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.

Religious Trauma Syndrome and Having Cancer While Pregnant

So I guess it’s time to get around to it and tell the story I’ve been hinting at for a while.

Looking back at my life, sometimes it’s bizarre to me that I don’t automatically consider having cancer while pregnant to be the most traumatic thing that has ever happened to me. If you’re familiar with any of my other blog entries, you know that’s a hefty statement. Considering the interstate move when I was twelve, being raised in a fundamentalist Christian Cult, getting divorced in that cult and getting kicked out for it, being sexually abused and raped…yeah…

So when people are horrifically shocked at how cavalier I’ve become about my trauma from having cancer while pregnant, it takes me a while to actually, deeply appreciate why that is.

My husband and I shared our one year anniversary in November of 2014. Christmas of that year we got a positive pregnancy test, something that – due to my previous marriage and some fertility issues there – I had legitimate reason to fear might never happen. That fear kept me in a constant state of anxiety during the 3 months my husband and I had tried to get pregnant. I’d always dreamed of becoming a mother; it’s one of the few things I can remember having NEVER changed my mind about.

We spent a month of being overjoyed at the prospect of becoming parents. However, during that month I also had a growing sense of dread that something was seriously wrong with me. I’d had a “lump” growing at the soft spot at the base of my throat in between my collarbones for a while. I’d seen a pulmonologist about it, and she thought it, the cough, and shortness of breath that accompanied, were simply due to the fact that I was considered morbidly obese.

I started developing other worrisome issues as well, though most of them could’ve been easily due to the fact that I was pregnant. I had drenching night sweats. I was constantly and cripplingly fatigued (I napped at my desk where I worked at the time, while listening to Rage Against the Machine). I completely lost my appetite, and had a case of morning sickness so bad, that that’s what eventually sent me to the emergency room one Monday morning.

I had woken up that day feeling worse than ever, but forced myself to drag myself to work anyway. It was while there that I had the realization that whatever the fuck was growing in my throat had COMPLETELY blocked my esophagus. I had had horrific issues swallowing any foods at all for a week or two at that point, and that morning I realized I couldn’t swallow fluids at all.

Even if I DID somehow manage to try to choke anything down, I gagged and threw it right back up. I’d been eating around 500 calories a day for a week or two. I had lost 30 pounds in one month, and was at that point losing on average a pound a day.

At seven weeks pregnant – also under any circumstances – that is never a good position to be in.

So from the emergency room, they got me a bed on the “acute care” ward. This was essentially a step down from the ICU, according to the nurses I asked (shoutout to the BEST nurses in the world, btw). I was so dehydrated, and my veins so fucked up, that I had about 18 failed IV’s before a PICC line was ordered.

I had to get a CT scan, despite the pregnancy, to determine what the fuck was going on in my throat. We discovered it was ACTUALLY a mass 15cm long, and 5cm deep and wide. A biopsy was immediately ordered, which they did with me conscious because I was pregnant.

The Monday after I was admitted, after a week in the hospital, I received the news that I had lymphoma. The memory of that event, despite my well honed repressive memory techniques, is forever entrenched in my memory, as vividly as the day it happened.

I immediately assumed I’d have to abort, and resigned myself to doing so, a situation that changed my views on abortion FOREVER.

However, for whatever miraculous reason (I’ll be the absolute LAST person to tell you what to believe), I got to keep my baby, and today she is beyond anything I’d ever thought I’d deserve in this life.

Shoutout to the best team of doctors a lady who’s pregnant with cancer can ask for. I went through a year of unadulterated hell getting cancer treatments while pregnant. My girl was born two months early due to complications. She’s been healthier than me since conception. I’ve been left with a paralyzed lung and rotting hips.

The bond between me and that magical, miraculous, brilliant, and precious tiny girl goes deeper than anything I’d ever felt in my entire life.

I’ve never been brave enough to give myself wholly in love toward anything…EVER. I had been far too damaged for that for far too long. The closest thing I had to that was with my girl’s father, my other half, my sanity, my rock in this world…my literal soul mate.

But what I feel towards my daughter makes my love for my husband pale in comparison, and he would absolutely agree with me on that.

This girl was the bottom line only reason I came back from my psychotic break after I had a suicidal episode.

She is sometimes literally the only reason I finally drag myself out of bed most mornings, and ensures my depression never takes me to the dark places for very long.

She is bottom line the only reason I didn’t let myself spiral far enough to actually act on impulse the day I wanted to kill myself. She is what forced my fingers to punch in the numbers on my phone to reach out to the only five people I wanted to immediately know how far I had spiralled (and they came through in the brilliant ways I knew they would).

