So Here We Go…

Some of you may know me. Some of you may THINK you know me. Some of you may have seen my smiling face in random corners of the internet, talking about politics, religion, cancer, and motherhood (combined, usually). And some of you may be wondering who I am and why you care what the hell I have to say.

But I’m finally ready to tell my story formally, and in a way that I hope will help others.

I’ve been through a lot of shit, ya’ll.

I call myself the “witty apothecary” because I’m a smart ass, but I also like to help people (the snark comes free of charge, though). I’m a third degree blackbelt in dealing with PTSD, anxiety, depression, and all kinds of fun neuroses.

Guys, I’m an absolute delight to be around.

So…here we go. This site will be the hub through which I tell my story and reach out to others. Feel free to share any content you may find here, and you’ll also find me raising hell on other platforms as well.

Stay awesome, tribe.

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Featured post

The Insidiousness of Spiritual Abuse

I don’t gush nearly often enough about my husband. We just don’t really have that kind of relationship at all. My husband and I both tend to be pragmatic to a fault when it comes to putting into words how we feel about each other. But tonight, after what had been a particularly stressful, like…our entire marriage, basically, he and I got a bit snippy with each other, to the point where I was beginning to get mildly triggered.

You see, I have a history of relationships with people wherein the snippiness always comes shortly before the berating and mind games and shaming, oh my!

But yeah, it got weirdly triggery for me because we really truly have been more stressed than usual lately with his mom being hospitalized right at Christmas, and my pain levels in my hips worse than usual, and all of us have been sick.

Neither of us were at our best, and I started assuming the worst and taking everything personal when he was less than his usual patient, upbeat self.

And he recognized the symptoms in me. I didn’t even have to explain that my thoughts were going to the dark places. And the most EXTRAORDINARY thing of the night happened: we both slowed down. He apologized. He said I didn’t have to apologize (something I do chronically, annoyingly, even). He didn’t take it personal, and instead wrapped me in his arms and let me cry.

What could’ve been an ugly end to a fun evening instead became a reassurance of why he and I are still together after going through cancer treatments while pregnant barely a year after getting married, after me having been through and ugly divorce in a Fundamentalist cult, after the ugly mess of me recovering from Spiritual (and other) Abuse: we’ve learned how to COMMUNICATE.

We both know the ugliest parts of each other, and we get brutally honest when we’re in those places, and we love each other through it.

It was a turning point in my life tonight, having these thoughts as I sat here in my meditation. I’ve rarely had this connection with anyone who managed to retain my trust for very long. I’m past the four year mark that my other marriage lasted. This is uncharted territory for me, as is the point I’m at in my emotional health.

I’m absolutely certain those two things are inextricably linked.


That sort of deal was never offered up while I was growing up in the Fundamentalist Church, and I know I’m not alone in that. There’s a blog going semi-viral right now about doubt and its’ place in the Christian faith, and it’s what I want to talk about today.


Toxic Christianity, the kind found in the cult-like Evangelical Churches, requires that we ignore the ugliest, dirtiest parts of ourselves, the same as it requires that we ignore the ugliest, dirtiest parts of our faith. Evangelicalism claims to have the literal only escape from eternal torment. It demands that it have the purest form of truth found in the history of mankind. The Bible must be taken literally as often as possible, and they bend and twist every which way theologically to have the best interpretation of these scriptures.


This was taught to me, as it is taught to the children in these churches today, and to hundreds of thousands of others for decades, from the time I could communicate effectively. I was taught that to question these “absolute truths” was to put myself in danger of hellfire.


Especially as a woman, I was to accept what was taught to me, to learn to parrot back what was taught, and learn to debate with others who dared to question these teachings.


No, for real. It was called “apologetics” classes. It’s literally the exact same thing they do in those churches where people come to your door with their flyers and shit. But we prided ourselves on that one distinction, mind you…we just went to state fairs and shit instead…


So when I saw this article making the rounds in the #EmptyThePews hashtags, I didn’t even bother reading it. I pretty much know exactly what it probably says, and I don’t need the triggering of the manipulation.


You see, I’m working on this theory about how #SpiritualAbuse is such an insidious form of abuse. It takes all the worst parts of so many other kinds of abuse: mental, emotional, psychological, sometimes even verbal, physical, and sexual, and convinces you absolutely that you deserve them, and will go to hell if you don’t accept it wholeheartedly, even gleefully.


After all, that’s what Jesus did, right?


Because if you even harbor doubts or worse…question it…you’re probably gonna wind up in hell. It’s why so many of us who have escaped have so many existential crises.


We #Exvangelicals have a lot to say about the major role Evangelicalism played in getting Trump elected. There were all kinds of think pieces written, especially regarding the huge number of Evangelical women who have backed Trump, Moore, and others. But everyone I know from that background have been telling these stories for months now.


There’s nothing wrong with having questions. This statement, which feels so weighty to me now, is taken for granted amongst the “secular” circles I encounter daily now. Encounters that Evangelicals do their damndest (pun absolutely intended, obviously) to avoid. I was taught to sequester myself in Evangelical circles as much as possible, and I’m quite certain that practice has not changed. That’s why it takes such a MONUMENTAL effort to deprogram/deconstruct from this upbringing.


Come to think of it, that’s probably why I turned to Wicca. The lack of dogma and encouragement to seek my own answers was and is remarkably appealing, really.


By the end of January, I will be releasing a podcast wherein I will discuss these issues in even more depth, and bring others along to share their thoughts as well. I will also be discussing in more depth my new faith explorations, and how they’ve helped heal me, particularly as a woman.


Other future endeavors will also include an Etsy Shop, where I’ll sell some of the self care tools I’ve discovered along my journey.


