Honesty. Truth. transparency. vulnerability. Sometimes, I consider that Depeche Mode song “Policy of Truth.” Why is it that my frankness, raw, real, vulnerability seemingly gets me in trouble? I am a story teller and I share my own experience sometimes, and perhaps too often. I believe that telling our stories speaks redemption, power, and life into ourselves and others. even the ugly parts. even the dark parts. even the parts where your soul feels so battered, and fixating on your own end seems appropriate.
I like being real.
in your face.
Maybe, Its a defense mechanism. Maybe, just maybe, I have major commitment issues, rejection issues, and GOD FORBID- intimacy issues.
And when I am dealing with the Church (The whole bride of Christ and the buildings where people attend, too) these issues can cause problems.
I recently stopped going to church again. I was interning at a church, being a church pastor for a church plant (CHURCH OF THE MISFITS), working a full time job, attempting to keep my house clean, and being a wife all at the same time. Always so busy. Not really did I actively practice lectio divina, or contemplative prayer- but I prayed. I mean, I read the bible every day and prayed in the elevator at work, or in the car. Unless Terry was in the car with me and I was bitching about him. So my spiritual life, was OK. I wasn’t all crying at the altar every five minutes, and doing all the stuff on the evangelical-works-driven-highly-organized-spiritual-development check list, but I was seeking God.
NOW- I was not exercising, drinking enough water, getting my neck checked out regularly (I have health concerns related to my spine) or caring for my own self.
I had a cancer scare in August.
I was diagnosed with pre-menopausal ovarian failure,
told I was barren,
and high cholesterol all in September.
Then my brother, my brother whom I loved, my brother, blew his brains out with an assault riffle on September 19, 2013.
I was devastated. Yet who the hell has time to grieve?
I had to hold all of this together. My marriage was falling apart. My husband seemed emotionally absent, because I scarred off anyone as an emotional monster-
and angry all the time.
I felt everything including colors and music. It would all vibrate and refract inside my soul.
My house had to be spotless. It seemed to take the edge off of being a crazy, raged filled, busy, over committed, high performance Bec.
My husband’s concerns centered around the internet and laying on the couch at my house. laziness pissed me off. Terry seemed unable to weed-eat, cut the grass, pick up his own socks, pray aloud, read scripture with me, open up emotionally, wash dishes, clean the toilet, take care of finances. Terry seemed so irresponsible to me. I did not know how to react. I just became a monster. a raging monster.
I felt as if I had been rejected again. I felt as if intimacy could never happen.
And I felt like a fake. I was ministering and being all “Hey, everyone- I am Bec and I love Jesus.”
and I really wanted to scream “Hey everyone, I am seriously fucked up and heading towards a mental breakdown”
I prayed more.
I sought more counsel.
I prayed for wisdom.
I called my best friends- Tom, Stephanie, Dana. I talked to Tony, My pastor friends, and I vented online in private groups.
Things weren’t getting any better.
and finally, I was just over the edge.
To me, Terry’s inaction appeared like irresponsibility. Month after month after month, we had spent more time, more money, more hours on “serving God and doing ministry.”
I started spending around $240 a month for Terry to make $400. and before that, we were always giving, giving, giving. One night, I started screaming at Terry about helping me. Pay the bills, or cut the grass, or something. I found myself enraged.
So I hit him.
He was not hurt. But I was so shocked, as I stood there red faced, blood boiling, and hand shaking. I ran out into the December night. I fell on my knees, praying and crying.
I just was fed up with “doing” all the damned time. All my commitment issues, all my rejection issues, all my intimacy issues swirled in my face.
I talked about these things transparently to anyone who gave audience.
Sure, not wise.
I was not an emotional whore, i just wanted support. Finally I scheduled a meeting with a therapist. The therapy helped some.
Yet, things at home, at work, at Church, at Church of the Misfits, in my marriage did not magically resolve. My intimacy issues flooded into the fore front of my head. I thought several times during therapy about just shooting myself, just like my brother had done. I could not go to the church where I interned at and carry all this pain with me. or angst.
I know many people who are gifted actors in the church world. they show up every week and pretend like things are fine, when in fact they are not. I can’t hide my emotions very well.
So I drafted a letter.
I decided it was time to quit interning at a church, and immediately step down from my ministerial roles.
I sent it.
I explained in gory detail, the events leading up to the moment when I battered my husband.
I decided I would divorce Terry and be done with it.
