How Gay is my Marriage? #RebrandMarriage Series

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As my wife and I move through through our newlywed months, I’m beginning to wonder if the ideas I had about marriage aren’t particularly “gay” after all. There’s all this drama over what grown couples want to do – for what reason? Why did I ever believe that there was something “wrong” with my sexuality? I know the years of conversion therapy and the rhetoric from church leaders didn’t help. The Bible College folk were not any support either… of course there is small town mindedness and the government’s stand against equality up until the last 8 years…

But why – I mean REALLY, what is it about marriage equality that ever bothered people so much?

Is it particularly gay that I wake up every morning and feel grateful that all the steps that I took, no matter how painful or difficult, still led me to this beautiful woman?

Marriage_3Is it particularly gay that when we argue, I realize that being right is still not as important as making sure I know when to admit when I’m wrong?

Is it particularly gay that I love her family and getting to know them means the world to me, even though we have to deal with being across the globe from each other?

Is it particularly gay that our dinner conversations consist of questions about the dog, our schedules, laundry, a book one of us is reading, or what is going on in our friends’ lives?

Is it particularly gay that when she goes away on travel, our bed feels empty and I miss feeling her arms around me before I fall asleep?

Is it particularly gay that we look back on our time of dating and chuckle at how rigid I was to make sure that everything we wanted was for real before we “wasted time” on too many giddy “I love you’s?”

Is it particularly gay that I get incredibly inspired by her success in the world and celebrating her unique path is one of the easiest things I’ve ever done?

Is it particularly gay that we have dozens of inside jokes that would make other people roll their eyes and consider our intelligence lacking? ;)

Is it particularly gay that my wedding day is something I remember as the best day of my life so far?

Is it particularly gay that we believe that we can buy, make, or share things with each other that will keep our love interesting and magical?

Is it particularly gay that sometimes there’s nothing magical about cleaning, paying bills, making appointments, or discussing our differences?

Is it particularly gay that I’ve never met a woman who knows me so well and can welcome everything that no one else could understand?

Is it particularly gay when we look into each other’s eyes and see the person with whom we want to grow old? Marriage_quote_1

Is it particularly gay that I know this is the woman with whom I want to grieve any of life’s inevitably sad or tragic moments?

Is it particularly gay that I am a better person, a better citizen, a better employer, a better daughter, a better sister, a better friend, a better writer, and maybe even a better dog-owner… because she is in my life?

What do you think?

Perhaps the question isn’t “How Gay is my Marriage?,” but how much stronger would all marriages be if we were all… particularly open to a love like what my wife and I worked to find, labor to protect, and hope to cherish for years to come?

Maybe if this is gay marriage, everyone needs one!

And maybe that is the real threat – redefining marriage as particularly amazing...

Perhaps we are re-branding marriage after all…

#RebrandMarriage Series starts now… ;) 

~~

RAY_7318Gail is an author, poet, blogger and activist whose book, Enlightened-ish chronicles her spiritual awakening experience after witnessing a suicide, grieving her father’s unexpected death and leaving a spiritual community. Her first book, “Coming Out of the Closet without Coming Apart at the Seams” was published in 2004. Gail has appeared in FOX DC News, SkyNews and Our America with Lisa Ling as an advocate for ex-gay survivors and young people. Her freelance work has appeared in God Allows U-Turns, Encounter Magazine, Blue Mountain Arts, and Outlook Weekly. “For Gail So Loved the World” is her blog, where she discusses spirituality, politics and social and emotional intelligence from a global perspective. Her spoken word pieces and drumming meditations are available on YouTube and she schedules private speaking engagements where these performances are shared. Gail is the only lesbian known to hold a Bachelor’s Degree from Cincinnati Christian University. Currently, Gail resides in the Washington, DC Area and serves her local community as the Executive Director of a nature-based early learning center.

 

 

A Conversion Therapy Survivor Responds to Her President

Born_Perfect_ObamaAs many of you know, I’ve taken a step back from doing interviews in reference to my survival story from conversion therapy…

But I found myself drawn to “give voice,” to my experience of hearing that our President is tuned into the needs of survivors, their families, and specifically, our vulnerable young people. This is a very tender moment in my healing journey and I recorded it as a means of responding to our President’s call to ban conversion therapy. I invite you to give attention to this voice, in honor of all those who have yet to find the courage…

Thank you, Mr. President.

 

~~

2ND_6541Gail is an author, poet, blogger and activist whose book, Enlightened-ish chronicles her spiritual awakening experience after witnessing a suicide, grieving her father’s unexpected death and leaving a spiritual community. Her first book, “Coming Out of the Closet without Coming Apart at the Seams” was published in 2004. Gail has appeared in FOX DC News, SkyNews and Our America with Lisa Ling as an advocate for ex-gay survivors and young people. Her freelance work has appeared in God Allows U-Turns, Encounter Magazine, Blue Mountain Arts, and Outlook Weekly. “For Gail So Loved the World” is her blog, where she discusses spirituality, politics and social and emotional intelligence from a global perspective. Her spoken word pieces and drumming meditations are available on YouTube and she schedules private speaking engagements where these performances are shared. Gail is the only lesbian known to hold a Bachelor’s Degree from Cincinnati Christian University. Currently, Gail resides in the Washington, DC Area and serves her local community as the Executive Director of a nature-based early learning center.

 

Gay in America: A Meditation for the Soul of our Nation

 

“The truth is that I owe years of dysfunctional relationships, shame, sickness, and even mental health misdiagnosis to the efforts of Conversion Therapy. At what point do we stop trying to change what we don’t understand about another person’s sexuality? At what point do we accept that we are all whole and born perfect? If you think that the anti-gay legislation has nothing to do with harmful Conversion Therapy, you are missing the point – being gay is NOT A CHOICE and it’s the belief that it can be changed that continues to plague our global reputation and taint our interpersonal relationships.

pride_american“We live in the land of the free, a place where many come to discover who they are professionally and personally, and yet we tolerate this bigotry in the name of “faith?” This hatred is not what our founding fathers had in mind… not why soldiers fight and die… not why we pay taxes… not an American value and when it is practiced, it send ripples of discontent to the true heart of our national spirit.

eagle_flag“So there is a rising, deep in the soul of our nation that I believe is ready to speak up and be heard, stand out and set a new standard, innovate peace and resist bigotry… I still believe in my country even though its present is as tainted as its past… because even if being gay were a choice, I live in a land where choices would matter too. Today, I choose to hope for an awakening…”

~ Turtle Whisperer, Gail Dickert ~

~~

Gail is an author, poet, blogger and activist whose book, Enlightened-ish chronicles her spiritual awakening experience after witnessing a suicide, grieving her father’s unexpected death and leaving a spiritual community. Her first book, “Coming Out of the Closet without Coming Apart at the Seams” was published in 2004. Gail has appeared in FOX DC News, SkyNews and Our America with Lisa Ling as an advocate for ex-gay survivors and young people. Her freelance work has appeared in God Allows U-Turns, Encounter Magazine, Blue Mountain Arts, and Outlook Weekly. “For Gail So Loved the World” is her blog, where she discusses spirituality, politics and social and emotional intelligence from a global perspective. Her spoken word pieces and drumming meditations are available on YouTube and she schedules private speaking engagements where these performances are shared. Gail is the only lesbian known to hold a Bachelor’s Degree from Cincinnati Christian University. Currently, Gail resides in the Washington, DC Area and serves her local community as the Executive Director of a nature-based early learning center.

