and get it out of my head, the dreams will stop. Every night contains them. I wake weary, as if the nightmare has lasted hours and I have not truly rested.
They all start out differently, but end the same. You would think by now I could see them coming. That I would stand up and say, “I see how this is. I know what you’re going to do to me. I’m out.”
But I never do.
Sometimes it begins with choosing the right dress. My favorite hat. Knowing I’m going to a special event; a surprise. I’ve been invited by new friends. They like me. I have a feeling we are going to have a great time. I’m looking forward to it. Sometimes it starts with music. Music that is from another time in my life, reminding me of someone I miss. Music I try for the most part to avoid listening to in my waking life so that I can avoid the memories. The music is playing on a dance floor. But I am not dancing. I’m being forced to watch others dance.
Sometimes she will get up and address me; pick me out of the crowd, the spotlight on my vacant, confused face, illuminating my sense of loss.
Sometimes his family will openly shun me, hiss disappointed words while they glare at me across the light airy space, so festive, ready for the celebration.
And always, always, the group of women who have brought me there, my new friends, will tell me he never loved me. I will try to tell them it’s not true; he did, we did, love each other. He was my best friend. But I cannot get the words out. They brought me here to make me suffer. I suffer.
In every dream, the ending is the same. I have been tricked, fooled, and forced to watch my ex fiance marry someone else. I can never leave the scene. I stay until it is all over and they have left happily. I cannot move until every person there — family and friends who used to love me, strangers I’ve never met, and those mean cunts who took me there— have all left, passing me. Then I do not exist.
He is getting married in a few days. I know this because someone in his family called me four months ago to tell me the date of his union to her, knowing he and I never had any resolution after so many years together. Knowing that the breakup ate away at me for years while he moved on quickly. This person told me I was a terrible person for letting him walk away from me. That I had made a terrible mistake in letting him go.
We cannot escape our subconscious mind, and sadness that has been buried can sometimes only stay hidden in our wakeful hours.
Maybe if I write this down and get it out of my head, the dreams will stop.
This afternoon as I was driving down Rainier Avenue a driver a few cars ahead of me struck a small white dog and kept on going. I pulled over and ran out into the road. I carried him to a shady spot of a parking lot and lay him down under a tree. His body was warm and his heart was beating fast. A witness said he saw the dog run out from his house across the street and chase his family down the driveway and into the road only a minute before. I ran to the house but no one was home. I ran back to the dog. His heart slowed to a stop, and I told him he was a good boy. I looked at his tag. Lucky. Good boy, Lucky. They loved you, Lucky. That’s a good boy. Good boy.
I agonized about calling the number on the tag. A young girl answered. I told her what happened. I told her that her dog died safely and quickly. He was not alone. She thanked me for that.
It was the hardest call I ever had to make.
Three hours later I was walking alone, trying to clear my head. Jesse was home with Ellis to give me some time to myself. I was downtown, on 8th and Pine, when I passed a woman falling to her knees, screaming and stricken with grief. Passerby stared. She held her phone away from her face, sobbing hysterically, gasping. I asked her how I could help. If there was someone I could call. She could only say “My husband… motorcycle…killed on his motorcycle… my son…” Screaming with grief. Sudden loss.
I do not know if her son or her husband was killed. But I held her. Or tried to. She left wet warm spots on the shoulder of my dress with her tears. I could only say I’m sorry, I’m so so sorry.
I’m so, so sorry.
She let go and dropped back to a curled up sitting position in the middle of the sidewalk, so human and yet alien in her sorrow. Her phone still in her hand, the call still active. Someone on the other line. Together with everyone yet completely alone. I wanted to curl up with her and scoop away her sadness, take it on for her and dispose of it. But nothing will bring him back.
I walked home. I held my son and told him I loved him.