What I’m MOST excited about is that I’ve finally decided what the hell I want to be when I grow up: I want to become a certified life coach. My dream has ALWAYS been to help heal the world. In my evangelical days, I called it my life’s “calling,” and thought it came from God. Today, I don’t give a shit where the hell this desire comes from. I’ve lead a fucked up life and have learned to heal. Any meaning at all to this shit will come from helping others to heal, as well.


All proceeds from my blog here, along with my future podcast and etsy shop, will go towards helping fund my certification efforts. You can visit my patreon page to help support me there, and I’ll work on getting some exclusive content for my patreons (buttons, stickers, etc) within the next few weeks.


Thank you, so much, my dear readers, for the support ya’ll have given me already. Sharing my thoughts here has been one of the best healing tools I’ve discovered so far. Knowing you are out there, you care, and maybe even might be encouraged by what I have to say, helps me to feel much less alone.


Alone is still, after all this time, the very worst thing I’ve EVER felt.


Blessed be, ya’ll.

2017 In Review: Being Soft

Trigger Warning: Suicide, Abuse, and Self-Harm


2017 almost destroyed me.

2017 saved me.

2017 was my worst year ever.

2017 was my BEST year ever.

My chemo baby, my own personal miracle, my literal reason for living in every way possible, turned two.

Two weeks before that, I had turned 30.

Two weeks before that, I had almost committed suicide.

Over the course of my insanely fucked up life, I have survived sexual, spiritual, emotional, physical, and mental abuse at one point in time or another. The thing that finally pushed me to suicide, however, was when wounds that I’d barely ever even admitted existed got torn open. It happened in a way so insanely violent as to later cause my first psychotic break.

2017 nearly destroyed me in more ways than I generally care to admit.

Thanks to 2017, I discovered that I am FAR from alone in these experiences from Spiritual Abuse. I’ve found my tribe, and together we are all discovering that as ExVangelicals, we all sort of have a super power, and through it we are learning how to heal ourselves together. Hopefully we’ll also figure out a way to heal the world, as well.

Of course, the absolute highlight of my year has been “discovering” Wicca.


You see, choosing NOT to believe in the things I’d been brainwashed into was one thing. It wasn’t even really a “choice,” as it had been proven to me time and again what absolute bullshit my entire belief system had been: both through simple education, and in observing the dumbfuckery the church has been committing since Trump announced his candidacy for president.


If THOSE were the “good guys,” you can bet your ass I was gonna be a bad guy.


Which, weirdly, is what lead me to Wicca.


It’s not in me to simply not believe in anything. I am, at my core, a spiritual person. That’s something Evangelicals could never give me, and it’s not something they can take away, either. That core of me is constantly searching and changing and evolving, striving to be better and better all the time. I want to be the best human possible, and that has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not there will be eternal punishment if I step out of line every now and then, intentionally or not. 


That was always a hotly debated topic in my theological discussions back in my “Beverly” days (inside joke amongst Exvangelicals). But as I’ve come to find out, that’s sort of one of the ONLY places where that’s an actual, serious discussion.


Wicca helps me personally to be a better person, and it doesn’t even really require that I acknowledge any deity or consequences if I DON’T become a better person. It simply teaches you to value all life, and that all life is valuable to the point of sacredness. Therefore, it also teaches you how to value all life.


Once you’ve got that figured out, being a better person is sort of a side effect, rather than a religion itself.


This value for life is actually something that far too many Toxic Christians mock, and with a frequency that makes me queasy these days, especially seeing as how these people are the ones flying the banner of “pro-life.”


Thanks to 2017, I am much more at peace these days than I’ve ever been in my entire life. The lack of peace was literally something I felt wracking guilt about during my days as an Evangelical. I heard so many fiery sermons about how PEACEFUL we should be as Christians, right!? That’s what Christmas is all about!!! And yet, I had so many rules flung at me with such a frequency and ferociousness that it landed me in the pastor’s office, being shamed into a panic attack, that I RARELY felt anything beyond anxiety and barely-repressed rage, rage that would often manifest itself through cutting myself till I bled.

“They shall cry ‘peace, peace!’ But there shall be no peace”


The waves of panic still wash through me as I write this. I’m still sitting here wondering what I’m messing up, what the consequences will be. The guilt is still just below the surface, needing me to acknowledge it and rationalize it until it finally goes away, till I can finally say, “They were wrong. About you, and about all of it.”


It’s an exercise my husband tried to get me to do about a week ago. I still haven’t said it out loud. Maybe if I can get it out there on the internet, I will be able to say it out loud by the end of 2017, and learn to be soft again in 2018.


I feel like too many of us have lost our softness in this life. The world is so harsh and cold these days. We are seeing the resurgence of a terrible disregard for life that we haven’t seen in a generation or more. For many of us, that lack of softness extends most intensively inwards.


When Wicca began teaching me to value myself, I had a full blown meltdown that lead to a psychotic break. Valuing myself outside of the justification I was taught was needed by Christ BROKE MY FUCKING BRAIN.


If I have to explain to you how exquisitely fucked up that is…you’re probably at least partially part of the crowd responsible for that shit.


It’s a breathtakingly poetic irony: I was taught that Wicca would assist in the rise of the Antichrist and bring about the destruction of mankind. I feared Wicca’s presence lurking in Troll Dolls, Cabbage Patch Dolls, the Smurffs, HeMan, incense, lava lamps, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, The Little Mermaid, and sooooo much more. THEY were the bad guys…right?


Well, I guess I really am a bad guy then. If the good guys are the ones who brainwashed me, got Trump elected, support him in all the horrific things he’s doing to our world, and mocking those who, like me, are learning to be softer…


If the bad guys are the ones teaching me to be softer, to value myself more, teaching me to hold ALL life sacred, and not just the lives that look and act like mine…


I’ll be a bad guy.


Shiny.


Blessed Be, Ya’ll.

My best friend is better than your best friend.