After all, i have never been good at commitment, rejection, or intimacy- so i will end the relationship first. And then quit the church. and then quit everything.
Maybe drive until my car stopped. Maybe walk into the ocean and keep walking. Become someone else. Move away.
seemed like a good idea at the time.
I sent the email at 2 a.m.
I did not sleep.
I sent the letter to the church staff.
I thought people would understand, I was having some major crises in my life. I got lectures back from some.
I had a pastor tell me to suck it up and handle my commitments.
NO. I was going to go on sabbatical. I could not continue to do everything in my home, support our family, intern at a church, and continue leading my own church. It was crazy town- and hitting Terry was a big deal. And why should we be poor, and working 90 hours a week for pennies, so we can tell everyone how Holy and godly we are?
No one seemed to think it was a big deal.
People just acted like I was a quitter. OR MAYBE that was my perception of these events.
I could not seem to tell who to trust and who not to trust.
I felt shamed, and paranoid.
Moral failure was imminent. and a psychotic break down.
My brother killed himself. I mean come on. Jesus. And my husband, the one guy I loved, and said I would be faithful and true, too, was living with a crazy woman, who was too driven, too overly committed for her own good. And he, thought he had to perform as a minister, instead of a husband. How could he be a husband? I would crush him with emotional violence anytime he came near me.
So frock that!
I was done.
The pastor wanted me to come and talk about my marriage. I did. We sat down, I shared everything I “perceived” was going through. He told me, basically, that i was emotionally disturbed, a ball-breaker, a nagging wife, and that i needed to stick out my commitments. I then suggested that Terry take over the ministry of Church of the Misfits while I dealt with everything that was going on in my soul. He quickly pointed out that Terry was unqualified educationally to take on the work that we came to Atlanta to do.
That was why I was in Atlanta.
Not to work under this man, but to love the misfits.
I was mad. This pastor pissed me off, real good.
I became more violent emotionally. I stopped going to therapy, because I made my work schedule more busy. I did this, to myself. As if working was somehow, my last attempt at approval or identity, discipline, and self-worth. Terry took on more responsibility in the church even though I asked him not to do so. Terry quit his full time job, to make almost $800 less. Without my permissions he took on an additional role at the church. He so wanted to help them. He loved the church so much. I loved them, too. I loved all of them. So much so that I would dream about them.
But How was I to go to church, when I would tear up or break down in front of people.
And there I was.
dealing with everything.
Divorce seemed so easy. I had friends egging me on to drop-kick Terry to the curb. Everyone who knew of my gender-bender attitude, assumed I’d divorce quickly and find a woman to date. But I have always liked men. I got hurt so much growing up. Men called me a lesbian, dyke, etc when I was really just a powerful being trapped inside of the Bible-belt. Despite Terry’s awkwardness, and appearance of laziness, I loved him. Divorce would be a release from my commitment, the lack of intimacy, the rejection issues. And if I got divorced, I would not have to deal with following through on anything.
But I did not want a divorce. and I did not want a divorce from the Church where we were interning. I really liked the people there.
I had learned that i couldn’t be too vulnerable with anyone, ever.
I mean “confess your sins” to the pastor so you could be kicked and beat and looked upon as a mentally-ill individual in a system that stigmatizes anyone facing depression.
What was I to do?
Month after month, We were pouring out $260 to fill up the monstrous van so Terry could minister to the poor, volunteer at a pantry, serve the homeless, and be a youth pastor for $400 a month, while I was the one doing everything in the home, I was the one earning the bill money. I was the one trying to keep the yard up, and the house up.
I was the one screaming about everything
I never went back to the church where we were interning.
I honestly loved those people so much. Michelle and Jeff, especially. They had touched my heart. I felt as if they were real. I felt as if I could tell them how fucked up I really was, and how much pain I was in, and how my marriage was a disaster.
How did I know that everything would hurt so bad, for so long? How did I know that I was just as much guilty as killing my marriage as my husband? How was I to know that suicide had once again ravaged my family? How was I too know how depression and paranoia would rip apart my heart?
And I was just busy being about “my father’s business.”
stupid ministers. we can be monsters.
we really don’t get
that we have to rest,
and get away for retreat.
I am on sabbatical. Church of the Misfits is in the capable hands of Tommie Simon and Terry Smith.
And I am finally getting some help and practicing sabbath, and my marriage isn’t amazing- but we do love each other.