She is what brought me back out of that spiral and made me brave enough to start reaching out to more people, opening up more, making more deep connections so I’d NEVER let myself sink that low EVER again.

My girl deserves to have a mother in her life. She saved MY life before she ever came into this world. I’d be the terrible person I always thought I was if I threw that gift away.

So I fought. And I’m still fighting. This current fight has been the hardest of my life, and take a look at that list at the beginning if you don’t remember how hefty of a statement that is.

But my girl is eternally worth every bit of this journey of mine. Bringing her into this world is the thing that finally convinced me of my strength, and that’s why I fight to make this world a better place every single day.

I recently saw a room full of Okies cheer on a black, female gubernatorial candidate when she called for cannabis legalization. I saw them cheer her on as she gestured to the gay, libertarian candidate sitting next to her, as she spoke of how she’ll fight to keep the government out of his relationships. I saw her be the only one out of an entire panel full of old white guys to get SEVERAL standing ovations from over half the audience.

Even the old white Republican didn’t get half of that amount of positive feedback from the audience, not even when he ranted about abolishing abortion, calling himself a “modern abolitionist.”

This…in the heart of deep-red Oklahoma, the state that was last year trying to pass legislation to make performing abortions illegal.

This…after a night of Dems winning key elections across the country.

I find myself now unable to sleep, at 1 AM, because I find myself happier, more peaceful, and more hopeful than I’ve been since right around this time last year.

Maybe I can give my girl a better world when she grows up. Sharing my “Pregnant With Cancer” story might help with that. Sharing my “Religious Trauma” story might help with that. Sharing my “Me Too” story might help with that. Sharing my suicide story might help with that.

It’s stories that connect us, friends. It always has been. Sharing stories is how we let each other know that we’re not alone in this world. So maybe we should stop arguing about who’s right or wrong politically and religiously, and start asking how we got to hold those opinions in the first place. My reasons are laid bare here for all to see. If I’m brave enough to do that, so are you.

So in your own time, when and if you’re ready to heal, start telling your story. There are people out here who will listen, people who care, people who want to help. No one is ever alone, and being alone is about the worst thing I can imagine feeling these days.

Blessed be, ya’ll.

Religious Trauma Syndrome: Confessions of an ex-RWNJ

The first time I was diagnosed with clinical depression, I was 12 years old.

My family had moved across the country, away a decently (to me) sized town where I had an intimate circle of friends, a great music program (I’m a lifelong musician and singer) and tons of options for sports and dance. We’d lived in that town from first to fifth grade, and I loved everything about that place.

The place we moved to, however, was…different. It was in a rural town close to the bootheel of Southeast Missouri, about 30 minutes north of Arkansas. This town had about 250 people in it, half of whom I was related to. Most of the people in that area lived in the country, in houses where you didn’t even have any neighbors. The drive to the nearest Walmart from our house was 45 minutes of winding, back country roads.

Had we not moved, my graduating class would’ve been a few hundred seniors. The class that I ended up graduating with had 63 seniors, none of whom I have contact with today beyond political spats on Facebook.

I do, however, still have regular contact with quite a few of the people I went to elementary school with.

The biggest difference, however, was in the churches we ended up attending. Our first church, the church I was baptised in when I was seven years old, was a warm, welcoming place. It had an active children’s program that nurtured my love for music and singing. I’m still friends with the pastor to this day: he married me to my first husband even though he had left our town before my family did.

I met him again when I was at our denomination’s campmeeting, actually. I instantaneously recognized him, at 15 years old, and ran to him to give him a huge hug, just like I had when I was 8 years old. 8 years old, at that time, was one of the last times I can clearly remember being happy. My pastor recognized me immediately, too, and though he couldn’t quite remember my name, he knew exactly who I was because he was friends with my father before our moves.

He is still one of my dad’s favorite people, and my dad doesn’t generally like people. Ever.

But the church we ended up attending after we moved had a…different pastor. And my dad only attended that church with us for a year or so before he quit coming. My dad despised that pastor LONG before that pastor did everything in his power to keep me from leaving my unfaithful ex husband because of “how it looked.”

THAT church was a tiny, deeply Evangelical Fundamentalist church of the “Holliness” doctirne. This doctrine called for complete perfection from its congregants as proof of being filled with the Holy Spirit, and of course your salvation was called into question if you didn’t live up to the standards.

One of those standards was in mental health.