 

An Ode to Change: We’re not THAT Awesome… Yet

Change_Shaw
We hear too much that we should “never change.” Are we signing yearbooks or walking through adulthood together?

There’s a key difference between genuine self-change versus the self-hating conversion to becoming someone who isn’t aligned with our natural, whole self.

We must CHANGE our beliefs.

We must CHANGE our approach.

And yes, even sometimes, we must CHANGE our course of action in order to break patterns.

As someone who has benefited greatly from powerful change, I know that there is a path of change that is actually filled with the reality of one’s own truth.

It’s not the same as adhering to another person’s path, though it may resemble one.

It isn’t a path of compromise, though some concessions are wise.

It isn’t a path that is absolute, but rather, a path that embraces the need to edit oneself from year to year.

change-thoughtsIf what you’ve always done isn’t working, you can’t blame the system forever. The opportunity is here – what will YOU do differently?

We are all victims of something, but the survivor spirit in us all recognizes the need for CHANGE when we see it.

In the last decade, I have changed my career several times, my home, my sense of place, my religion, my relationships, and my goals. In fact, four years ago today, I watched a man die from a suicide and that CHANGED me. (It helped make me “Enlightened-ish” actually.)

But I’m still Gail. In fact, I’m more Gail than I was a year ago, two years ago, three years ago. That is the point – a year from now, to be more of myself, through the process of CHANGING what keeps me from being me.

We’re good people and we are worthy of love and respect, just as we are… but let’s pay attention – We’re not THAT awesome yet! Let’s welcome the chance to see how amazing we can really be, if we consciously move towards change, rather than away from it.

Change_PathThe biggest disservice we do to ourselves is getting caught between “That’s how it will always be” and “That’s who I am.” These are rocks, with hard places that no one will want to be around after too long because it isn’t human. It isn’t HUMAN to declare oneself stagnant and unable to grow, learn, discover, or transform.

I personally know how hard it is to accept ourselves, but perhaps the serenity of it all is in knowing what CAN be changed. Without that wisdom, to know the difference, we become enablers… enabling ourselves namely, to be the kid we were in high school, trapped in a small, naive, and even more simpler life. (Or a broken, trapped, fearful one!)

Let’s grow old together, my friends…

But before we get old, let’s just grow.

What do you say?

Can you make up your mind to CHANGE the way you view change?

Can we find the balance between needing to affirm who we are in this moment without digging in our heels and isolating ourselves from the experience of transforming experiences?

I wish you so much love, light, hope, peace… and change, on the journey.

Namaste, yo.

~~

RAY_7279Gail is an author, poet, blogger and activist whose book, Enlightened-ish chronicles her spiritual awakening experience after witnessing a suicide, grieving her father’s unexpected death and leaving a spiritual community. Her first book, “Coming Out of the Closet without Coming Apart at the Seams” was published in 2004. Gail has appeared in FOX DC News, SkyNews and Our America with Lisa Ling as an advocate for ex-gay survivors and young people. Her freelance work has appeared in God Allows U-Turns, Encounter Magazine, Blue Mountain Arts, and Outlook Weekly. “For Gail So Loved the World” is her blog, where she discusses spirituality, politics and social and emotional intelligence from a global perspective. Her spoken word pieces and drumming meditations are available on YouTube and she schedules private speaking engagements where these performances are shared. Gail is the only lesbian known to hold a Bachelor’s Degree from Cincinnati Christian University. Currently, Gail resides in the Washington, DC Area and serves her local community as the Executive Director of a nature-based early learning center.

Reminder to the Perfectionist: You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know…

turtle-smartThere are too many times when people suffer emotionally or psychologically because they have an idea of what they “should” do or what they “should” know and yet life happens at such a pace that something new is always on the docket.

This internal perfectionism is useless – believe me. It isn’t supportive in relationships, it interferes with work performance, it alienates you from your friends/family, and sends the wrong message to your children.

I was reminded of how important it is to “not know” something as I spent the last few weeks “babysitting” a pair of 16-year-old red-eared slider turtles. The whole story of how my wife and I inherited this situation is directly linked to my day-job – being the Executive Director of a nature-based pre-school which focuses on creating socially and emotionally intelligent learning environments in a nature-based classroom leads to many unique and entertaining stories. Most of these stories serve as constant real-time folklore about balance, trust, animal wisdom, kid-humor, and community spirit. This latest story though – it’s about perfectionism.

I would have to admit that I am a bit of a perfectionist myself – but agreeing to foster the aquatic turtles took me for a wild ride (especially as someone dubbed Turtle Whisperer, by her elders! ;) )

I will shorten the details of the story in whatever ways I can, but suffice to say, it is a very long story that is difficult to make short! The bottom line, as you read this story is to remember this – I didn’t know what I didn’t know… until I knew it.

I didn’t know that turtles needed access to direct sunlight. I had been told that bulbs and human-designed structures could replicate a suitable habitat. Not really true.

I didn’t know that two turtles of this size need at least a 75 gallon tank for optimal living/health.

I didn’t know that turtles needed temperature-controlled water… and I also didn’t know that they like to break glass thermometers, which of course, upon shattering in their tank, requires a full cleaning of above-mentioned crazy big tank!

So, the lack of knowledge above led to some very frustrating trips to the pet store and several gallons of water wasted in effort to save and restore the health of two beloved rescued sliders…

But the last obstacle that came from this turtle-foster situation is based on something I actually DO know.

Water… is heavy.

I know this. Of course water is heavy.

Why would I “forget” that water is heavy?

Who forgets something that simple?

More importantly, I “know” that 50 gallons of water, in a 140 pound glass tank… is REALLY heavy.

Yet, it wasn’t until Sunday night at about midnight, when I was doing a healing meditation with a new stone that my sister got me for my birthday… that it occurred to me that the habitat was resting on two tables from Ikea.

And we all know that as much as Ikea is great… there’s no way two $10 side tables are going withstand the weight of 50 gallons of water in a 140 pound glass tank!

So… as my wife and I shot out of bed, grabbed a flashlight, and head outside to dig through a pile of cement blocks and bring them inside to reinforce these tables, you can be sure my inner-perfectionist was saying some scathing things!

You KNOW water is heavy. What the hell were you thinking? Why weren’t you thinking? Why have half a dozen people looked at this habitat and not mentioned the insufficient structure under this massive weight?

turtle-snapperI berated myself for hours honestly – looking through forums online, raging within my own mind, doing the math several times like I was Santa checking my list… 1 gallon of water = about 8 pounds X 50 = NAUGHTY NAUGHTY NAUGHTY. “You idiot, that’s over 400 lbs on tables that can support maybe 100 lbs combined!”

