejection without regard to the person who is struggling because of them.

I was also a young nurse during the early years of the AIDS crisis.  I’d never known anybody who was gay (that I knew of at the time- later on I found out differently).   Even church hadn’t really mentioned homosexuality much.  It was a ‘given’ that men loved women, and women loved men.   Women wore makeup, men shaved their faces, and things were supposed to be all “Leave It To Beaver”.  I knew the terms- polite and otherwise – for homosexuality and what it meant- but that was it.   I had no clue that even in my own family, that there were those who were ‘different’ (neither of the two I knew back then were ‘out’ at that time, then two more became known when I was much older).   I wouldn’t trade them for anything.  All four (known) are/were (one is no longer alive) stand-up folks, and simply a joy to be around.  Why shun an entire demographic group?  Were they not also created by God?

I have no idea how many gay men I took care of who had full-blown AIDS (“HIV positive” really didn’t happen without already being very ill… the disease wasn’t identified until various symptoms of full-blown AIDS had already developed; now, antiretroviral meds enable those with HIV to live much longer, and with a decent quality of life).  In the early years, HIV was an automatic death sentence.  There was no hope at all, like there is today.  Most of their families back then, and even their partners, had kicked them to the curb.  Families were ashamed, and partners were terrified to be associated with someone who had “it”.  But what I learned was that these human beings were going through horrific, long deaths, that left them just alive enough to realize they were never going to be OK, and that they’d been abandoned.  Why  shun those who need compassion?   I also learned about the dangers of stereotyping when an entire heterosexual family died from AIDS after the wife gave birth to the son, but needed a blood transfusion- with blood that wasn’t tested for the virus- then breastfed her son, and had normal sex with her husband.  All three died.  Nothing they did had them ‘in the closet’, or on anybody’s ‘judgement’ list.   I was beginning to understand that things weren’t always ‘this or that’, ‘black or white’, or even ‘because of’ assumptions.   All of these people had names and stories, and there simply wasn’t time or desire to judge or hate.  They needed compassion.  Why not just reach out to anybody who is hurting, without judging?

Why the contempt for those who need help?   There is an assumption that the majority of those on welfare are just bums. Why  choose to believe the worst?   It takes a LOT of hassles to get help !  And even then, it’s a sub-poverty existence.  I’ve been on disability since 2004, and until I was eligible for Medicare 2 YEARS after getting Social Security Disability (not the same as the private employer-based disability insurance I paid for when I was working), I  would have had to spend $2000 per MONTH before I was eligible for Medicaid benefits. Each month.  That would have meant no apartment, utilities, medications, food, etc…  So the government sets the income cut-offs for getting help  to exclude the majority of people who need help.    How does it make sense for someone who is medically disabled to not have access to medical care, including medications?    Why are only some people worth taking care of?   Would Christ look at someone who  is sick, hungry, naked, and/or homeless and kick them to the curb?   Not the Lord I learned about !  Remember the sheep and the goats?    There is some belief that people in this country are taken care of no matter what.  That is false !   People die here daily because they can’t afford medications or treatments.   And it’s not just cancer.   Why is that OK?

Why can’t we just disagree, and not be told “Oh, it’s no big deal” (well, to me it might be !), or “get over it” (why should I, when the person who told me this is still bitching about Obama, and called Mrs. Obama the ‘n’ word repeatedly- from her holy evangelical tower?).   Why can’t we just understand that everybody views things in different ways EVEN when we all believe in God (for those who do) ?    There isn’t just one ‘flavor’ of Christian !!  It’s a little like the four gospels- each author had a different viewpoint, but that doesn’t make any of them wrong !    Matthew was a tax collector.  Mark never actually heard Jesus, but followed Peter, and interpreted for him when needed.  Luke was a doctor.  There is no consensus as to who specifically  wrote the Gospel of John- as well as 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, and Revelations.   But all four loved the Lord.  Why is it so hard for Christians to understand – and tolerate- that the belief in Christ is so much more important than the specific  issues that are argued about?

Why has it all ended up like this?   And why does it seem like people would rather be nasty, or not understand that it’s OK not to agree on everything, even if we believe in the same God?   That one baffles me.   I’m just glad that God knows my heart- and those who judge me are really judging themselves.   I might not tow the evangelical rope any longer (I prefer ‘non-denominational’)  but I still believe in the same God of my childhood… and miss those who were part of it, but now seem to prefer to push people away.    Why is that so ‘bad’?   Why has it become so much more preferable to simply avoid humans?   Even (and sometimes especially) those who had been church ‘family’….  it all hurts my heart.  Mostly because they’re so unaware of how much it hurts to suddenly not be ‘good enough’ because I don’t mirror all of their rigid beliefs.

 

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The Divisiveness is Breaking My Heart…

I’m just blowing off steam.  I can’t remember a time when I felt so hopeless about the vast majority of  humanity.   No matter who says what, there are legions of people who are at the ready to deliberately be cruel and completely disinterested in the “idea” that those who believe as they do are just as passionate- and free to do so- as I am with my beliefs.  There is absolutely no reason or justification for name calling, belittlement, shaming, or anything else that just makes them sound  ‘holier than thou’ and pathetic  (whether or not they believe an God- or anything higher than themselves).   And yeah, I’m guilty.   I’m writing this from a place of pain- sometimes that comes across as anger – but mostly it just hurts.   The people I grew up with, especially from church, are no longer people I relate with in many areas, and that saddens me deeply.  I know that God knows my heart, and that I’d never opt to go against His will. I do question what humans have done to make Christianity so legalistic.

There is also  hypocrisy about many of  the ‘hot button’ issues.  In this post, I’m focusing on abortion- and being a Christian.  I can’t stand the idea of terminating a pregnancy.   BUT,  I understand why a woman would consider it, after being pregnant as a result of being raped in 1987.  I was very naive for a 23 year old and nearly immobilized by the options I had, for the situation I was in.  I couldn’t go the abortion route.  I just couldn’t do it, because my own values.     I never told  my mom about the pregnancy- the first question my mom asked me after I called to tell them about the rape was “Are you pregnant?”… like 6 hours after getting out of the ER, and 2 hours after leaving the police department, where I talked with the Sex Crimes detectives, in a hospital gown and gnarly raincoat from the hospital lost and found box.   Later, the dementia made it inappropriate to discuss it with my mom.  It would have confused her.   She had already told people I was moving back to my home to be a truck driver, because all she remembered about my moving back was that I was driving a U-Haul truck.

Adoption was a touchy subject as a viable option (though probably would have been the outcome had things not turned out as they did).    I’m an adoptee, and while I landed in a great home, there were always the questions about ‘why’ (I had some idea- young mom, couldn’t keep me… my birth mom and I  have a great relationship now), and the sense of “something” missing.  And what would I tell a kid later on in life, should he/she come looking for me, about the circumstances of their conception?  There is no way to make it sound like they were nothing more than a horrific, felonious mistake.  How does someone bring that into the world?   I realize that God can do a lot to help someone get through things (believe me, I prayed a LOT during the rape, and it was a huge source of comfort).  But what if the kid was not a person of faith, and had no belief system to get through something like that?  I would have done all I could to ease the blow- but I would not have lied.   Lies don’t ultimately soothe catastrophic pain.

I certainly didn’t want the kid, because of the ‘how do I explain the conception?’ issue, “who is my father?”,  and never wanting to have a negative bias towards the child in how I raised and treated it.  I didn’t want the reminders of that disgusting day every time I saw the kid’s face, though the child was never at fault.  I was frozen in terms of making decisions, but mercifully, God took care of it one morning, with some nasty cramping, and an unceremonious expulsion into the toilet.  I saw the placental side, freaked, and hit the flush handle.   I was about 12 weeks along.   When I told my dad about the pregnancy after I moved back to my hometown (16 years after the rape), he told me he would have sent me the money for an abortion… and he was a member of an evangelical church for about 60 years.   He understood the torment of that decision.  

