Grief brings a bittersweet birthday this year.

My birthday is coming up at the end of this month. Although I’m very excited about it, I’m also dealing with some feelings of sadness and grief. Josh’s birthday was only a few days before mine, so we always used to celebrate it together on a day in the middle. It was our tradition for all the years we were together.

He would have turned 30 this year, and he always dreaded turning 30. Last year he forgot how old he was and started musing about how awful it was to be turning 30; he forgot he had one more year to go. 😛 Part of me smiles knowing that he didn’t have to leave the 20’s that he wanted to stay in, but the other part of me grieves deeply because I know he would have grown so much and enjoyed life immensely in his 30’s. He had finally found happiness and a new life to explore, and then it was cruelly snatched away.

Christmas is going to be hard too. Christmas day was the last day that I saw him conscious and got to talk to him; the next day he went into the coma and he passed away a week later.

Grief is hard. Even when everything is generally going well, it can pop up at a moment’s notice and hit like a brick in the face until the newly uncovered emotional layer is effectively processed. It’s often confusing because there are lots of happy memories mixed in too, so I can feel both happiness and sadness simultaneously. I’m doing much better with coping with it, though. And the medication has made a massive difference. But sometimes I still cry because I miss him. He was my best friend for almost a decade, and it still feels strange not being able to message him on Facebook to tell him about the funny things the cats are doing, especially since Facebook occasionally makes it feel like he’s still around by recommending pages that he’d liked when he was alive, or reminding me of past photo memories. Pinterest still suggests him every time I try to send a pin because we used to share pins to each other all the time. Even though we weren’t a couple anymore, he was still my dear friend and we’d been through a lot together. Losing him has been like losing a piece of myself.

I suppose all death is like that, at least when we lose people who are a significant part of our lives. They’re gone, and we have to adjust to living without them. I’m glad he’s not suffering anymore, he’d had long drawn out battles with cancer before and had dreaded that more than anything, but it’s still hard to get used to this new reality.

This year is going to have some very difficult “firsts”. First birthday without him, first Christmas since he died, first anniversary of his death… I still find it hard to browse the comic section at Chapters because he loved comic books and that’s where he always was when we shopped there. It’s like he’s still there just around the corner, looking for more Spiderman comics. He gave me several Batgirl comic books as a parting gift when we separated, and I can’t open them without getting very emotional. He’d written a letter in the front of the first one, and I forgot about it one day and I was looking for something easy to read. Instant waterworks. We may not have been very compatible romantically, but we were best friends and we’d always supported each other through our changes and even through our separation. This is what he wrote:

Laura, I know you’re not a big comic reader, but I thought Batgirl might be a literary character that could provide you some inspiration.

See in this new series, Barbara has recovered from a life altering difficulty and feels she is ready to take things on her own again. She has to convince family, mentors, friends, and at times that she is able to take care of herself, help others and face challenges on her own.

As you enjoy and discover your independence, I hope Batgirl’s journey will aid your own as you show yourself and others that you’re ready to do awesome stuff on your own.

Barbara was wheelchair bound for many years and literally had to trust herself to stand on her own two feet. Gaining independence is like finally getting out of the wheelchair. Trust yourself and you’ll do great.

This is a character who is funny, witty, intelligent, kind, honest, authentic, sexy, and badass. She’s good willed and the kind of friend you want to have, but she’s not a pushover. A female character who is strong and soft at the same time. You have a lot in common with her.”

You can probably see why the waterworks start whenever I open that book. I’ve managed to read part of the first book, but I’ve never been able to get very far without feeling too emotional. So, they sit on my shelf waiting for the day that the pain has healed enough for me to read it all. It’ll happen when I’m ready.

But I’m far stronger than I was before he died, so although I know there will be more emotional moments like this, I also know that I’ll be ok. I may need to momentarily hide myself away on some of these occasions to grieve, but it’s something I’ve been preparing myself for and I know it’s just part of the process.