I need to tell ya’ll the story about me and my best friend. 

So Kye Guy, my very best friend that I’ve ever had in my entire life except my husband, came out to me when I was still a Fundamentalist Christian. To this day, I’m not sure why he thought that was a good idea, but he and I have always been weirdly connected, so it’s whatever.

We both lived in a tiny community deep in the Ozarks of southeast Missouri, culturally more similar to Arkansas and Alabama than any other place I know of. It wasn’t a nice place for gay people to be back in the mid 2000’s. It still isn’t today, really.

Kye opened my eyes to how SMALL my world was. He helped me to grow and understand and empathize with things I’d never experienced. I in turn told him about my past of being abused, and after that we were pretty much stuck with each other.

Our friendship was further solidified when I divorced my first husband. I was, for all intents and purposes, kicked out of my Fundamentalist Church *cough cult cough.* I remained friends even when we both moved to separate states after he graduated and I needed to put some distance between myself and the world that I now considered a prison.

It was during this time that I began my deprogramming from Fundamentalism. I was actually at a Christian College at the time, but it was in Kansas City, and culturally upside down from what I had just come from. It was also during this time that Kye and I would attend DragonCon (a nerd convention) together. Kye had introduced me to the world of SciFi and fantasy, in particular a series of books about dragons.

No, not Game of Thrones. I was MUCH nerdier than that back then. No, our series was by Anne McCaffrey, called The Dragonriders of Pern. That series got  me through my through divorce, and meeting her son and Co-Author Todd McCaffrey was one of the highlights of my entire life. I’m still friends with people I met my first year there, and I consider them to be some of my very truest friends.

I would also drag Kye with me to Doctor Who events at the Con, as I am a HUGE fan of the character River Song, who has crazy curly hair, like myself. I even met John Barrowman, who plays a major character in the series, at that first Con.

A few years later, Kye would be a part of the wedding party when I married the man who would help me deprogram even further, who is now almost entirely responsible for the fact that I’m a (somewhat) sane human.

A little over a year after I remarried, I was diagnosed with cancer when I was eight weeks pregnant. That year, DragonCon’s charity drive went to The Leukemia and Lymphoma society. It wasn’t planned that way, but…holy fuck, right?

Kye shaved his head when I lost my hair. He recorded it and shared the video online, and I vividly remember sobbing hysterically as I watched him go bald whilst grinning mischievously. That bastard knew exactly what he was doing, and exactly how much I would cry while watching it. I was losing my curls, which have been my most distinctive feature for my entire life, and my very best friend in the world was doing the one thing he knew better than anyone else would cheer me up in the midst of all that.

I am now two years in remission, with a healthy toddler who ADORES her Uncle Kye.

I have not been able to attend another DragonCon for three years, but Kye has still been able to every single one. This Halloween, he came to spend the weekend with my family. While here, he presented me with this picture.


And he didn’t just hand it over to me. No, he went through this elaborate story. He told me how he had seen that Alex Kingston (River Song) was going to be at the Con, and he double and triple checked the times that she would be signing autographs. Kye knew exactly how much I adore this woman, how she is my hair idol. He knows how much I have fought with my curls my entire life, how they are weirdly connected to my evangelical past, how integral a part they play in my personality.


And he got to that signing early. He saw her over by herself with no one around her, and he marched himself right up to her, and asked her for two signed pictures, telling her about his best friend who couldn’t be there.


He told her our story, and in particular the story of me losing my curls because I was pregnant with cancer. He told her how we’d become best friends, and that that was why he had shaved his head in solidarity with me. He showed her his hair length and explained to her that I’d been in remission for THAT long.


And this FANTASTIC woman actually asked this bastard more and more questions. I know Kye’s “Story Time” tales (yes, we’ve named them) better than anyone, and doing that takes a patience that I no longer have with the boy (kidding).


Kye is now friends with me after me having been suicidal earlier this year. He knows I had a psychotic break. He knows how much my conversion to Wicca has helped me restore my sanity even after almost destroying my sanity because I am THAT fucked up. And he still shows up.


He and I, along with THOUSANDS of others, are all deprogramming from an upbringing that taught us that true friendship like this cannot exist outside of the fold of Evangelical Christianity. He and I only escaped because we had each other to lean on. If you hear stories around the internet of others like us who are still trapped, just remember that every story is different.


Not everyone has a friend like this. In fact, growing up as so many of us have, most of us don’t HAVE friends like this at all. Remember that the next time you wonder why people stay in these insane fundamentalist cults for so long.


And if you are out there and don’t have a friend like this, there are thousands of us just one or two search functions away. Search hashtags like #Exvangelical, #EmptyThePews, or #ChurchToo. Follow blogs like John Pavlovitz,   Rob Bell, or Chris Stroop.


There are also podcasts like Exvangelical or Rob Bell’s The Robcast


And of course, though I am nowhere near the league of others, I also discuss this and topics like these on my blog here at ***THE WITTY APOTHECARY***


I will soon also be starting a podcast of my own, discussing everything from Spiritual Abuse to Wicca, Donald Trump to figuring out how the fuck I’m gonna make music again with all the fucking baggage I have now.


Just remember, my friends: I’ve been through a LOT of shit. But the worst thing I’ve ever felt was ALONE.


Blessed be, ya’ll.

Spiritual Abuse, Donald Trump, and #RaptureAnxiety

 There was a hashtag making the rounds on Twitter this week that I found to be both amusing and triggering by different turns

You see, Donald Trump made yet ANOTHER historically bad decision when he made the announcement that he’s going to recognize Jerusalem as the the capital of Israel.

For those of you joining us from a not spiritually abused background, here’s why this news has several thousand millennials on edge right now: our parents and grandparents have been preparing us since birth to fight in Armageddon and/or the Apocalypse. I’ve written before about the bullshit culture wars we were raised to take part in, and really the culture wars were just warm up exercises for the main event.