So when, at 12 years old, and after having been moved to a tiny school where all the kids had known each other since birth, as had their parents and grandparents, going back sometimes 3 and 4 generations…well, as you might guess, I developed a fairly significant case of clinical depression. It’s the first time I can recall developing social anxiety, or anxiety in general. I didn’t fit in there, and I knew it. My dad’s family came from that area, and so everyone knew my family, but I would forever be that freak who went to a weird church, had weird beliefs about dating/music/media/modesty, and is weirdly smart.

But we were expected to be “perfect” at church, especially in regards to mental health.

Oh, they flowered up the speech, of course. I could probably preach a sermon today about how you should “cast all your worries” and how “Jesus gives us the victory” and the “JOY of the Lord is our strength.” I’ve read how he can fix all your past hurts (I had a BUNCH of them) and remove the “root” of your pain. I know that “by His stripes we are healed,” and so how on Earth could a “Bible Believing Christian” EVER have clinical depression!?

I, of course, as the golden child of the youth pastor, absolutely could NOT have these issues. If I did, the pastor of the church told me to “fake it till I made it,” the situation that lead to me staying with my unfaithful, raping first husband.

It applied in ALL aspects of life in that church.

So when, after having survived cancer while pregnant, a lifetime of abuse, and watching Donald Trump get elected, I became suicidal one day, I was breathtakingly unequipped to confront just how much traumatic shit I had repressed that had to be dealt with.

And it all started with that lonely, 12 year old girl who just wanted to fit in somewhere.

I got sucked right into the madness of it all: politically, spiritually, socially, and anywhere that I could accomplish something spectacular with my weird amount of intelligence and perfectionistic streak that saw me graduating with a 3.8 GPA and a ridiculous amount of scholarships.

I memorized a 7 tape video series of Creationist propaganda “science.” I can sit down right now and deliver a pretty good “the Earth is 6000 years old” argument that would convince most of Donald Trump’s supporters that I’m “one of them.”

I could preach an end-times sermon right now that would convince most of Donald Trump’s supporters that they have to take up arms to defend him to stave off the apocalypse. I get anxiety way too frequently these days because I’m actually afraid that Trump’s supporters are the ones causing the apocalypse. Of course, they would believe with deepest fervor that it’s me and my fellow Millennial Ex-Evangelical Turncoats who are the ones to blame because we “fell away” just as was prophesied.

Like, literally typing this out has me treading dangerously close to a panic attack.

I like to tell people that had I not divorced my ex husband and moved away, I would currently be Trump’s biggest supporters. I think most of them think I’m joking, given the shit I post online about him, and how practically everyone from “back home” in Missouri has disowned me.

So when you see Trump’s rabid base believing literally every lie he spouts off on a daily basis, just remember this: I had a teacher in high school who thought Fox News was getting too LIBERAL. And he was the hero of most of my religious friends, of whom were half the class.

There is an entire generation of people out there who were raised like me; who had “Jesus” instead of “healthcare” for their mental health problems. We are horrified at the political events unfolding before us, the kind kind of insanity that is being wrought by people who raised us with our sense of right and wrong. Just look at the works of John Pavlovitz and Rob Bell if you need more proof of that.

And if you are feeling like this is you while you’re reading this, please just know that you’re absolutley not alone. There are SO many of us out here, and we’re fighting with you. We’re finding the light with you.

The worst thing to feel right now is alone.

Blessed be, ya’ll.

Toxic Christian Sexism in Disguise

It shouldn’t take someone till they’re 30 years old to learn to value themselves. In my last blog, I wrote about how I had to be convinced that someone ELSE valued me enough that it justified me standing up for myself when I was going through my “Me Too.” 

I sometimes feel like I inconvenience the literal space-time continuum by existing, that any amount of time that I take up for someone else has to be justified, and I apologize profusely if I take up more of their time than absolutely necessary.

I’m seriously fucked up, ya’ll.

It’s quite a common trend amongst people I know who were raised in an extremist Christian atmosphere. We are told all our lives that we have value because “JESUS,” or “GOD,” or whatever. And then, if our beliefs ever start changing, if we doubt and question the dogma of our indoctrination, where does that leave us?

But for me, those roots go a bit deeper. Because I have a vagina instead of a penis.

I was raised from my very earliest memories to grow up and have babies. And they better damn well be Christian babies. As I said in this blog, the horrendous masquerade dance that was “church” was raising an army to fight in their culture wars. We were the foot soldiers, and our goal was to produce more foot soldiers.

So women had one goal: grow up to be a good, obedient, and fertile wife.

