I’m Coming OUT!

Today was Spirit Day in memory of several gay students who committed suicide from homophobic abuse they experienced.

What’s great is that there has been a rally of support for gays and lesbians all over the place by people today wearing purple to show their love and respect for them. Things will get better. One day, we will live in a world where it won’t matter what your sexuality is. There won’t be someone telling you you’re a sinner or a “fag” or a queer. There’s hope for humanity.

In the same spirit, I’m coming OUT today.

I’m not coming out in the, “I’m a lesbian” kind of way. I’m not a lesbian. I’m straight. I’m a straight woman who has a lot of gay and lesbian friends, and supports their right to fall in love, get married, hold hands, kiss, have sex, etc. without enduring intolerance or judgment.

I also have a lot of gay and lesbian friends who love God, who love Jesus and don’t have a place in the Church. But more on that later…

Back to me coming OUT:

I’m pretty sure a lot of people already know this, but I’m not a Christian Fundamentalist anymore. I once was. I sort of fell into it as a teenager and young adult. I walked away from it around the age 24.

Now it’s time to come out and be proud.

I’m standing with Anne Rice and those others who just can’t side with a religion (in this blog, Christianity, but any religion or group) that calls itself loving, but is hateful and judgmental. I can’t stand with a belief system that denies science, evolution, and the promotion of contraceptives, when I so believe in all those things–not because they are trends but because I have worked hard to find answers of my own. I can’t be feminist, intellectually evolving, and growing and listen to those who will call me wrong for thinking the way I do, simply because I’m using my own God-given brain. My brain isn’t smaller because it’s in a female body. I can be a woman and teach, preach, run a church, business, corporation, country as well as a man. It’s not a sin “equal to pedophilia” to ordain a woman as priest (to quote the Pope). I’m not anti-Christian, baby-hating, or a child-killer because I believe in abortion as a woman’s right to choose. I’m not even anti-Christian because I believe in all of the above.

I’m simply responding finding that after years of being a “Christian,” there isn’t a place for me after I changed.

The woman I am today isn’t welcome in the church I once attended because the church I once attended didn’t allow me to think for myself.

Will I Always Be Atheist?

So my question to you is, Will you always be a Christian? Or will you finally start thinking for yourself and not let some multi-millionaire pastor tell you what the bible says and what you should do with your life? When are you going to live for yourself and not this modern conception of “giving it all to god”?

Seth emails me the other day (hey seth!) and says, “You’ll come back full circle. You’ll be a Christian again.”

It wasn’t an asshole thing to say. Seth is a nice guy. Since then, we’ve talked and caught up and it’s great to hear how well he’s doing with life.

It’s something I thought about before, actually–this whole, “Will I always be atheist?” I mean, I swung all the way toward fundamentalist Christian extremes (living in a fringe group for years, on a compound with dozens of other “church members” and “disciples”) and now I’m on the non-believer extremity. Who’s to say I won’t swing back again?

Sometimes I questioned my ability to swing all the way over the “other side” so easily–except that it wasn’t easy and it took many years. And I think being atheist is closer to who I always was. I always questioned the bible and what I was taught in church (and everywhere else). It’s just that when you move to an isolated location and aren’t allowed outside media, friends, family, etc. it’s easier for you to get brainwashed into thinking that this fringe belief system is the right and correct path to an elite version of Christianity.

In all honesty, it’s destructive and fills you with guilt and all things unpleasant. As Christopher Hitchens would say, “Religion is evil.” He might even say a group like this is maniacal.

So my question to you is, Will you always be a Christian? Or will you finally start thinking for yourself and not let some multi-millionaire pastor tell you what the bible says and what you should do with your life? When are you going to live for yourself and not this modern conception of “giving it all to god”?

Our Savior’s Church Pastor Minimalized a Family Death

How Pastor Jacob Aranza, Senior Pastor of Our Savior’s Church in Lafayette, Louisiana, treated me as his staff member when my grandmother died, was beyond terrible.

The story of how Master’s Commission treated it’s staff members in relation to family and vacation was terrible and there is much more to it than what I’ve started to write. How Pastor Daniel Jones, Senior Pastor of Our Savior’s Church in Lafayette, Louisiana, treated me as his staff member when my grandmother died, was beyond terrible.