There’s a time to laugh, and a time to be sad. A time to smile, and a time to cry. A big part of emotional maturity is learning to accept this and not beat ourselves up for experiencing difficult or uncomfortable emotions. Stifling emotions hinders growth and healing. Acknowledging them, and expressing and managing them in healthy ways, is essential for getting through grief. So today I’ll let myself cry and watch sappy sad movies and look at old pictures of happy memories, and then tomorrow I’ll get up again and face the world a little bit stronger.

The Five Love Languages (Without the Religious Stuff)

heart-700141_1920One of the hardest parts of any relationship, platonic or romantic, is communication. Part of that involves making sure we are speaking the same language in regards to showing each other love. (And yes, there are more kinds of love than just romantic love. But that’s another note for another time.) If I do something to show them love, but they don’t understand me, they may not feel loved at all.

For example, my cat Muffin likes to nip my hand sometimes. I used to get really annoyed by this and I’d try to make her stop it. But then I read an article explaining how cats often do this to show love. They bite each other playfully all the time to show affection and to get attention, and she would often follow or precede the biting with head butting or purring. Now that I understand her love language better, our interactions have improved. I’m less irritated with her because I know she’s just showing love the best way she knows how, and she feels loved in return because her affection isn’t being rejected anymore (which must have been rather confusing and hurtful for her). People aren’t much different.

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(She’s so much happier now that she can bite me without being smacked away. lol)

 

There are many ways to analyze how humans show love to each other, and many methods for improving communication. This is just one of many, but it’s a really good one that has improved many of my relationships in the past and it helps me a lot to remember it in my current interactions. Like many things in my life it’s a concept that I learned when I was religious, but the basic principles apply very well outside of religion. (Just a heads up in case you go to their website and there’s a lot of extra religious stuff there; you gotta eat the meat and spit out the bones with this one. If anyone finds a similar thing that’s not religious please let me know.)

The Five Love Languages (Without the religious stuff)

Quality Time

This is one of my top love languages. I need to spend time with the people I care about in order for me to feel loved, and I show love by trying to spend time with them. Quality time will mean different things to different people, and it will also depend on what kind of relationship you have with them. For me, it means not having to compete with other people (or their phones) for their attention and emotional energy while they’re with me. Quality time and group social time can often overlap, but not always. If it’s family or platonic friends, group stuff is great. But even then, sometimes you need alone time with them to really connect in a deeper way.

If I’m dating someone, I generally prefer to be alone with them in order to have real quality time, partly because physical touch is very important to me (see next love language). It’s hard to do that if I’m mostly seeing a partner in group settings. I also like being alone with them because I can relax more around the few people I trust the most; I’m always a bit more guarded in groups, especially larger ones. Ideally, the bulk of my time with a romantic intimate partner would be one on one, and group setting stuff would be extra. That’s not always possible logistically, but that’s my ideal scenario.

Physical Touch

This is my other top love language. I show love by cuddling, hugging, sex (if it’s that kind of relationship), holding hands, kissing- and I receive love this way too. If someone regularly shows me physical affection and then stops or greatly reduces it without warning, it can feel very hurtful and scary for me because it feels like their affection for me has disappeared too.

Acts of Service

This one isn’t a huge deal for me, but it is for a lot of people. And this is where conflict can easily come in. One of my ex-husband’s love languages was acts of service. He wanted me to clean and take initiative with stuff as acts of love, and when I failed at those things (thanks to untreated ADD and depression) he felt unloved and unappreciated. I, on the other hand, was trying to show him love through my own love languages, physical touch and quality time. I didn’t understand why he felt unloved, because I thought I was showing it to him constantly. And he didn’t understand why I felt unloved because he was doing acts of service for me when what I really wanted was more cuddling and hand holding. I wasn’t interpreting his acts of service as love, he wasn’t interpreting my physical affection and time as love, and neither of us were getting our needs met. (Eventually we did work this out, though there were other issues that were unresolvable in the end unfortunately.)