I find using abortion as birth control out of laziness or not wanting to be inconvenienced by a child appalling and inexcusable (call that judgement if you want to- I call trivially expelling a pregnancy out of simple personal convenience horribly irresponsible).   There are plenty of good sources of birth control- the most reliable requiring a prescription (which makes Panned Parenthood a good source of medical care EXcluding abortions; they have doctors who will see a woman to do a physical  exam, do a PAP and screen for STDs,  take her medical history, and recommend the safest options to prevent pregnancy- you know… ‘planned’ ).   There are inexpensive prescription birth control pills out there, but they require a physician.  For those without a family doc, PP is a very good option.   I doubt that many right wing Christians will ever believe that (including family and longtime friends) and that’s fine.  Maybe some of them will open their homes and pay the medical bills for a woman facing an unplanned /unwanted pregnancy, and help place her child for adoption-  maybe keep it until the adoption agency and adoptive parents are sorted out.  That’d be great.  Unless someone will step up when they remove options, and offer their own solution on an active, personal level, I don’t think that they should have much say in what someone else does.

Condoms are good for a lot of ‘safe sex’ reasons… but they’re not %100 for birth control… still better than nothing- and anybody who has ‘frivolous sex’ with either multiple partners, or one with a known STD, is irresponsible if they don’t  keep a stash of more than they think they’ll ever need… At.  All. Times.   They are very good at preventing  many STDs (sexually transmitted diseases- some of which can be fatal, in a prolonged and nasty death, i.e. syphilis is easily treated early on, but can lead to dementia after decades with the  untreated disease).

The “morning after pill” is often misunderstood –  sometimes for deliberate political purposes,  to stoke the fires of misinformation.  The morning after pill DOES NOT TERMINATE pregnancy.  It prevents implantation.  There is no pregnancy without implantation.  There is no life without implantation.  Many women “miscarry” these unattached zygotes throughout their life, and never know that fertilization ever happened.  A fertilized zygote (with the potential to become a baby) is essentially nothing without implantation.

Bottom line:  Women are responsible for what goes on in/with/to their bodies when it comes to sexual activity and pregnancy.   Don’t do the “well, he should have brought the rubbers”.  Nonsense !!  If you’re having sex, you are the one who needs to be responsible for the consequences.   

About late term abortions…  I think this is often misunderstood as well.  There are times when ‘pre-term delivery’ (what it is called medically) to end the pregnancy is the only way to save the mother.  With neonatal intensive care being what it is now, there are  maximum efforts to resuscitate the baby and care for it with the hope that it will survive, and hopefully thrive.  Babies as early as 23 weeks are successfully cared for in NICUs. (I’ve heard of a few at 22 weeks, and seen 24 weekers with my own eyes)  That’s before the third trimester !  Pre-term deliveries are ONLY for medical emergencies.  They are not abortions.  (Could there be heinous individuals out there that do them?   Yeah- there are heinous individuals who do just about anything… but pre-term deliveries aren’t the same as abortions. Period.).   Look at the Duggars and their little Josie… they’re about as conservative as folks come- and they “got it” about the reasons for doing the pre-term delivery because of Mrs. Duggar having eclampsia, which is fatal if the pregnancy is not ended. Pre-term delivery IS the cure.  There was never any thought of Josie not getting care.    But the ‘far right’ loves to use inflammatory terms to garner support for candidates.  Unfortunately, inaccuracies abound, and that just fans the fire. Those that say that the mother dying is “God’s will”,  when there is a way to save, her baffle me… to me that is deliberately letting the mother die.  God doesn’t give us ways to take care of emergencies and then not expect/allow us to use them. Why lose two lives when you can save one pretty much for sure (nothing is every %100 in medicine), and probably both?

But bottom line about abortion, in my eyes?   It’s not my decision to make for someone else.  Legislating morality is muddling the religion and state line.  We are not a “Christian” country.  Many of the founding fathers did have a Christian background, but they were very careful to design our country to separate church and state to avoid legislating morality.   We are a country of freedom OF religion.  Once we impose Christian values into law, we open the doors to have parts of Sharia law, or Buddhist values, or whatever, into laws for everybody.   Laws don’t stop abortion.  And just because something is legal doesn’t mean I have to participate!   The government isn’t responsible for determining my decisions.  I have to answer for my own choices- NOBODY else’s.     Again- I don’t like the idea of termination a pregnancy at all.   But I’m not going to focus on people  I can’t control at the expense of ignoring things that could make a positive difference for more people (cue the “but the baby is a person” folks… yeah, I do believe that there is a blooming human in the uterus- and that’s why I wouldn’t choose to have an abortion myself). What is the benefit of being  judgmental over an issue that is between the woman,  HER conscience, and God?   I can’t live her life. But,  I’m also going to extend to her an ear to listen to her fears and conflicts- and gently talk to her about other options, helping in ways that I can.  And prayer is always going to be heard… God can direct the outcome.

So where do I find hypocrisy?  The same folks who are furiously self-righteous about being pro-life couldn’t care less about the health care availability for the “post-born”.    Jesus was ‘into’ taking care of folks medical issues.  You know- that whole “Great Physician” term?   He didn’t ask if people had a good job with adequate coverage to reimburse Him.   He didn’t ask if they were  purposely out of work just so they could stay home with bills piling up and no hope of a better life.  He didn’t ask if their medical needs were the reason they couldn’t find suitable work.  He didn’t deny ‘medicine’ because someone’s prescription drug plan didn’t cover His ‘medicine’.   He just healed them out of compassion.  Everybody remember that?   I know.  It’s not talked about much anymore.  Compassion isn’t a great political word, so it gets lost.

Matthew 25: 41-46   41“Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; 42for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; 43I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’ 44“Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’ 45“Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46“These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Yes- those verses talk about visiting the sick, and not healing…  check this out:
Ezekiel 34: 11-16.    11“ ‘For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. 12As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. 13I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land. I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land. 14I will tend them in a good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel will be their grazing land. There they will lie down in good grazing land, and there they will feed in a rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. 15I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign Lord. 16I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.”       It’s all about care, compassion, and bringing the ‘sheep’ together.  This is talking specifically about Israel- but I can’t imaging God not wanting those who love His Son to be treated differently.  And He will strengthen the weak !  He’ll help the injured.  Because of love for His people.  In the Old Testament that was directed at the Jewish people.  In the New Testament, and after someone makes the choice to believe that Jesus is their Lord and Savior, He extends that to us as Christians as well.

There are SO many other things that are saddening me these days- but this is one of the things that separates me from the people I grew up with.  That’s hard, but I’m not going to simply follow the herd when I have strong feelings and thoughts of my own, based in compassion.  I became a nurse to help people.  I miss that.   It’s hard to feel like an outcast- and I don’t anticipate anybody being willing to have a discussion – not to change minds, but simply be heard and maybe even understand a little of where I’m coming from.  But I know God does.  People who aren’t part of the community I grew up with (at church) understand… but within that church group, I feel like something they’d just as soon throw out with the trash. And that hurts.  Lots of talk.  No action.

But, whatever.  I’m rapidly losing interest with humans in general.  It’s “safer” to write here, or just keep the front door locked, and screen calls.   But I won’t lie.  I’d love to hear someone with the same spiritual background tell me that they ‘get it’.   That they understand.  And that I’m not “bad”.    I realize that in the grand scheme of things, the opinion of a human is pretty meaningless.  But it would still be nice to be understood.  I do find intense comfort in knowing that God hears my cries, and knows my heart.   ❤

 

The Disaster That Was 2016

I’m not in a good mood.  This year has sucked rocks.  I won’t go through the myriad of shootings, public riots, celebrity deaths, cop shootings,  “unarmed” shootings, local crime rate, racial tension,   blah, blah, blah.  All that does is make me dislike humans more intensely (and with the racial stuff, it’s usually the arrogant white folks that piss me off the most).   Since my dad died in April of 2016, I have had few interactions that I really cared to be a part of.   They were ‘mandatory’ or required to be just social ‘enough’.   If I tried to escape  I’d turn on the TV  just to hear about how horrifically humans were treating each other, and it just made me grieve for civilization.   Thank God there were enough interactions with a  few people that at least kept my head above water enough to breathe.   I’m very grateful for them.