After a long summer of depression, burn-out from overwork and little sleep, and suicidal thoughts, I contemplated quitting Master’s Commission for good and heading back to California to live near my family. I found it difficult to view my life outside of Master’s Commission: I had no degree, no career, little professional skills, and no assets or savings. I also had little identity outside the group.

Pastor Daniel Jones got a hold of me after that summer and offered me a job with him. I’d be his wife’s personal ministry assistant, and would have nothing to do with Master’s Commission. He was appalled when he found out Nathan was only paying me $150 a month, and he offered me $500 a month. He said it’d be mostly part-time and I could do any ministry I wanted.

It was a dream come true for me, at the time. I had wanted to be a missionary for years, and had liked working with the women’s ministry.

None of what he promised came true, except that I made $500 a month and that I was his wife’s assistant. The $500 a month wasn’t fair compensation for the full-time hours I pulled at his house, and for being on call every weekend day and night of the week. I was his wife’s assistant, but what I mainly did was home-school their middle son, clean their house, do laundry, and clean their entire house after every major dinner or holiday party they had at their house. So, I was a live-in slave, as I affectionately call it.

Fast forward to October of 2004. My mom’s mother got really sick and ended up in the ICU. My parents paid for my flight home (of course, my paycheck couldn’t cover even part of a flight home) and I grabbed the next one (after asking permission, to which I want to throw up over how stupid I was to do that).

I spent the next day or two at the ICU with my mom, dad, brother and sister. I was filled with a terrible amount of guilt, because I’d rarely seen my grandma over the past few years. I worked in a cult. I wasn’t allowed much time off for the holidays to see my family and never a vacation.

My grandma passed away that weekend. It was awful. I was so sad, and my mother just lost her own mother. We had a funeral to plan, and after that was done, we had to take care of bills, her condo, and all the other paperwork type of stuff that you just don’t think of (when you’re young) and don’t realize you have to do so suddenly after a sudden death.

To top it all off, we’re a very close family and I just felt terrible that my mom was grieving. All I wanted to do was to be there for her, but after the funeral, there was this looming feeling that I had to call Pastor Daniel  to see when I had to come back.

I called.

I explained that I needed to help my mom take care of my grandma’s condo, deal with her mail and bills, and all the other stuff I had no idea was such a big job. I told him Daniel Jones that I couldn’t leave my mom alone here without my help while she was grieving over her mom. I had to help her. I was a grown woman, and it was just right for me to stay to help her. I wanted a week there to stay with my mom.

After that week, I also wanted to go to a long-time friend’s wedding. It was on a weekend in nearby Texas. He had been in Master’s Commission with me, and we had developed such a great friendship. Actually, he was the kind of person everyone loved. He was always laughing and joking and making people feel great about themselves.

Pastor Daniel  said no to me staying to help my mom and he said no to me attending the wedding of a long-time friend.

Like a robot, I headed back to the airport. I was heartbroken. I felt like a horrible daughter. I felt trapped.

My years of friendships and everything my life was all about was in Louisiana. I couldn’t just tell the senior pastor to eff off and stay in California and jeopardize every friendship and relationship I’d come to love. I knew what happened to those kind of people. I knew what awful things were said about them. I knew the Scarlet Letter they wore for life after they did something like that.

Looking back, of course I feel disgusted with myself. I should’ve been stronger. I should’ve left Our Savior’s Church at that moment. I should’ve woken up from the brainwashing. I should’ve shooken off the pixy dust that was covering my eyes making me walk under Daniel Jones’s spell.

I should’ve put my mother first, and I should’ve put my friend’s wedding first.

When I returned, Daniel  didn’t feel any remorse for telling me to leave my mom behind grieving. There was barely a word spoken about it. In fact, we just went back to work and every day I laundered his dirty underwear and washed his dirty coffee cups, I began to resent the fact that I’d come back for something so unimportant and something that I was over-qualified to do.

