Fundamentalist Christianity took its toll on me.
I grew up in a church that had a LOT to say about what women should and should not do, from the way we dressed to the way we lived. I was taught that Eve was responsible for the fall of mankind, thereby proving herself and every woman after her to be weak-willed and and easily deceived. Knowing this, it made sense that a man should be in charge at all times. (Right? RIGHT?!) A woman’s father was responsible for her until she married, and if she never married and her father died, then her pastor was responsible for her. It was simple; a woman could not be trusted if she wasn’t being held accountable by a male.
I remember my first year of public school and reading Animal Farm. I couldn’t help but draw comparisons as my paradigm shifted. The church’s attitude towards women was reminiscent of Orwell’s upright-walking pigs: all humans are equal, but men are more equal than women (because Eve).
There are many, many more reasons why I can no longer look at a Bible without my stomach clenching, half expecting it to leap off the floor and attack me. Irrational? Yes. It happens anyway.
I recently found that even scripture citations are difficult for me to look at without my eyes glazing over and my mind blanking itself. This realization still rocks me.
I am not, nor have I ever been, one to hide from what confuses or scares me. I dig into it, trying to understand what it is that I am reacting to. I refuse to be weak in mind or in spirit. But my eyes still glaze and my mind still tries to hide in a corner.
The best part? The best part is that it’s been a decade since I stopped going. Ten years of living outside of the church and MY EYES STILL GLAZE.
I am angry. I am bitter. I am tired.
So what do I do? I start reading blogs written by Christians. I force down the initial wave of resentment and anger and I try to understand. Some I can relate to because they came from the same fundamentalist culture. Some are still in that culture and I have to pause and breathe multiple times before I finish a single post. Exposure, exposure, exposure.
Masochism? Maybe. I prefer to see it as a way for me to reconcile the dichotomy of loving people harboring such disdain for others. Do they recognize it and see it as godly, or is it hidden from them by their own psyche?
I wish I knew. I wish they knew. Wishing gets me nowhere though.
I used to wish I was a boy. I used to wish that I could climb trees without being scolded for allowing boys to look up my skirt. I used to wish I could grow up and make my own decisions, have my own career without being labeled “worldly”.
I used to wish I was a real girl. I used to wish that I could wear nail polish and lip gloss without being thought of as dog meat or referred to as Jezebel. I used to wish that I could wear shorts and pants and earrings like every other girl I passed at the store, on the street, at the park.
I used to wish I was nothing. I used to wish that I had no desire to indulge in sinful behaviors and was instead content to be everything that was expected of me without argument. I used to wish I had never been born because surely non-existence would be preferable to the burning pits of hell that awaited me and my traitorous, blasphemous, willful soul.
In the end I decided that burning in hell was my destiny regardless of whether I followed the rules or not, because my heart wasn’t in it. I decided to be happy in this life, as much as I could be, since I surely wasn’t going to enjoy the afterlife. Why choose misery twice?