The presidential election process further lowered my respect for humans in general (a few exceptions helped me not lose all hope).  One relationship ended because of the rabid and incessant postings of negativity about Obama…. get the hell over it- he was elected nearly eight years ago… MOVE ON.  I can’t stand the constant and so ‘wing-nut right’ rants.     I didn’t much like any of the candidates this year, but the options in the end were  almost unbearably bleak… one much more  than the other (imho), and that’s who we’re stuck with now.  It does warm my heart that he didn’t win the popular vote.  There’s a glimmer of sunshine there. Doesn’t matter who specifically won the popular vote, as long as it wasn’t the sociopath.   I’m grateful for that bit of hope.

Back to my dad.   He died on April 4th at 12:50 a.m.  He wasn’t ‘expected’ to die during that period of illness, and like my mom, he had been blown off when he complained about pain/had symptoms.  Don’t go to rehab hospitals where they have such narrow focus.  They try to fit all symptoms into the disorder they are treating.  Dad’s former (very sweet) lady friend of eight years went to the same place, and she called me to ask what she should do since they weren’t dealing with the fluid accumulation in her abdomen (she had cancer).  I told her to ask to go to the ER for an evaluation.  She did, and ended up having to have multiple ‘drainings’ of the fluid. But the facility didn’t come up with the idea to send her in for evaluation on their own- she had to ask.    I wish I’d been more astute with dad’s pain.  He wasn’t great at describing pain, but I feel bad that I didn’t see more.  I am extremely relieved that I was with him during those last 19 hours.  To have missed that would have killed me.  I made sure he knew I wasn’t leaving him before he went into a coma.  I promised not to leave him, and I didn’t .    But as an RN since 1985 (regardless of being disabled, I keep my license), I have constant ‘brain drain’ about what I should have done to help him more.  He was a great dad.  He didn’t deserve that much pain.  He deserved to be listened to and believed by the people who were supposed to be caring for him.

There was another ‘lady friend’ ( “B”) that dad hung out with socially for about a year before he died, and who was around  like flies at a picnic during the last month of his life. She encouraged him to be dependent, and robbed him of whatever independent activities he could do… which weren’t many.   She turned into more of a nightmare after he died.  She obviously had some intense delusions about the type of relationship she had with dad.  Dad truly  liked the companionship (and her billionaire son in law fascinated him- only thing he mentioned if someone asked if he was seeing someone- never mentioned her by name).  She liked “possession” of him (and had a total hissy fit when I told another one of dad’s lady friends she could put photos on the photo table at the visitation; it was a pathological reaction- they were. not. married.  I included as many of his special lady friends as I could find photos of) .  She also hurt me intensely after the funeral, complaining that she wasn’t mentioned by name ‘enough’ during HIS funeral.  She said her church friends all noticed it and that the pastor who did the service had it in for her since she wasn’t a member of dad’s church… that pastor hadn’t even worked at that church for a while… “B” was clueless and so friggin’ insecure and paranoid.  She wanted to know why I hadn’t consulted her about financial matters (like it’s her business- she was fishing for info, imho).  She also told me (dad’s daughter) that SHE would miss dad the most.  Seriously?   He was my DAD.   She was a 1.2% part of his life. That’s it.  Barely existed (would you miss 1.2 cents from a buck?)  She told me that dad didn’t like the one  lady friend (with photos, who he’d known since high school), and I knew that wasn’t true.  That’s when I started to see “B”  more clearly.  She fabricated things to make her feel like his lifelong love… well, she missed that train when mom married him, and then the wonderful lady he saw for eight years after mom died.  I’d lost my dad, and she was ragging on about all sorts of stuff.  Sure, I knew she’d miss him.  But her degree of histrionics was exhausting and painful.  “B” was creepy- saying that she saw him looking back at her when she put his glasses on her kitchen table (she had a mild conniption at the visitation about when dad’s glasses were going to be taken off… I told her to take them just to shut her up).  I do hope she’s well ( and well away from me).  I pray that her macular degeneration is stable, and not getting worse.  And I want nothing to do with her.  I had to have the garage door opener codes changed because she refused to give me back the one she was last known to have.  I added keyless deadbolts.   When I think of her now, I wonder about her DSM-V diagnoses.   And I still wish her well.

I’ve been contacted via greeting cards by two of my deceased mom’s siblings who made sure I was excluded as ‘family’ while they manipulated and dismantled my late grandmother’s trust (grandma was spineless when it came to standing up for what was fair… she got bullied and she folded) . It was mangled after my mom died, and the surviving siblings kept ensuring they profited off of their dead siblings each time one of them died.   Once someone writes me off, it’s over.   I don’t want to  be reminded of their existence with hypocritical cards.   Either I’m part of the family, or not.  Can’t have both.  They deleted me based on lies they KNEW were lies.  That’s what gets me the most.  Screw the money.  I’d settle for truth – but that bunch is incapable.  Leifheit Logic in that generation has been sketchy at best for decades.    My mom was in that generation, and her biggest ‘flaw’ in regards to logic was keeping her marriage vows and having strong faith… maybe they resented her for that… ?  .    Hard to tell with narcissists. I do know that I want nothing to do with them.   They ‘cancelled’ my family ‘membership’ – and that’s just fine.  But be done with it already.   GO AWAY, even via mail.   I am thankful that the six cousins I have from the other ‘discarded’ sibling understand that we’re worth nothing to the greed-mongers.  I didn’t even tell mom’s surviving siblings  when dad died; they found out on Facebook…  never occurred to me to consider them part of the family to notify.  They dumped me about 5 months earlier.  It wasn’t even an issue in my mind/life.

I’m going in to 2017 with a questionable mass on my neck.  I have a CT scan scheduled for a week from tomorrow.  The hope is that it’s just a lipoma (nothing major), but with my crazy medical history, including a LOT of chemo for leukemia, there is always a  question about more cancer.  Chemo can cause cancer (isn’t that special?) .    It has no doubt contributed to the increase in peripheral neuropathy (including the dysautonomia/POTS).  But without it, I would have been dead in 2010.  Pain is more intense now, including the degenerative disc and joint disease.   I see a new chiropractor next week to hopefully put my neck ‘back in place’.  But, I’m alive.  That is still worth it.

I know I have a lot to be thankful for.  That isn’t lost on me by a long shot.  But like anybody I still have my bad days, and today is a really lousy one.   Next year, I MUST lose weight.  I need to do all I can to avoid future joint replacements and minimize joint and disc pain.   I have to get more focused on keeping track of carbohydrates and insulin requirements.   Right now, my blood sugars are very unstable.  Stress isn’t helping that.   But I’ve got my dog.  She is always happy to be around me, and I’m so thankful for her.