Comment Policy

I’m in the process of developing a comment policy to ensure that this blog promotes respectful dialogue, for myself and the other victims of spiritual abuse who read this. As you may know, as the moderator to this sight, I reserve the right to delete or moderate any comment or remove any person who doesn’t maintain a respectful attitude toward the author of this site, or toward the victims of abuse.

In addition, I’m going to be enforcing some stronger boundaries on the comment board. In order to do so, I’m organizing a Frequently Asked Questions page to appease all those who want to bash the writer with the same comments over and over and over. I’m currently drafting up answers to your most frequent questions, and organizing the hyperlinks to posts that I’ve already answered those questions.

Some of those questions include (but are not limited to):

  • If it was so bad, why did you stay?
  • Don’t you know that you’re slandering pastors?
  • Why did you choose to use names in this blog?
  • Why are you spiritually attacking godly men and women?

And some insults including:

  • You’re not acting very Christian by writing this blog;
  • You’re judging those pastors;
  • You’re the Devil;
  • You’re a Jezebel;
  • You’re bitter;
  • You’re angry;
  • You’re fill-in-the-blank with numerous other accusations.

Most of these questions, comments and accusations have been answered on this blog; however, as I’m always in the process of improving the site, an easier to read page with all of the answers/responses to these will be accessible in the next few weeks.

Thank you for your patience readers and haters.

And no matter what side you are on: Have a Happy Thanksgiving.

The Other Side of Christianity

In theory, Christianity is almost benign. “Love your neighbor.” “Serve one another.”

In practice, Christianity is one of the most judgmental and dishonest groups in the world.

This weekend I watched “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” about the late Tammy Faye Bakker.

A documentary look, mostly through the eyes of Tammy Faye Bakker Messner, at her rise and fall as a popular televangelist with husband Jim Bakker.Traces their rise: her teen marriage to Jim; their children’s TV show (she was a puppeteer and singer), success founding the 700 Club, co-founding the Trinity Broadcast Network, and starting PTL Network; her nondenominational version of Christianity reaching out to all; and, their building of Heritage USA, a theme park. Things fall apart as money woes mount for Heritage and for Jim, as Tammy takes pills, and as Jerry Falwell takes PTL. Jim goes to prison; she remarries, finds herself alone again, yet remains unsinkable. [From IMDB]

In one of many poignant moments, Tammy Faye talks about her experience re-entering church after her divorce from Jim Bakker. She said she didn’t want to attend church because she’d been so harshly judged by Christians after her divorce from Jim and their money scandals. And, the film shows people feeling disgusted with Tammy Faye as she re-enters a church to sing.

What some of us may not have seen until this film was the predatory way that Jerry Falwell came in and took over PTL when the news of the sex scandal with Jessica Hahn hit. Or earlier, when Jan and Paul Crouch booted them out of the Trinity Broadcasting Network.

It’s easy to see from the film that Tammy Faye was naive, and trusted those who called themselves Christians. And why shouldn’t she? They’re the kindest group in the nation, right?

Tammy Faye learned firsthand what Pat Boone was quoted as saying in the film,

“It’s so true that Christians are one army who kill their wounded.”

I’ve experienced this, though on much smaller levels than Tammy Faye. I’m not 100% convinced that I was ostracized from my church friends just because it’s a cult-ish church. I say that because later, when I met Christians in college, I got the same treatment. When I shared with some family members what happened to me, I got the same treatment. When I started blogging, again, many Christians (and Christian bloggers) treated me the same way.

The bottom line is if you’re wounded, they will try to kill you.

There’s nothing more frightening to Christians than a person who’s outspoken about the faults of their pastor and their religion, and they will attack to kill.

There’s a dark side to Christianity. A side that only the departed have seen. A side you’ll never see until you’ve walked away from the church, or become dissatisfied with lip service, or find out about the financial indiscretions of the people in ministry you so respected.

That dark side of Christianity is the other side–their true colors. The “we’ll kick you when you’re down” and “we take no prisoners” kind of mentality. They won’t leave many to talk about their wickedness, their hatefulness. They want to cut out your tongue so you can’t speak ill of them.

For a group who loves the truth, they love to silence those who want to SAY the truth.