I refused to be nice to myself about this mishap until early Monday morning when I could barely move my neck in any direction, my shoulder as hardened as 4 cinder blocks…

It took me about 24 hours to get it right, folks.

I’m here today, to tell you and to tell myself – You don’t know what you don’t know… until you know it.

Life is full of new experiences and most likely, our brain states at any given time are not at the highest level – i.e. frontal lobe processing, for optimal performance. On the contrary, we are probably in fight/flight mode all too often, or in some emotional space where we need validation, control, or influence.

So – let yourself off the hook!

Sometimes you just need to look at your situation and say, “Well, if I could do it differently, I would. I learned something… and that’s enough.”

I didn’t learn that water is heavy… but I did learn that when I’m in rescue mode, I overlook a few key factors of basic knowledge. This interferes with my inner perfectionist quite a bit, but it’s also a chance to look at that personality trait and say, “Hey, go take a nap, I don’t need you harping at me.” ;)

IMG_4375 For now, I’ll go watch some grateful teenage turtles… and they will look back and see this mutant adult who is about to turn 37 years old, but is still exploring reality like a 3-year-old sometimes…

A mantra for your month – “I don’t know what I don’t know… until I know it.”

 

Much love, my friends!

~ Turtle Whisperer, Gail Dickert

snapping turtle in color

~~

IMG_4376Gail is an author, poet, blogger and activist whose new book, Enlightened-ish chronicles her spiritual awakening experience after witnessing a suicide, grieving her father’s unexpected death and leaving a spiritual community. Her first book, “Coming Out of the Closet without Coming Apart at the Seams” was published in 2004. Gail has appeared in FOX DC News, SkyNews and Our America with Lisa Ling as an advocate for ex-gay survivors and young people. Her freelance work has appeared in God Allows U-Turns, Encounter Magazine and Outlook Weekly. “For Gail So Loved the World” is her blog, where she discusses spirituality, politics and social and emotional intelligence from a global perspective. Her spoken word pieces and drumming meditations are available on YouTube and she schedules private speaking engagements where these performances are shared. Gail is the only lesbian known to hold a Bachelor’s Degree from Cincinnati Christian University. Currently, Gail resides in the Washington, DC Area and serves her local community as the Executive Director of a nature-based early learning center.

The Power of Community: 4 Reasons We Don’t Fit In (Part 4)

In my final post in the “Rejection Reflection” Series, I look to each of you to consider a new perspective on rejection. Throughout the blog discussion, I’ve known that the topic is heavy and considerably intense for those of us who have done all we know to do in order that we might “fit in” when it comes to collective community groups. We know that there are places of faith where people gather and somehow they all flock together under the head of a pastoral figure or committee without ever feeling uninvited in the way that we have felt. Whether you have found yourself on the outside of a party, social group, or church, you and I both know it wasn’t just a bad fit. There is something different about you and you’ve been waiting years for someone to explain it, rectify it, heal it, or help you ignore it!

Today, I’m writing about how we can simply do better than all of the analysis. We’ve dug deep and we’ve looked at what common denominators have existed in each of our twisted stories of community lost. There is anger, forgiveness, betrayal, confusion, lies, distortions, and sometimes just passive surrender associated with our stories.

We don’t belong.

We keep trying, but it’s clear that we do not.

In this, part 4 of Rejection Reflection, allow me to offer you 4 possible personal traits as to why you’ve continued to leave groups that are organized by a figure head. Here are 4 Reasons You Don’t Fit In… once and for all, perhaps we can accept these inalienable rights of our unique views on the world:

You don’t fit in because…

#1. You Evolve.

IMG_4198You have never wanted to sit on your brain when it comes to new ideas. Your inner world is like a mental gymnastics routine and the flips, turns, twists, and stretches that you make wouldn’t serve well in any organization or community that requires you to pledge allegiance to an unchanging status quo. You move through the world like water, flexible and flowing. At the same time, you carry water, bearing it so others may grow and plant and quench. You accept and release and then accept again, only to assume you will release. There is no question in your mind that what you “hold true” today will be held up against you by your own evolution when you are 4 years older than you are in this moment. It’s not that you don’t have convictions – on the contrary, you have the highest regard for intellectualizing, exploring, welcoming, and intuitively doubting. And that doubt? That never fairs well in community settings where evolution stands in direct contradiction to the way things have been always done. Your scientific mind has never fit in. Why would it fit in where group think is required in order to maintain the comfort level of those who do not wish to evolve any more than a turtle wants to come out of its own shell? When we leave those communities, we leave them because they become stagnant… to us. Leave them to refuse a wider evolution. It’s fine. Do not stay and insist that they join YOUR revolution against THEIR status quo. It will only cause your heart to fail you, your body to ache, and more… your mind to become more focused on pleasing the opiated masses… Some of us truly evolve at a faster pace. Let them go – not because their pace is slow or wrong, but because butterflies don’t hang out with caterpillars.

#2. You Require Equity in all Things.

You have always had a problem with authority. Why? Because authority by definition refers to the person with the power to “give orders, make decisions, and enforce obedience.” There are too many communities of faith where this sense of authority is misappropriated as being from an even more supreme “authority” and that complicates your style even more than you know how to describe. Perhaps you have been accused of being too utopian in your ideals about community, but equity among a group of people doesn’t mean there isn’t conflict and it certainly doesn’t mean conflict isn’t resolved. It is simply resolved through non-violent communications that lack ultimatums. Remember the first time you were given an ultimatum by a pastoral figure. “This is the Word of God and I am God’s Messenger,” he said to you. You know that wasn’t accurate. Recall the last time an “authority figure” squirmed underneath your apparently unwelcomed feet, under the biggest toe of their ego – “I am the person who runs this group and I will defend it because it is mine. I will not allow you to challenge the way I run it.”

Jesus taught that we should “shake the dust” off of our feet when we were unwelcomed. There is also scripture that supports us from walking away from the goads that prod us like dictator-led cattle, rather kicking against them. Yet it is the very people who study scripture that mindlessly lead us into these scenarios – either we shake the dust, leaving even the smallest remnant of our time with them behind… or we stay and kick against the painful, sharp comments about how unruly we are and how we interfere with the spirit of community.

Interfere? Yes, if the spirit of community is defined as unhinged allegiance to a leader… we will interfere with this because it doesn’t include equity in its formula. You never fit in when authority was used against free thought. This isn’t new. You are the same when it comes to medicine, politics, employment – you simply won’t be subordinate, will you? Good. Stop trying to change your stripes. You can respect the rules, but that doesn’t mean you have to worship the rule-maker.

