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Get Out of That Box!

Have you ever decided that it’s time to make some changes in your life and broadcast said intentions to everyone around you only to find that the plan is much harder to stick to than you thought? Earlier this week I looked at Glenn and told him that it was time for me to start eating healthy again, cut out sugar (again) and really behave myself. That lasted until 1:30 the next afternoon when I found myself sitting in my car, scarfing down a cheeseburger and ninety-nine cent frosty. My resolve lasted less than twenty-four hours, and it only took an ad for ninety-nine cent frosties and a few hunger pangs to break me.

The difference now is that I don’t feel the least bit guilty about it, so at least that’s progress. The internal tongue lashings over my lack of self-control seem to have disappeared. After a lifetime of worrying about not getting fat and having huge body issues I’m now suddenly worrying about my weight from a different perspective - trying to find some rather than lose some.

A few weeks ago I wrote that my new mantra was to “let that shit go”, but wouldn’t you know it, just like keeping a New Years’ resolution, I am failing miserably. My nightly quiet time has turned into nightly internal angry rantings no matter how hard I try to return to the kinder, gentler version of me. So, I guess if I want another good nights’ sleep anytime soon I better pay attention.

Writing this blog has helped me to let some stuff go. The simple act of pressing the publish button each week and putting everything out there has allowed me to release a lot of pain and to let it go, and suddenly the things that were hanging over me have lost their power, and I feel a lot lighter and happier. I am starting to see a theme emerging, and some things are starting to make more sense. I’ve suddenly realised that I'm on two different journeys now. One is the physical journey through cancer, which I'm still on, still taking my chemotherapy medication and doing everything else that goes with that - scans, blood tests, Doctor's appointments, etc. But it's also become a journey of healing emotionally and spiritually, and I can't help but wonder if I had started there would I have found physical healing sooner with less devastating consequences.

It started when I read Gabor Mate’s book “When the Body Says No”. His message is that diseases like cancer may have more to do with repressed emotions than an unhealthy lifestyle or genetics, and I think that is true. Everything that I’ve read, seen or listened to since reading that book seem to say the very same thing, although maybe with slightly different language. That rings true to me as I am a life-long bottler of emotion and feelings. That is why I feel like I need to go back to that little girl waiting in the train station and find out who she is. She’s me, but what is she trying to tell me?

You see, I was brought up in the evangelical church. Sunday school, Sunday morning service, Sunday evening church, kids’ clubs, youth group, my life was busy. I was raised to act and think a certain way, and I never questioned that until I hit my late teens and started having some pretty serious doubts about the whole situation. But being taught that if you strayed from the path at all you were going to hell makes it very scary to leave or even think for yourself. I had a friend who was killed in a car accident when I was nineteen or so, and that scared me enough to stifle my doubts and set me back on the straight and narrow.

I was attending a our denomination’s Bible College at the time, and there definitely was no safe place to voice my struggles, so I just pushed them down and kept going. Glenn and I met there, and despite my vowing never to marry a pastor, that's exactly what happened. We were married by the time we graduated, and had to go through an accreditation interview together before they would give us our degree and the one and only question I was asked was “Did you do the dishes this morning?” In other words, a reminder of where my place was as a woman - in the home supporting my husband and raising the children. I’ve been angry about that for 32 years, and angry with myself for not leaving when I should have and getting a degree that would actually be useful to me. I thought I was over it, that I had let that go a while ago, but lately I’ve been raging again, this time at myself. The truth is, I can blame all kinds of people for misleading or manipulating me, but I’m really angry with myself for not stepping out and finding my own path, and I’m left now, at age 55, with nothing to go back to, career-wise. I had no idea back then of how life would unfold, and now that I'm here I desperately wish that I could go back and change a few things and maybe make a few different decisions. I loved being a Mom and raising my kids, don't get me wrong, but I want more. So I'm angry with myself for not figuring that out earlier.

Then I think about my answer to that question “Did you do the dishes this morning?” and realise that I did have a spark left in me. I told the men in the room that Glenn had actually done the dishes AND ironed my blouse for me that morning while I got ready. You see, I had been warned by another female married student that that question was coming and had my answer ready. It was my very nice, Christian girl way of saying “Fuck you”.