Evangelicals have had a fixation on “End Times” prophecies for a few decades now. A huge part of the “signs” they have been looking for are: the moral decay of our society, Christian persecution, and literally any news from the middle east.

The church has a bit of a love/hate relationship with the concept of the End Times. They eagerly await Christ’s second coming because he’ll be doling out judgment and vengeance upon those who have been “persecuting” the church (a bullshit concept from people who think that someone wishing them Happy Holidays is just a breath away from putting a bullet through the brains of every Jesus follower on earth). Some Evangelicals believe they’ll be raptured before any of the “real” persecution starts, before the Antichrist demands worship and starts physically branding everyone with his “Mark of the Beast.”

Yet the culture wars are largely fought with the idea that if they can slow down the moral decay by criminalizing homosexuality, abortion, and women showing any amount of skin ever, that they can slow down the rise of the Antichrist and therefore…make the entire world become Christian?

The end game was always a bit vague when they went off on that tangent, so I’m not sure what their goals really were, weirdly enough.

But this is why every election for as long as I can remember seemed like a literal end-of-the-world situation. The night before Obama was elected the first time, my church had an all-night prayer vigil to try to sway the election results in a republican direction. My pastor literally thought that Obama was going to be the precursor to the Antichrist, that he would be the man who paved the way for the rise of the man who would spend seven years destroying the world and hunting Christians down like dogs. This time is what Evangelicals call the “Tribulation Period.”

We had mock raids in our church one time to try to get through our heads what was at stake.

But we all hoped that the “Pre-Tribulation” rapture as interpreted in scripture by some was the accurate interpretation. This is the belief that before the Antichrist kicks off his seven year reign of terror, that Jesus would vanish all his people from earth so they can watch the coming horrors unfold from a place of safety in heaven.

This Tribulation Period promises all kinds of terrifying events: worldwide earthquakes, inky darkness covering the earth, hell beasts terrorizing non Christians with cripplingly painful stings, literal fire from heaven, poison water, bloody water, and all kinds of happy fun times.

And the “signs” that Christians look for to give us hints about when this party gets started all center in the middle east, specifically Jerusalem.

Jerusalem, as most people are aware, has been a hotbed of contention for millennia. It is the geographical location for the history of three major religions, all of whom think they have more of a claim to it than anyone else. America, with it’s history steeped in Puritanical Christianity, still thinks that the Crusades were a good idea, that Muslims should just shut up and let Israel/America have Jerusalem.

Israel has changed hands too many times to keep track of, but Republican Evangelicals think we have a moral duty to defend Israel because “God/Jesus/Etc.” They believe America will be super extra blessed if we stand by Israel and the Jews every chance we get, regardless of how spectacularly bad of an idea it may be.

Enter Trump, who was put in office largely by Evangelicals. The capital of Israel has previously been Tel Aviv, where the American embassy is.

Trump is changing all that, officially recognizing Jerusalem as belonging to Israel and the Jews instead of Palestine and the Muslims.

And thousands of Ex-Evangelical Millennials all collectively screamed in horror.

#RaptureAnxiety became our rallying cry. The Spiritually Abused, the ones with Religious Trauma Syndrome, we who have been trying to reconcile our upbringings with the terror that is unfolding in the White House thanks to our families, we all recognized what was happening, and are helpless to stop it.

World War Three was supposed to be a precursor to the Tribulation. It’s one of the Four Horses of the Apocalypse. It’s supposed to start in the Middle East, in Israel…in Jerusalem.

Every Ex-Evangelical friend I have has confessed to me at one point or another that they used to get crippling anxiety over the prospect of being “Left Behind” in the Rapture. All of us know that people leaving the church in droves is supposed to be another “sign.” We’ve all grown up hearing testimonies in church of those who “fell away” but rededicated their lives to Christ. It was sort of the dominant narrative of my own life. Leaving Christianity was always a phase, a temporary “backsliding” that would hopefully be remedied by some come to Jesus moment.

And if you didn’t come back, it was because you were never a good Christian to begin with. Either that, or you would be contributing to bringing about the Apocalypse.

It’s dark. It’s twisted. And thousands of us are trying to navigate it while watching as Trump, whom Evangelicals praise as a “Man of God,” is actively “fulfilling prophecy.”

So if you see an Ex-Evangelical Millennial silently rocking in a corner somewhere…give them a hug.

And if you are that Ex-Evangelical Millennial in the corner, please reach out. I kept this blog full of fun and jokes because if I didn’t, I never would’ve made it through writing this without falling apart in a series of debilitating panic attacks.

But we’re here. We’re all out here, together, paying attention and listening.

And also gently weeping to ourselves while we’re silently rocking in a corner.

Blessed be, ya’ll.

Spiritual Abuse, Fighting Cancer While Pregnant, and Learning to Sing Again

I sang my first operatic solo when I was eight years old.

The song I sang wasn’t the one I originally auditioned for. The one I had auditioned for was given to someone else, while the one I ended up singing was added to our elementary school’s program specifically because my teacher wanted the song I sang to be – number one, just my voice – and number two, to showcase my range and abilities better.


The concert was for the entire second grade, and all the parents and school came to it. We were doing Disney songs. 


The song I was given was “When You Wish Upon a Star.”


You know: the one the cricket sings in Pinocchio.


In an eight year old’s voice, the song was incredibly difficult. The range was extremely high for such a young voice, especially to maintain any sort of tone that anyone actually wants to listen to.


I was terrified. My brother tormented me constantly in those days. And I’m not talking about the cute little sibling rivalry you see in sitcoms. I’m talking literal physical, mental, and emotional abuse. I pretty much generally had zero self confidence. The only reason I got brave enough to audition for the song was because I had a babysitter and some friends who had heard me sing occasionally and they made me promise them I would try out.