#3. Your Hurt Informs your Inner Guardian

Your least favorite part of this entire blog series is how many people still remind you of how “their church” is different and you should try “this group” or “that event.” You know for a fact that regardless of what new group you try to connect with, you will remember the past. You will recall the friends you lost and how losing them challenged your very definition of the word friend. You will grieve again, before you’ve even engaged. You will take baby steps and move at a pace that makes it awkward for others who have not suffered the way you have – they will call you introverted, distrusting, or simply afraid of others. You may even receive a handful of psychological diagnoses regarding your anxiety about public places or larger groups. You will be ostracized and even if it isn’t spoken, you will feel it before each effort to connect with a new group. This is because you have an Inner Guardian who will not allow you to get hurt again. This Inner Guardian will not disarm and will not let you down. I personally envision mine as a sort of Warrior Princess.

She knows better than me sometimes. She’s not hyper-vigilant but she’s not stupid. As soon as a group pattern starts to determine how people engage… as soon as individuals are overrun by the way something has always been done… she will draw her sword and point it directly into my face. “Do you see this?” she asks. “Are you going to have to censor yourself here?” she accuses.

She is my most active force when it comes to inner voices – do not ask her to stand down and grab a donut while you force yourself into something that doesn’t fit… again. She knows better. Trust her. That glass slipper of community will not fit if you cut off your heel.  Remember how this series started with my memories of Into the Woods and the group think that destroyed my connection to drama club?

The glass slipper of community – It will not fit if you cut off your toe. It wasn’t made for you. You are not Cinderella and you are not a wicked step sister…

You’re the witch. And that’s okay. Be comfortable knowing your Inner Guardian sees the magic in you and would rather you see it in yourself too than fall under the foot of the giant because of a few egomaniacs are running around in discontent.

IMG_4240#4. You Never Did Fit In.

You have to face this simple fact. This isn’t a news flash. You didn’t start reading this series because you had one or two collective rejections. You didn’t go through one bad break-up – you’ve had several. You didn’t leave one faith – you aren’t even sure if a belief in God is useful most days. And even if you are still in a faith-based community, you know you do it as your Inner Guardian waves a sword, reminding you that you are magic and you do not deserve to be hurt again.

No matter what you’ve done, you’ve always been a little “different.” You have always known that there was something about you that others didn’t understand and now that you are connecting with the world wide web of weirdo-ville via our global internet connections, let yourself acknowledge, “I don’t fit in and that’s okay!”

These 4 reasons may not be the meditation technique you were hoping for when it comes to healing your rejections. I have been spending the last few years trying to influence the prevalent thought about self-healing and I will spend the next few years even more focused on that end because one thing that has to stop is the incessant need to un-emote ourselves. Un-emote: I am coining that term for every person who has ever been told that their emotion is a sign of weakness. I am saying once and for all that if you feel uninvited, it is natural to feel sad. If you are rejected, for various reasons, including the 4 I outlined above, it is hurtful. Beyond the hurt though, is the difficulty that comes with accepting your misfit status.

We are the fringe…

Always have been and eventually, once you accept it as an “always will be,” you will come to appreciate it.

Let me be the first and hopefully one of the last to say to you that your rejection reflection shall not leave you with wanting! We have not traveled this far through these memories simply to wash it all away with affirmations and 10-step programs for self-healing. Most likely your biggest problem now when it comes to community will be learning how to ask for help when you actually need it and finding people who don’t ask for memberships before offering assistance.

In closing, let me remind you that these utopian ideals that we have…

They are worth having.

As many of you know, part 2 of this series was affected by a reminder of the song “Uninvited” by Alanis Morissette. Like many of us individually, her music has evolved from the necessary rages of “You Oughta Know,” through the tedious self-sharing of “Would Not Come,” as she groped towards inner peace. In about the same range of time as my own evolution, I’ve watched Alanis from a far, as she’s become the woman who doesn’t need to fit in… her song, “Utopia,” while not a chart-topper, confirms for us all that such a place exists in our minds…

And therefore, it exists.

Hold onto that thought and perhaps we will find a way to get there together.

And when we do… let’s make it clear that our spiritual land of misfit souls doesn’t require authority.

Thank you for joining me for this series. It’s meant a lot to me to get public postings and private messages about its effects on you as readers and friends. For me, this series has allowed me an opportunity to fully verbalize a redefinition of “community.” Together, we have moved away from “collective” communities with rules, dogma, and authorities and into a flow of connection that cannot always be defined. This ethereal tribe, however limited by vernacular, is limitless when it comes to building friendship and feeling accepted. For those of us with those utopian ideals, perhaps our once a year brunch meet-ups or quarterly movie nights with friends from all over the globe are as close as we will come to “safe community” while in the human condition.

All I know is that I feel like a member of a non-descript and hopeful community of equals when I engage with my readers. So… thank you. We’ve accomplished something by opening our hearts across the distances of time and space.

In the spirit of all things connected, join me in sharing what we’ve all benefited from here as I quote the above song, Utopia, by Alanis Morissette.

May we be a group of people, however separated by geography, who rises up “post-obstacle more defined… more grateful…” May be we “unstoppable” as we “hold close and let go and know when to do which.” May all of these words we’ve shared help us “to release and disarm…

“and stand up and feel safe.

Namaste, my dear friends.

~~

RAY_7279Gail is an author, poet, blogger and activist whose new book, Enlightened-ish chronicles her spiritual awakening experience after witnessing a suicide, grieving her father’s unexpected death and leaving a spiritual community. Her first book, “Coming Out of the Closet without Coming Apart at the Seams” was published in 2004. Gail has appeared in FOX DC News, SkyNews and Our America with Lisa Ling as an advocate for ex-gay survivors and young people. Her freelance work has appeared in God Allows U-Turns, Encounter Magazine and Outlook Weekly. “For Gail So Loved the World” is her blog, where she discusses spirituality, politics and social and emotional intelligence from a global perspective. Her spoken word pieces and drumming meditations are available on YouTube and she schedules private speaking engagements where these performances are shared. Gail is the only lesbian known to hold a Bachelor’s Degree from Cincinnati Christian University. Currently, Gail resides in the Washington, DC Area and serves her local community as the Executive Director of a nature-based early learning center.

The Power of Community: When Collective Rejection Becomes the Norm (Part 3)

In my last piece, I connected how collective rejection can become much more socially and emotionally disturbing than individual rejection and concluded that perhaps, after systematically experiencing rejection from a diverse group of communities, I can no longer personally identify the value community. Specifically, what I cannot conclude is that the return on investment is worth it…

Community: Is it too high risk after systematically experiencing rejection?

That’s a very harsh reality for some to hear, because they assume first, that I am just unwilling to “try again.” Another common question/assumption is that the places where I have in fact “tried again” were just not the right fit.

So I have to sit back now and unravel the larger question of what makes the “right fit” for those who have experienced collective rejection, repeated specifically through communities of faith. If the problem isn’t me, how do I interpret and reconcile the following experiences?

