When it hurts to live: leaving Orthodoxy

When you leave Orthodoxy, you leave everything behind. If you are lucky, you can find a way to anchor yourself to love.  But mostly, you are tethered in place by the family that wants to accept you but believes that you cannot be accepted. I cannot imagine the anguish of a parent who can not separate from belief enough to love their child unconditionally. It is a brutal thing to be faced with. Still, when you abandon your child and refuse to see them fully, you are guilty of taking away the stability necessary to walk this earth.

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I do not want to write this.

I do not like to hurt people. I do not like that my words are sticks and stones that break people I love.

But I am bound by the dead, bound by the silenced, to give these words life.

I will never be able to take it back.

I owe that to the memories of those who drank their pain and swallowed comfort. I must write for those who wrapped their necks and flew off buildings and let their blood flow to release themselves from the devastating hurt of abandonment.

I owe them something that will live forever.

To those who raised children who are not the same as you to only be the same as you

To those who took part in shaping children who did not want to be shaped

To those who conditioned their love to meet their faith

To those who held belief above all

To those who will not listen

To those who will not accept

To those who will not ADJUST

To those who refuse to apologize

You are guilty.

You have brought your son to be sacrificed. You placed him on an altar, bound his hands and feet, and did not have the courtesy to slit his throat. You have let him lay exposed before your judgment, and you have rained disappointment down like a sea of arrows. You have scraped his skin, pierced his heart, and did not bury who you wanted him to be.

You are guilty.

You threw your daughter to be eaten by the wolves you fiercely protect. You let her cut her flesh and offer it to others again and again while you sat on anger and expectation and allowed the wolves to feed.  Her skin turned inside out, and you refused to see her. You left her with nothing to hold on to.

You are guilty.

You did not mean to do it.

And so we forgive you.

But we will not live another day this way.

So we will try to be free.

Some of us will learn how to be alone.

Some of us will find each other and live in perpetual grief.

Many of us will not have the strength.

As we fall, please know;

You are guilty

You are guilty

You are guilty.

Well, It’s About Time I Got Around To This…

We talked about that one place in my heart that I can’t get over.  It comes up occasionally.  We talk it over a bit.  He wants me to try to find a solution.  I usually nod my head and try to forget again.

This time it’s sticking to the walls of my brain, begging me to at least give it some words strung together as a validation for the anxiety it manages to produce.

Life is all about work.  My experiences in the past have taught me enough to get by.  When there’s a hitch, I’ve got some great tools lined up in my handy toolbox for all types of troubles.  Sometimes things need the ax, and that’s when I cut toxic people or things out of my life, and sometimes a screwdriver can tighten up loose ends.  Construction is full of demolitions, repairs, and creation.  (Forgive the coarse analogy.  When you live with a carpenter you’ll understand…)

But I don’t have to tools to deal with this one…

It came back to me when I saw a picture on Facebook, that wonderful site that has horrifying memories lined up, waiting to hit you with a friend request, a friend suggestion or a notification that you’ve been tagged.

We were standing on the stairs of our school in our uniforms.  Arms were thrown over shoulders and faces were arranged in more flattering angles as the group posed for someone.  Click.  And there I stand, right in the middle, with strangers all around.

Everyone was tagged and the comments were the usual banter of teenage nightmares.  Someone else, a friend of someone who knew someone, piped up about the only one not tagged and provided them with my married name.  And I was promptly tagged.

I don’t know how we became that group.  My family background, religious affiliations, and basic thought processes make the friendships seem off and misplaced from where I stand today, but back then I was confident and comfortable with it.  Maybe that was my mistake.  Maybe I should have known that they could never really be my friends…

It’s not a long story, it may not be a story at all, but the memory is of me, trusting in the friendships a teenage girl cultivates for what seems to be centuries, confiding in my close-knit circle, reaching out with pain and an honest desire for help, and watching the arms recede from my shoulders, the faces turning away, as I was left standing on the stairs, alone.

At sixteen, the only safety a girl knows is the circle of friends that she devoted her entire life to.  At sixteen, a girl needs to know that she has someone to lean on.  At sixteen, a girl can feel like dying when she realizes that, at sixteen, her world turned on her, spit her out, and never thought about her again.

So, don’t be my Facebook friend because you were curious to see whatever happened to me.  Don’t pretend I didn’t exist as you blithely tag yourselves around me.  And please, please hear me when I tell you that the way you treated me when we were sixteen has etched its way into my heart and is now clawing on the sides of my brain demanding to be revealed.

You abandoned me.

At sixteen.

And it still hurts.

There.

You can get the ax now.