Words of Affirmation

Words of affirmation will differ from person to person. It can be saying that we appreciate them, we love them, we want them in our life, they make us happy, they’re a good person, they’re sexy and smart, they’re doing the right thing, etc. This one is important to me too, largely because of anxiety and trust issues stemming from many hurts inflicted on me by others. It takes a lot for me to trust and open up to people now, and even when I do trust them I sometimes need to hear them reaffirm how much I mean to them, or that they want me in their life. And change is often hard for me (anxiety really sucks), so if there are changes happening I often need a little extra verbal affirmation in order to feel safe and loved. If I’m dealing with anxiety or depression flareups, words of affirmation can help a lot because I’m not always open to hugs or being around people in those moments unless I’m extremely comfortable and trusting with them, and even with those people I occasionally need space.

Gifts

This one isn’t a big deal for me either. Don’t get me wrong, I love it when someone takes the time to pick out a thoughtful gift and I would absolutely feel loved and appreciated, but I don’t need gifts in order to feel loved. Some people do, though. If they don’t get flowers or chocolates regularly, or if they get the wrong gift on a special occasion, it can make them feel unloved because they feel that their loved one has not been paying attention to what they really want or need. And if they take a lot of time to pick out an amazing gift and their partner just blows it off, it can be devastating because that was a deep expression of love for them.

When I was still religious, I remember hearing about the pastor’s wife and her attitude towards her husband’s gifts. He got her a set of dishes for Christmas, and she got very upset and put it out on the porch because it wasn’t what she wanted. His gift was unacceptable to her, so she rejected it. I don’t understand that. Even if I didn’t particularly like a gift, the fact that someone took the time to get it for me means a lot. Material things just aren’t that important to me.

***

It’s pretty much impossible to go through life without needing to speak other “love languages”. Whether it’s family or friends or a partner, people all show and receive love in different ways. Some people really screw with your head and show love differently than they receive it. But none of them are wrong, it’s just a matter of learning how we each communicate and show affection and appreciation.

We not only need to learn to show love in ways that they can understand and accept, but we also have to learn to accept love as they show it. Like with Muffin. I can’t make her change how she shows love, but I can accept her love as she offers it. Now when she nips my hand I feel warm fuzzy feelings instead of irritation. Our relationship has improved not because either of us had been doing something wrong, but because we just weren’t understanding each other.

Christians, it’s time to stop picking bad fruit from a bad tree.

  
I hope I start to see changes in how many American Christians talk about LGBTQ people and equality issues. Because if you tell us that you’re sorry for our suffering today, but go back to opposing our rights and demeaning us for being LGBTQ tomorrow, then your words of love are empty and pointless. If you falsely accuse trans people of putting you in danger in bathrooms but you don’t work to stop the REAL violence we face every day, then you are a hypocrite.

You must reevaluate how you address LGBTQ issues. You MUST start accepting us, even if you personally still disagree with us. You can’t claim to care about me and still oppose legislation that would help protect me and those I love from violence and discrimination. You can’t claim to care about us when your anti-LGBTQ teachings are literally driving young people into depression and suicide at record rates, and encouraging people to see us as threats which results in violence. You don’t get to claim to be loving when you spread misinformation about us that puts us in even more danger. Many Christians believe in sin, but they don’t expect non-believers to follow their religion’s standards and they don’t put us down for it or fight our legal equality. This I understand and can even respect. But you have NO RIGHT to expect anyone else to live by your religion’s standards, or to socially punish people for not conforming to your personal ideas of morality and normality. It’s literally killing us, and has been for a very long time. But you don’t see it. You don’t want to see it. You want to see us as bad people who are persecuting you, instead of the other way around. 

  
You keep picking bad fruit off the tree and saying it’s a good tree. But the fruit of homophobia is pain and death. Why are you still watering a poisonous tree? 

Do I have to scream for you to hear me? Do I have to bleed for you to see me? Cause I grieve; you’re not listening to me. (A song from my Christian days. It seemed appropriate.)

Please don’t be silent.

  
You’ll post about us when you want to oppose our rights, but you won’t post to condemn those that massacred us. 
You’ll talk about how immoral you think we are, but you won’t tell us you care when we’re scared and hurting and facing increased risks of violence.
You’ll talk about how LGBTQ people are ruining *your* nation, but you won’t apologize for how your anti-gay attitudes have contributed to the violence and social oppression that we face every single day. 

