I have preemptively taken some of my anxiety medication already before sitting down to write this blog out. Given that writing my last blog sent me into a few different panic attacks, and given what I’m intending to write up here, well…I’m not trying to spend my Sunday an emotionally crippled mess.
I’ve already had too many Sundays like that.
I want to talk about “Me Too.” I never talk about “Me Too” unless it’s with someone who has already earned my trust, a feat not achieved by many, and lost by most.
My first “Me Too” was when I was three years old.
My next was a short while later, lasting most of my life (thankfully not my father, though).
The next was my first husband.
This will be the only one I talk about, the one I will finally talk about now, here.
I won’t go into graphic details. I don’t remember most of the graphic details, but for those of you who also say “Me Too,” please be careful. The last thing I want to do is cause more people more pain. (((hugs)))
I got married, the first time, when I was 19. We divorced when I was 23.
There are people who know me now, at 30 years old, who are still unaware that I was married for four years in my early twenties. THAT is how fucked up this marriage was, how much I’ve repressed it, and how little I am willing to relive any parts of it, EVER. Even my husband now, my best friend, my soul mate, the man to whom I have revealed parts of my life that I haven’t talked about since I was THREE…he himself doesn’t know most of what happened in my first marriage.
You see, the Fundamentalist Church I was raised in was on the forefront of the “Purity Culture,” and for a young teenage girl growing up in that church, my youth is inextricable from that movement.
The dress codes were strict. The dating rules were stricter. My first kiss wasn’t till I was 17, and there were people disappointed in me that I hadn’t waited till my wedding day.
So when my second “real” boyfriend came along, a guy who had recently “recommitted to Christ,” who didn’t know how many people he had had sex with, who was a repressed bisexual turned sex addict, he pushed me to go further than I wanted ALL the time. We ended up doing pretty much everything BUT having sex, and part of the reason we married so young was because he wasn’t going to stop pushing, and I wanted to be a virgin on my wedding night.
I made it, along with the sense of guilt that plagued me regardless, ruining any chance of ever having a healthy sex life. And then he cheated on me. All the time, every chance he got. And the girl who was a virgin on her wedding night got four STD screenings in her four years of marriage.
I spoke to my pastor on several occasions during that four year marriage, essentially begging permission to get divorced. It was always denied. As I explained in my last blog, everything always boiled down to how the church “looked” from the outside.
My husband also raped me. He would cheat on me, and then not give me a choice when it came to my “marital” duties. At the same time, it was always insinuated that he wouldn’t cheat on me if I put out often enough, if I could “satisfy” him well enough.
I was the lead singer on the praise team at this church. My husband had been the drummer, my brother played bass, my mother was the youth pastor, my brother’s best friend was lead guitarist, his wife the children’s pastor. And all this in a church that had less than a hundred people in the congregation on any given Sunday. So…they noticed when I left my husband.
Initially I was begged to come to the church, because I left my husband on Good Friday, and they wanted me to sing on Sunday. He would be drumming, so why couldn’t I just “fake it till I made it?” Our services were recorded and played on local cable networks. There would be a TON of people there that Sunday, it was Easter!
My sanctification and salvation were called into question if I didn’t sing. Wasn’t GOD more important than my FEELINGS? If people found out my husband had cheated on me, what would that do to the church’s “witness” to the community? Wasn’t THAT worth me working through my feelings JUST FOR THE MORNING? If my worship was sincere, I’d be able to push through it. God was still God, and still worthy of praise, even though my FEELINGS were hurt. FEELINGS are NOT your friends, DIDN’T YOU LISTEN TO MY LAST SERMON!?
And obviously, they had a TON of scriptures in reserve for just such a moment as this that they could whip out at a moment’s notice in order to get me back in line so the show could go on.
As I said in my last blog, church was a never-ending, grotesque masquerade dance for all the world to see.
And, after all, I was only a woman. Why couldn’t I just listen to my male elders like the Bible told me to? *mumbles feministically*
After the church realized I was serious about divorcing my husband, after I stepped away from the well-rehearsed masquerade, the church turned on me like a pack of wolves.
The one thing that kept me brave enough to continue with my decision to FINALLY hold true to my threats and leave the bastard was, in the end, my father. The one man in my life who had NEVER made me question my self worth, told me in one of his rare moments of raw feelings, that he hated seeing me let myself get hurt all the time. He told me he’d never wanted anything more than to be able to protect me, even when he knew he couldn’t. The fact that seeing me hurt was hurting him, that I ACTUALLY mattered that much to ANYONE, is what made me stand up for myself for the first time in my LIFE.
This church, which was supposed to teach me that I was FUCKING worth something, failed me at the time I needed it most. My father, who wasn’t a Christian, was the only one who knew how to help me with that.
He knew my husband cheated on me. It happened at the place that he worked with my husband, AND the woman he had an affair with.
He DIDN’T know my husband raped me. He STILL doesn’t know that. He doesn’t WANT to know that, because he’d probably kill the man if he knew just HOW BAD that man fucked me up before I was brave enough to leave him. But my dad still valued me enough. He didn’t NEED to know all the graphic details to know that I didn’t fucking DESERVE to be treated the way he knew I was, even without knowing the whole story.
There have been few people (until very recently) who I KNEW valued me that much in my life. The first was my dad when I was 23. There are a few from college, and obviously the man I’m married to now. I still struggle with valuing myself that much, and these are the people I reached out to when my religious trauma made me almost kill myself a few weeks before I turned 30, after surviving cancer while pregnant.
I value my daughter that much, and the thought of her being 23 before she feels that she has value would destroy me. The fact that the church robbed me of that feeling till I was 23 enrages me.
THAT is my “Me Too.” If you ever wonder how someone could POSSIBLY have a “Me Too” and go DECADES without reporting it, look at the Church. Look at the men running this country who belong to one of “those” churches. Read every entry in this fucking blog. That’s where your answers are.
If YOU have a “Me Too,” know that, regardless of whether anyone has ever convinced you of it, you DO have value, and there ARE people out there who WILL do anything they can to help you learn to believe that. Reach out.
You’re not alone.
Blessed be, ya’ll.