And then I made it to the concert. I have vivid memories of being frozen in horror, knees shaking uncontrollably, staring at the audience and finding my brother’s sneering gaze.


It was then I resolved that I was going to
KILL this solo.


And I fucking did it.


I experienced for the first time the absolute thrill of owning a piece of music and executing it perfectly while watching an enraptured audience sit in stunned silence.


I experienced, at eight years old, scores of people flocking to me after a performance and congratulating me on a job well done. I fell in love with music for the first time that night. I fell in love with being able to express my feelings in a way that connected with other, our shared experiences connecting us and elevating us.


I had been singing in church my whole life, in the pews and in the children’s choirs. To this day one of my earliest memories is of sitting between my parents while they helped me follow along to the music in the hymnal.


I remember listening to my dad’s low, resonant bass voice and feeling giddy when he voice reverberated in a way that I could physically feel. When I later studied waves and was able to connect the reasons why this happened, I talked about it for a week straight, to the bewilderment and confusion of my whole family.


My brother, of course, was always jealous of me, and tried to discourage me from my music every chance he got.


He got literally angry when I sang at home: mocking me, forcibly shutting me up…


Yeah…some of my earliest memories are of the physical pain I endured because of my love of singing.


I thankfully always had encouragement and support though. My parents never failed to stop my brother when they knew what was happening, and paid for voice lessons every chance they got. The couldn’t always know the abuse that happened behind their backs, unfortunately. And I, obviously, couldn’t tell them.


The pain would be worse the next time if I did.


But I always found a way to continue with my music.


When my family moved between states between my fifth and sixth grade years, I wound up at a school with a music program that was lackluster, to say the least. I went through sixth grade music as if it were an elementary class. Had we not moved, I would’ve wound up at a middle school where there would’ve been a band, marching band, choir, and just plain music classes.


When I reached the seventh grade, I was put in the high school choir simply because there were only two or three junior high students even interested in choir.


Being the seventh grader in a high school choir on a school campus containing preschool through 12th grade was…awkward. I was the youngest, shyest, and least experienced.


It was around that time, too, that I was recruited onto the praise team at my dysfunctional, cultish church. It was on this praise team that I was subjected to the worst emotional, mental, and spiritual torment of my life.


This is the church where I would eventually meet my first husband, whom I would marry just two months out of high school, when I was 19. The husband who would play drums on the praise team in which I was lead singer, where my brother played bass, where their other best friend (yes, my husband was one of my brother’s best friends, and that how I met and later married him) played guitar. The actual leader of the praise team got my dad, and later my husband, a job at that place she worked.


Our congregation had around 100 people in attendance at any given time.


So all that to say…there was a fuck ton of pressure associated with being on this praise team, and I was there from the time I was around 14, till I divorced my husband at 23.


This is the church werein the masquerade dance was never ending, where SANCTIFICATION, at the dictation of our pastor, reigned supreme, and was always inextricably linked to our salvation/immortal soul, eternal destination, etc.

The leader was an emotionally damaged woman who was more manipulative and played more heinous mind games than my own mother. This, along with a cripplingly low level of self esteem that would rival even mine today, caused her to see me as a rival on caliber with the types of scum who would actively seek to steal your money, jobs, spouses, and pets.


Everything I ever did or said on that praise team was constantly questioned, undermined, mocked, and ridiculed. There were regular sit down meetings in the pastor’s office where I would be lectured to the point of tears, my body coiled so tight that I was literally shaking, sobbing hysterically, begging for forgiveness.


Because if I didn’t break under the pressure, it meant I was in rebellion. As a younger person and as a female, it was my spiritual imperative to yield at all times, whether or not I was even opposing anything to begin with.


If, while the guitarists were having issues figuring out what notes to play, I should happen to offer my service, I was accused of being disruptive, of trying to take over the team. If I tried to explain, I was being rebellious, and should simply submit. If I didn’t, if I still respectfully tried to offer up my opinion or help, then that would lead to one of those sit down meetings.


This (and other similar situations) went on for literal years. My mother, the youth leader, would feel obliged to take the side of the pastor and leaders. They manipulated her the same way they did me. She, in turn, having a background of abuse and manipulation even worse than mine, would also twist and manipulate things till I submitted to her as well, if I questioned her or the others.


I was trapped in this literal hell in every way a person can be trapped. In the rural, small town area where everyone knows everyone for hundreds of miles… In a religion where if I tried to get out – be it mentally, emotionally, spiritually, physically, or anything else – any attempt to escape was “rebellion,” which meant I would spend eternity in hell.


It is what I had been taught all my life, but even worse when my family moved between states. At my new school, even the education reinforced it.


I started escaping, finally, when I left my husband…and got kicked out of that church.


That was when I finally left the community college I’d been at for four years with nowhere else to go because my husband wouldn’t move.


I moved to Kansas City…to a college in the same denomination of which I was a part.


It was there the escape became REAL.


I majored in music, and had my horizons SPECTACULARLY broadened when I got to go with the Jazz Band on a month long trip to Germany. All the teachers there had doctorates, were extremely well educated. And, being in the music department at a small college, I finally got to start becoming the person I was supposed to be.


My talents were recognized, respected, and nurtured. The only other place that had ever happened for me was in the music department at my community college, and the people I met at those two places are the ones who, to this day, are my very best friends.


The music, these past two or three years, has mostly lain dormant in me. After going through cancer while pregnant, with a tumor that had cut off my air supply and wrapped around my esophagus, I haven’t been able to sing for a tragically long time. After watching Donald Trump get elected and completely losing the last shreds of my faith, I felt for a long time as though literally every last bit of me that ever wanted to sing had been destroyed.


You see…when I was about 11, I had been told that if I ever started singing for non-Jesus reasons, Jesus would take away all my talent.