~~

Bible College: The place where I invested my college education, grew to love the free and responsible search for truth, and transformed into the adult I am – engaged in questions of faith, open to all experiences, and comfortable with diverse communities. I didn’t exactly receive an education that encouraged inclusive dialogue, but it is what I took away from my time there. This is still the place that disowns its connection to me. After graduation, several professors refused to even look me in the eye, acknowledge my requests to speak further, or address that the collective response to homosexuality was harmful, let alone short-sighted for the community of faith. I was shut out, uninvited and collectively ignored. It was even brought to my attention in the years that followed that this is the same school that discontinued its womens’ basketball program one year because there were allegations of “lesbian activity” on the team. When a community decides to instill collective “head in the sand” responses to conflict (conflict = an opportunity to be inclusive to new ideas), what is the gain? How do I learn to trust that communities can be inclusive to dialogue, knowing this example proves otherwise?

Presbyterian Church Youth Minister: A place where I was free to be “out” and “Christian” didn’t lead to an inclusive experience… my time there, while equally shaping my adult experiences, as well as enhancing my understanding and compassion for the human condition, left me in the cold when my “supervisors” did not approve of my style of youth ministry – bringing diverse young people together in various home-settings instead of inside the walls of the church… what the hell was I thinking? “Yes, but are they going to come to Sunday School too?” I was asked. “Yes, it’s nice that some of the Jewish kids are coming to the group too, but what is the point?” I knew that if these questions had to be asked, I was once again, in the wrong community. How do I learn to trust that communities can be inclusive, knowing this example proves otherwise?

Gay-Affirming Church Minister: Here, I served in the role of a
“Teaching Pastor” at a church plant that partnered with a gay-affirming United Methodist Church. We engaged in basic Christian Church-type stuff – worship, preaching, tithing/offering, outreach… so when I invited the board to allow for me to do a pulpit swap with our host church and they asked, “Why would you need to go to the straight UMC church? They don’t believe what we believe?” you can imagine this was yet another strike against the value of community. When this board also found itself arguing over whether we should go on a mission trip with the “straight church,” my resignation took form in my head. Goodbye “gay-affirming” church… that wouldn’t include straight people… how do I learn to trust that communities can be inclusive, knowing this example proves otherwise?

Enter… gay-affirming, other faith-affirming Unitarian Universalist Congregation: It would be highly expected that as a Director of Religious Education, I could both give and receive in a community of beloved souls. Here, I would learn early on though, that the pastor’s approach for passively letting the committees lead without challenge would derail any attempts I would make of including a unique style to how the youth were encouraged to grown in their faith experiences. Repeatedly I was instructed to uphold the “status quo” of a particular brand of exclusive practices geared at appeasing misplaced egos. I watched as my wavering faith in community was ripped from my eager hands… I would resign in a year, my heart beaten and bruised by the very place I thought would reconcile for me that fear of communities and group think as inherently dangerous was unfounded. Still, a key experience here was how a congregation could collaborate with external organizations and host the only gay-affirming prom for teenagers for 5 years in a row! I served in a volunteer role, where no one single person made any decisions about how this event went. I learned to appreciate what could be gained from networking with other communities, without staying loyal to only one… still, I was left with the question though of how I could be a part of an inclusive community, knowing this example proved otherwise. It was close… but not inclusive enough.

Rejection_Quotes_3For good measure, enter one more last ditch effort at Christianity – A mediocre version of a “gay-affirming” Baptist congregation where creativity was embraced: I can only say that I landed back in a Christian-based community of faith for two reasons – The first reason is that I was as broken as I had ever been, after a break-up with my partner of 4 years. Joining this community and all that those 18 months there entailed was the epitome of a rebound relationship. The second reason, however, was a reason that I still cherish… this community focused on the power of artistic expression. A spiritually-based group of self-avowed artists seemed safe enough, specifically since I knew that the artistic mind is usually inclusive by nature. It wasn’t long until I saw that unless I also followed the status quo of never questioning the pastoral leadership, I was going to find myself on the outside of these walls, once again. Requesting closure and a mutual understanding only left me more broken… but also certain that with all these examples how trusting communities to be inclusive only led to an example that proves otherwise… I left knowing that I may never bother trusting community again…

~~

So what we have here is a repeated experience where the outsider isn’t “let in” entirely, but continues to be perhaps tolerated, maybe even trusted temporarily, but eventually becomes uninvited to the community, forever and ever, amen. No closure. No exit strategy. No common ground. No mutual respect. No understanding. Only silence… or worse, only rumors.

I’m left with the belief that it is assumed that I’m just another person who left because I didn’t fit in and that the groups involved “tried all they could” to embrace me or learn something from someone different and new.

Did they?

Did they try all they could or was their allegiance to a status quo much more important?

And does “status quo” exist in personal relationships the way it does in communities? Does the question of “How has it always been done?” even matter outside of the four walls of an organization?

Rejection_QuotesOver and over, we hear how businesses thrive from allowing themselves to be in diverse environments, asking hard and new questions, challenging themselves with new ideas and growing from revisiting topics they had previously determined were set in stone.

Still, in every community I have ever attempted to engage in, I eventually find myself walking away (or being chased away) because the door is not open… the walls are too high… and the authorities are white-knuckling their sense of power like it is in fact, all they have in this world.

So what is there to conclude from my experiences of collective rejection?

This Rejection Reflection informs us of three things:

  1. Telling someone to “try again” is not always helpful. It’s not our place and sometimes, it may be more hurtful than helpful.
  2. Organizations can do powerful things if they are part of a consortium of influences and larger community.
  3. The most valuable asset to your communities are the people who leave them. Why? Because they know why others consider it and they were brave enough to take the personal risk. They were willing to break their own hearts rather than give any more sense of allegiance to your cause… that says something powerful about your “cause”, doesn’t it?

I may never get an opportunity to put any perspective to the situations I’ve seen in the above-mentioned communities. I want to explain my own broken attempts, what baggage I was bringing to the table, and own my part of the processes as much as I hope others could do the same… but that also threatens the establishment and I know it… so…

The search for closure for these experiences is just as futile as the search for closure from events that I spoke about in parts 1 and 2.

This is the new crossroads…

Not seeking closure, but seeking openness… a community , in fact, without walls.

Does it exist?

I wager this is why our social media connections have become so valuable. I feel more connected to people I’ve never met and faces I’ve never seen live. Screen-based personalities have spoken into my fears of loneliness and awareness of rejection in ways that only a beloved community truly can…

And their words and compassion have prevented the rejection from taking over…

Their connections free me to take responsibility for any role I played in making it more difficult to “be invited,” but they also assure me that those who put up hoops and obstacles are not the people I want to share community with anyway…

I have my friends, dear people scattered across the globe and also dear friends locally. I have my family… and I have my wife… I have my work and I have my natural world, where I am most connected. I even have my global sense of tribe.

But do I have community? Is there value in it?

Here’s what I have in that regard: I have Facebook.