There are, and it should be noted, a few, caring, devoted Christians that I know. I like them, but they’re decidedly not fundamentalists. They drink alcohol, and curse, and they are usually “outsiders” in their own religion.

I talk about Christianity as a whole here because I’m not sure what has happened in our country, our world, but it seems that fundamentalists have overrun the entire religion. Not that they’re the most outspoken, that they are the majority, and their ideology has infiltrated most Christian sects.

Upon leaving a fundamentalist cult, I felt it was important to differentiate between the cult and the “normal” Christian church. And then later, distinguish a difference between a “liberal progressive” church and the fundamentalists I knew.

But what is the real difference?

Upon further study and observation, and yes, even how I was treated by them, I find that the problem isn’t with fundamentalists or not. The problems lie in the religion itself. It’s a faulty and violent ideology. Those who say Islam is violent, should take a much deeper, introspective look at Christianity. In many ways, they mirror each other.

Fundamentalism is easy to embrace because the Bible is easiest to interpret literally. I blame preachers, yes, but I also blame the Bible for being contradictory. It takes a very enlightened mind to embrace today’s culture warmly and still believe in the Bible. Those who can embrace our culture and the Bible simultaneously feel comfortable with accepting the Bible as stories and suggestions, not rigid law or a map to follow. The Bible presents contradictions within itself and teaches values that are oppressive to many groups (slaves, women, etc.). To embrace these contradictions, one must be comfortable with uncertainty, doubt, and being contemplative rather than absolute.

To be honest, I have a real problem with stating that Christianity is a violent ideology, because I believe that people should have the right to freedom of religion. So, can I support freedom of religious belief and still believe that Christianity is violent? It’s complicated, but yes.

While complicated, those ideas can live together just as we humans can live together in [sometimes] harmony. Although we’re different, if we choose to be hopeful [and hope for the best in our neighbors] and introspective and thoughtful, a lot of good can come of it. We may not agree, but we can be cognizant of our differences and approach our differences thoughtfully. We can be honest about ourselves–where we came from, where our ideologies stem from, what are the strengths and weaknesses of those beliefs. We can embrace those who are different from us in peace, not in war.

Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding. Albert Einstein

Breaking My Silence: My Story of Religious Abuse

For the past year and a half, I’ve written a blog about escaping what my therapist and I ha

    For the past year and a half, I’ve written a blog about escaping what my therapist and I have called a cult; the tedious and emotional recovery; and then the admittance of the diagnosis my therapist gave me: depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder (all from my cult experience). Yesterday, Robin Morgan wrote a wonderful piece of satire on the Women’s Media Center blog called Exclusive: Faith-healing: A Modest Proposal on Religious Fundamentalism where she proceeded to examine fudmantalists against the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). What’s funny is that this piece of satire struck home with me, a recovering fundamentalist, who has been diagnosed with mental conditions based on my seven year long participation in a fundamentalist cult. Morgan’s joke was more serious to me than I wanted to admit. Upon further studying, though, I began speaking with college professors who were cult experts (some of whom were involved in very prominent cases and in communication with well-known, but now dead, cult leaders over the years) and talking to hundreds of people on the web asking them to share their personal stories. I’ve now started to consider this: perhaps my group and many others are so difficult to categorize (as cult, or new religious group) because they are so similar to the modern fundamentalist church. Maybe the modern-day cult is just your neighborhood fundamentalist church. And maybe that cult, or destructive group, or new religious group (pick a term, whatever term) with abusive teachings, public humilation, and totalitarian hierachical power structures has long been invading our politics, our schools and our doctors offices. Fundamentalist churches, often known as evangelical churches, are very common in America and globally. The only trouble? They look absolutely normal. They’re often not easy to spot from the outside, at least for people looking for an upbeat, contemporary place of worship with solid family values. Fundamentalist churches typically are very vague about their system of beliefs and sometimes they have very little accountability structure. They may be led by a preacher or pastor who has almost no one he has to report in to or be held responsible to for his words, teachings and his finances. Worse yet, sometimes this preacher or pastor has very little academic training and little understanding about historical and cultural norms in Biblical days (thus the homophobic rage that comes from those pulpits).  Read more here…

Forgiveness

A few months ago, someone shared with me that my blog was missing a section. He shared that some people might find it helpful to see how I’d recovered from this group. What spiritual journey had I taken? he asked. How had I dealt with depression? How had I forgiven? He said you guys would want to know.