You’ll pretend we don’t exist unless it fits your anti-LGBTQ agenda. We don’t exist unless you are putting us down or opposing our rights. We don’t exist unless you are preaching about our “debauchery” or accusing us of trying to ruin your lives. But when we suffer? Silence. It’s been the same exact pattern for decades. 

Whether it’s publicly or privately, show us that you acknowledge what happened to us and that you care. Pray if you want. But if that’s all you do, you’re not really helping. We can’t hear your prayers. We need solidarity and acceptance much more than prayers. We need to be acknowledged as human beings who didn’t deserve this. 

It can be as simple as “My prayers are with the LGBTQ community today. I’m so sorry that you were treated this way. Nobody should be murdered for who they are.” There! It’s that simple! Why is that so hard for so many Christians to say?! 

Perhaps it’s because they believe we deserved it, or it’s our own fault. Or perhaps it’s because they’ve finally realized that we, not them, are the ones who are actually being rampantly persecuted in the US, and they are too embarrassed to admit it. Perhaps it’s hard for them to support us because then they’d have to admit that they were wrong about the violence and oppression we face because of homophobia. Perhaps they’d rather be silent than admit they were wrong. 

Perhaps you have other reasons for being silent. But we need you to not be silent right now. It’s the worst thing you can do, aside from telling us that we deserved to be shot. Share a support meme or rainbow picture if you can’t get out the words. There are lots of ways to show solidarity even if you are grieving. Trust me, we know how hard it is. We live it all the time. If you can’t support us publicly, message us privately. 

This explains it well.

The LGBTQ community won’t be ok for a while, and that’s ok.

  
Please be patient and supportive of your LGBTQ loved ones right now. Many of us are angry, sad, scared, numb, frustrated, and/or grieving. We will each be processing our feelings about the attack in different ways. Some of us may not be ok for a while. Some will never be ok again. We may be less trusting and more angry for a while, and understandably so. 
Going forward, many of us will be fighting even harder for society to treat us with dignity. We may be asking our loved ones to get off the fence of neutrality and start standing up for us. We will be asking others to hear our stories, and to treat us with compassion and dignity. We will challenge homophobia even more because it is literally killing us. 
We need to stand together and not let this horrible act turn us against each other. We can’t change what happened, but we can choose how we respond to it.

Orlando Gay Club Shooting

  The worst shooting in US history was targeting a club full of gay people. While we don’t know his motives for sure yet, it’s possible that the shooter was a religious extremist and he was definitely homophobic. Homophobic people are already gleefully saying that this was “God’s work”. The shooter may have possibly been Muslim (we don’t know this for sure yet), but Christian extremists and other homophobic people are already applauding his actions. Even if he’s not a religious extremist himself, he’s revealed the violent natures of so many others in the US. 

Can you see why so many LGBTQ people live in fear? Why we are trying to get society to accept us? It’s about survival, not us pushing our “lifestyles” on you. When a minority group of people is not accepted by their culture at large, it makes them a target for violence and abuse, and it encourages terrorists like this to target them.
LGBTQ people face discrimination and violence all the time in the US, and from people in every belief system. Religious doctrines that condemn homosexuality or gender differences, plus rampant general social stigma against us, have resulted in a culture where LGBTQ people are regularly abused and targeted for violence. But many Americans don’t believe them because they aren’t personally affected by it. A mass shooting targeting a gay club is pretty hard to ignore though, isn’t it? 
I’m really glad I’m in Canada right now. The US scares me. It’s not a very safe place to be LGBTQ. 
My heart goes out to the victims and their families. I hope people of all beliefs come together to help them. 

Socially accepting the LGBTQ community is important.