Mostly, I’m thankful for God.  That is my ‘Constant’ and my Hope.  I don’t generally find organized religion to be satisfying, but I do love the Lord.  Call it what you want if you don’t believe… for me , my faith is the only thing that keeps me going.   I know that this life is temporary, and that after this earth, it’s all good.   I don’t like the politics of Christians.   I aim to be more compassionate than the judging and ‘dismissing’ of entire groups of people – and I’m not unaware that my feelings about that are also judging and dismissing (I’m working on that).  And, I still love God more than any human I’ve ever met.  Fortunately, I had a  great earthly father to show me a small example of what a Heavenly Father feels for His children.   When this earth and its people depress me, I remember God.  He has this all in control.   I don’t have to worry about any of the mess going on… in the end, good wins.   I don’t have to worry about what others do, or use them as political pawns.  I only answer for what I do.  When there’s nobody to talk to, God is always there.   No matter what, God is my refuge and joy.  He is what makes tolerating this earth bearable.   I know it’s all going to be OK one day.  Maybe not soon, or maybe tomorrow. It doesn’t matter when.    He wins every time.    And I know that HE  alone can help me see things in a way that is less painful.  HE can remind me of the good that is already here.   I don’t think I’d be able to function if I didn’t have that hope and assurance.

Just So Lousy… Death Is An Ugly Business

I’ve been looking back on the last year and a half, and it has become mind-boggling how many of my friends (or their close family members), family, former co-workers, and people who were part of my everyday life are now dead.  I don’t really even know where to start.

Most people know that my cousin died on March 2, 2014, so almost two weeks (tomorrow).  She had a  horrendous fight with neuroendocrine colon cancer, with every complication known to nurse-kind.  I was her ‘go to’ person (as she described me) for bouncing around ideas of what might be going on, and getting my take on what the symptoms she was having could mean.  Being eighty miles away didn’t help, but I did what I could, and my standard line was “you probably need to go to the ER” or “It would be a good idea to call your doctor now and let him/her know what’s going on.”  I was glad to be of some use- and it was also hard to know she was going through so much.

During the last twelve to eighteen months, I’ve looked up former coworkers to see if we could reconnect, and ended up finding their obituaries.   I’ve also been informed about friends’ family members- and in the case of two particular children, it was really so incredibly sad.  One died at age eleven from the same leukemia I had- less than a day after being diagnosed. Another child (8 years old) in that same extended family died from brain cancer, less than a year after she was diagnosed.  She had the best treatment there is (St. Jude’s), and she still lost the fight.  Even though their names are available on public ‘search’ links, I won’t post their names because they were minors- and I don’t have the family’s permission to name them.  I remember some kids who died when I was a kid (friend’s brother had a brain hemorrhage, kid at school had a brain tumor, skating coach’s six kids were murdered by her husband)… but as an adult, with the experience of  pediatric nursing-  hearing the screams of the parents when an infant or child died back in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit isn’t something I’ll ever forget.  It was the most guttural, primal PAINFUL sound I think I’ve ever heard.

I am going to name a few of  the people I’ve lost in the past few years, as I have nothing but good to say about them- and they too are easily found when looking their names up.  I hadn’t expected to find their obituaries, but ….

Madeline Spenrath, R.N. was one of my nursing supervisors in Kerrville, TX.  She was one of the best supervisors I ever had anywhere.  She maintained a bit of a strict ‘ship’…but she had a heart of gold.   I reconnected with  her after her breast cancer was found, and after she’d had to have her right hip removed from the socket (along with the whole leg), as the cancer had spread.  It continued to spread, and she eventually died at one of the nursing homes I used to work at (it helped to know she was getting good care).   Madeline was ‘good people’.   She was down to earth, very knowledgable, and could get an IV into a mosquito in motion.  She had amazing BBQs for the night shift crowd every year for a long time- those were great.  She had someone tend the pit, and everyone brought a dish to pass.  She was all about team work, and it was obvious she was an amazing team leader- and player. She wasn’t above getting her hands dirty.

I had started looking for the mom and godfather of a baby I took care of for most of the first 18 months of his life when his mom worked.  I worked 2-12 hour night shifts on the weekends, and his mom worked 3-11 shifts Monday through Friday, so it was perfect.  The first 3-4 months I had him 5 days a week (had the car seat so I could get errands done), then cut back to 3 days a week so I had some time off.  But he was my little angel bug.  He’s about 25 years old now- last time I saw him he was twelve !   Anyway, when I looked up Jae Arkeen and Dana Coy, I found their obituaries.  It stunned me when I later found out that Jae had relapsed into addiction, and had elevated levels of drugs in his system that he wouldn’t have touched when I knew him.  That broke my heart. He had been SO solid in recovery.  It reinforced that ANYONE can relapse and die with drugs and alcohol.  I really don’t think he’d mind me saying that, because he’d know it could possibly reach someone who is rocky in recovery, thinking they’re invincible with their 12-Step Program.  He was the kindest, most caring guy, and thought that his godson hung the moon. He was so funny, and great to work with.  He later worked in a very intense area of counseling, and I’m sure that, along with what seems like some serious instability in his addiction recovery, was very difficult.  I had contact with  someone who had been very close to him (that I didn’t know), via e-mail, and she let me know what happened.  While it was horribly sad, there was some partial comfort in knowing it was fast- at least at the end.  I’m sure there were some painful times emotionally for him to get to that place.  I worked with him on an adolescent psych unit… he was great with those kids before he moved into a much more specialized area that is polarizing, and very difficult. He was outstanding with those kids.

Dana Coy (RN in several psych units over the years) had a very brief obituary.  brief battle with cancer.  She had been divorced from her adopted-at- birth son’s dad for years, though the son kept in contact with him- so after losing two people who were so close, I’m sure it helped to have his dad there with a long history together.  Dana and I didn’t work shifts together… but we saw each other nearly every day when she dropped the baby off (starting at 9 days old since he was adopted, so not much time off for ‘maternity’ leave), and when she’d pick him up, or I’d take him to work to do a ‘hand off’ if I was working an 11-7 during the week.  I liked Dana.  She was very easy to interact with when I took care of her son… not high strung about things, and also appreciative of having an R.N. for a regular babysitter.   I loved the baby as if he were my own.  She knew that- and also knew that I knew my boundaries as ‘the babysitter’… I always asked her before doing anything with him.  Whether it was a trip to the store, or just going to the apartment complex swimming pool, I made sure she was OK with it.

Another shock was finding out that Tricia Heath, the administrator (and an RN) at a really nice nursing home I worked at in Round Rock, TX back in the early ’90s had died. She was so supportive when I was dealing  some personal things, and was just a kind, compassionate person, who wanted the residents in that facility to have the best possible life they could in an institution.   I really cared about her, and when she and her family moved to Memphis, TN for a job her husband was offered, it was so sad to see her go.  As often happens, people say they’ll keep in touch once they get settled, and then life happens, and they’re in the wind.  Back then, there were no internet search engines for finding people, and it was all basically just luck if phone numbers were in the 411 for a particular city.  Tricia was a great administrator- she kept the place in line for state requirements, but she also had a heart.  I had a lot of respect for her.

Madeline, Jae, Dana, Tricia, and Kathy were parts of my life for a long time. Madeline, Jae, Dana, and Tricia were people I saw every day I worked, depending on the schedule I was on. I wonder how all of their families are doing.  When Facebook and other internet ‘reconnection’ things were available, it was like we’d never been away from each other. I got to catch up with Madeline the most… Jae, only once with a postcard from somewhere, and Dana only briefly when her son was twelve, and I was in Austin for a week for my work; they came up to the hotel to see me one evening when there weren’t any seminars scheduled. But it was great to see her, and how much M had grown !      Tricia was harder to track down since she’d moved back to TX.   I could have paid to find out where she was, but there was information on that thing that was really too invasive for just trying to send a ‘hi, how are ya?” kind of note.  And then they were gone.

I stopped looking for people.  I sort of don’t want to know who else is gone. If more people pop up via Facebook, or whatever, that’s great.  But I think I’m done looking.   It hurts.

Do I Really Belong Anywhere?

