In My Bones

Spirituality has always been in my bones. The idea of god has always been there, like the breath in my lungs. My child self-took all things concerning god very seriously. My parents and grandparents taught me that church and god were the most important things. I craved acceptance and approval. I feared hell and being separated from god and my family. What if they were all in heaven and I was alone in hell? The god of my child/young adulthood was an angry god, plus he kept score. Later I would come to understand that I was already separated from god. He was up there, and I was down here. He was perfect and I was hopelessly imperfect. He was bigger than life and I was nothing but a grain of sand, nothing really in the grand scheme of things.

I prayed often when I was a child. During my childhood, I worked hard for the church. I was the captain of the bible quiz team for many years. I could memorize the King-James like no other kid in my church. I showed up for nursing home ministry, Sunday school bus route, youth choir, and campus ministry. If there was a bible camp I went and I also attended a Christian school. Basically, if the lights in the church were on I was there. Did I mention how real hell was to me? I feared it, but what I feared the most was the rapture.

One of my earliest memories is about the rapture. Our church featured these horribly graphic films once a year. They were supposed to get people scared so they would join the church. I started watching them when I was three. So for about 25 years I was subjected to this over and over. By the time I was an adult there were 4 films in the series. These films showed people being beheaded by guillotine, not really sane for small children to be watching. In my day-to-day life, I feared what small transgression might keep me from making the rapture. It was mental and emotional child abuse. We were encouraged to ask god to forgive us for known and unknown sin. This idea kept me awake at night. I would sleep with my mother for weeks after watching these films.

I stayed a Christian until I was 28 years old. When I was a child I wanted to please god because of fear. As an adult, my drive was more towards approval and acceptance. In all of the years, I never felt accepted by god. We were a poor family. My parents were not really equipped to be parents. I was taught that if I had the faith of a mustard seed I could move mountains. So I would pray, pray for food, pray my mother could pay the light bill, pray my molester would go away, pray my parents would be sane and healthy, pray and pray and nothing ever changed. How could this be? I was trying hard to be sinless, and I had faith, or did I? Maybe I thought I did, maybe I was just fooling myself, maybe I did not really believe. Maybe my best attempts at belief were not enough, maybe I was beyond saving. Could it be that god had rejected me? Maybe I was unloveable, unsavable, and unable to have enough faith. He (god) was either ignoring me, or he was simply saying no to my requests.

God might say no, or at least they taught me that. Suffering made me more christ like, closer to god, suffering fostered strength. I was molested by a man in our church for two years. I was 11 when it all started. Even that was supposed to be a lesson. What had I (at 11 years old) done to cause him (a 31-year-old man) to “fall” into sin? God allowed it to happen, I had to believe it, it was the only thing that made sense. He has his eye on the sparrow and he knows the number of hairs on my head. Surely he saw it all and did nothing to stop it. My young adult self-blamed myself and figured it was somehow my fault, I was rejected.

Is it any wonder that I married an abusive man? I stayed in that relationship for 12 years. It was physical, mental, and emotional abuse. When I finally got up the courage to leave, I was told I could not break free. My deacon told me that the bible only gave me one out. If my husband committed adultery I could leave. Adultery was the only reason one could divorce in the church. He said he understood that my husband was a bully, but you cannot argue with god’s word. I could physically separate but I could not divorce. At this point, I had a restraining order against my husband. My deacon kept calling me and trying to talk me into going home.

Something in me shattered. I had no fucks left to give. I had prayed for 12 years that things would get better between him (my husband) and I. God was silent. I was broken and I told god exactly where he could go. I was done trying to be good enough. I was also done asking him for help, in my mind he was a sadist, watching but never acting. He would watch me twist in the wind and never offer so much as an ounce of help. Hell sounded better than serving him one more day. So just like that 28 years of striving to be accepted ended. I liberated myself. Later I would learn I was just at the beginning of my return of Saturn when all of this started. Within a couple of years, I got divorced and completely changed my cosmology. Finding Paganism changed my life for the better in so many ways.

This is how my feet were firmly planted on the road to becoming a witch…