After watching “Jesus” people elect Trump…I didn’t want that talent.


Today, I’m finally healing from all of this bullshit. I’m learning to name and overcome all my neuroses that I’d never known I had, because “Jesus” has always healed me (also know as: suppress that shit, you’re supposed to be sanctified/perfect).


As I heal from these neuroses, my body is also getting stronger. My lungs, one paralyzed by cancer treatments (the nerve controlling the diaphragm took a hit during radiation), are getting stronger.  My vocal chords are getting stronger. My mind is getting stronger. I had the forethought to marry a guitarist when I got remarried, and he and I have started writing and playing music together again.


I’m finally remembering, again, why I fell in love with music in the first place.


Music, my friends…heals.


Blessed be, ya’ll.

Church Too. Me Too. Pregnant With Cancer. Complex PTSD. Avascular Necrosis. I’m F***ing Crippled. FML.

Dude, guys. I’ve had a FUCKED up week since I last posted.

Thanksgiving with my Trump-voting family wasn’t even all that bad, really.

If you’ve read even one of my other blogs, you’ll have an INKLING of how rough this weekend was on me.

But that’s not even the worst part of it.


Sure, I stayed pretty innebriated the entire time, as did they. But I got SOOOOOOOO much drunker the night before we left to make the 6-plus hour drive. I was STILL hung over when I took over driving just before hitting the hills of my former home in the Ozarks. Those roads are curvy has FUCK. When I was a kid, I literally got sick EVERY single time my parents would take us to the Ozarks for a week or so for our “family vacations.”


My poor two year old chemo baby got sick on the trip this time. My husband and I are both feeling fairly apprehensive about that new development.


But the weekend was actually pretty smooth. There were really only a handful of passive-aggressive remarks from my mother, zero from my older brother, and my dad did pretty good at keeping me pretty intoxicated as to be able to better handle the entire situation, as well as the searing pain in my post-pregnant-with-cancer hips.


Cancer treatments gave me avascular necrosis, you see. In layman’s terms, that means that my hips are literally ROTTING.


The trouble is, I’m too YOUNG to get the simple, effective hip replacement surgery. The surgery that, by most accounts, has a super quick recovery time, and will last me about 20 years.


You know…the 20 year in which I’ll be raising my daughter, assuming cancer doesn’t come back (there’s a 90% chance it won’t).


But, insurance won’t pay for a hip replacement before I’m 50, unless my femoral hip completely collapses (pretty likely, according to the one MRI I’ve gotten so far). FDA won’t even approve of a second hip replacement for people younger than 50. And there’s a FAIRLY good chance that I’ll need one, given the hip will only last me about 20 years, and I JUST turned 30 this year.


And…yeah. That’s why my weekend was so bad.


Today, Monday, I went to my bone doctor about the constant, debilitating, and crippling pain I’ve had in my left hip, the one which has already received the only surgery they can offer me right now (if I understand the situation correctly).


But, on account of I live in AMERICA…


the country Trump says he’s making “great….”


(he’s actually making it EASIER for my insurance to deny my claims right now…he could LITERALLY get me killed…)


My doctor’s hands are quite literally tied in every way imaginable: legally, financially, etc.


And that’s why actual Thanksgiving with my Trump-voting family was actually the HIGHLIGHT of the last week of my life.


Right now, my option is to get back on my crutches INDEFINITELY, try some more physical therapy, stay off my hip without crutches, and I finally qualify for a handicap sticker on my car (though I don’t think my disability payments will increase any). They could give me opiates, but given the psychological problems I’ve had for like, my entire life, I didn’t even ask for any painkillers to help with the SEARING pain currently coursing from my foot all the way to my shoulders.


And that’s on the side that already received the only available to me right now.


But I can’t even use marijuana to help with ANY of this.


Because America is “great,” or some fuckery like that.


So…yeah.


Thank you, Donald Trump. And the FDA. And Capitalism. And Citizen’s United. And Congress. And the Evangelical fuck heads that indoctrinated me into thinking capitalism was the absolute BEST when I was in High School in the early 2000’s.


Right now my best hope for EVER living anything RESEMBLING an active life, is for my hip to completely SHATTER before I’m like 50 or something.


And that’s assuming that I don’t relapse. While I don’t have insurance. Because America is great or some shit.


Bloody hell, I’m out of tequila. So I guess I’m signing off for tonight.


I was gonna write about music, and how I was a Music Minister before Christianity ruined singing for me forever. But how I’m trying to work my way back towards making music again. But on my own terms. And with my husband.


Instead, I’m awake at 2AM ranting to the internet about how my hip FUCKING HURTS LIKE A MOTHERFUCKER…….


And my doctor’s hands are tied.


Soooo….


Blessed be, ya’ll. I try to be in a better mood next week.

Religious Trauma, Cancer While Pregnant, and Being a Mom

My deepest fear by far these days is that I’ll inadvertently be a bad mom and permanently fuck my kid up in the process. This is a complicated fear for me, given the fact that during my pregnancy I was receiving regular chemo treatments.

For my entire life, the seemingly constant message to me was the need to raise Godly children to be foot soldiers in the church’s culture wars. To this day I could quote to you about half a dozen or so verses enumerating the need to teach your kids about Jesus from the time they’re old enough to understand the words you’re saying.


And my own childhood was fairly traumatic, so I have reason to doubt my mothering skills to begin with.


And then you throw in the fact that I have a laundry list of “no-no’s” that I went through during my pregnancy: CT scans, X-Rays, MRIs, MASSIVE doses of steroids, Rituxan treatments, 4 full chemo treatments, being born 2 months early…


From 8 weeks of pregnancy on, every single time I met with my maternal fetal specialist or my OB-GYN, we got bi-weekly scans, stress tests, blood pressure/sugar tests, and more just to make sure my baby hadn’t died.