For better or for worse, I am becoming convinced it is where the uninvited go…

Think about this the next time you “Friend” or “Un-friend” someone. For some, it isn’t “just social media.” It’s social everything. This is both fortunate and unfortunate!

So let’s walk gently and remember that those who value it will cherish you as part of their communities, cyber and wall-less as they are. There is also no authority head or committee who can override us so… onward and upward with your postings of your lunch routine, your rants, your selfies, and your weekend plans. Why not?

If we are community, let’s show ‘em how it’s done – people… being… people.

Stay tuned for the 4th and final part of the Rejection Reflection series, where I will discuss techniques for healing ourselves from the well-established and reasonable fear of… others… and discovering how acceptance can become the new normal

~~

RAY_7279Gail is an author, poet, blogger and activist whose recent book, Enlightened-ish chronicles her spiritual awakening experience after witnessing a suicide, grieving her father’s unexpected death and leaving a spiritual community. Her first book, “Coming Out of the Closet without Coming Apart at the Seams” was published in 2004. Gail has appeared in FOX DC News, SkyNews and Our America with Lisa Ling as an advocate for ex-gay survivors and young people. Her freelance work has appeared in God Allows U-Turns, Encounter Magazine and Outlook Weekly. “For Gail So Loved the World” is her blog, where she discusses spirituality, politics and social and emotional intelligence from a global perspective. Her spoken word pieces and drumming meditations are available on YouTube and she schedules private speaking engagements where these performances are shared. Gail is the only lesbian known to hold a Bachelor’s Degree from Cincinnati Christian University. Currently, Gail resides in the Washington, DC Area and serves her local community as the Executive Director of a nature-based early learning center.

The Power of Community: Defining Collective Rejection (Part 2)

Rejection_signIt should not really surprise me that the topic of rejection strikes a chord with so many individuals, but not only does that shock me, there is something else that continues to elevate the discussion: Collective rejection. When a system, organization, or group has the power to place rejection on the forefront of our social experiences, there is something indicative of a question here. First, a question we must ask ourselves is one of authority – why and how can entire groups override the individual experience? In this piece specifically though, I aim to answer the question that plagued me all along, which is what is collective rejection and why is it so much harder to unravel than individual rejection?

In my last piece, I wrote about a vulnerable experience from high school and how it tore me heart from soul, to have a beloved, safe group of people outside of the home, turn on me with unexpected physical pranks and threats on the very last night of my time in that group after 5 years. That piece reflects one of the least of my problems though, when it comes to rejection from communities. In fact, as those kids chased me around the room with shaving cream… and I yelled, fought back and nearly employed my karate training to knock a few people down but, as I made my way to a phone, to call my mother, there was something else that occurred – I imagine a slow-moving scene when I remember this moment because I did not notice it when it happened…

In the chaos and fear, grabbing and scraping by, my necklace flung violently from my neck, landing on the floor, left behind me when I ran out…

A cross necklace.

cross_necklacePerfect experience of persecution really – there were comments for years about how silly my abstinence vow was and how unpopular it made me as a teenager and young Christian. Add insult to injury, I was simultaneously being systematically molested by my male neighbor while I attempted to reconcile my closeted same-sex attractions in this context of social and spiritual oppression, bullying, and self-hate.

When the girl who outed me a year before this incident (which I discussed in my coming out memoir), handed me my broken cross necklace upon my return the the school that night, I know my eyes filled up with tears. There was no holding it all back…

We could say that the rejection I faced was because some kids lost their minds and got recklessly caught up in group think, but the truth is that I was always singled out in any scenario for being “born-again” – dying to my social status every single day, because of it. And I didn’t know better than to play it up because the one place where I found affirmation was in the church… at least, for being willing to suffer for Christ. They ate that up… the more I suffered in school and within my own mind/body, the more welcome I was as an active member of a church community… (Makes me think of this Dar Williams’ song).

It isn’t that I wasn’t well-liked or fun to be around in high school. I have only one friend from high school who actually has my phone number nearly two decades later and that friend can tell you how over-involved I was socially – She likes to joke that our yearbook is splattered with my face. It’s fitting though because Yearbook Staff is the one group I didn’t join. I was in school choir, Feature Editor and Co-Editor-in-Chief of the school newspaper, in National Honor Society, on the volleyball team, on the Forensics Team, and clearly, an active member of the drama club. So why wasn’t I more popular? Honestly it wasn’t because I wasn’t blond or thin. There was a time I thought it was because I was ugly. Being called by a boy’s name by upperclassmen didn’t help the first two years… But… as it turns out… there’s one group missing in that above list of extra-curricular activities: Bible Club.

How barfy. (Yes that’s the technical term)

It’s “social suicide” really, that I not only participated in Bible Club… I was its fucking president and founder, folks.

Previous generations will totally remember geeking out for Jesus at the “See You at the Pole” rallies or the “Why Knock Rock” assemblies. Let’s add the fact that I wrote two persuasive speeches during high school: One advocating for abstinence and the other for school prayer.

I cringe as I write it, honestly.

It’s not that I wasn’t entertaining or engaging as a person. My peers individually liked me, but collectively, would never be caught dead with me in public. Peers who were my neighbors hung out with me all the time but I confess that I have never once been invited to a party where drinking, sexual activity or other teenage shenanigans apparently occurred. It wasn’t even until I was 22 years old when I was having an Ani Difranco-style mural painting session with my first real-life lesbian that I was in the presence of… marijuana!

The church leaders knew what they were doing when they sucked in the vulnerable bullied kid and saw her leadership capacity… it’s why my guidance counselor later cringed when looking at my next steps after high school: Bible College. She wasn’t one of my favorite adults at the school, but looking back, her judgment of me during that decision time was fitting – why is this bright, young woman sacrificing herself on a cross that already had its savior?

I should have studied history at Penn State and become a teacher. That’s what I wanted to do… But, that is history too, isn’t it?

So, we have ourselves a collective rejection from a student body on our hands – individually, I had a lot of friends, but collectively, there was no place to call “home” outside of the home. No “tribe” or “group” other than the folks at the church who clearly only benefited if I stayed on the path to “ex-gay” paradise…

Looking back now, I take a long pause and ask myself then, why anyone had authority outside of me. Why did any group’s beliefs about my social value determine my path? How does this happen in a culture that thrives on the individual goal’s and aspirations?

The answer is religion.

I’ve written about its toxic nature for years, but what I had not formulated in my mind is why it continues to plague me – it’s because there is a systematic rejection of those who do share in one. If I am a Christian, I do not relate to Muslims. If I am a Buddhist, I do not relate to Jews. If I am a Jew, I do not relate to atheists, but if I’m atheist I do not… sigh. It is the epitome of exclusion. It all thrives on being right and separate from something else.

So – we have this failing belief in our human condition that religion serves a purpose… and I wonder why rejection is still something I deal with on a daily basis…

It’s because I won’t choose one.