I didn’t want to push any of my personal beliefs onto anyone or “preach,” so I haven’t written about this until now. I realize that sharing my own journey doesn’t mean I’m pushing my beliefs onto you, nor does it mean I want you to agree with me. In fact, sharing my journey is perhaps the most vulnerable thing I could do. I don’t trust all my readers. Some, inevitably, are out to get me. Others of you are deeply wounded, like I am and have been for years. We need to stand together and know that we can get through this together. I need this to be a safe place, and so do you.

I’d like to share with you some valuable lessons I’ve learned, from my heart, and some resources that have helped me. Perhaps they’ll offer you some guidance, like they have to me. Perhaps it will just be nice to see that we’re all getting “there,” wherever that may be.

I share a bit of my journey that began in a Religious Studies class here: http://www.mycultlife.com/?p=332. What I learned over the next few years from my professor, Dr. Campagna-Pinto, was to become invaluable to me.

In Dr. CP’s classes, there were such meaningful convicting lessons, such as: “To create change you can’t have hatred in your heart. You have to re-humanize the people who torture you.”

We read A Human Being Died That Night: A South African Woman Confronts the Legacy of Apartheid by Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela. I studied the chapter, I Have No Hatred in My Heart, and learned such truths as “When the perpetrator begins to show remorse, to seek some way to ask forgiveness, the victim becomes the gatekeeper to what the outcast desires—readmission into the human community.” (Gobodo-Madikizela, 117)

What I’d become was an outcast to Master’s Commission and to Our Savior’s Church. They no longer accepted me, as most cults no longer accept outsiders, because I chose to leave their “authority” and “promised land.”

My perpetrator never showed remorse. I had to live with that.

It was a difficult thing for me to face. My perpetrator never showed remorse. Nor did he ever plan to. In fact, his own son said that he looked at people like me as less than nothing.

Although he had never shown remorse, my perpetrator had committed crimes against humanity. Crimes of abuse. Crimes of manipulation for power and reputation. Several years of anger and grieving took me to the place where I’m beginning to feel sorry for my perpetrator. And I’m very thankful I’m not him.

At the same time I studied the South African Apartheid, I learned that there are different ways to think about forgiveness. I read The Sunflower: On the Possiblities and Limits of Forgiveness by Simon Wiesenthal. Simon tells the story of a dying Nazi soldier asking him forgiveness for his crimes against Jews. The dying soldier even told the horrific story of shoving Jews into a building and setting it on fire. His orders were to shoot anyone who tried to jump from the building. He shot.

After studying the Holocaust, and the amount of death and atrocity that Jewish people went through, I learned that forgiveness is a complex thing. Like Simon discusses in his book, there’s much more to forgiveness than a simplistic, “You’re forgiven.”

Through my studies, and through the years, I have come to believe that there’s a striking flaw in Christianity when it comes to forgiveness. Forgiveness in Christianity is simple: Jesus died on the cross to forgive you and I of our sins. Therefore, when you and I sin, we can “wash away our sins by the blood of Jesus.”

Right?

No. People need to be held accountable. They need to be responsible for their actions.

Thus the flaw in the Christian belief of forgiveness. When something devastating happens to a person, or a group of people, can you expect them to just “wash it away?” No. There are stages of grief that are normal and natural. I learned that Judaism takes seriously the act of forgiveness. During Yom Kippur they pray and fast, asking for forgiveness.

I began to respect Judaism for what I interpreted as a more realistic answer to the “forgiveness problem.” I knew that I had been wronged deeply. Not as deeply or as terribly as the Jews in Germany during the Holocaust, but I’d been wronged nonetheless.

I began to realize that I also felt forgiveness was a complex, serious matter and it was okay if I didn’t instantly grant forgiveness to someone.

In fact, it was more than okay.

It was perhaps responsible.

