Sunday, September 24, 2017

“Don't ever take a fence down until you know why it was put up.” ― Robert Frost



Reflecting kind of sucks at first. I guess that's why I've been so hesitant to do it. But I'm doing it.

I was initially shocked by the volume of posting I did back then followed by a feeling of dread at the idea of  reading each one. I always find things I wish I'd said differently or blatant grammatical errors - things that make me cringe at the look and sound of my own writing. But mostly, it's substance that concerns me. Since I've made what I consider to be a monumental shift in my thinking about the bible and God, and since I apparently spent the majority of my time back then thinking and writing about those things, I guess I fear reading it and feeling a disconnect so vast that I won't be able to relate at all to that person. And since that person is ME, that's scary. But that didn't happen as I read my first three posts. *whew*

I was outrageously obsessed back then with doing right in the eyes of God. That part seems weird now, but it's not because I don't agree with the overall sentiment. I think God and religion did exactly what God and religion are meant to do. I drew strength from my faith and was able to perservere in a difficult situation that I willingly chose for myself. I don't regret marrying Todd. I don't regret having been immersed in church work and religious activities and ceremonies. Those were exactly the things that were good for our whole family at that time. We grew together and learned about each other and truly came to love one another. We had alot of FUN doing all of that stuff. I just refuse to view that as wasted time.

I'm ashamed at times that I don't continue to do more of those sorts of things. We used to take the boys to the nursing home to give the Lord's Supper. Maybe I've written about it before. I don't remember. We'd sing a few songs with them and take their prayer requests. We might hear about their ailments or those of family members. You could tell they were just happy to have someone there to talk with them and care that they existed.  That put good into the world no matter whose almighty name it was done in. We helped bring a little joy to old people on a regular basis. I should be doing more of that NOW.

I don't believe one moment of that experience was or will be wasted in my life. It's all a part of who I am today, and I'm happy and at peace with me. I'm grateful for the associations we had with "church people." I fundamentally disagree with them about a few things at this point, but this is still America, and as far as I know I'm allowed to do that. I don't wish them any harm, and I don't believe they set out with the intention of bringing harm to me or even to Todd at that time. In the end, I believe the good outweighs the bad which for me is what a belief in God sort of is. God is love. Three words from the bible that I prefer to take literally.

So yes, I still believe in God. Just a more all-encompassing version of God. Todd started calling it "the Universe" at some point back when we were both still single, and I'd scoff at him, roll my eyes, and insist he say "God." I'm entirely over that at this point, but I still silently scoff and resist the urge to roll my eyes at his current tendency to use the term "Goddess." I guess I'll get past that as well at some point.

The most valuable thing that can come from our experiences in life is that we actually learn and make progress as a result of them. Like the Velveteen Rabbit, I've only ever wanted to become more real, and the only way to make life real, it seems to me, is to learn from it. I believe now that my resurrection exists in the legacy I leave. What did my life - my story - leave in the world that could carry on? I no longer feel the need to be physically resurrected. It's so freeing and peaceful.
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Whoa. I sat down not really knowing what I was going to write about today other than just reading a few posts and seeing what happens when I reflect on them. I'm glad I did that.

Thanks for reading. Whoever you are.

peace&love, and grace,

pam





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Saturday, September 16, 2017

“We do not learn from experience... we learn from reflecting on experience.” -John Dewey

So, here I am, eight and a half years later. I suppose it's about time for an update even though it feels somehow pretentious - as if there's a school of people piranhas waiting to gobble up every word I have to say. The fact that I feel the need to address the fact that I'm writing on my blog again annoys me, but a fear lurks there telling me I'm not good enough or smart enough, and I've made stupid decisions that brought pain to others. And even though all of that is true, it doesn't mean that I shouldn't trust myself and continue to make progress. Who among us is really good enough? Smart enough? Or hasn't ever made a decision that didn't result in pain of some sort? Who? No wonder the Al Franken character on SNL always said, "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me." It's obviously a pretty universal feeling. So in spite of my fear of people piranhas, I will go bravely where I need to go and start writing my reflections here on this blog. The truth is, I don't expect to be good enough or smart enough because I intend to keep getting better at both of those things for as long as I live. I guess I'll always struggle with wanting people to like me, but I see the key to that now is in liking them first. Just being kind and respectful to others, no matter who they are, goes a long way. If people don't like me after that, oh well. You can't win them all, and I'm not ever going to be everyone's cup of tea.

I still haven't been brave enough to go back and read all of the blog. So far, I've only read the last post I made in March 2009. I haven't even taken the time to reread Kurt's post - Empty Box Faith - nor have I communicated with him since that time. It seems weird now. It's like my entire life from back then is a book I read once and fear reading again. I recognize now that no real progress will come from any of it if I don't take the time to reflect, and while I've been doing that mentally for the past two years or so, it's time to do it in writing. I guess I want to do it publicly like this because when I blogged before I found it so encouraging and enlightening to hear from others who connected in some way to what I was saying. It wasn't a great number of people, but it didn't need to be. I was writing anonymously back then, and I vividly remember my first comment, "I think I love your blog." It doesn't take that many people listening, caring and being kind to spark encouragement. In fact, it took only one, and it made an enormous difference for me at that time. Feeling heard and understood is powerful.