  My artwork above.
We need society to accept LGBTQ people as normal. Not because we care about what other people think about us, or because we want others to become gay or to give up their beliefs, but because we are abused and mistreated and shot down in cold blood because so many people see us as immoral, disgusting, and deviant. Being treated as abnormal and immoral is not only hurtful and emotionally damaging, it is dangerous. 
When you say there is something wrong with us or that we are abominations, remember Orlando. 
When you say gay marriage or gender non-conformity will ruin our nation, remember Orlando. 
When you oppose our equal rights and are silent when we are bullied and oppressed, remember Orlando. 
Remember that hurtful and violent people will listen to what you say about us, and and they will always take it much farther than you intend. Your words against us are not harmless, even if your intentions are good. Are you encouraging them to love us, or fear us? Accept us as equals, or see us as threats to their way of life? 
Silence only benefits the people hurting us. Silence encourages their awful actions against us even more. How much violence and harm could be avoided if more people stood up for us when people put us down or mistreat us? 
It’s a shame that it takes a mass shooting for people to take the rampant oppression and violence against the LGBTQ community seriously. How many more of us have to suffer or die before people will put aside their judgements of our personal lives and stand by us as human beings? 

“Godlessness” is not to blame for Orlando. 

  
When you blame “Godlessness” for this weekend’s violence, remember that the LGBTQ community is bullied and mistreated in the name of God every single day, and the murderer believed in God too. There are pastors calling for our deaths because the Bible says homosexuals should be stoned. Extremist Christians are cheering for the shooter, saying he did God’s work and there are a “few less pedophiles” to ruin America. I don’t know if the shooter had religious motivations, but it doesn’t matter. The name of God has long been used to oppress us, and people are still using religion to hurt us. Godlessness caused this? No. Hate caused this. 
There are good and bad people in every belief system. It is not godlessness or religion that is ruining this nation, but hate and fear and pride- and it’s found in every group. We need to put aside our differences and start countering hate and fear with love and understanding. 
We don’t need religion or atheism to be good to each other. We need compassion and empathy. We are all capable of this. 

Women With Short Hair: Shocking? It Shouldn’t Be.

“Because in a world where there is an immense pressure for women to look, act, and feel a certain way, when any woman decides to do something for herself and herself only, it is radical.Realizing that my body was actually mine and that I could do whatever I pleased was radically freeing. I had the opportunity to start from scratch and figure out what was beautiful in my eyes and not based on the perception of others.

I stepped outside the mold of what society defines as female beauty.

I finally took ownership of my own body, cutting myself free of the rules I thought were mandatory for women to follow.

Cutting my hair short was my way of forcing myself to redefine beauty on my own terms.

Cutting my hair led to a beautiful journey of self-love. I may have lost fifteen inches of hair, but I gained an honest love for myself that I never knew was possible.

Above taken from the article 3 Bullsh*t Reasons Why Women Are Taught To Not Cut Our Hair Short (And Why You Can Do It Anyway). I highly recommend reading the rest of it!

I love my short hair. It’s fun, SO easy and fast to style in the morning, and if I want to try funky temporary colors it’s much easier to do than when my hair was long. Plus, it’s different! It’s like a pixie cut, but one side has a buzzed section above the ear.It’s not uncommon where I live for women to have buzzed or shaved sections of hair (big city), but it’s still not something everyone does so it stands out in many circles. I love it.
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My dragon ear cuff shows up! 😀 It’s awesome.
I held off cutting my hair short for so long, and for many of the reasons the above article describes; but I’ve learned how to decide for myself what makes me feel beautiful and happy in regards to my appearance. My beauty is my own. I don’t do my hair to impress other people, I do my hair for me. Shocking, right? If I grew out my hair right now I’d be doing it to make other people happy. If I want to grow it out later, I will. But until then, I’ll continue rocking my short edgy hairstyles and random colors when I feel the urge to liven things up even more.
 
So if you like long hair, then rock it! That’s awesome! But if you prefer a pixie cut, or even buzzing it off completely, that’s fine too. And for those with natural hair that sometimes get judged for your beautiful Afros or cornrows or other styles- your hair is just as beautiful. Anyone who tries to make you feel less feminine or lovely for your natural hair isn’t worth your time.
 

The Bank of Emotional Goodwill: Some Christians are Abusing It.

In every relationship, there is a level of accumulated emotional goodwill. We’ll compare it to a bank account. We all start out with an empty bank account, and we fill it up with positive interactions with each other. When we ask something of the other person or hurt them, we drain some of that goodwill. If we deposit more than we withdraw, then we have good relationships. If one person withdraws but rarely deposits, we eventually run out of goodwill and then a negative balance occurs- this is when frustration and anger comes up.