Christian Fundamentalism


During my first few years of undergraduate education, I decided to minor in Religious Studies. The majority of this decision came from my desire to reconcile my religious past as a reverend into my current questions surrounding that time of my life. So much of how people treated me after I left the church I’d worked for for years was not Christlike, and I wanted to better learn of the history of Christianity so as to properly senthesize what happened to me.

In 2005, I enrolled in a general education class that fulfilled a requirement to graduate. My professor was new to Bakersfield, and had formerly lived in San Francisco and attended Harvard for his Ph.D. He was far more liberal than most people in Bakersfield and was an avid supporter of gay rights. He taught us not to believe what he believed, but to be good students, to work hard, and to be open minded beyond what we may have been raised to believe. It was in this environment that I flourished and grew. My religious experiences with Christianity began to make sense for the first time since I left the cult, and I began to learn the history of Chrisitianity (both good and bad).

One class session, we watched the movie Saved with Mandy Moore. The way the “Christians” treated those who were outsiders in high school made me feel very similar to how the “Christians” I had worked with for several years were currently treating me. I started tearing up in my desk, so thankful that the lights were out and that people were focused on taking notes, and not on me.

When I left the class, I couldn’t help but break down and cry. I was in the hallway, sitting on a wooden bench when Dr. Campagna-Pinto, my professor, walked up to me to ask me if I was okay. I told him briefly about my experience with the fundamentalist cult I was part of and how several years of my life history seemed to be negated now. I explained to him how painful it was to lose hundreds of friends and what I considered “family.”

From that day on, Dr. Campagna-Pinto would meet me in the hallway when I’d be sitting on a wooden bench with tears in my eyes. He’d take the time to listen to me, and he’d take the time to explain that not all Christians are like the ones I’d had the experience of meeting. He’d also tell me that Christianity had a rich history, contrary to what the fundamentalists believed and taught.

As I learned more about Christianity in his classes over the years, I understood that Christian fundamentalism was truly very different than the historical, scholarly perspective of Christianity. Christianity was a religion that had a history of good and bad, but I was able to see the good in Christians for the first time in years.

I walked away from my classes seeing religion in a different light. I had a greater understanding of humanity in general, and a greater appreciation for religious communities worldwide. I sought to better myself by being open minded, which was difficult after being a close-minded Christian fundamentalist for years. I attempted to consider life as a journey on a path that I pave myself, rather than a road that’s already been carved out before me. And I tried (and still try) to earnestly see the good in humanity, and have hope that human beings can and will do the right thing–even when things in our future and history look bleak.

I continue to be gracious with myself, because the harder I am on myself, the more I fall back into fundamentalist thinking and guilt. I also continue to study and seek knowledge from a variety of secular sources, because I trust my own judgement and trust that my heart and mind are good things, rather than evil things.

My journey is only just beginning and like the Chinese proverb says, “The journey is the reward.”

Enjoy the journey and enjoy the questions.

State of California Called to Investigate Harold Camping for Fraud & Deceit

How much damage did Harold Camping’s “Rapture” fraud cause? The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) has asked California Attorney General Kamala Harris to investigate Family Stations Inc. for fraud and deceit.

This is a notable stance from the FFRF, and one that I support completely. During my blogging career, I’ve often wondered if there’s really anything that can be done to stop cults. Sometimes it feels like there’s very little that we can do to affect change in this particular area. Many cults and fundamentalist groups stay under the radar because of their size and because most victims stay silenced.

One way to stop cults and end destructive teachings and behaviors is to hold the leaders accountable in a tangible way, which is exactly what the letter from FFRF Co-Presidents Annie Laurie Gaylor and Dan Barker are asking the State of California to do.

If states recognized the need for investigations into religious groups like this, our country would be a more pleasant place to live in and our youth would be safer from the predatory cult leaders of today.

How to get rid of toxic people

For the most part, I really enjoy xoJane.com. The articles that really catch my eye are written by bigger girls about issues fat women face. Then there were the Cervical Cancer Diaries which I loved because I was diagnosed with the same thing as the author a few years ago and it was terrifying. Yet, women rarely talk about it. Oh, and if you click those links, you’ll see photos that the authors take of themselves without photoshopping, and sometimes with no makeup. Or without a stylist. I feel like I’m talking to my friend when I read certain articles. Even the ads on the side have fat girls on them.