They LOVED telling women how to be a good Christian wife. Every single women’s group and women’s conference I attended preached about the “Proverbs 31” woman. You should look it up, it’s awesome. It tells about how her husband can go into town and not be ashamed of his wife because she was back home baking and knitting and taking care of the babies.

And they talked about how we could be “more perfectly submissive” to our husbands. Our success was measured in how quickly we did what he wanted, how little we did without his permission, and how infrequently we questioned his authority over us.

But like, not because we were “of less worth,” obviously (sarcasm). No, they had all kinds of backup scriptures and theological meanderings so they could feed us this bullshit and hope that none of us woke up to the insanity of it.

There’s an episode of that Duggar family show where the entire episode they were trying to prove how “not sexist” this family was because the boys and girls swapped family duties for a day. It was all played off for laughs, because “haha the boys don’t know how to do laundry or cook” and “haha the girls don’t know how to do…car stuff?” And they EVEN had a scene where the girls did “college stuff” online (I think they were studying some home ec stuff) and the girls gushed over how it was “fun” to do that stuff, but they were really just looking forward to becoming a housewife and having a ton of kids and being submissive just like their mom.

I know that feel.

When I divorced my first husband, I moved a state away to a big city and finished up college. My family were sort of supportive, but also asking “who is going to protect you,” and freaking out about a woman driving six hours by herself without an escort. And then I graduated without getting remarried and my family were asking why I couldn’t get a husband.

There’s an excellent line in Gilmore Girls where Lorelai’s grandma asks her if she’s managed to get married yet, or if her independance was still scaring off all the men.

I know that feel.

My inability to catch a man, my status as a spinster, was also blamed on my crazy curly hair. I was often chastised on the need to “cut my hair and tame my wild ways” so that I could finally find a man and make babies. I was 25.

So I moved home for a few months after I graduated, because there were family issues going on and also I was having a millenial quarter life crisis. I felt like I didn’t really belong anywhere, and I wasn’t quite sure where where and how I was going to start building a life for myself.

My entire family did literally everything in their power to try to get me to stay there for the rest of my life. To find a husband there. To start a career there.

Instead, after a bit of searching and panicking, I moved to a different state again.

And I worked three jobs to support myself. And it was always “have you found a man yet? Who is protecting you?”

Well, I did actually meet my husband at that time. And then we got married after dating less than a year, which was WAY too fast for my religious family. You see, most people I grew up with knew their spouses for at least a year before DATING, or…”courting.”

That’s a blog for another time.

But yes, “courtship,” lasted for YEARS before marriage happened.

Except me. I knew this man was my soul mate, and we got married less than a year after we met.

Hashbrown rebel four lyfe.

And the man I’m married to now is the one who taught me how to be a feminist. He taught me to value myself as equal to him. He’s baffled by the things I ask him permission for. He’s confused about why I try to get validation from him for my spiritual beliefs. He laughed in my parent’s face when they told him he needed to control his woman.

My family loves him but also they’re horrified by our relationship sometimes.

Life is so damn beautiful.

People are still confused to this day about why feminism matters. Why we feminists still get into activism and fight for our rights. But how do you convince someone that you are fighting to have your value acknowledged, when the people you’re pleading with not only don’t value you as a person, but also don’t realize they don’t value you. And how do you even talk to them when they for DAMN sure don’t value what you have to say?

And the people needing convinced, if they ever read this blog, would argue with every damn thing I’m saying. And try to get my husband to stop me.

Do you have a story like this? Have you been in or known someone in the church who was an unwitting victim of sexism in disguise? 

I know a woman who didn’t receive their ordination, in a church that ordains women, because her HUSBAND wasn’t a Christian. He WANTED her to be ordained. He WANTED her to do what her heart told her to do.


If you have a story to tell, tell us in the comments what happened. We NEED to be shedding light on this clusterfuck of a situation, ya’ll. We need it more than ever.

Blessed be, ya’ll.

Now on Patreon!

Merry Meet!

So I’m an aspiring writer. Like Jane Austen, I would love nothing more than to “Live by my pen.” Or…you know…keyboard.


Back when I was young and starry eyed and hadn’t gone through chemo treatments while pregnant, I had always wanted to be a musician. I specifically wanted to be a singer. However, radiation sort of paralyzed on of my lungs, and it’s a lot harder to sing that way than you might imagine.

But I still need a “career” of sorts, outside of raising my chemo baby. So I’m raising hell online, writing about how fucked up the world is, and trying to make it better.