Worse yet, because I have been so wounded by religion’s affect on my social connection, I am finding it even more difficult to understand the role of community at all. People suggest finding other, more liberal spiritual communities, but I have done this and will discuss it more in Part 3 - but here’s the defining premise of how we can understand collective rejection vs. individual rejection…

When an individual rejects you, you eventually realize there was something wrong with the “us” – the friendship, the relationship, the place of employment. Eventually someone can talk you into seeing that the connection wasn’t meant to be not because something was wrong with “you” but the match just wasn’t a good fit.

However, when you are systematically rejected by entire sub-cultures or groups,  I propose there is an emotional/psychological consequence on the belief that community matters. 

If the community or rejecting group can continue to thrive without you, it becomes increasingly difficult to believe, “Oh I just don’t fit in at that church” or “Oh I just don’t connect with that group.”

Consider that when a relationship ends with a person, it ends. There is some sense of closure.

Consider that when a position is eliminated at an organization, it ends. It’s not like someone else is thriving in that position. It’s over. It’s not about you, as a person.

But when you are kicked out of an organization, the organization still goes on… they still meet up, they still have their social connections, they still thrive…

The only difference is you are not there.

Every day that the church goes on and every day that specific groups thrive without me, I consider then that what is “wrong” with the connection… is… ME.

I’m left with that pang in my soul… feeling uninvited to any social setting, based on my ever-evolving beliefs, my own apparently inconvenient story, and my sexuality…

As if the universe wanted me to know I still had a chance, a familiar song from my college years was played on Glee just last night. “Uninvited,” like many Alanis Morissette songs, defined my healing process in 1998… and so I will sit on this song until I’m ready to write Part 3 of #rejectionreflection series…

Because it’s going to take me more than a moment to reconcile that the definition of rejection is the belief that one is inherently not worth inviting…

Walk gently, my friends. We’ve got to find a way to do more than merely co-exist in a natural world which will insist on evolving… we have to make space for people to grow.

Until then, as always, find the home within – you know from my writing, this is the one place that simply will not fail you.

Namaste, yo.

~~

RAY_7279Gail is an author, poet, blogger and activist whose new book, Enlightened-ish chronicles her spiritual awakening experience after witnessing a suicide, grieving her father’s unexpected death and leaving a spiritual community. Her first book, “Coming Out of the Closet without Coming Apart at the Seams” was published in 2004. Gail has appeared in FOX DC News, SkyNews and Our America with Lisa Ling as an advocate for ex-gay survivors and young people. Her freelance work has appeared in God Allows U-Turns, Encounter Magazine and Outlook Weekly. “For Gail So Loved the World” is her blog, where she discusses spirituality, politics and social and emotional intelligence from a global perspective. Her spoken word pieces and drumming meditations are available on YouTube and she schedules private speaking engagements where these performances are shared. Gail is the only lesbian known to hold a Bachelor’s Degree from Cincinnati Christian University. Currently, Gail resides in the Washington, DC Area and serves her local community as the Executive Director of a nature-based early learning center.

 

 

The Power of Community: Surviving Rejection (Part 1)

Rejection_sign(Disclaimer: This piece may be a trigger for those who were collectively bullied by communities. Take a deep breath, take your time… and remember you are loved, no matter how many times communities have told you otherwise…)

We all hope to find a place to call home beyond the walls of our literal places of residence. Most of my healing work and writing focuses on finding that home within, in order to build up identity and esteem, which is often torn down by the individuals we trust over the years. This current piece and process, however, reaches into the complex topic and experience of collective community rejection and its effects on the psyche and soul… and the consequence of an inability to locate that home in the context of others.

When I took a break from Facebook (again, because you know how we all do that sometimes), I thought it was in order to focus on my newlywed status and the important and exciting transitions in my “day” job at my pre-school. There is so much about my life that I wanted to be sure to catch, rather than record and share… experience, rather than post and discuss… I wanted to feel, rather than flaunt.

However, what I have done most over my break from social media is a little surprising. In addition to the celebrations and appreciation for new life… there is grief.

As readers of Enlightened-ish know, grief is one of the most powerful tools for awakening that exists within the human condition.

What I have been grieving is the loss of connection to the “other.” Even in marriage and the joining of two beautiful families, there is something that I have lacked and have yet to fully express as a loss – the loss of community.

I had recreated a sense of community through my Facebook connections and most people feel that how I shared and what I shared indicated a personal transparency that is rare and usually unexpected in the world of social media. What few people realized, including me, is that the reason I revealed so much of my personal life and thoughts in the social media setting is this – I selected online relationships that actually matter to me…

For years I thought they mattered because we shared similar stories or similar wounds – but with time passing and transitions underway in my professional and personal life, I see that I selected them and built up the relationships for one single reason: Community has power.

I know this – because it has been community at large, that has rejected me at every turn of my personal, social, and spiritual development, since I was a teenager.

Unfortunately mapping out a history of community rejection is like asking to relive our worst junior high memories. Nonetheless, part of my personal healing philosophy involves bringing to light those things we place in shameful caverns of the mind until they entomb a loneliness deeper still in the soul.

So, let’s get out the map for a moment and relive the rejection… it will help us remember how the social intelligence of our human condition influences our psychological/emotional make-up, but also how there is a difference between individual rejection and collective rejection. The loneliness is the same, but the capacity to trust again is entirely and possibly permanently altered, if not damaged.

First, let’s keep in mind that rejection only hurts if it is connected to something that is loved.

So let’s talk about what I have loved…

My “first love,” in social community was drama club. Dearly and deeply, I loved drama club as a teenager. Beginning in 7th grade, I fell in love with all things associated with musicals and the magic of sound, script, set, and stage. In those early years of learning where I “fit in,” I found respite in the drama club. Over the years I was in My Fair Lady, Hello Dolly!, Annie, The King and I and finally, Into the Woods. As the “tenure” of my drama club experience unfolded, I became more comfortable in the backstage – lights, props, make-up, stage design, back-up chorus, a presence behind the presence that allowed for the stars to shine. I was more willing to be the dark cloth that allowed the audience to appreciate the diamond than lobby for the center of attention. In my senior year of high school, I was the Stage Manager for one of the most complicated musicals to bring to the stage – Into the Woods. If you know anything about the stage, or have seen the new movie remake of the show, you can imagine how it must be, with all those various scenes and lights, exchanging props, setting fog machines into action, ensuring drops accurately depict the scene at hand. The stage crew was nearly double the size of the cast – that was the perfect opportunity for me, an introvert, to shine – the Stage Manager of Into the Woods. Give me the head set and let’s do this thing!