Yep. Every two weeks or so we had to check to make sure that nothing had killed, maimed, or disfigured my daughter. 


Later on, due to the placement of the mass, we would also have to constantly monitor my O2 levels to make sure we were both getting enough oxygen, so that she didn’t get brain damage. This situation would eventually be what lead to her having to be born 2 months early: she was safer in an isolette in the NICU for a month than she was in my womb.

I’d known from the beginning that this would likely happen. Nevertheless, walking out of that hospital and leaving my girl in the NICU was one of the most soul-crushing experiences of my life. During her month there, my doctors wouldn’t allow me to stay overnight in the NICU because the chemo had so thoroughly trashed my immune system.


My body was so weakened by the situation that my muscles had deteriorated, and I was nearly constantly in a wheelchair during the week following delivery.


My girl was four pounds when she was born, and I could barely hold her. The NICU nurses had to bring her to me for our “kangaroo care” times because it wasn’t safe for me to lift and carry her.


I’m two years out from chemo now, and the fatigue still keeps me glued to the couch some days.


Treatments paralyzed a lung, too. So I easily become winded and have to sit.


Treatments caused my hip joints to rot, and I barely escaped getting them replaced before I turned 30. They’re still just hoping at this point to get my hips to last till I’m 50 before having to replace them (fingers crossed).


THIS WASN’T SUPPOSED TO BE WHAT MOTHERHOOD WAS SUPPOSED TO BE LIKE.


My girl and I have figured out ways for me to play with her. She constantly brings me the toys and books she wants to play with or read. She brings me legos when she wants to build. She brings me our Darth Tater Potato Head when she wants to hear the weird voice imitations I do. She brings me her little pink piano when she wants to hear my pathetic rendition of “Fur Elise.”


But I still constantly worry. My childhood trauma has made it difficult for me to express affection at times. I worry that the religious trauma will cause me to veer too hard in any direction, influencing her own mind’s decisions (our extended families are still heavily Christian).


What if everything I was taught actually IS true, and I’m damning my toddler to hell??


I’m absolutely paralyzed with fear at the thought of doing something wrong. What if the house isn’t clean enough? What if she lays awake in her crib for too long before I get her up in the morning, and she thinks I’ve abandoned her? What if I miss some cues when she’s scared or ill? What if I’m missing cues that the chemo gave her Autism, or ADD, or ADHD? What if the baby wearers are right, and she’s not bonding to me like she’s supposed to? What if the breast feeders are right, and she’s so underweight still because my milk never came in due to chemo? What if being an only child because I’m sterilized from chemo cripples her socially? What if me planning on homeschooling makes that even worse?


The fears spiral deep into the night sometimes, sweeping me up into the deepest corners of my psyche that always lay in wait. I have zero chill when it comes to fear sometimes, and being a parent is terrifying even under the best of circumstances.


I was indoctrinated into one life purpose and one purpose only: being a baby making machine for the “Lord’s Army.”


I’ll never have more kids. The one I have will be whatever she damn well wants to be when she grows up. I no longer have the old “train the child up in the way they should go” and other such scriptures and platitudes to lean on. I’m an emotionally crippled mother raising a perfect, brilliant, hyperactive child who saved my life before she was born. She deserves the best.


I just hope that someday I’ll be even a fraction of the mother she deserves.


Blessed Be.

On Why I Don’t Think I’m Cut Out For This

So now I’ve spilled pretty much my entire life story on the internetwebs, and I gotta tell those of you who have stuck with me this long…what the fuck is wrong with you!?


And I mean that in the best way possible.


Because you see, I’ve never had very many people in my life who have heard even a FRACTION of this bullshit and thought to themselves, “that this is a bitch I wanna know more about!”


But here you are, having heard SO much shit about who I am and how fucked up I am and all the bullshit I’ve been through and all my vary and sundried, absolutely DELIGHTFUL neuroses…and I’m not even paying you to shrink my head, and you’re still here, ready to hear more.


Damn. You are one badass human being.


God, there’s just something fucked up about having moved cross-country when I was 12 years old, and then all the bullshit that happened to me afterwards, that makes me feel like I’m damaged beyond what any human would ever want to tolerate.


And what’s SUPER fucked up is that, there are people who have been through WORSE than me who feel this way.


People who have been through WORSE than JUST going through cancer while pregnant.


Or WORSE than being married to an unfaithful husband.


Or WORSE than growing up in a cult.


Or WORSE than being abused in SO many ways for SO much of your life.


Like, if I can get through all that shit and STILL reach out to people yet STILL feel like I’m not worth ANYONE’S time…what must those “other” people feel like?


I got to the brink of killing myself, and was STILL able to reach out for help, after ALL that shit I’ve been through.


I had a psychotic break.


I grew up cutting myself to relieve some of the pain that I had nothing constructive to do with when I wasn’t making music (which was sometimes hard, because there were those who hated to hear my voice raised in song).


But, just shy of 30 years old, at the lowest point in my life when I thought the ENTIRE space-time continuum would be better off without my existence to get in the way…I found a handful of people who I trusted enough to reach out to, and KNEW that they would drop everything the moment they had a chance and do whatever it took to helpe me hold on until I could get some real, professional help.


And I was breathtaking lucky to have those people, given how fucked up those few know I can be sometimes.


Not everyone with the kind of issues I have have those types of people they can reach out to in their darkest moments.


A few weeks later, when I was literally questioning reality itself, I still had people who were there for me.


For fuck’s sake…what the fuck have I ever done to deserve THAT kind of love?


I absolutely do NOT think I’m cut out to be the kind of person who spills their life on the internetwebs and has people who ACTUALLY want to hear what I have to say. I have never thought I’d be the kind of person who people set aside time to listen to. 