In order to support this lifestyle, and help my husband support this family, I’ve been looking into how to monetize this blog. Most suggestions I found had something to do with “affiliate marketing.” So I researched that a bit and have reached this conclusion:

Adds are annoying as FUCK.

So I’m opting out of peppering ya’ll with annoying pop up and scroll adds and asking you to click on them so I can earn three fifths of a cent every time you click, and instead have set up a Patreon Page. This allows you to, if you so choose, support me directly, for as little or as much per month as you wish, even as little as a dollar per month!

I know all of you have been to blogs with invasive, distracting ads. If you’re anything like me, you get so frustrated that it’s hard to absorb the content because of the flashing and jumping around of the page.

Plus, I don’t have time to keep updating the ads that annoy you. So if you think about it, all of us are really winners here.

Please visit my Patreon page and consider donating!

Blessed be, ya’ll.

Me Too, Church Too, And Complicit Christianity

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.

*Trigger Warning*

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.

Religious Trauma Syndrome: When the Wounds Go Too Deep

Fun fact: I got chemo treatments while pregnant.

It’s a crazy long, gut wrenching story, and my mind has done that fun little trick I talked about in my last blog, wherein it hides a lot of the details from my conscious mind as a self-preservation technique. But it happened. I DO remember every detail of my diagnosis, which was delivered to me the day I turned eight weeks pregnant. I remember that the words my doctor was telling me seemed bafflingly incomprehensible, like she was speaking in another language, or like her words were muffled as though she were whispering from another room.

Somehow that moment in time escaped my brains well-honed repressive abilities. There are some nights when I can’t sleep, and I lay awake listening to the sounds of my home: my husband snoring next to me, my dog snoring in the other room, the sound machine in my daughter’s room crackling in over the monitor.

But then I’ll feel how cold my feet are, and my brain will sweep me away to that day in the hospital almost four years ago now, and my feet will suddenly be cold because they’re resting on the hospital floor by my bed, where I’d spent the last week undergoing tests while the doctors desperately tried to get me to stop losing weight. I’ll feel the crushing sense of despair, absolutely certain they were going to have to make me abort the child to save my life. The mass was already so big that I couldn’t eat; how the hell was I going to be able to continue my pregnancy!?

But I was able to, and all too soon, they had to do an emergency c-section because neither the baby nor I were getting enough oxygen shortly after I hit my third trimester.

You see…religion isn’t the only thing I have PTSD from. No…my life has been far too fucked up to get off that easily.

My brain has far too much to choose from on the nights when insomnia strikes. I have DECADES of repressed shit that needs to be worked through, and I no longer have religion telling me “let go and let GOD” every time my brain decides to fuck with me for a night. Or 12. I honestly don’t think “let go and let God” ever actually worked for me, anyway. I think I was an overachiever and people pleaser hell bent on being the best at anything.

So my mental health took a back seat to “make it look good,” a chronic issue in almost every church I’ve ever attended.

So some nights the wounds go far too deep, and I find myself wondering if I’m the only one out here who has ever felt like this, because sometimes I can be a bit of a narcissist when it comes to “why me” and “no one understands me” and shit like that.

I know damn well I’m not the only one. People talk to me because I DO understand, and so I haul my ass out of bed and talk to the internet, because where the hell else are we supposed to find each other these days?

So I find ways to process the trauma, and sometimes I come right back around to religion, oddly enough. None of this “pray and stop talking about it” shit though, but REAL actually soul-searching and soul-cleansing work; work that allows me to be BITTER, to be ANGRY, to have a damaged soul that I allow to be bare and raw for a night, and longer if necessary.

What I’m learning is that religion that denies the existence of the dark times is a religion that will lose its relevancy in our fucked up world.

AmeriChristianity, in the Church I was raised in, somehow became wrapped up in both a Sanctification ideology and a Theocratic ideology all at the same time. The culture wars they waged outside the church became a grotesque, intricate masquerade dance inside the church. The rules we had to live by became the steps to our dance, while our masks hid the people we truly were: empty shells of humans.

But we MUST keep up this charade, for the WHOLE WORLD was watching. It was OUR sacred duty to win the hearts and minds of the world, and therefore save their immortal souls.

The end game, in retrospect, was painfully obvious: we were foot soldiers in their culture wars.

So we were sheltered and shielded from the world, forced into a dance not of our choosing, and expected to keep up appearances AT ALL COSTS…even unto sacrificing our own health, safety, and sanity.

You need only to look at today’s headlines to see this played out for all the world to see time and time again, and in several fundamentalist traditions: the Catholic Church, the Duggar Family, any dozen Republican Politicians you can name right now, it’s EVERYWHERE.

