Where do I get my best support?
My immediate family and some extended family members join in meaningful conversations with me with expecting me to say what I think and be able to reply with what they think in a comfortable exchange. There is no sense of being right or wrong. We share openly, honestly and with respect. They often help me find the humor so that I can lighten up and have some fun with the stupid, cruel, bigoted things people do and say. They often also offer me phrases that expose the sophomoric nature of some people. All of them know how to debate and that helps a lot. I wish all elementary and secondary schools taught debate.
My Atheist Nexus friends can hear my rants as well as my more reasoned moments. I am a process oriented person and it feels strange to some people. Processes are nothing but communication skills that can be learned.
In what venue do I feel fully accepted?
Of course my family and A/N members. My neighbors had some problems with my atheism years ago but that has all dissipated now. They accept me as a friend that they don’t need to change. They can hear what I have to say and respond with what they have to say. We have friendly discussions and remain friends. A new neighbor just moved in next door and she is an atheist. When I told her I was an atheist, she was very pleased. She fits right in the with the other neighbors and they all know we are not christians. It is very comfortable.
Who are the people or groups who give me the support I need?
Completing almost a year of cancer treatment, my medical team, all of them from surgeon, to janitor are my most wonderful team members I ever had. Whether fear, anger, grief, or depression, they rallied by my side and included my family in the effort to support me in every way possible. Of course my family knows how to give support and my beloved Atheist Nexus group does too.
When am I most comfortable being who I am?
In my kitchen with my house full of family and friends cooking up a huge feast and as many as can, get in the kitchen with me. Or when we have the big weddings, funerals, baby showers, graduation parties, making sauerkraut at harvest, or neighborhood celebrations in my back yard. Everyone pitches in, from bringing chairs and tables, to picking beans and tomatoes or slicing tomatoes, to cleaning up.
The neighborhood kids spend a lot of time in my back years. Cary fixed up a little room under the Blue Spruce where they have their picnics, sitting on soft moss or leaves and eating their sack lunches. I have never found so much as a straw or napkin left behind.
What principles can I tease out of my experiences that can be helpful to others?
Coming out of a violent home, marrying and creating a violent home is something that still fills me with guilt and shame. Breaking free was tough. Not something for a weak or stupid person to do. It takes determination, vision of a better life, curiosity, willingness to look critically at myself and the role I played in being a victim. It requires hard work, thinking things through carefully while keeping in mind the needs of growing children. A person needs to be able to laugh and sing and dance and play. It demands to take a good look at what is important, what has to be done now, what can be put aside until later. It calls for saying “No” to people that I normally would not deny. It also involves speaking my mind and taking a stand in my self-interest and in the interest of my children.
One thing that helped me was to get a formal education in the dynamics of family violence, to understand how it happens and why women stay so long. In my case, my B.A. degree was in psychology at Eastern Washington University; my master’s degree was in Applied Behavioral Science degree at Whitworth University with my thesis, “Toward a Theory of Family Violence, its antecedents, treatment and prevention”; and all but dissertation toward a doctoral degree at Gonzaga University with a dissertation, “A Splendid Heresy” where I explored the roll of religion in maintaining and perpetuating family violence. Obviously, I did not receive my degree from a Roman Catholic institution where I expressed pride in my heresy.
How do I offend or cause others discomfort?
I know of which I speak in matters of family violence and religion and the things that correlate with them. Religious people take offense at what I say and write, and that is very good. I want to rattle some cages. I have some mighty heretics from the past to look up to.
Heretics burned at the stake, hung, or drowned by religious people:
Marguerite Porete (1310) burned, author of “Heresy of the Free Spirit”, France;
Joan of Arc (1431) burned, heretic, Rouen, France;
Wendelmoet Claesdochter (1527) burned, heresy, a Dutch Lutheran;
Anna Jansz, (1539) drowned, The Netherlands;
Maria and Ursula van Beckum, (1544) burned, heresy, Dutch Anabaptists;
Joan Bocher (1550) burned, heresy, Smithfield, London;
Joan Waste (1556) burned, for refusing to renounce her Protestant faith, Derby, England;
Beatriz Kimpa Vita (1706) burned, heretic, a Congolese prophet.
Well, at least heretics do not suffer burning at the stake, being hung or drowned. I just get filthy phone calls, death threats, and threats to be raped with a blow torch. Just a bunch of religious blowhard ignoramuses.
at least heretics do not suffer burning at the stake, being hung or drowned.
This still happens at least in some countries.
Luara, you write the truth. Barbarism exists, even today.
Joan, thank you for describing more of yourself! And it is entirely consistent with the Joan who I have come to know.
Even though Spokane is on the other side of the mountains, I feel like you are my neighbor. I'm grateful for that.
I feel the same way. I check your weather every morning and imagine you planting a seed in the window and tending to some wilting plant. I hope your day is just overflowing with good feelings and thoughts.