This reflective process that started two years ago was instigated by the birth of our first grandson. Yep. Todd and I are now grandparents. He's PopPop and I'm Gann. Becoming a grandparent made me feel like I was living forever and dying at the very same time. It was the stark realization that just as I've attended the funerals of all my grandparents, sure as shootin' this little guy will one day attend mine. What sort of legacy do I want to leave to him? Am I just going to be his quirky, free-spirited, teacher grandma who once married a gay guy? If I had a grandparent with that sort of description, I'd probably wonder about a few things.

So here goes. I'm going to blog again and piece together a narrative that will hopefully bring some meaning and understanding into the world for myself, my loved ones, or anyone else interested in reading it. I've definitely changed my outlook on some things. Mostly religious things. But I always leaned toward a more progressive and liberal interpretation of Christianity, so I don't believe my core values have really changed. I guess we'll see as I reflect and write about it.

I think one of my biggest fears in sharing the way I've changed is the fear of being demonized by traditional Christian believers. I've accepted the fact that it will likely happen. This little paragraph is to state that upfront. Demonize away if you so choose. I'm okay with it. I stopped believing in the devil several years ago, but I understand that some folks need that, and my belief shift could easily be blamed on him if that's the sort of mindset you have. Oh well.

Thanks for reading. Whoever you are.

peace&love and grace,

pam


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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Empty Box Faith (by Kurt)

When I was in college thirty years ago, I wrote a paper on the early days of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the Mormons), and, though I'd known Mormons before (In fact my great aunt was a Mormon), that was my first exposure to the history of the LDS faith, and it was the first time I'd read the Book of Mormon.

Now one of the first things you come to in the Book of Mormon, before you get to the main text is the Testimony of the Three Witnesses. The Three Witnesses were early converts to Joseph Smith's church who claimed to have seen the gold plates on which the Book of Mormon was inscribed. (According to LDS belief, the Angel Moroni reappropriated the gold plates after Joseph Smith was done translating them into English.)

How did Joseph Smith manage to convince these guys that they'd seen gold plates inscribed with ancient hyroglypics, I wondered.

Well all these years later I have my answer. According to Fawn Brodie, author of No Man Knows My History, Joseph Smith got together with his three converts-- Matin Harris, Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer-- and showed them what was to all appearances an empty box wooden box, and he told them the gold plates were in this empty box. When they said they didn't see anything, he told them it was due to insufficient faith that they didn't see the gold plates, and he ordered them out into the woods to pray. And pray and pray.

And after a couple hours of praying on their knees in the woods in the dark and the cold, they decided that they could see the gold plates after all, and there you have your Testimony of the Three Witnesses.

Now for those of us who don't believe in the founding myths of Joseph Smith's church I think the absurdity of the situation speaks for itself. That's not what faith is, right? Looking in an empty box and seeing something that's not there. That's not the kind of faith we have.

Well, I think sometimes that is the kind of faith we have. I think sometimes we have these empty boxes in our lives, and we want to believe all sorts of things are in those boxes. We tell ourselves "The box is real. So this thing that I imagine inside the box must be real too."

And I think we can see very clearly the empty boxes in other people's lives. I think way back when I first knew Pam, I had a strong feeling that her marriage was something of an empty box. And we had a mutual internet friend, an ex-gay blogger who's since disappeared, and he had this idea that by doing stereotypically male activities with heterosexual men (like remodeling houses), he was going to turn himself into a heterosexual. And boy, did that ever look like one big empty box to me.

So yeah. If the empty box is not part of my life, I can draw you a map and show you right where it is. The Rapture? Empty box. Homeopathy? Empty box. The housing bubble? Ouiji Boards? Pyramid power? Empty, empty, empty.

But where are the empty boxes in my own life? Those I don't see so clearly. But I have a nagging suspicion they're lurking around here somewhere.

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Monday, March 09, 2009

Figuring Things Out

Hey.

I'm here. Yes. I am.

It's weird. I've received some email in the past few weeks that all have something in common. Every one of them is from a reader who's never commented in all the time I've been writing, but have always been there, just reading. It's touching, seriously touching, to hear from folks that way. Thank you. All of you. You know who you are. :)

Here's another striking thing about each and every email I've received in my blogging absence. They all use the word "insight". They say that they miss my insight. I'm here to tell you, lately, I don't feel like I have much insight at ALL. I guess I've felt a bit devoid of insight for a few months, which is why I haven't written, maybe. Who knows. Then again, it's not like I ever sit down to blog thinking, "oh...here i go with all sorts of great insight to share today". I mostly just write what's going on and tell what I think about it. Go figure.