When I look at the vast number of ways people can be divisive, I feel even more like I don’t belong anywhere.  Whether it’s political, religious, or anything else, I don’t tow the party line anywhere.  I don’t believe in any extremes.  I hate labels.  I sometimes don’t know exactly where I stand on things, but if it in some way makes people more distant from each other, there’s a really good chance I don’t want any part of it.  The only thing I’m definite about is my relationship with God- not how others view their own Christianity, but MY relationship with God/Jesus/The Holy Spirit… and those don’t need to be flashy and highly viewable.  I shouldn’t have to advertise it; and I shouldn’t have to hide it.

Because of my ‘religious’ beliefs (I detest the word ‘religious’- it screams of empty rituals and mindless devotion), I don’t like when people are labelled and judged by humans. I don’t believe we have the right to do that to other people. We’re human, a.k.a. fallible, and need to focus on our own shortcomings instead of being hateful  (Yes !  Christians are some of the most hateful people on the planet for those Christians who haven’t figured that out!). Check out Matthew 5 & 6… great chapters in the Bible.  Do I have specific feelings about specific issues? Yep.  But I don’t think many of those things need to be put up for public approval. Some things are between the person and God.  And, most really aren’t worth making illegal to clog up an already stagnant legal system even more. We need to keep the violent people contained…not someone who had an abortion after being raped, or something else that is seen as a violation against life and God.  When Christians use God to back up their own beliefs, it makes me sad. God can speak for Himself- and He has.  He told US to love each other, and to leave the judgement to Him.  

That doesn’t mean I don’t have my own beliefs and views on things. I do. But I just can’t stand the fighting about issues that are really very personal.   How does any Christian think that people who don’t have a relationship with God are ever going to see the benefit of knowing Him if Christians spend so much time belittling those they disagree with?  Is it not possible to have a personal (and deeply valued) belief system and relationship with God, and still reach out with an open hand to someone who thinks and believes differently?  Does being a Christian mean avoiding everybody who doesn’t show up at church 3-5 times a week?  That old ‘go ye into ALL the world….’ ?  I guess that was only for the olden days, eh? Seems that folks only want to be with like-minded folks, which is fine, until it becomes exclusive.

When I hear the far right talk about the ‘free’ entitlements such as Medicare, it makes me so sad.  Because of things outside of my control, I’m disabled, and on Medicare (and have been since I was 44 years old).  I worked as an RN for 20 years, and paid into Medicare and Social Security.  That ‘free’ Medicare costs me about $500+ per MONTH, to pay for premiums/co-pays so that I do have full coverage and the medications/supplies I need. Medicare is very deficient in many areas.  Medicaid is extremely difficult to qualify for; it’s not something that a person just goes and gets in line to receive.  It’s portrayed as the medical care that anybody can get if they don’t have something else, and that is absolutely not true.  For me to qualify for Medicaid help (during the times when I had a different Medicare supplement policy that left me with thousands of dollars in copays), I had a $2200/MONTH ‘deductible’ (called a spend-down).  That didn’t even leave enough for rent, let alone premiums, food, utilities, medications, etc.  I agree that there have to be requirements to be met in order to qualify…but I also know that those who find Medicare and Medicaid to be such ‘freebies’ just don’t understand.  It costs me $6000/year for the privilege of having ‘free’ medical care.  I don’t belong on that part of the  ‘right’.

When I hear the far left speak of ‘conservatives’ as people who generally hate most of the planet, it saddens me.  Many of my beliefs are conservative (stiflingly so to some), and yet I have met so many people from so many backgrounds and belief systems that I want to be inclusive.  Excluding people (who are not dangerous to themselves or others) from any part of society damages the whole of society.  When I look at the general decline of behavior as a whole since the ‘Leave It To Beaver’ days, I see that a dose of conservativeness isn’t a bad thing !  There is room for so much more than the black and white thinking that predominates every ‘side’ of any issue.  I don’t belong with the ‘left’ either.

I’ve been rethinking a lot of my personal views on a lot of things.  For the most part, that means that the people I grew up with probably see me as being wayward at best, and a heretic at worst.  I don’t fit anywhere.  I just don’t think that I know enough as a human to judge many of the ‘hot topic’ issues.  And I’m not afraid to admit it.  Yes, I believe the Bible.  But I also know that there are things that are known now that weren’t known in Biblical times, and changes in social and scientific ‘norms’ that cause me to step back from judgement and wait until the day I can ask God for myself, instead of categorizing  groups of humans, or specific activities- and in the meantime, try not to cause more divisiveness.  In the end, the nitpicking isn’t going to help anyone.  What is in my heart is what matters- and I’m OK knowing that God sees that better than anyone.

I’ve discussed my views on homosexuality with people who know me from the church I grew up in, and  with those who have no specific religious views, and it’s not surprising which group verbally beat me up for my beliefs.   I believe that being gay is biological. There. I said it. I don’t think it’s a choice. Or a ‘lifestyle’, like being a jet-setter or redneck, or something.  I’ve also talked before about the kids I saw when I was working as a pediatric RN, who had ‘ambiguous genitalia’ (that is a diagnosis based on biology)… those kids literally had either both male and female sex organs (internal and/or external) , or the only way to determine their gender was by sending their blood for genetic mapping.  Gender is determined by the X-Y chromosomes from the sperm, and are affected by the mom’s hormones while she is pregnant. If the mom is carrying a genetically determined baby girl, and for some reason has some surge of testosterone during the pregnancy at just the right time, why is it so hard to understand that the baby is affected?  If the baby can end up with externally visible gender ambiguity , why is it so hard to think that there can be biological changes in the brain that determine sexual orientation?  Regardless, I don’t know enough to judge someone. I’ve had many gay and lesbian co-workers, one transgender co-worker who was in the process of reassignment, and assorted friends and relatives who are gay or lesbian.  God loves them.  I love them.  SO, I don’t fit in anywhere.

Criticizing the President… Oy.  I shared some very anti-Obama things on FaceBook during the campaign, and I regret it.  I don’t trust Chicago politicians. Period. But he was/is our POTUS.  The office deserves respect, and once again, judgement isn’t my role. The entire political atmosphere scares me, but instead of being so negative, I need to wake up and do more praying than criticizing.  It’s never just about the man in the Office… no one person is responsible for the mess (or success) of a country. It’s not fair to bash our country’s leader, especially in the worldwide social media society we live in.  I also cringe when such stupid things are criticized, such as the sleeve length of Mrs. Obama’s dresses…. seriously?  Does it matter?  When every last thing is torn apart (instead of trying to see the positive), what good comes of it?  Constant criticism just becomes background noise, and nothing said by those who continue to tear things down is heard.  From then on, their credibility is going to be questioned by me (I tend to verify most of what I read online anyway 😀 ).   I don’t trust anyone in Washington, D.C., and the media is always suspect… I want the source, and their interest in the topic.

Another hot topic issue that I do have some personal opinions about is abortion. Specifically, post-rape abortion was  in the press this last year, and some really ignorant politicians made some incredibly stupid remarks. The body doesn’t ‘shut down’ and prevent pregnancy after ‘legitimate’  rape (is there an ilegimate rape?).  If a woman is ovulating when she is raped, she can very easily become pregnant.  I’ve been there.  I had an agonizing decision to make, and I found out very painfully why women consider abortion. I get it.  I couldn’t do it.  And I couldn’t talk to anybody about it.  I was told I was just stressed out because of the rape, and few people would even talk to me about the pregnancy.  I was blessed to have miscarried, though I feel horrible for those who miscarry that are wanting a baby. For me, it was the best outcome for a traumatized 23-year old brain. I’ll never forget that morning- both the horror…and the relief.