Christians say their bible is The Word. Most modern-day believers admit the bible is open to interpretation, and perhaps parts of it are, but there are many clear rules, even outside the Ten Commandments, that pretty much mean the same thing regardless of which language it’s read in. Some things cannot be bent or acclimated to fit modern times, and I feel these Christians who skew the meanings to allow themselves to flit outside of the rules of their faith and still call themselves adherents are dishonest folks and are frankly the biggest reason I am turned off from organized religion. These cherry-pickers expect you to respect their beliefs, and they feign a sanctimonious right to bastardize their holy book as they see fit. That irritates me, and here’s why:
I know if I was absent of any skepticism and prone to being infected with the strong phenomena of “belief in belief”, and had the kind of epiphany religious followers claim to have experienced when they felt the pull of God and married their brains to the word and scripture in the bible, I am certain that I would be downright FANATICAL about it. The stakes are quite high if you subscribe to the punishment/reward aspects of it, even if you were to place the idea of heaven and hell into the metaphorical category that most loose Christians do. The black-and-white of it is that the bible is either the word of God, or it isn’t. There is no in-between. If you are to be judged on faith AND by works, you’d best be following that shit to the letter, because the consequences - even with the whole forgiveness margin - are pretty dire. I’d either be all in, or not in at all. As it is, my skepticism puts me in the latter position, and I’m perfectly okay with that. No qualms about it.
Those people who call themselves followers of Christ and children of God who just go to church on Sundays and Wednesdays while living the rest of their lives being liars, hypocrites and haters are just posers. I can’t stomach that at all. I can’t honestly extend them the respect and tolerance they feel they deserve, because they aren’t who they say they are. I don’t expect them to be infallible; but if you want one shard of acknowledgement from me for being as righteous in your faith as you claim, then you’d better not only talk the talk, but walk the walk, as well.
I have respect for the priests and nuns who swear their lives over to Christianity, who take vows that they actually adhere to, who donate their entire lives and their selves to a life of strict piety and devotion. These people aren’t fucking around, they are living their truth and there is no margin for interpretation of what following Christ means to them.
While I consider it an act of psychopathic murder and wrongdoing when extreme fundamentalist Muslims are willing to strap explosives to themselves and make the ultimate sacrifice in the spirit of jihad and in the name of their god, I can only acknowledge how invested they are in their devout mindsets to actually follow through on what they consider the unerring truth of their religion. That’s not to say that I condone it, or tolerate it, but rather - it helps me understand better the phenomenon of belief, and shows the difference between those who really, truly invest their lives in it, and those who just loosely tinker with religious commitment. I still think they’re wrong, ignorant, misogynistic, batshit crazy motherfuckers for taking lives, treating females like rats, and sacrificing themselves for their god, but I can’t make light of their powerful intentional resolve, because it’s present in how they truly live through it. I can only hope to avoid them, because challenging them with what I consider reason is futile. They’re too far gone.
I most admire the peaceful cloistered monks, who spend their entire long lives taking selfless vows of silence, poverty and chastity. They are actually following their faith in a way that literally defies their natural drives and instincts as a human being. That’s a pretty hardcore belief node, when it usurps your actual physical tendencies as a species.
So when the Christian Right call themselves religious people who “follow” Christ and claim to be doing “God’s work” get in my face with their watered-down version of adherence as they trumpet their allegiance to whatever Holier-Than-Thou denomination they are members of, I immediately write them off as brainwashed jerks, and I can’t even begin to admire them because I know that it’s one big giant ruse. I don’t only know it, but I know that deep down, THEY know it, too.
That, in a nutshell, is the problem I have with most modern-day Christians. I know what kind of world I want to live in, and I know that’s really what kind of world they want to live in, too, because it just makes better sense to have secular laws for the good of the whole while allowing believers and non-believers alike to live in something closely resembling harmony. But these half-assers continue to straddle both sides while not really contributing to either except by way of lip-service and shaming others. It allows the crazies to keep functioning under the “religious freedom” rule, and it works to further prohibit any progress as far as us all co-existing peacefully goes, because it thwarts the efforts of the secular community whenever we’re forced to deal with these so-called Christian beliefs when some slithery underhanded shit is pulled like it was with last week’s Supreme Court ruling. You might be voting with us, or agreeing with us on matters of equality, but if you’re truly ashamed of the bigoted, hateful, exclusionist behavior of your more radical brethren, then recognize that the only thing that keeps them going is that NO ONE has properly called them out on their shenanigans. When they talk the talk, demand them to either walk the walk, or shut the fuck up.