And the more isolated the church, the worse the stories get, because the problem becomes amplified tenfold in communities where everyone knows everyone, and EVERYONE is expected to dance all the time, and the shame becomes magnified even worse because there’s nowhere to hide: even the doctors, officers, and judges are your family or friends of your family.

There are SOOOO many DEEPLY wounded people out there these days. We’re all waking up to the insanity of it all, all at the same time, and there are very few of us equipped to handle such pain (see blog about that here).

My friends, you’re not alone. Full disclosure: I had a fucking panic attack while writing this blog. THAT’S how deep these wounds go. I’m fighting it again now.

Thank GOD (or…whatever) for my fucking dog, ya’ll.

I’ve said it before: the worst thing to feel right now is ALONE. I’m only able to do this because I know you’re out there: the people I’ve already connected with, the people who NEED someone to connect with, and the people who need to hear these stories to really understand what the fuck is going on in America right now.

Stay strong. Reach out.

Blessed be, ya’ll.

Religious Trauma Syndrome: My First Psychotic Break

The day I had my first psychotic break was also the day I first started studying Wicca.

Yes, studying a religion whose sole purpose is to reconnect mankind with Mother Earth was enough to send me past my typical panic attacks and into a realm of psychosis that I would spend months trying to unravel. It took me so long because my brain has a few very refined defense mechanisms from YEARS of insanity. These defense mechanisms lock away anything my brain can’t process into a deep dark room in the recesses of my brain, where stuff will only escape little by little when my brain feels safe.

It took ages for my brain to feel safe again after that day.

Studying Wicca accomplished what so many of my other traumatic experiences had tried and failed to do: it broke my connection to reality. And it did so because I was brainwashed far too well into Fundamentalist Christianity as a child.

So I guess it wasn’t really Wicca’s fault at all, come to think of it. My psychotic break was just another delightful gift from Religious Trauma Syndrome.

Going through cancer treatments while pregnant didn’t do it. Getting divorced while still in the Fundamentalist Cult didn’t do it. Finding out I had a paralyzed lung and rotting hips from cancer treatments didn’t do it. My suicidal episode didn’t do it.

I spoke in my blog entry here about how little equipped those of us indoctrinated by the Religious Right are to handle existential crises. Having doubts that lead me to atheism was one thing; studying an actual religion that had been (pun intended) DEMONIZED for my entire childhood, and finding it to be a rich, beautiful belief system, was more than my poor brain could handle.

This experience came after my suicidal episode, so I was already questioning my capability to handle literally ANYTHING.

The very foundations upon which I built my reality were shattered. To this day I still don’t remember much of what happened during my break. Much of it is still locked away in that room of which we do not speak.

The break kept me in a state of mild panic almost constantly. Anxious tendencies that had always hovered in my periphery became dark phantoms brazenly staring me down during my waking and sleeping hours, threatening to pounce if my guard slipped even a fraction. It was during this time that my panic attacks became the worst. The slightest doubts to enter my mind would send me into desperate spirals of confusion and terror.

Wicca taught me to rely on my own power for my own healing. But what if I truly WAS inadvertently harnessing the powers of Satan himself, as I was taught in my youth? After all, THIS was why I wasn’t allowed to watch or read Harry Potter! And it would take me getting divorced and moving a state away from my home church before I became brave enough to defy THAT particular rule.

Granted…I was a state away attending a college ran by my church denomination…but still. Pretty badass, right?

This break and these doubts were what spiralled me while watching The Little Mermaid with my husband and chemo baby. The Little Mermaid had also been banned in my youth on account of “witchcraft.” I had absolutely adored this movie when I was a toddler, right around my daughter’s age now. When it was later banned, I was crushed.

But when I watched it after my psychotic break, by the fourth or fifth viewing, my brain was still reeling from the psychotic break. I let my guard down that afternoon with my family. I followed too many trains of thought to ends with no answers. I panicked.

It was essentially the same thing that happened to me one night when I stayed up late meditating. It was a full moon, and my husband and I had had a relaxing evening on the porch with a fire in the chiminea, and I stayed up for some self care and meditation time after he’d gone to bed. I got a little too into it, let my guard down, started having doubts about my non-Christian meditation, and panicked.

I’m thankfully getting better at stopping the spirals. My therapist has been working with me on techniques to bring my brain back to reality. She’s teaching me to trust myself enough to be able to do so, even without the aid of an unbreakable faith in “Jesus,” or having constant reassurances from a Spiritual Authority Figure telling me I’m not doing something hell-damningly wrong for myself or my daughter by letting her watch The Little Mermaid.

