I was recently in a counseling session, the first I’ve ever been in that involved professional psychologists. (Side note: If you ever have the chance to see a professional psychologist, do it! If you get the right person, the results can be amazing!) During the session, sub-personalities were mentioned. Sub-personalities, in this context anyways, are parts of ourselves that are very prominent but often hide under the surface. It’s the personification of our major personality traits. I realized that I had two very prominent ones.
I have an inner healer and an inner warrior (I picture Xena Warrior Princess in my head lol). I’ve always had both of these traits within me, but for many years they were out of balance. Let me explain.
Violence can be good or bad. Sound strange? Well, self defense is still violence. Physically defending your loved ones from an intruder or marauder is still a violent act, but it is not an immoral one. Whether or not violence is good or bad depends on the context. I watched an episode on the TV show Bonanza where a traveling group of pacifist religious people were in trouble. They were being attacked by a group of awful cowboys who wanted to take the money they’d collectively saved to buy themselves a community piece of land out west. But they were complete pacifists- they believed it was even wrong to defend themselves if it involved violence or weapons. If it hadn’t been for the Cartwright brothers stepping in to help them, they would have been robbed and likely physically harmed by these evil men. The brothers used violence to defend and protect, thus making it a moral act.
There are two sides to all of us, and we must embrace both sides in order to thrive. If you only heal and never fight, you cannot protect yourself from harm or stand up for those who need help. If you only fight and never think of others, you will hurt people. A balance between the light and dark must be found; an accord between angel and demon. For many years my inner healer called all the shots. I sacrificed myself for the sake of others- all the time. And I did it to the applause of a Christian community that idolized servanthood and demonized selfishness even when it was in a healthy context. While self-sacrifice is sometimes necessary and valiant, it’s unhealthy as a continuous lifestyle. I was so bent on making life better for everyone else besides me that I didn’t even think I should have my own individual opinions because I hated being contradictory. My inner warrior was stifled; she gained some expression through religious avenues such as preaching against sin and high intensity outlets like Civil Air Patrol (a military cadet program), but overall she stayed mostly dormant and followed the orders that others gave her.
Now I have more of a balance. My inner warrior has been fully released to do her job- to fight the battles that I didn’t even know that I needed to fight. I no longer ignore my own needs and desires- I stand up for myself unapologetically. My healer is still there, very active and extremely prominent in my life- she drives me to support causes that help others, she drives me to protect those who are being hurt. Instead of being at odds with each other, my healer and warrior are now working together in more harmony than they ever have before. I’m still working out the balance between the two, occasionally my newly-freed warrior gets a little too enthusiastic (lol), but I have a feeling that this is a life-long endeavor for balance that never really ends.
But people who knew me before my deconversion don’t always understand this dichotomy shift. Where I once was always apologetic and overly accommodating and avoided conflict at any cost, now I have very strong opinions of my own and I’m not afraid of conflict. I don’t mince words or pretend I agree in order to make others feel more comfortable like I used to. I don’t play the mind games that I used to rely on, I speak my mind bluntly and openly. I have discovered my own opinions and thoughts, and I will never stay silent again! But to those who don’t understand, they see this as anger and darkness. Yes, I do get angry sometimes. But anger is not always bad. It must be kept in check, like everything else, but it is a tool that can be used for good. And to be honest, I’m still grieving for what I’ve lost and struggling to reconcile the trauma of having my entire worldview fall out from underneath me; and in grief and pain there is anger that must run its course.
I will always respect your right to have your beliefs. I will not attack you as a person for holding those beliefs, and I will try to understand you and your opinions as best I can. However, I will also be blunt and unapologetic about what I believe and how your beliefs and attitudes affect me and others I care about. If you are homophobic, expect that I will call you out on it if it’s an appropriate situation. I no longer care if it makes you uncomfortable; it is silence that allows hurtful ideas and attitudes to permeate and poison our society.
Beware my warrior. She will never again let you walk all over her, she will not allow you to use guilt and shame to make me conform to a box I don’t fit in. She is, I am, strong and unafraid. Share your opinions without fear- but be prepared to be met with someone who is strong and not afraid to challenge you. And if you belittle or attack others for their beliefs, sexual orientation etc., you will see my true inner strength manifested in your direction.