part nineteen…or not

I believe I have reached the point in my story I need to stop at for a bit. I’ve thought about it alot and while I’m still writing, it is slow going for me. I obviously still have *issues* surrounding this period of time and I’ll update the next part when I’ve finished writing it. I simply don’t know how long that will be. It could be tomorrow or three months from now I guess. All that said, I am writing today about something that fits quite perfectly with where my story is headed and actually provides an example that is more telling than any *story* I could ever write.

A blog-friend, Heidi, has a place that is very helpful to those recovering from situations similar to mine. I don’t honestly remember how I stumbled upon her site however I do know it is a blessing that I did. Heidi has been following my story as it unfolds and recently had a blog entry about some JW’s who visited her home. Nothing in her entry was surprising to me. It all sounded very familiar and I, personally, had many, many, many similar experiences during my years in the door-to-door work.

What was surprising (and yet not) were the comments after her post. Those comments continued into this post and truly made my stomach hurt. I realize that not every single JW is like this or would respond in such a way however, the forcefulness of their beliefs, the black and whiteness of it all is right on the money in my experience. We were trained to believe that Jehovah’s way was the only right way. That, of course, meant that every other way was the wrong way and discouraged. I use the word discouraged quite loosley (why does this word look weird? spellchecker passes it over but still…) however. I don’t know if everyone felt like I did or not but I know that I spent my life terrified absolutely.

To be truthful, I still spend alot of my life terrified. I don’t watch the news much. I don’t talk about world events much. I mean, there are things that it is impossible to escape however, other than reading the news page of the BBC and the website of my local newspaper, I keep it to a minimum. My mental health is more important than the news. The doctrine and teachings of JW’s have been so ingrained within me that to do more than that completely freaks me out. No matter what the debate is, what the subject is, I still *hear* those teachings inside my head and until I can get a breath and do some self talking etc, etc, blah, blah, blah, I get really messed up.

I really admire people who are sure of their beliefs and convictions. The reality of it is that I don’t know what I believe about god. I don’t even know if the word *god* should be capitalized or not. I most often feel that capitalizing it gives it too much power over me. I would like to feel power over myself for awhile before I figure out if I want to give that power up to any one person or spirit or whatever.

I know this though: I believe in kindness, keeping children safe, helping one another in whatever way we can and being true to ourselves. If that isn’t good enough for god or people or whomever thinks they have a right to decide that…I’ll just have to live with the consequences because I simply cannot handle it any other way right now.

Peace.

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9 responses to this post.

  1. I haven’t been to Heidi’s yet, but I’ll go. Just wanted to stop in and hug you first. Coincidentally, I have just written about some of my religious beliefs. In addition to my belief in God, I believe in the things you believe in. Nobody but you gets to decide what Traci believes in. Then, now, or ever.

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  2. I love what Susie said. Traci, the things at the end of the post that you say you believe in? I’m pretty sure of this much — those things would be good enough for god AND God — and so are you. I love ya.

    If I were to tell all about what my spiritual beliefs are and go into great detail, I would more than likely not be considered a Christian by anyone who is a Christian. That doesn’t bother me anymore. I simply don’t care. I have my beliefs, they harm no one and they are mine. Some of my beliefs include certain I-don’t-knows. I think that is the problem between me and people who clearly define themselves as Christians. They demand to ‘know’. To me, being willing to live with some level of acknowledged I-don’t-know counts as having what one might call faith. I simply call it acceptance. No one ‘knows’, honey, some people just think they do. To some that is scary. To me it is comforing. I think you can probably understand some of why that is. I have no tolerance for spiritual arrogance, for as you well know, IT is the root of enormous and uncountable evil. Evil that is irreconcilable with god AND with God.

    {{{{{{{{Traci}}}}}}}}

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  3. Posted by Boston Pobble on Thursday, June 28, 2007 at 4:09 pm

    This is about you, no one else. You need a break, you take a break. Pretty simple. And I’m all about simple. 😉

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  4. Darlin’, whatever you believe in, it has made you beautiful, inside and out. ‘Member that hug as we left the coffee shop??? Here’s another one twice as big.

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  5. When I was growing up, back in the Paleolithic Age, we kids would ask each other, “What religion are you, Protestant, Catholic or… Jewish?” If the answer was “Protestant” then we would delve into whether they were Episcopalean, Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, etc., etc. People might tell you you acted in a “Christian manner” (or not) but no one ever came up to you, like they do nowadays, and asked you, ARE YOU A CHRISTIAN?

    That’s been part of the cultural shock I have never gotten used to since being back in the U.S. It annoys me because I don’t think it’s any business of a perfect stranger anyway. Can’t they judge me as just another person, and think of me in terms of how I treat others? Why do these people think we need labels, especially the CHRISTIAN one. The last time somebody asked me “if I was a Christian” I blew it off and said, “Do you mean ‘Christian instead of a Gladiator’ or what?” This is the 21st century and it’s a global society. There is more than one way to skin a cat or get to heaven or live your life, and it strikes me that there are far too many fundamentalists out there screaming fire and brimstone and wondering if we are all wearing a cross around our neck.

    Sorry for the little rant! Nothing to do with you, just the opposite. Sounds like you’ve got the basics of your belief system worked out quite well. The rest is… icing on the cake. You pick the icing, sweetie. IF you want it and IF you need it. Personally, I think The Church of Traci, congregation of One, is a darn fine plan all by itself. :-)))

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  6. Great post and some really good comments. Believe in whatever works for you and makes you feel centered. As a recovering Catholic I know only too well the fear factor in some religions. I don’t deal well with that and have chosen not to deal with it. Right and Wrong aren’t dictated by religions or churches, but by what is in our hearts.

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  7. I went and read the posts and comments at Heidi’s. Traci, I am proud of you. You are a very strong woman. May I be very blunt? You have rescued yourself from a cult, honey, that’s what you’ve done. Do you have any idea what kind of power is required to do that? What kind of power you have within your own being? YOU support my own belief and it’s this: Jesus was God. So am I. So are you. So is the little old lady next door. God is within, not without.

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  8. Yes, Peace, dear girl. Only you and your god know what is right for you. That’s OK.

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  9. Traci – I think what’s helped me the most over the years is the idea that spiritual questions are more of a continuing lifelong concern rather than than a set of doctrines or a loyalty to a particular group. The standards of an ancient nomadic tribe are not (and I don’t even believe ever were meant to be) universal. I think that’s the idea of the (grin) “new light.” As you mature, you gain wisdom into what caring and compassion and ethics are really all about (as you have, and are continuing to do).

    Other helpful things are curiosity and a love of reading, a sense of humor, and – perhaps most of all – an understanding that if love is really the backbone of everything, then all is already understood and you are welcomed in your uniqueness by the cosmos.

    One of the most damaging things about totalitarian religious groups is that they foster a paranoia toward the universe and toward others. A truly religious point of view is much more trusting. We can only be where we are, and we fit into our “life-niche” without doing anything at all. Anything we develop ourselves is an act of creativity – your life is like a painting, a work of art.

    As Yoda says, “Fear leads to the dark side.” I know that you will continue to navigate your way through it and past it. I feel your strong, caring heart, and all those horrible inner voices can be – and will be – replaced by loving ones. Think of how you regard your children, or your beloved pets, or your garden, or whatever moves you to appreciation – and start thinking of the cosmos nestling you in with that kind of appreciative caring. You don’t have to “believe” it, just get in the habit of having that thought handy as an alternative (smile).

    Here for you, hon, anytime.

    Reply

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