Trying to be yourself without offending anyone

Dec. 1, was a good day. I spent my time with a friend in northwest Nebraska. I took a lot of pictures, had great conversations, and new stories to tell. Then, Dec. 2, happened. It was the kind of day that pulls the rug out from under you, upsets the apple cart, and destroys whatever good was going on in your life.

It was completely unexpected and I don’t plan on speaking anytime soon about what happened, however, it crushed all the good things going on at that moment as well as the plans I had for the new year. I didn’t speak to anyone for six days until I could get my head out of the muck it was mired in.

Since then, I’ve been in touch with two friends in particular, who have been instrumental in keeping me out of the dark place I could have slid into. It wasn’t just this event that has set things back, but it was the icing on cake. Two other events have been running through my mind for the past two weeks in which I am still trying to grapple with – Josh Duggar and religion in general.

For those of you who don’t know, Josh Duggar is part of a large family who indoctrinate their children into their christian cult, which believes in having many children, women who are uneducated, and make sure their children know nothing of the world other than the Bronze Age bullshit spewed forth from their bible. According to Wikipedia, “The Duggar family has also been connected with the Institute in Basic Life Principles and the Advanced Training Institute, both of which were founded by Bill Gothard.” Josh is the oldest son of 19 or so kids.

Several years ago, his family’s TV show was canceled after it was revealed he molested several of his sisters and a close relative. He received no arrest, no real reprimand, and his sisters were made to believe it was their fault. Really, I hate that I even know anything about this family, but they come up in the atheist forums I read.

He was arrested in May 2021, for possessing child sexual assault material. The arrest came after a two-year investigation. Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent Gerald Faulkner said the imagery was, “in the top five of the worst of the worst that I’ve ever had to examine.” I shouldn’t have read the next sentence, but I did and I knew it was going to be about DD. Don’t look it up. If you do, don’t read anything more than the Wikipedia page. All you need to know is it involves torture and rape of an 18-month old. Please, do not go read the details.

Josh was convicted a week ago on both counts. His sentencing will be in a couple of months. During the trial, that he also sexually assaulted his then 4-year old sister.

The family is deplorable, despicable, and use religion for power over women.

I actively avoided as much as I could about this trial, but it still permeated the places I visit online. Given my history, it has been highly triggering for me and difficult to shift my mind onto other things.

This Fall has also been a time for reflection and introspection as I try to find a way to write about religion. I want to be respectful of my religious friends, but also be clear about the trauma religion has caused me and why I think religion is a detriment to the world. I still get angry and blurt out “fuck religion,” a lot at home.

I’m grappling with being kind toward people who believe while holding in the hurt and anger from the pain religious practitioners have leveled at me. I was pleasantly surprised by a 2020-2021 Pew Research Center report in which 29% of Americans stated they have no religious affiliation. The decline in Christianity, from 78% to 63% made me smile.

The survey is a bit more nuanced and if you want to know more, either read the results or head over to The Friendly Atheist for some analysis.

The reason I went away on with my friend on Dec. 1, was twofold. First, I hadn’t seen him in a long time. Second, I needed to get away from any news. The Supreme Court was hearing a case about abortion in Mississippi, which, given the fact that six of the nine justices are Catholic, there is a good chance Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey are going to be overturned. This is despite the majority of Americans who do not want Roe v. Wade overturned.

I didn’t want to spend the day thinking about abortion and putting myself in the position of women who are faced with this difficult choice. I’ve been there. With the court stacked against logic and reason and a justice who was placed in her position to do this very thing, I do not have high hopes for this country when it comes to reproductive rights. Other states are eager to relegate women back to second-class citizens with no control over their own bodies.

What it comes down to is nine people will decide whether half the population can make a decision for themselves. If the right to an abortion is overturned, you are sending the message that women are less than equal and cannot make sound judgments for themselves. It will be a travesty if the case before the court succeeds. Women will die.

The case in Mississippi and the ongoing bullshit in Texas regarding abortion has resulted in me fighting triggers a lot. Unfortunately, sometimes a trigger triggers another flashback, which triggers another flashback and I spend my time, awake and asleep, fighting them and trying to be normal.

On Friday, Dec. 3, I was crying before I left work and completely broke down by the time I got home. I reached out to my friends on Dec. 8, and have been slowly working myself out of this pit of despair ever since.

Yesterday, I assembled two shelves for Paul to use in his home office and worked on my jigsaw puzzle a little bit. These kinds of things allow me to focus and hopefully find my other focus in relation to writing. I also filled out a lot of paperwork on something new, which I’m not ready to talk about yet.

I’m probably going to piss some people off with my posts soon. I can’t really worry about it. If I can’t be me, why the hell should I keep this blog going?

The whirlwind of grief and despair are still there. I’m still fighting them. They’re just a lot harder right now then usual.


Giving thanks


Remembering the beauty of those who helped you

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