This return to reality is the single hardest thing I’ve ever done. Harder than recovering from Sexual Assault, divorce which resulted in getting kicked out of the infamous Fundamentalist Cult, fighting for mine and my daughter’s life after being diagnosed with cancer during my pregnancy, watching my former faith elect Donald Trump (another fucked up moment in my life), being told I had a paralyzed lung, being told my hips were rotting, and the even moment that almost ended my will to live (which I may talk about some other time…for now, that wound is still too deep).

Moments in my life that I’m deeply ashamed of are far too plentiful. Shame has been my constant and unwanted companion since I was a child, and I know I’m far from rare in this mindset. So if you’re out there this Sunday (or whenever you read this), please know you’re not alone. I’m finding that there are THOUSANDS of us out there, and we need to start talking about this. We can’t heal wounds that we won’t reveal.

Reach out to me. Reach out to others. Find blogs to follow. Rob Bell and John Pavlovitz are uh-maze-ballz.

Through everything I’ve been through, the worst feelings were the ones when I was ALONE. We don’t have to feel THAT anymore, if nothing else.

Blessed be, ya’ll.

Religious Trauma Syndrome: Indoctrination and Existential Crises

So I’ve written a few times now about how badly fucked up I am by Religious Trauma Syndrome. For those of you interested, see my posts here and here.

To summarize those posts though: I was raised in a Fundamentalist Christian Cult, one so toxic that it has crippled me emotionally. I’ve gone into panic attacks because of triggers such as watching “The Little Mermaid” with my two year old chemo baby (I had cancer while pregnant) and relaxing (doing non-Christian meditating late at night without supervision and/or approval from a superior). *Mumbles feministically.*

So yeah, I’m an absolute treat to be around some days. The thing with this kind of PTSD is that you’re literally never sure where triggers may come from next. People raised under spiritually abusive conditions, who finally get a chance to deprogram and/or reprogram themselves, are RARELY ever equipped to deal with thoughts of doubt.

You see, when you’re raised from birth into a religion that AGGRESSIVELY claims to have ALL answers to the universe and all the things in it, you never really get to ask the deep questions.

These questions range from the question of whether there are ghosts and/or aliens, to the origins of the universe, to the afterlife, and perhaps most importantly: the nature of sin.

Because these people have all the answers, they hold the key to right and wrong and the consequences of both. So they get to not only give you all the rules, but also decide whether you’re going to hell or not (by the authority of “Bible,” obviously). So if someone gets GOOD and brainwashed, they have no equipment to handle the realities of life if they ever step away from their upbringing.

And we have an ENTIRE generation or more who are RIGHT NOW stepping away from their upbringing. The internet is inundated with think pieces trying to figure out why that is. The answer is really much simpler than they’ve ever given us credit for: we grew up. We found the internet. We found GOOD people who we were told didn’t exist (non-Christians). We were introduced to a broader thinking that we NEVER had access to, we were able to share beliefs and ideas with those outside the fold, and we found out the truth…or lack of it.

We’re all out here right now drowning in doubts. Doubts about ourselves, our beliefs, our families, our (usually former) churches. And for many of us, the moment those doubts creep in, we immediately go into panic mode.

Weird things can get triggery. Movies, books, stupid stuff on TV (I can’t watch Rick and Morty), and even deeper stuff for some of us who have been able to explore other religions: mandala circles and lotus flowers were triggery for me for a while. Synchronicities freak me the fuck out on bad days. Watching science documentaries, which is awful because I usually LOVE those when I’m having a good day.

Here are some thoughts that I’ve actually had over the last month or so:

“Am I going to hell for watching The Little Mermaid? Am I damning my daughter to hell (an ESPECIALLY brutal panic attack)?”

“Am I going to hell for exploring and *gasp* practicing *my GOD* learning from and *THE HORROR* even loving Wicca!?”

“What happens if I’m wrong about everything and my daughter goes to hell?” I literally wanna throw up right now at that thought…

“What happens if I’m not ‘living out my calling?’ Is the entire world going to hell? Will it explode or some shit?” Wish I was kidding about that one.

The current global political atmosphere is particularly fucked up for us. The people who taught us everything we knew about morality brought to us “President” Donald FUCKING Trump. And no, I will NOT apologize for taking this to the political place, because this shit is messed the FUCK up, ya’ll.