So what I’m about to say is in no way malicious or picking on Jane Pratt. I like what she does and her article titled How To Be Calm, Happy, Healthy and Keep Yucky People Away caught my eye. That’s like the theme of my life the past few years. I have a ton of anxiety, and grief and I’m struggling at times to manage personal relationships. It’s all hard shit and everyone has their own path to getting their life together.

So Jane keeps calm by wearing a new agey necklace. She jokes about it, though, so you can tell she’s not uptight about it, which is cool.

But I can’t do that kind of shit.

I used to be very spiritual and religious. Sometimes that’s the same thing, sometimes it’s not. What I’ve realized in retrospect is that it’s harder to sort of shave away all those crutches and short cuts because dealing with life is fucking hard. Like being calm? Fuck that. Not on my own. I take medication for that. And that’s not a crutch, that’s actually harder to do because then you have to come face to face with your genetic pre-disposition to certain disorders and then you have to realize that religious trauma and abuse may have caused you to have the anxiety you live with. Oh, and remembering your childhood? Medication please!

How do you keep “yucky people” away, though? Doesn’t everyone want to know this one? Toxic people suck and let’s be real…we’re all capable of spreading some ill-will now and then. But there are truly terrible people out there, and it’s tough to know that until you give the situation and person some time. My best advice to myself is practice knowing when to quit someone and to exercise your right to cut off communication with someone you think is toxic. If you have to practice, because like me it’s unnatural to be mean or confrontational, then practice. You’ll get better at it.

I’m so trusting and caring that I often seem vulnerable to people. I’m not vulnerable, though. I’m capable of taking care of myself. It’s hard to be fess up to yourself that you’re being used or being taken advantage of by someone you care so much about. But after you cry a little bit, it’s time to deal with it and get some space from them.

As far as being in relationships with people who used me? Been there. Done that. Had to break it off. It’s tough being faced with the decision to end it, but it’s nice to get that good feeling of pride in taking care of yourself later.

And then there’s the question of how? Do you end it peacefully and just ignore them? Do you tell them off? Do you have an open-dialogue and expect them to understand? It all depends on the person and the relationship. There’s no right or wrong answer and again, practice makes perfect. And don’t beat yourself up if you’re not diplomatic or perfect.

It sucks to admit when someone isn’t interested in caring about you back. Maybe some people aren’t capable of caring. Maybe they have issues. Or maybe they are just rude. If you’re like me, you take their lack of interest or care personally and it makes you feel like something is wrong with YOU. It’s their issue, love. Not yours.

I had a friend a few years ago that I got incredibly close to. As time went on, though, I noticed that I wasn’t that comfortable with our friendship’s direction. I also felt like she wasn’t that open with me, which is important to me in a friendship. If I tell you my secrets, you sure as hell better open up about yours.

Then she started showing that she was unhappy with her husband. She invited guys over to dinner when I was there (who she said she’d invited over for me since I was single) and then flirted with them and all but made out with them in front of her husband and me. I was never interested in the men she liked, but I found it annoying that she’d bring them over and use me as a cover-up with her husband.

One night there was some fondling and her and the dude started dancing. I left before the making out or fucking began. We didn’t speak after that for a long time. She was mad at me because I’d taken her car keys away so she wouldn’t drive off drunk (since her 3 children were inside sleeping) and I was mad at her that I had to fucking parent a grown woman. Not to mention the whole “I’m going to cheat on my husband in front of you” party.

That’s not a friendship. That’s being used.

Whatever issues I’d overlooked in the past with her finally came to a boiling point. I was too angry that night for having to parent her and for being invited over  and then lied to. And then I started recalling all I’d done for her: planned and hosted a baby shower for her third child, took phots of her vag while the baby was born, and brought her magazines and laughter pre-birth. I’m a damn good friend.

When I started to break it off with her eventually, the typical blame game started. I was blamed for always pushing people away. This was all my issue, not something she took partial responsibility for.