Adoption isn’t always the ‘perfect’ answer, either. I was adopted, and I have had positive experiences with my adoptive and biological families.  But I couldn’t give a baby away- and how could I raise a child of rape without prejudice?  How could I tell a baby it was conceived in violence with someone who terrorized me, and have that child ever believe his/her existence was a good thing?  Even if I truly did the best I could to be loving (and with my love for babies and kids, I probably would have done OK, but the whole thing was terrifying).  As an adopted child- who was always told that my being placed for adoption was a wonderful thing for my adoptive parents- I understand that underlying feeling of being a ‘mistake’, even in the best of circumstances.  I later found out that I was conceived with an abundance of love, which meant a lot to me. But growing up, especially as I entered and went through adolescence, I did feel like a fluke.  Being the product of a rape can never be something that can be smoothed over with later information should I have met the child (if I’d carried it to term and relinquished it), or managed to raise it with some degree of actual love and affection.  I don’t ever think abortion is an acceptable form of birth control; there are responsible ways to address pregnancy prevention.  But I ‘get it’ when someone is raped and just can’t emotionally deal with a pregnancy.  I don’t like it. I don’t support it. But I get it.  Once again, I don’t fit with so many that I grew up with.

The ‘morning after pill’… it does NOT terminate a pregnancy. It prevents implantation. Without implantation, even a fertilized egg will not result in a pregnancy. It’s simple biology.  The ‘morning after pill’ is not the same as abortion.  There are pills that do terminate pregnancies.  It is good to know the difference.

The more things there are to divide people, the more I don’t fit anywhere.  I can see many sides of an issue, and I don’t understand why others can’t do the same. Am I just stupid?  I’ve  generally graduated with honors, and done very well when I worked as an RN. Am I naive? Maybe.  Do I just want to feel like it’s OK to not hate one side or the other in order to ‘belong’? Absolutely.  That’s really all I want.  And to not be belittled for wanting that.   I’m glad that humans aren’t my Ultimate Judge.

Can This Country Ever Come Together?

And I’m not necessarily talking about who wins the election in 2 days- though that ‘s a big part of it, but it’s way beyond that.  Everywhere I turn, there is such hate and divisiveness.  It’s so far beyond disagreement with any sort of mutual respect.  It’s bitter, hostile, and wishing the other ‘side’ ill will, or making personal attacks that go beyond disagreeing with views and beliefs.  And, it has no limits demographically. But recently, it does come through in the political hate each side seems to have for the other side.  Have people forgotten that there are decent human beings who happen to disagree?  Sure, there are politically based people in the public that I really don’t like (from both sides- extremism is very unpalatable no matter who does it).  There are many I wouldn’t want to be in the same room with. But I don’t wish anything dreadful on them.

In reading some of the comments on news stories, or even on YouTube for something totally unrelated to politics, the venomous comments are horrifying.  The topic can be a song, a video on some personal tragedy, or whatever. There is hate everywhere. Social media has made this so easy.  It’s the chickenshit way to spew contempt without having to actually come face to face with the person or ideas they abhor.  And there is no indication that there is any value for the person who may disagree.  It’s sad.  Pathetic. Terrifying.  There are comments about the person not deserving to live, that anybody associated with them isn’t worth taking up space on the planet, etc.  Over a disagreement in beliefs.  Says a lot about the desirability of being part of either side when personal attacks are acceptable.  I want nothing to do with either ‘side’.

We have people in this country who shoot a theater full of Batman movie goers ‘just because’ (and yes, I realize that mental illness was behind that to some degree- yet it was also well planned, so some measure of clear thinking was involved).  I’m grateful that the current candidates haven’t been harmed in a society that can produce Columbine, the Batman Massacre , killing of Amish school students, etc.  I pray for whoever wins the election.  Nobody deserves to be mowed down.  And in this society, I can see it happening very easily.  Some idiot will become a ‘martyr’… and some will be delighted, though without daring to say it at that point. Then it would be wrong- but to be so hateful otherwise?  It’s become a sport.

I cleared out many political ‘shares’ on my FaceBook page this morning.  These are from people I know.  I wish I didn’t know a thing about their political views (from either side) because most of it is followed with some type of disdain or hatred.  Republican, democrat, ‘other’, or independent.  It doesn’t matter. Politics has come to be equated with hate and division.  There are so few civilized discussions, and personally, I don’t want to know what my FRIENDS think about politics.  I’ve shared some things, and have tried to be selective, but I now feel that it’s just perpetuating what I loathe.  I was wrong to send anything political to anybody. I apologize.

No matter who wins the election, the media and social media will continue to provide an outlet for those who are bitter and hateful.  None of that solves anything. We all know that politicians just want to be right for the sake of being right- for votes- not to do anything productive. And those who campaign can’t really fulfill anything they promise since they’re not the final step in decision making- unless it’s to veto something, or their buddies are in control of the House of Representatives and Senate.  Congress seems to be a cesspool of hatred.  A microcosm of the country at large.

I’ve had a relative (a.k.a. family member) describe me in bitterly hateful terms because I asked to not receive anymore e-mail propaganda from her (and I never sent her anything from ‘my side’). She hadn’t returned e-mails (about ‘hey, how are you?’) or had anything to do with me for over 20 years.  Yet she decided she knows that I’m a hate monger?  No.  That relationship is over.  It’s one thing to disagree. It’s something else (and a deal breaker) to make it a personal attack.  And yet, that’s all I see from so many people- including Christians, who ‘talk’ about not being judgemental, but can’t seem to shut up with their judgements about those they disagree with.  Those who don’t care about God, but claim to want everyone to get along, are just as guilty.  If people can’t be civilized I really don’t care to know them.  Disagreeing is one thing, when it’s done with respect that both sides feel passionately about their beliefs.  But when any side demands respect and refuses to give it, they’re all hypocrites.

There are a good number of ‘friends’ who I wouldn’t have anything to do with if I knew them for purely political reasons.  There are some family members that I’m stuck with until they cross the line and get personal with their attacks.  And yet mostly what I see are hateful posts that cause me to wonder if the sender thinks the horrible things about me because I don’t agree with their views about someone they don’t know as a human being.  Public figures are not humanized. They have become objects.  And social media has made categorizing and objectifying people the way to interact.

Eight years of Bush-hate has become four years of Obama-hate (or Obama worship- depending on the ‘side’).  No matter who wins this election on Tuesday, there will be more hate.  And it does cross over into relationships.  Even if I agree with most of what my friends believe, I don’t want to see their hatred.  Maybe some folks need to unfriend me.  If hatred over someone they don’t know is that important, that’s probably a good thing to just get rid of me.  I’ll understand.  I don’t agree completely with EITHER candidate or ‘side’.  I don’t identify with any party.  Sadly, it’s become picking the less of two evils.  I’m embarrassed by many of the conservative pundits.  And I dislike many of the far-left personalities.  Extremism isn’t appealing no matter where it comes from.

So, I wait for Tuesday to be over with. Just get it done.  The tone for the next four years will be set in a heartbeat.  Obama wins, and the right hates; Romney wins, and the left hates.  There is no middle ground anymore (at least what is made public- maybe there are some who stay quiet that can be more discreet and humane).  Regardless, our country is ruined. Until there can be some sort of cooperation and removing the person’s ideas from their value as a human being, we’re going to continue to fail.  If we can’t pay for our debt, we’re going to be like Greece (who had a major corporation refuse to send a cancer drug to them this week; google ‘Merck and Greece’).  If we don’t take care of our own, we’ll have people needlessly dying and/or homeless- generally through no fault of their own.  And these seem to be the only two options….no middle ground that can be agreed upon.  So we’ll fail. We’re already dropping in health and education categories with other countries.

While I still think that this is the best place to live, it is a horrible place to exist among so much hate.  So, the 25+ countries that read this blog- this is my view. I still love my country…but less and less the people who make their opinions known in hateful ways.  For now, it’s worse from those on the right…. but if Romney wins (as it was in the years with Bush), the left will spew their venom.  And in the end, it does nothing to fix anything.