Here’s the problem with being a Christian in Americasome of you are constantly draining our tanks of goodwill and you don’t even realize it. You assume that we should be totally fine with how you’re treating us, and that we should never complain about it. Then when you make yet another withdrawal on an empty balance, we snap. You can’t figure out why we’re upset because you don’t understand how you’re draining us on a daily basis.

This is how some of you drain our tanks of goodwill:

  • When people change their beliefs, you make them feel bad about it. “You’ve disappointed us by changing your beliefs and making decisions we don’t approve of. We can’t be happy because you don’t share our beliefs anymore.” Forcing someone to choose between their conscience and making their family happy is a terrible burden to put on anyone. I am not responsible for your happiness. If you cannot be happy because I don’t share your beliefs, then you have a personal problem and you’re taking that problem out on me. That’s unfair.
  • When people change their beliefs, you accuse them of abandoning or betraying you. But we’re just following our conscience, same as you. Just because I started out believing something doesn’t mean I am obligated to continuing believing it. In fact, changing our minds is a normal part of growing up. Of course I started out as a Christian- I didn’t know anything else! One of the worst feelings in the world is knowing that you have failed the expectations of those you love.
  • There is something seriously wrong with you for thinking this way. You are a broken, immoral person for not thinking like us. You must be deceived by the Devil or be mentally compromised somehow; it’s inconceivable that you could change your mind without something being terribly wrong with you. You must be going crazy!” If you have said or implied any of this to your loved ones, then congratulations! You have most likely ripped a hole through their heart and they will forever bear the scars. You have made them feel like a pile of horse dung, destroyed their self esteem and self confidence, and then when they get upset with you for hurting them so much you’ll shake your head and wonder “what did I ever do to them?”
  • Unresolved conflict. Problems don’t just go away because we don’t talk about them. If you’ve hurt someone and have refused to change the hurtful attitudes or actions, or if you won’t even acknowledge that the hurt took place and apologize, then the other person will be forced to deal with that pain in silence even if you have forgotten about it. Every time you post or say something that reminds the person of the hurt you caused them, you are reopening the wound all over again. The only way to solve this is to stop avoiding the problem and fix it head on. If you won’t fix it, then don’t complain when the people you’ve hurt sometimes get emotionally triggered and get upset with you over seemingly nothing. It’s not nothing; it’s all the underlying hurt that hasn’t been resolved. You just poured more salt in the wound and then wonder why they’re mad again.
  • You knowingly and willingly worship a god that you believe will melt the flesh from my bones because I believe the wrong things. The fact that you think I deserve this kind of punishment makes me sick to my stomach if I think about it for too long. Sure, you have a right to believe this way, but you’re not free from how this makes your loved ones feel.
  • You demonize those who disagree with you. It’s one thing to say “I don’t agree with your opinion on this matter.” It’s another thing to imply or outright say that the other person has no morals, is incapable of sound judgment (“deceived by the Devil”), does not deserve compassion if they make decisions you don’t like, and so on. I have many Christian friends, and most of them I get along with perfectly fine because they don’t make me feel inferior to them– we respect each other even when we disagree. So if people are getting mad at how you’re expressing your beliefs, it might be time to reevaluate your methods and attitudes. Don’t blame us for getting mad at you if you’re making yourself needlessly offensive to people.
  • You demean us. “Gay people are unnatural and deviant and they are sexual predators. They will destroy society! I can’t have those perverts around my children. Transgender people are abnormal and shouldn’t be accepted by civilized society. Atheists can’t be trusted. They’re always angry and selfish. They can’t possibly have moral standards and they’re going to ruin society.” Listen carefully- THIS IS VERY HURTFUL STUFF YOU’RE SAYING OR IMPLYING HERE. Also, LGBTQ people face high rates of suicide and assault because these attitudes and inaccurate stereotypes keep being perpetuated and used against us. Something to keep in mind.
  • You tell me what I believe. When my beliefs changed, many Christians immediately applied their atheist/Pro Choice/Feminist/Liberal stereotypes onto me without even bothering to find out who I really was and what I actually believed. And most of their stereotypes were wrong. So they created an image of me in their head that was based on fiction, not fact, and then couldn’t understand why I was upset.
  • You oppress others. Disagreeing with someone is one thing. Even if you’re rude, I can still work around that. But opposing their legal rights? That’s a different story. It’s gone from disagreement to you actively forcing your personal beliefs onto them. Opposing my right to make my own decisions in regards to who I marry, how I plan my family, and opposing my right to not be discriminated against… when you do these things, the message you send is this: “I should make your decisions for you. You aren’t good enough to choose your own path. My personal beliefs are more important than your personal liberty.”
  • Your “Us vs Them” attitude. Mainstream Christianity has declared war on the rest of society because they cannot tolerate the rest of us living or believing things differently than them. And many of you align yourself with this movement and say the same things that they do. If we’re not on the same side as you, then we are either potential converts or enemy combatants. And then when we say “Hey! Back off and let us live in peace! Just end the war already and coexist with us!” you claim that we are attacking you. When you start a war, don’t be surprised when people fight back and tell you that you’re not very nice.
  • You equate disagreement with persecution. People disagreeing with you or telling you that you’re hurting them is not persecution. People asking for the same rights you have is not persecution.