People have told me I’m “inspirational,” and that kind of talk scares the ever-loving SHIT out of me. I’m the person who silently begs for people to be as weird as me so they won’t immediately get as far away from me as possible becaume I’m freaking them the fuck out.


But then I realize that there are people out there who feel that same way, and are begging the Powers That Be to find someone as fucked up as them, and I want to scream from the rooftops just how fucked up *I* am, so they can find me and feel less alone for just a little while.


I’m not a professional. I’m not perfect. What I AM is someone who has managed to find ways to keep going when every single minute of every single day was spent figuring out how to function without having a panic attack so I could take care of my child.


I think sometimes all people need is to feel they’re not alone.


Maybe my voice will help someone with that.


The worst thing I’ve ever felt, with all the shit I’ve ever been through, was alone. Please, regardless of where you are in your life, know that you’re not alone, no matter where you are.


Blessed be, ya’ll.

Beating cancer while pregnant Part Two: Losing my Religion

So I’ve now released several blogs tracing the arduous tale of my deprogramming from a fundamentalist Christian Cult. From my indoctrination in high school, to getting married at 19 and divorced at 23, to my divorce spurring my church to ostracize me, right up to me fighting cancer while pregnant and becoming suicidal a few short years later.

It’s time to wrap this fucker up.

Before being diagnosed with cancer while pregnant, I was rabidly pro-life. I’d read a book as a teenager about a woman carrying a child to term that was the result of a rape while she was at a fundamentalist college.


I wanted to be that kind of woman when I gew up, to be that kind of “testimony.”


My own testimony was pretty fucked up even without all that.


I told the story recently of the events leading up to my cancer diagnosis when I was 8 weeks pregnant, of how I’d given my baby up for lost the second they told me “it’s lymphoma.”


I told of how I’ve wanted nothing more than to be a mother for my entire life, that I’d struggled with fertility issues in my first marriage. The second those words left my doctor’s mouth, I thought I’d have to abort or die.


I even had several doctors confirm that suspicion.


But then I was introduced to Dr Ho, a man who was certified through M.D. Anderson, an insanely famous cancer center in Texas that is just about the last word when it comes to cancer treatment. And it just so happened that M.D. Anderson had treated more women who were pregnant with my (freakishly rare) kind of cancer than just about any other cancer institution. So they, along with Dr Ho, my OBGYN, and a maternal fetal medicine specialist, all powwowed with my primary care doctor and her entire team, and they concocted the plan that saved the lives of me and my child.


After diagnosis, I was immediately started on super high-dose steroids, and kept on them for about two months, thus getting me into my second trimester. That was they key: halt the growth of the tumor and reduce the inflammation so I could actually eat, and then we’d all move on to phase two.


The steroids worked, and then I was given 3 Rituxan treatments (non-chemo chimera treatment), and then 4 full R-CHOP treatments. At that point I was exactly 7 months pregnant. The tumor was sitting right on top of my chest, and when I reached my 3rd trimester, the tumor and the baby were both pushing on my lungs and diaphragm.


I’d already been on oxygen the entire pregnancy because of this issue. I couldn’t get deep enough breaths to keep enough oxygen in my body for both my girl and I. When I reached 7 months, the oxygen tank was cranked full blast and my O2 stats were continuously – and dangerously – dropping. It was time to deliver the baby, because it was safer for both of us if she were in a NICU instead of my womb.


I wasn’t strong enough for both of us anymore.


They delivered, and she got off oxygen before I did. She was 4 pounds 1 ounce of pure and breathtakingly perfect badassery. She stayed in the NICU for a month, learning how to eat, and getting strong enough to do so on her own. The NICU was in the same hospital as all my doctors, as well as my chemo ward. I stayed at the hospital all day every day with my girl, leaving her side only for chemo treatments, doctor appointments, sleep/shower, and food if no one was able to bring some to me.


My doctor’s wouldn’t let me stay there overnight for obvious reasons. Even my girl’s NICU doctor conspired with them to make sure the nursing staff knew to send me home and make sure I was eating enough.


During this entire time I was still scrambling to reconcile my faith with the insane amount of bullshit that has happened to me. I bought coloring supplies as a way to calm myself down at any given moment. I had thousands of people in my various religious circles praying for me. And for the most part, my faith was my rock during those times, despite the weird amount of pressure to have a “miraculous healing.”


But the meltdown that was inevitable finally came in the form of a frakking earthquake on account of Oklahoma. It was at that point the largest earthquake in the state’s history.


I was on the 5th floor in the NICU with my girl, coloring books and colored pencil’s flying, my neurotic, anal rententive, obsessive cumpulsive, damaged brain was feverishly working to keep the walls from closing in. And then the whole building swayed for about 3 or 4 minutes straight. I froze and went numb with terror.


By the time I snapped back to reality because a nurse was suddenly checking on us, I could barely hold myself together long enough for her to leave so I could give vent to the torrent of mortification coursing through me.


My brain had, by way of habit, immediately started pleading to God to spare the lives of my daughter, husband and I.


A fraction of a second later, I was questioning why I thought that would possibly do any good, mine and my daughter’s lives had been in mortal peril since before God let her be concieved! Like, WTF!?


I found myself at a therapist a few months later, shortly after being told I was in remission. I retained my faith and sanity for a while, and then Trump was elected.


I spent a few weeks triggered as fuck, lost my religion completely…    FINALLY, wound up back in therapy, and then became suicidal for reasons I might talk about eventually.


Since that time, I discovered Wicca, which has been hugely instrumental (along with tons of therapy). It initially provoked a psychotic episode due to the religious trauma complex PTSD from my past of spiritual abuse. Fighting my way back from that has lead me to discover that there are thousands of stories like mine out there.


From religious trauma, to being pregnant with cancer, to all the of #metoo stories…there truly is more to unite mankind that divide.


I hope to maybe inspire others to believe that as well.


Blessed be, ya’ll.

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