Wanna know why our asses aren’t warming your fucking pews anymore? Look at the clusterfuck in the White House. Look at the racist, sexist, homophobic, egotistical, lying, cheating, abusive ASSHAT that YOU GUYS put in office. Look at your UNWILLINGNESS to see the truth and act on it. Look at everything you taught us and then LOOK AT THAT MAN.

WE are not the ones who have let YOU down. Turn that shit around.

And now we are mocked and derided for being triggered by that trigger-happy fuckwad. Many of our families, if they hadn’t disowned us already, have done so because of these divides, and then we are shamed for supposedly creating the division.

Some of us see this almost prophetic situation playing out right before us, while simultaneously those who claimed to love us in the past point their fingers at US and blame US for this situation. Sometimes we LITERALLY ask ourselves, “Am I bringing about Armageddon?”

We were never taught to find truth for ourselves, whilst also being taught that relative truth is not a thing that exists, and that we’d go to hell if we questioned that teaching.

Then we spend late nights in absolute panic because we unironically worry about bringing about Armageddon, damning the whole world, our children, and ourselves. This is why we all MUST start talking about this. The worst thing I could possibly imagine feeling right now is alone. But I’m not alone. YOU are not alone, my friend.

If you don’t have someone in your life to talk to about any of this shit right now, message me. Browse the hashtags on Instagram, Twitter, ANYWHERE. We’re out here. We love you. We’re listening.

Blessed be, ya’ll.

Religious Trauma Syndrome: Triggered By Relaxation

Man…I’ve LEARNED me some relaxation techniques, ya’ll.

This is coming from the woman who is slightly convinced that at least PART of her avascular necrosis (from having cancer while pregnant) was actually a bit self-inflicted by bad posture and too much tension.

It’s part of a thing I decided to diagnosis myself with (after INVENTING the diagnosis), which I like to call “Whipped Dog Syndrome.”

You see, it goes something like this: I felt SO much shame and guilt for SO long, that my stomach clenched ALL the time, turning my spine in on itself. Imagine your tailbone being constantly tucked in, butt cheeks clenched as FUCK to support this shit, abs perma-tightened, and shoulders perma-hunched in, to the point where you have NO muscle definition in your legs or arms, because any and ALL weight that can be carried by your lower back, is ALWAYS carried by your lower back.

So…literally doing the upright posture of a dog cowering in fear, tail constantly tucked between its legs, head permanently lowered towards the floor.

I also hunched to one side, like I was constantly dodging some unseen blow.


Anyways, so somewhere along the line, my body started keeping count of all the shit that had happened to me that I had never emotionally dealt with.

You know, because “forgive 70 times 7” or some shit.

For those who WEREN’T brainwashed into a fundamentalist cult in the Bible Belt, that reference is to a scripture wherin Jesus tells some dude to forgive those who wrong him “70 times 7” times, therefore making it SUPER easy for abusers to control their victims. Like, that’s OBVIOUSLY not what Jesus most likely intended, but some old white guys at some point in time realized how ludicrously simple it would be to control massive numbers of people with religion. Zip, bam, boom, and a few hundred years later, I was being whipped into service for The Lord.

So HOLY SHIT did I get triggered AS FUCK the other night, when I was awake meditating (like, the secular kind) and journaling (but NOT a prayer journal) at like midnight, listening to Tibetan Singing Bowl music and drinking a hot tea called “Goddess Tea,” burning homemade incense to boot.

It would’ve made the perfect Christian picture of a Proverbs 31 woman had I just put on some damn Hymns or some shit.

But NO. I’ve recently had to go and get all secular and whatnot.

So when I got good and relaxed while staring at the candles while taking a break from journaling, I started hyperventilating and having chest pains and shit. I desperately looked around for my meds for a few minutes before realizing they were in the BEDROOM! You know, the place where my snoring husband was! And he KNEW I wasn’t 


Not that he gave a single fuck about that, but…you know. Tell that to the part of my mind programmed to look to him to be my “Spiritual Leader.” I’m ALWAYS supposed to have a “Spiritual Leader,” you see, because I have a VAGINA. 

*mumbles feministically*

So anyway I cleaned a few random things around the house, turned on some death metal on my earbuds, and got over it.

But yeah, that’s the story of that one time the other night when I had a panic attack because I was relaxing.

Tune in next time for………..Beth gets triggered by the Full Moon because “religion and shit.” Or “cancer and shit?” Maybe that one was “divorce and shit.” No no, that one was DEFINITELY “sexual assault and shit…”

Whatever. That’s actually happened to me a couple different times now, so…

I’ll think of something to talk about.

Blessed be, ya’ll.

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