We hear these messages constantly, day in and day out, sometimes with flowery language but sometimes almost as bluntly as I wrote it here. (Did I tell you about the Christian online who told me that I deserved to lose most of my friends when my beliefs changed?)

There is nothing wrong with me for being an atheist, for being Pro Choice, a Liberal, or for not being heterosexual. And yet so many people have made it very clear that these parts of me are utterly unacceptable to them- there is something wrong with me because I don’t agree with them anymore.

I’m crying as I write this. You cannot tell me that I’m deficient and a bad person for changing my beliefs without hurting me deeply. There is nothing wrong with me– and yet you think there is. I will never be whole again in your eyes.

Well guess what? Being rejected and judged for who you are hurts, and it causes low self esteem and stress. So in a way, people create their own self-fulfilling prophecies. “People who leave the faith are always angry and lash out at us!” Well of course we are angry! You spend so much effort making us feel inadequate and bad for not believing like you- of course we will not be happy with you and will probably be mad at your religion when we finally leave it! Yes, sometimes people go overboard (I did at first), but you are also making it pretty rough for ex-Christians and then blame us when we get upset.

The Tank Gets Drained

So our tank of emotional goodwill gets drained, and drained, and drained some more. What happens when the tank gets empty and then you make another withdrawal? It goes into the negative and we get irritated. We develop a short fuse with you. You’re taking and taking without depositing enough to fill it back up again. So when you are not depositing, but then make a withdrawal (like posting another thing that reminds me of how little you think of me), you have now pushed us into the negative. It should not surprise you when we get snappy with you when this occurs- after all, you have been abusing our goodwill bank for a very long time.

Understand Your Position of Dominance and Privilege.

Yes, this goodwill bank account thing does go both ways. You have a goodwill tank with us too and we also need to be mindful of how we treat you in return. I’ve never claimed to be perfect at this, and I’ve apologized before for responding in ways that I shouldn’t. But you must understand the difference in power and social dominance here, and understand that for the most part we are forced to be on the defensive against you when we would much rather just live in peace.

As Christians in the USA, you are in the majority- 70% Christians (of various sects) versus 3% atheists and 3.4% LGBTQ.

Please read those stats again. WE ARE THE MINORITY HERE. BY A LANDSLIDE.

When we say something against you, it is NOT the same as you saying it against us because we do not have the social power and privilege behind it like you do. You’re in the overwhelming majority; we’re so small that we have to scream to even be heard compared to you. We face social ostracizing and rates of physical violence and discrimination that many Christians simply can’t relate to because they’re never had to personally see or experience it for themselves. They’re so used to their position of social dominance and privilege that they can’t comprehend what it’s like to live in the US and not have those freedoms.

Almost all of our political leaders identify as Christians. They pray and believe in God, like you.