Not a whole heck of a lot has been going on. Seriously. I mean, I've been Facebooking like a FIEND. I think that's why none of my more regular readers or commentors have emailed; they are friends with me on Facebook and they see me or comment me there. And I've been having a great deal of fun there in Facebookland. I think it's been good for me. Just taking a "break" from being so full of insight and just having fun with imagination, ideas, and quick bursts of words.

I guess you could say that I've gotten down into the nitty gritty of being alone and trying to figure out how to manage that and still feel purposeful about life in general. The graduate classes I'm taking are a bit of a beating at times. I'm constantly reading and writing papers.

I miss the boys so much it physically hurts at times. I miss being in a family. I miss it BAAAADly.

I've had a few attempts at relationships but nothing ever works out. *sigh* But even that doesn't get me down all that much. (ok, sometimes it does but i always get past it.) I mean, I know that something or someone will find their way to me or me to them eventually. And...if not.....oh well. What can I really do about that? It is what it is. One of the things I am most thankful for that came from my marriage to Tdub was that it gave me the opportunity to work on my own mental well-being and sense of wholeness as a person. Yes, I'd rather not be alone. And yet, if I am alone, it's not the end of the world. There are some things I can actually do better alone, if I just get my act together and DO them.

So. Here I am. Still here.

Hopefully this blog entry is the beginning of a new start. Or at the very least, the end of a really long break.

love and grace,
pam



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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Update on Da' Boys

Most of you who've been reading for a long time, particularly those who've read since the beginning and seemed to actually feel the "blow" of the end of the marriage, have emailed or messaged me in some way at some point to ask about the boys.



I've had only one commenter, of literally hundreds, who's ever had the "nerve" to make disparaging comments regarding the boys' progression through what truly has been a hellacious time. All but one of you have known and trusted all along that the boys would come out the other side of this mess stronger, and more full of grace and love for each other and for US, than could probably ever been possible otherwise.



It takes time and patience to weather through this stuff. The bottom-line is that we are family. We love each other. Those boys love each other.



During Christmas break I was able to spend time with all four of the boys at the same time for the first time in almost 2 years. It was incredible. We had lots of time just hanging out at Todd's house, but my favorite thing we did together was going out to eat Mexican food. We sat there reminiscing about some of the good times we've had, and all four of them continued to give me a hard time about the same sorts of things they've always given me a hard time about. Things like my obsession with social networking (Facebook), my phone never ringing when anyone calls (i swear, it rarely rings for me), how I'm rarely on time for anything, and how it's not unusual for my hands and fingers to be stained with various colors of paint or marker. And they still love to laugh and roll their eyes at me when I try and use their hip teenager kind of lingo.

Zach, the high school senior and the oldest of Todd's two, has struggled more than the other three. But even at that, his struggles have made he and Daniel grow closer. All four of them text and call each other regularly. When they talk about each other to friends they refer to one another as brothers. They've all talked about being better, stronger people for what they've been through together. They are amazing.

I know that so many of you have kept them in your thoughts and prayers and I appreciate it SO much.

Da' boys.....are good.

love and grace,
pam

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Monday, December 29, 2008

More Online Dating Fun

OK.

This is probably rude and uncalled for...but...I can't help myself.

THIS

Be honest and faithfull. Take care cleaning the inside of the house because I will take care of the house duties.

...is an actual headline that some man put up on his online dating profile.

I'm not kidding.

Where do we begin with this one?

Yes, faithful is spelled wrong. Does that mean it doesn't count?

And this man.....who winked at ME.....just wants me to know that as long as I take care cleaning the inside of the house, he will take care of house duties???? wha???

Sometimes it's just downright insulting to even be "winked" at. Ya know?

love and grace,
pam

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Post

I've been suffering from a bit of writer's block lately. I appreciate those of you who email me when this happens just to check in. That's so sweet. No, it's more than sweet, it's downright loving. And I love you back.

Remember that post I wrote a few weeks back about a new relationship? Yeah. That one. Let's just pretend I didn't write that one. But don't worry, it's okay. Just trust me on that. If I've learned one thing this year (and hopefully I've learned more than one) it's that dating and blogging don't mix all that well. I guess it's one thing to put the trials and tribulations of being married to a guy who's same sex attracted and eventually leaves you to come out as gay online for the world to see. It's quite another to try and "bare your soul" when you're navigating the world of dating. Mostly, because it's difficult to trust your soul at any given moment in light of the fact that you are just getting to know people. Not to mention the fact that there are OTHER individuals involved who also have souls that are in the same sort of flux. I've said it before and I'll say it again. Dating sucks. I do know this; being alone is better than being in a bad marriage. And if this is as good as it gets, so be it.

In other news, I am going to see all four of the boys during this holiday break. I will hopefully have pictures to post.

Until then, Merry Christmas to all! Thanks for caring and writing and COMMENTING (heehee).

love and grace,
pam



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