Christians, Rape, and Abortion

Periodically,  I see something about adoption being the ‘best’ option with pregnancies from rape, usually by someone who has never been in that situation.   I got pregnant from a 6 hour violent rape in 1987, and was tormented about what to do.  As a Christian, abortion was something that was too painful to even think about, but I did think about it (and felt guilt and shame for just that).  And I understand why other women do as well.  I’m in no way condoning abortion, but I understand the pain behind it.   Being adopted, and knowing how much that had consumed my life with wanting to have contact with my biological family, giving away the baby would have been incredibly difficult as well.  Now that I’ve had contact with my biological family, I understand how that changed my bio-mom’s life forever.  She wasn’t given a choice about what to do with me… she was shamed  (or totally ignored about that pregnancy after returning back near her childhood home) because of getting pregnant with me when she was 17.  Nobody really thought about HER during that time.  Just get rid of that baby (me).  In terms of emotional outcome, a forced adoption leaves lasting, intense scars; so does an abortion resulting from painful circumstances, even if the latter involves more relief as well. The situations  are very different- but it would still have been very difficult to give away something that was %50 ‘mine’.  And a disaster to raise it.

It was a horrendous 10-12 weeks from the time of the rape and the actual miscarriage that started  one morning before work.  God saved me from the decision. I had horrible morning sickness all day long starting very early in the pregnancy.  Whenever something was in my mouth, I dry heaved.  I lost 30 pounds in the first month, and agonized over what to do with ‘it’. The ‘dismissal’ by other Christians that I see in various articles/posts about other people  is really hurtful.  “Just pray.”  Prayer is so important, but sometimes God could use another Christian to actually DO something tangible to be of some support to a woman going through a pregnancy from rape, without judging (something Christians are so good at).  The shame gets dumped back on the rape survivor.  I was VERY thankful that God took the decision out of my hands.  That miscarriage in my situation was a huge blessing. I still have the image of it in the toilet.  It took years to tell anybody about what had happened.  Ironically, it was a nun who happened to be the nurse practitioner doing my annual female exam who validated what I’d known for years.  I’d been pregnant.

Normal Christian response to a rape pregnancy:  “Just buck up and give birth to the kid”.  THEN get rid of it through adoption.  It’s not that easy!   But that’s what most Christians want done with babies from rape, mostly in situations they have no personal connection to… makes their judging so much easier.  No consideration for how difficult the decisions really are for the one who was raped, impregnated, and then basically disregarded by the Christians she grew up with, or even didn’t know (why turn to a church who shows disdain towards someone who is hurting).   The platitudes are incredibly painful.  God can do  anything- I truly believe that.  But He doesn’t keep those who love Him from making some thoughtlessly  painful comments.  Those who knew me before the rape know just how much I loved babies.  I spent eleven years in the church nursery taking care of little ones during church services. By the time I moved to another state, that was half of my life.

I need to clarify a few things. I am not pro-abortion.   I’m not even moderately pro-choice. But I ‘get it’.  I couldn’t go through with it.  I also don’t believe that it should be a legal/political matter; legal or not abortion will happen regardless.  People don’t want government in their business, but they’re all too eager to crawl up in a woman’s womb and tell her exactly what she should, or can do.  Having been through the experience of needing to make decisions, I ‘get it’.  It is excruciating It’s not done with some flip sense of apathy- at least in my situation. I was a virgin, and was raped for 6 hours to the extent that uterine ligaments were torn from the ‘impact’ of his penis, fists, and a wine cooler bottle he used repeatedly to  impale me- for six hours.  I still couldn’t choose abortion.  But I definitely understand the mindset for many who do…. they’re not hateful women who don’t care.  They’re traumatized women facing more trauma.  This wasn’t some flash of consideration of an abortion as some sort of cheapened birth control from a mistake the woman made…I’m absolutely opposed to  lack of accountability for actions.  But getting pregnant in the case of rape isn’t by consent… the woman who is raped is forced into accountability for a criminal action and situation that  she didn’t initiate.  Or deserve.

I’m also adopted. That wasn’t a choice I was comfortable making, and not so much because of the adoption itself. I believe adoption is  a very viable solution to unwanted children in many situations.  I’m thankful my birthmother didn’t get rid of me (I was born before Roe v. Wade) and I was even more thankful to know I wasn’t conceived in violence, or even indifference.  There was love behind my existence. That was hugely helpful in feeling like I did belong on the face of the earth after all !   I was the product of monogamous teenage love (who ended up staying in contact until my biological father’s death in 1994, though they’d gone different ways to have their own families, primarily because of my biological maternal grandmother’s absolute refusal to have a bastard child in her family).  I wasn’t the product of deceit, violence, and pain.

I  don’t think I would have made it emotionally if I’d had to carry a baby to term, and then give it away, even though I didn’t want anything around me that reminded me of the man who raped me (he got a 60 year sentence after being shot in my bedroom by police, and is in and out on parole; he’s a career criminal, each more violent offense committed while on parole, including my rape- not fodder for genetic material).  I feared that my ability to parent without prejudice towards the kid wouldn’t be good for the kid- and yet ‘giving away’ a baby also hurt, though would have been the only option when it came down to it.  But, I felt backed into a corner, and my 23-year old brain wasn’t doing well. I wasn’t equipped to cope with any of it.  My faith in God was strong.  I think people don’t think it was, since I don’t tow the  pulpit line of ‘no clue’ when it comes to actually being in an inflicted  felonious situation with ongoing complications.    God got me out of that rape alive (the ‘plan’ , as the rapist spoke to me during the rape,  was to dismember me alive, then leave with my car; I was still on workman’s comp for a back injury, so nobody would have missed me for a while).   God  gave me the opportunity to escape after six hours- as soon as it was as safe as it was going to be, I got out.  God  allowed me to meet my downstairs neighbors (where I ran to, in a towel and barefoot) just days before the rape, after moving to a new apartment complex.   And I talked to God a lot during that morning.   God is the reason I survived.  And I’ve known that as far back as when the rape was still going on.  My faith has been intact when it comes to God.  My ‘faith’ in many of His followers?  Not so much.  I know of a man from my childhood church who survived a brutal attack, much worse than the beating I survived .  Nobody questions anything he had to deal with afterwards.  Of course, no unwanted child involved there.

What would I tell the child when it came looking for me 18 + years later?  How could I ever make it “right” that the child was fathered without my consent by a career criminal?  How could I ever tell that kid that it was never wanted by the woman who carried it to term, even if indirectly just by saying the word ‘rape’ ?   I know all of the Christian platitudes by people who have never been in the situation.  I know of some stories about Christian women who have carried the rape-baby to term and given it up for adoption, and how they all ran towards each other in lavender fields one day, to live happily ever after. That’s great that it happened to be such a blessing  for them to get raped (you know what I mean).  I was just flat out violated and tormented.  My miracle was surviving.  I could never have moved forward with any sort of intact mental functioning with a rape-child returning as an adult.  As it was, when the parole protests started I was a mess. A lot of stuff I’d managed to bury for 20 years blew like Vesuvius ( 20 years is 1/3 of the mandatory part of the 60 years he agreed to in a weird plea bargain).  Twenty years after the rape, it was like I was back being threatened again.   My faith was strong (still is).   That doesn’t make dealing with ongoing reminders of Jan. 10, 1987 easy.  Nobody forgets that kind of attack.Miscarriage for someone who is actively trying to have a baby, or who would welcome a baby at any time during their life, is a kind of pain I can’t even imagine.  I’m not saying I’m thankful for the miscarriage itself;  I was SO glad that the situation was ‘fixed’.  It’s never over, but I had no decisions to make about a child.   My heart goes out to anyone who has suffered the loss of a child through miscarriage (or any other reason).  That has to leave a huge hole in someone’s heart. My mom (adoptive- one I grew up with from the time I was 10 days old- so who I consider to be my mom) lost two newborns a couple of years apart in a time when it was just sort of explained as what was ‘best’ (babies were too sickly).  She wasn’t even allowed to see either baby, who lived two and six days (now they would have had more than a %90 survival rate).  Her derailed grief process went on to impact her intensely, as she was unable to really acknowledge any bond with me. She was terrified of another loss. I truly believe she wanted me and loved me – but she wasn’t able to convey any sort of warmth in a way that a child understands.  Looking back, I see all sorts of examples of her love.  But a kid needs things that are much more tangible- hugs, patience, etc.  That isn’t the same as what I went through at all.  I understand that.   I recognize her losses as the losses of wanted babies.  I hope that one day in Heaven I’ll see that unwanted baby that I lost, in a place where pain is erased.  But for here on earth,  God saved me from the agony of deciding what to do, and the aftermath.  Giving up a baby isn’t ‘simple’, regardless of its conception.