For LGBTQ or non-Christians to earn the SAME rights as Heterosexual Christians, we have to fight tooth and nail for it just like women and people of color have had to fight for theirs.

And even when we finally win and get some equality, mainstream Christianity gangs up on us to take our rights away again. How many Christian politicians talk about reversing marriage equality, or ending safe abortion access?

Do you have any idea how many millions of dollars are spent by American Christians just to oppose LGBTQ equal rights? It is literally a nationwide campaign to make sure LGBTQ people have to live by Christian values. And in return? LGBTQ people have never once tried to pass laws requiring Christians to marry someone of the same gender, or to become transgender. All we want are equal rights and to be treated with dignity, just like women and people of color have fought for. That is not persecution. This is us asking to be treated fairly, and Mainstream Christianity is freaking out that they don’t get to control us anymore.

Mainstream American Christianity is a massive social machine with one focus- to make America a Christian nation. Christians of this sort are constantly pushing to have their beliefs be adopted by all of society- and then they wonder why minorities like me, who have very little voting power or social power in comparison to them, get so angry about it. You’re acting like bullies, guys. 70% Christians vs 3% atheists/3.4% LGBTQ and you act like this is a fair fight, or that you are somehow the victims.

So you and people like you are draining our goodwill all the time even if you’re not talking to us directly. We see the things you say and support regarding people like us, and we’re not impressed. We are a pitifully small minority in comparison to you, and yet you use your massive influence to paint us as awful people and you actively fight our equality. Our goodwill bank account is constantly in a state of withdrawal, and we are expected to put up with this treatment from you even when you give us nothing in return and contribute to immense societal harm against us. If we object, then we are accused of attacking you.

Expressing Your Beliefs Without Oppressing Others.

If you want non-Christians to stop getting so easily upset with you, then look at how much you and your fellow Christians are draining from our goodwill banks.

When you tear us down by constantly telling saying how bad you think people like us are, are you making a conscious effort to build us back up again? (And no, telling us about Jesus does not count. That’s only a good thing in your world, not ours.) If you want us to respect you, then stop beating us down with your Bible and politics and start making positive deposits into our lives!

It’s hard to get angry at someone who makes you feel good about yourself. And you know what? When you build people up instead of tearing them down, they may actually start to open up to what you have to say. Even if they don’t agree with it, they’re not likely to be hostile towards you if you have treated them with respect and dignity and supported them when they’re being persecuted and needed help.

If you align yourself with Mainstream Christianity, we may start out very apprehensive or nervous around you because we’ve been burned by people affiliated with you so many times before. You can show us that you’re different- and we’d love to see that! But if you do or say the same things to us that everyone else does, then don’t get offended when we respond to you like we do to them- with irritation and justified anger. You’ve shown you’re no different than the other millions of Christians that have made the USA an awful place for us to live in.

So how can you express your beliefs without being oppressive?

First, stop crying persecution all the time. This isn’t the Middle East. It’s very frustrating when you say we’re persecuting you when we just want you to leave us alone so we can live in peace. Or, for you to say we’re attacking you when we ask to be treated as equals. Yes, some people are jerks and will argue or throw insults over anything and they’re out of line, but most of us have genuine grievances and have good reason to be angry. That doesn’t mean we’re persecuting you.

Second, make sure you are treating us with respect and dignity. You greatly outnumber us, so it gets overwhelming dealing with stuff like this from all of you all the time. Don’t be another hurtful voice in a sea of hurtful voices. You will not win anyone to Christianity that way. You just make people even more hostile to your religion because you’re hurting us with it.

Thirdly, do not oppose our equal rights. You like having the freedom to make your own decisions, right? You wouldn’t want someone else’s personal beliefs to be forced on you, so don’t do that to us. If anyone ever tried to make it illegal for you to go to church, I’d be right there fighting for your rights. Why? Because I stand for equality- not just for me, but for everyone. It would be nice if you felt my rights were worth fighting for too, but if you can’t support me then at LEAST don’t be one of the ones oppressing me.

 

Sorry this was long, but there are years of pain and frustration that needed an outlet. If you took the time to read it all, perhaps you’ll understand me a bit better now. Either way, I wish you well.