I have never told most of the people I worked with, some for years, that Glenn used to be a Pastor and I was a Pastor’s wife, and am having a bit of a chuckle right now thinking of some of them reading this. I never talk about my life before, as if I just landed here from outer-space in my mid-thirties. They’ll be shocked because they know I have a mouth like a sailor and quite regularly would turn the air blue with my language. I'm also not a huge respector of authority for authority's sake, so definitely not the picture of a good pastor’s wife. Others will be shocked that I swear, because they only knew me as the pastor’s wife, but that was a role I had to play, not who I really was. I am not the meek, submissive wife who lets her husband make all the decisions - just ask Glenn how that’s worked out for him. I tried really hard to be, but it ended up with me curled up in a corner having a panic attack and a prescription for anti-depressants. Thankfully I have a husband who has encouraged me and even pushed me sometimes to just be me. But again, that’s hard to do when there's so much expectation to look and act a certain way.

In our last church, I was leading a women’s group, and we were talking about the passage in the Bible that says “women, submit to your husbands”, and trying to make sense of just how that should work in the twenty-first century. In my heart I agreed with them, it doesn’t make sense in today’s world, but I couldn’t say that out loud. My husband’s job and our family’s livelihood was dependant on me toeing the party line, so to speak, so I spouted some kind of half-assed nonsense instead. I’ve often thought of that moment over the years and wished I could go back and apologise to those women and let them know that I absolutely agree with their point of view - the Bible is a 2000+ year old book, and some of it just doesn't work in today's world.

The truth is, we left the church in 2003 and haven’t gone back, and what I see of the evangelical church now is offensive to me. I don’t call myself a Christian anymore, because I no longer believe what the church is saying . I believe that God loves the LBGTQ+ community just as much as He (or She) loves me, a straight white woman. I'm not sure if I even believe there is a God anymore, but I hope so.

I believe that I am an equal to my husband and don’t need to submit to his authority, and thankfully, he feels the same. We are equal partners and always have been, and we challenge each other to learn and grow. Our faith is different as well. Glenn believes differently than I do because our experiences have been different, but we respect each other and appreciate our differences, at least most of the time.

I also believe, and this is a big one, in a woman’s right to choose. No one should have the right to tell a woman what to do with her own body. I find it interesting and also hypocritical that the people who have been crying foul for the last few years about having to wear a mask or get vaccinated because no one can tell them what to do with their own body are the exact same people who are now saying the opposite when it comes to a woman having autonomy over her own body. It just doesn’t make any sense! There’s a whole lot more that I don’t agree with, but those are front and centre right now.

Phew! It feels good to write that and allow my truth to be out there, because I’ve kept it hidden for a long time, afraid of how people would react if they knew the real me. Would I be accepted by my family, or other people who only knew the one side of me? I also felt that if I did let people see the real me that I would be a huge disappointment. The more that I continue on this healing journey though, the more I realise that other people’s opinions of me just don’t matter that much anymore. I gotta be me and let other people see it if I want to find health and wholeness again.

I met an indigenous healer yesterday. I didn’t know that’s what she was, but I was somehow drawn to this person, and we found a connection, both as creative people and as two women just trying to figure things out. As she worked on me, rubbing my back, up and down my spine from my tailbone up to the crown of my head, brushing away the negative thoughts and emotions, I told her some of what I have been feeling. Her message to me was “Man, you have to get out of that box!” “You’re thinking too much, you need to stop trying to figure everything out and just be open to receive,” and she was right.

And then came the message that I’ve been hearing over and over again, since reading Gabor’s book. She told me to let my anger go. Learn from it what you need to learn, and then let it go, because it’s not helping you. She told me that when I’m out for a walk and see a twig, that I should pick it up, hold it in my hands and breathe that negative energy out and onto that little piece of wood, and then find a body of water and let it go. Watch it float down the stream or river, and imagine it floating right out to the ocean, gone forever. I think that’s a fantastic idea, a physical demonstration of what’s happening inside - I’m breathing out the negativity and letting that shit go. Time to go for a walk.

©Lauries Place 2022

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May 30, 2022

Your blogs are my best therapy. They are potent reminders to continue to try to live my best life and continue to find my true self. Laurie, while I learn new things about you each time, none have surprised me. Thank you for sharing your journey, I wish I had known you better when we worked together. I had to chuckle at 'Get Out of That Box' as my husband will joke with me and exclaim 'Well you should have married a pastor'. He doesn't always comprehend just how trting to fit but not fitting into my evangelical / pentacostal upbringing shaped my life. Still have to work on life every day. You would think I'd have it perfected …

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