What saddens me so much is that the people who claim to be all about love and God are the ones who judge and shame  the most.  I’m a  born again Christian, and have been for more than 45 years.  I’m far from perfect, but I know where my spiritual foundation is. I love God deeply, and am so thankful for what Christ did on the cross for me. And yet, I’m afraid of having any sort of deep relationship with Christians because of the level of judgement.  I never get that shame from non-believers.  With most Christians, finding out that someone they know from church has been raped is met with silence, not support.  It’s as if I somehow deserved it- even if the silence is just out of ignorance. Ya can’t talk to a Christian about rape !   I wonder how many Christians suffer in silence over rapes they feel shame about, when they have nothing to be ashamed of.   I’ve had things edited and censored when I’ve tried to reach out to an age group ready to head out into the world on their own.   How I got raped was all about ‘helping my neighbor’, without thinking about myself, and that almost got me killed.

I’d never been taught at church that assessing my personal safety, or listening to that funny little voice that says  something isn’t right, is OK  (and in fact Biblical- Proverbs 27: 12 “The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.”).  I didn’t deserve it. Nobody does. Rape is about violence and defects in the rapist.  I was wearing a sweatshirt from the Christian  camp I went to as a kid  (and worked at during 2 1/2 summers in my late teens)  when he started to violate me. I was answering a call for help (turned out to be a lie, but I took it at face value, and felt obligated to ‘help my neighbor’).  And yet, Christians are the ones who have been the most critical of me (or anybody who is raped) and the things I have felt about the pregnancy.  I’d love to speak to church high school groups (and their parents if they wanted to come) about making smart decisions when going out into the world/college.  Being a Christian isn’t a safeguard from non-Christians who have evil intentions.  Evil comes disguised as a beautiful creature, remember.   We’re in the world, even if we’re not of it. 

I also thought about what I’d do if I’d had the baby, given it up for adoption, and it later came to me asking about its father. I would not have lied to that child.  To have a child come back in 18+ years and ask about its biological family, only to hear that it wasn’t wanted from the get go (no matter WHO wanted to adopt it) would have been heartbreaking for the child… and there’s no way to tell a kid they were conceived during a rape, and make it out to be a desired conception.  I know what sort of things ran through my head as a kid long before I met my biological family.  Even if “God has  a plan for you” would be pretty hard to take after “You were conceived during a 6 hour rape, where your father was shot by police shortly after I got away.”  How can that come out as something less than devastating?   I found out I WAS wanted (even if unplanned), conceived by teenagers who had been monogamous for several years, and who loved each other.  I couldn’t give that to the child of rape.  I couldn’t sugar coat it, nor would I; a child seeking birthparents deserves the truth.  Finding a biological father’s primary address over decades is the Texas Department of Corrections would have been a nightmare for the product of a rape. The child would deserve answers, delivered with compassion.  But the truth no matter what.

Some may view me as ‘ a bad Christian’ for my views-  and that’s fine; they’re only human beings.  It hurts immensely, but judgement from  people is essentially meaningless in the long run.  God knows my heart. He knows the struggles I had with being pregnant, and trying to figure out what to do. He knew I wasn’t emotionally strong enough to handle what was going on. That is why the miscarriage was a blessing. That is why I can understand why some people consider abortion after rape.  That is why I couldn’t just give a baby away, though I wanted nothing to do with it.  It’s NOT simple.  It’s horrifically painful, and continues to be a very tender subject.  And I know that I can’t depend on the majority of Christians I know for any sort of support when I’m having a hard time (every three years there is another parole protest).  Christian love goes out the window when abortion, rape, and rape pregnancies come up.  Forgive the church member having an affair, but get that pregnant woman out of town if she’s not married, or was raped.   Regardless of the lifelong pain of being raped, and it not being my fault, there is judgement because I understand why someone would consider abortion.  Not because I had one.  That gets forgotten.  Just because I am honest enough to say I wanted nothing to do with that baby, I’m considered “less than” acceptable to include with the people they know.   Again, God knows my heart.

Here’s an idea to those who make abortion a political issue…. it’s going to happen no matter what the laws are.  It’s a choice that is between that woman, possibly the sperm donor,  and God.  HE is the one who will make the ultimate law when that woman stands before Him, and He sees her heart.  If Christians don’t like doctors who perform abortions, don’t go to them, and pray for them !  Don’t like an organization that deals with abortion?  Don’t support them, and pray for their management folks.  We have bigger issues in this country right now (like getting Congress to work?). Why is so much time blown on making abortion a political issue, when it has nothing to do with government?  Don’t like funding issues?  Then vote for a special referendum. And pray for the folks doling out the cash.   Maybe put more effort into realizing that an unwanted pregnancy deserves some compassion (for the baby, if not the mother), so the woman feels that there is some support out there to get the baby to term, and into a loving home.   Fussy, fussy humans trying to control the choices of someone else, who (in the situation besides rape/incest) made a bad decision, wasn’t on birth control to prevent more consequences from random/unprotected sex, and got “in trouble”.   God will forgive.  Why won’t His followers? Forgiveness isn’t condoning.  It’s leaving it to God, and is a mandate BY God (Matthew 6 and 7 ), and has little to do with the “offender”, but in the relationship one has with God themselves.   Even self-righteous Christians aren’t in charge of judgement.

Try timing the contractions of a 12 year old in labor with her father’s baby, and not thinking about appropriate times for abortion.  I had to do that when I worked adolescent psych.   Talk about heart wrenching .  Her child (a baby girl) was put up for adoption, and the 12 year old and her three younger sisters were put in foster care. The twelve year old was appropriately terrified (not even sure if she knew how she GOT pregnant).   All she knew was that daddy diddled her.  That was her ‘normal’.   Christians don’t like to think about the real world.  It happens if they think about it or not.  And the real world could use a LOT more Christian love, and kick the judgement to the curb.

The rape is how I ended up never letting anybody get close enough to end up in a marriage, with my own family of kids.  I always thought I’d have at least four kids.   And, church is how I never thought it was OK to protect myself if I was asked for help.   The ‘two wrongs don’t make a right’ argument can also end up in one rape plus one pregnancy/abortion = one suicide.  Is that better?   I’m thankful God got me past that and took that baby away to a safe and beautiful place.  He definitely was in control.  And I’m eternally thankful.

EDIT: After seeing a comment on one of the searches for my blog, and seeing  “I was raped, am now a Christian, and can’t get over it”, I MUST let anybody who is raped know that it is NEVER your fault. Rape isn’t about anything you did or didn’t do, or what you wear, or anything else- it is an act of violence committed ON you- you aren’t the one who did anything wrong.  God isn’t going to judge you for being raped. ❤  Please, please… know that you are NOT damaged goods, and you are still a precious child of God.  I wish I knew the folks who are in pain who end up reading this- I’d want so badly to let you know that you’re not the one who is defective- it is the one who raped you who is accountable for what he did TO you.  Please know that God cares about you and wants you to feel His love for you.