I learned so much from all of the talented upperclassmen and peers along the way and during my senior year in high school, before carting off to Bible College, I had survived my parents divorce, bullying, being outed before I was actually out, and the general anxiety that comes with being a young Christian in high school. But in drama club – I was just Gail. It was my place to feel free, to create, explore, prepare, lead… be…

The rejection of community that I encountered the closing night of the show in 1996 is an event I cannot fully write out – if you asked my adult classmates now what they remember of what went down that evening before the show, there is probably a myriad of half-truths about a silly lynching prank that got out of hand… but what they may not remember is that when it involved me, I stood in the center of a crowded room as one of my peers chased me, spraying me with various cans of shaving cream, toothpaste, or whatever else was on hand because I was a virgin… that is what words were used towards me. “Get the virgin…”

Was I a “virgin?” They didn’t really know. Who or what even determines that? Did they realize I was frightened? Was it more fun because I looked so betrayed, cornered like a dog? Was it a prank that got severely out of hand or was it boys who had targeted me long before that day and whose first year in drama club was their prime opportunity to find me – in my safe place over the previous five years?

Rejection_Quotes_1I’ll never know. I cannot even talk about the whole event without shaking. What I know is that I understand school shootings and I am not comfortable saying that I know firsthand what provokes them. I can also say that what prevents them involves compassionate mothers who drop everything to drive to wherever their kids are hiding, covered in shame and shaving creme, with a ripped shirt and tears streaming down their faces and without judgement those moms say, “I love you… I’ll support you no matter what you decide to do tonight in response…” There’s no telling what my mom prevented that night – truth be told.

I can also say that I understand what it feels like to have an adult mentor look at you and say, “I hate that I knew you would come back. You could have walked away and probably should have, but you know the show must go on… I hate that you were betrayed, but I love you. The show must go on.” Perhaps not word-for-word, those are the remarks I recall from the Director that night when I did in fact, return to the school. He said he didn’t know what happened… but… knew I didn’t have to come back to face these reckless, hurtful, mob-mentality-minded kids.

With a flower for each of my peers and a card that I had written out the day before, I walked up to every single peer, and like the senior girls did years before me, I upheld the tradition of wishing the cast well – “Break a leg,” I said, through a voice choked by tears.

Now – after the curtain closed, tell me… do you think I ever reconciled with those attackers?

Do you think I ever understood why my community had turned on me, when it was literally my job to make sure they shone brightly and their talents were cherished by all?

Do you think I ever found my voice in this episode?

No.

I didn’t.

All I remember doing was holding on to the lyrics from Into the Woods and I let those words save my life… “You are not alone, believe me… no one is alone.” – I listened, assuming that in college, things would be different.

But rejection took on another form altogether on the next place on the map – like I said – rejection only works if it involves something you love…

And if I thought loving drama club and feeling at home there was a devastating thing to lose, imagine all that would await for me when loving Jesus and feeling at home in the church would also show me the power that community has…

The power… to destroy.

~~

I dedicate Part 1 of this post to all the teenagers who feel alone… and all the adult survivors who still struggle to trust… and to my wife, for helping me find my way through this particularly painful recollection. 

Part 2 will follow in a few days, my friends – I will discuss rejection from surprising sources and its effects, as well as skills for coping and eventually learning to trust again. To my Facebook Community – thanks for always giving me the space I need to be me… I’ll be back soon!

~~

RAY_7279Gail is an author, poet, blogger and activist whose new book, Enlightened-ish chronicles her spiritual awakening experience after witnessing a suicide, grieving her father’s unexpected death and leaving a spiritual community. Her first book, “Coming Out of the Closet without Coming Apart at the Seams” was published in 2004. Gail has appeared in FOX DC News, SkyNews and Our America with Lisa Ling as an advocate for ex-gay survivors and young people. Her freelance work has appeared in God Allows U-Turns, Encounter Magazine and Outlook Weekly. “For Gail So Loved the World” is her blog, where she discusses spirituality, politics and social and emotional intelligence from a global perspective. Her spoken word pieces and drumming meditations are available on YouTube and she schedules private speaking engagements where these performances are shared. Gail is the only lesbian known to hold a Bachelor’s Degree from Cincinnati Christian University. Currently, Gail resides in the Washington, DC Area and serves her local community as the Executive Director of a nature-based early learning center.

A Time to Reflect and a Time to Look Ahead… Welcome 2015

The following is content from my 2014 New Year’s Eve meditation… reflections on the year and the call to look ahead… Namaste, my friends.

~~

2ND_6434I’m all set up for a quiet reflection and mindful celebration of all that I’ve managed to accomplish, clear, and receive in 2014… but instead I find myself looking ahead to 2015 rather than my usual looking back – I’m afraid I’ll feel overcome by something awful if I really look back – it feels like I could get emotional whiplash even.

The year could swallow me whole if I give it a chance to tell me what it thought of me.

Pain, the body.

Boundary, for the soul.

Expansion, of the family.

Safety, in the heart.

I don’t think I can do it it – I don’t think I can go back and ask myself too many questions – the year has been so full, so thoroughly engaging and also so draining!

What can I offer as a reflection other than – YOU MADE IT! You treasured all of it. It would have swallowed you whole but instead, you feasted at its table of discovery, dares, and love affairs with fate and choice. You could have lost it all, but instead, you lost yourself in it all – finding a transformation far greater in value than the safe harbor you thought your soul required.

2014 – you lived it well. And it didn’t make you its bitch at any point.

This is the simplest way to celebrate a life well-felt, well-loved and well-shared. Through inside-out hope in humanity and faith in your own heart, you missed nothing. Every tear came with a word. Every dream had a story. Every song had a stage. Every laugh had a photo. Every scream had a shoulder. Every desire had a voice. Every weakness had a place to call home. Every doubt had a lesson.

To believe that 2015 could only get better feels like a jealous rage in the making – how dare we wage our hope on a better year?

More to learn? More to teach?

More to give? More to receive?

There is nothing I want more than the capacity to cherish these cycles of growth MORE.

Welcome 2015 – You have so much I could ask you to compete with from last year, but then I remember the losses in 2014 – the betrayals, the misunderstandings, and the expectations that toppled down from their high places I selected for them…

So I know better.

It’s all relative.

So to 2015, I say, “Be you! In all your glory!”

And let me continue to be me… and seamlessly, but certainly with many affirming incidents and memories, each day will contain all the newness and clarity that I can sustain – and it will likewise, sustain me.

These are my hopes for you, for us all… namaste, my friends.

~~

RAY_7279Gail is an author, poet, blogger and activist whose latest book, Enlightened-ish chronicles her spiritual awakening experience after witnessing a suicide, grieving her father’s unexpected death and leaving a spiritual community. Her first book, “Coming Out of the Closet without Coming Apart at the Seams” was published in 2004. Gail has appeared in FOX DC News, SkyNews and Our America with Lisa Ling as an advocate for ex-gay survivors and young people. Her freelance work has appeared in God Allows U-Turns, Encounter Magazine and Outlook Weekly. “For Gail So Loved the World” is her blog, where she discusses spirituality, politics and social and emotional intelligence from a global perspective. Her spoken word pieces and drumming meditations are available on YouTube and she schedules private speaking engagements where these performances are shared. Gail is the only lesbian known to hold a Bachelor’s Degree from Cincinnati Christian University. Currently, Gail resides in the Washington, DC Area and serves her local community as the Executive Director of a nature-based early learning center.