Feeling better

So I got my mmj prescription and I have been eating a lot more. Which has been very helpful for me – I have lots more energy & feel better & sleep better.

Another helpful thing is the support of my family. They have been very very validating about how horrible things were for me, and they have helped me with little things like getting extra food for my fridge. And just providing company & support.

And my friends – two of my buddies came over yesterday and we played disc golf. And they are all deaf, so we could all just chill and sign with each other – I like that; it’s less pressure for me than spoken communication.

And my animals – my roommate has an extremely energetic border collie / lab mix that I play with in the dog park & pet, and I have a cat who comes to curl up on my lap/chest and purr while I scratch behind her ears.

Later on today, I’m gonna go to class. I like the structure of school and the predictability of the teachers & students – though it can be tough sometimes for other reasons. (For example, I love literature, but I hate the way that English departments romanticize mental illness that caused authors to suffer – like Sylvia Plath etc.)

So yeah things are looking up. I mean I still got a ways to go but things are looking better.

triggering jokes

so i have been kinda thinking about which religious jokes trigger me and which don’t. i laugh at some of them but others just trigger me way too much.

so i found a good example of a religious “joke” that triggers me.

the person who reblogged it said:









Indeed it is.If that’s wrong, I don’t want to be right.

i just… hate seeing people think that this shit is something that was made up. that people don’t actually believe it. the clueless people who laugh at this have no idea of the horror that signs like this hint at.

i don’t know, i just feel angry, almost, at stuff like this. like – don’t you know that adults actually do tell children this shit? that adults build rules that confine children into these controlling, extremely restrictive environments?

like okay it’s fucking terrifying to be told that you yourself are basically evil incarnate for having a sexuality. shit like that. ya know.

i can kinda understand if another ex-religious person from similar circumstances uses stuff like this as a coping mechanism. i personally can’t use humor to cope because it’s too triggering to even think about this shit much less laugh at it, but i can see how it’d help someone else.

personally i prefer satire. i like humor that comes from people who genuinely seem to have gone through this shit, too – humor which makes fun of fundamentalism in such a pitch-perfect way. like the facebook post about the “evil liberal professor” who makes his students worship karl marx


There is much debate about whether medical marijuana helps out with PTSD or not. I do not believe that there is one ‘right’ answer – I believe that PTSD is so complicated that you should talk about it very openly with your therapist.

What complicates it is the fact that marijuana is classified as a schedule i drug, which means that *we can’t even study its effects*! Because of its schedule i status, it is next to impossible for researchers to obtain cannabis and answer questions like: “Does teenage mj use put one at risk for developing schizophrenia?” “Does mj addiction exist? If so, what are the mechanisms so that we can treat it?” “Does marijuana alleviate symptoms of PTSD and Parkinson’s?”

Despite all that, the evidence seems to be that marijuana helps with some symptoms and hinders with some symptoms. It helps with things like lack of appetite and insomnia, but it does not help with the dissociative tendencies.

Since I live in a medical marijuana state and I currently should be eating four times – or more – than I manage in a day, I had a serious conversation with my therapist about mmj. I honestly am scared at how my body is wasting away.

i explained that i DO NOT want a strain that is more of a ‘head high’/dissociative. (i smoked a sativa-heavy strain last week and i freaked out a ton because it was so freaking dissociative) it is just that i should be eating 4 times as much as i currently am, and i currently sleep for like 3 hours per night. i just want to smoke, get super-munchies, and fall asleep. i want to be able to nourish my body so that i can do things like exercise.

my purpose for getting an mmj card would be to (a) purchase mj in a safe and regulated environment (my dealer has a scary alcoholic roommate – this is the city that has more dispensaries than starbucks; i shouldn’t have to deal with that) and (b) to ensure that i get a strain that gives me the effects i want.

many medical patients only smoke a little bit until they get the desired physical effect – then stop. i have a one-hitter. that’s what i plan on doing. i don’t plan on getting fucked up and losing myself in a haze of cannabis smoke all day because the trauma is too much. which, unfortunately, i’ve seen people do. and, like, the stories that my ex had about growing up in a street gang – well, why do you think people in gangs smoke so much weed?

my therapist said, that’s fine, you’re an adult, marijuana is part of life – we will work towards you learning how to eat without the marijuana, but for right now, that’s fine.

she specified, don’t smoke while you are processing through the events and writing your story of the event(s). don’t be high while you are in therapy. you want to connect to the event, not dissassociate from it more. fair enough, that makes sense.

so i have a consult appointment to get my red card next tuesday. ptsd is not covered, but chronic nausea (which i have been experincing) is a covered medical condition in this state.

it’s looking like it’s ridiculously easy to get the card, especially if you are over 21 – you don’t even need medical records if you are over 21! i hope the ‘regulate marijuana like alcohol’ amendment passes so that we can stop playing this charade.

anyway, i don’t foresee any problems in getting my card – and i’m looking forward to being able to experience walking into a nice safe dispensary so that i don’t have to deal with a “proud alcoholic” who stacks 50 pabst cans in a pyramid. i look forward to chatting with a friendly person behind the counter who genuinely cares about getting me medication that will help me eat/sleep.

Religious/emotional Abuse

I feel very fortunate that I never heard this from my parents, but 99% of what made my situation so fucked up was being surrounded by people who came from homes like this.

Like – some of us teens came from loving homes, so we were able to kind of tune out the Crazy that was coming from the preachers’ mouths.

But I could see in some people’s eyes and the way that they acted – this is simply an extension of the horror that they face every day at home.

It was really sad and horrifying to make friends with people who did not feel like they would ever be able to escape it all.

And to make friends with people who had been suffering through that abuse for so long that they walked around with glazed eyes and embraced Jesus Christ only because they were genuinely too terrorized to learn of other alternatives.

And I get angry when people think that Carrie’s mom in Carrie by Stephen King is an exaggerated caricature that couldn’t possibly exist in real life. I’m just like, “Don’t you know what the world is really like?”

Flashbacks & disassociation

I was thinking about the Event and I realized: I can remember so many details, even though it happened almost ten years ago.

I remember that the verse that she forced me to read was on the left page, second column, second paragraph from the top. I remember that it was about 1 inch, 1 1/2 inches, from the end of the Bible. I remember the fake-leather texture of the book.

Then I started actually smelling Bible paper and I could feel the fake-leather texture in my hands again.

It was not a full-on flashback in the sense that I was actually back in that room again, but it was still a pretty… unique experience, shall we say.

But now I know why I’ve always had this adverse reaction to Bibles since that event happened.

Then, over the course of a few days, the rest of the memory came back.

At some point, when my SUDS (subjective unit of distress scale; 0-100) is lower than, like, 85 (which is where it currently is) when I think about holding a Bible exactly like that – we are going to do exposure therapy with that. But, right now, my SUDS is too high – you want to start exposure therapy with something around 50 to 60.

The day after I had this flashback, I also experienced a smell-flashback: Bible paper. It was so strong that I felt like clawing out my nose to get the smell out! So I grabbed the nearest strong-smelling thing – drakkar noir – and inhaled deeply. It was much better.

In addition to male cologne, the scent of eucalyptus also helps to ‘ground’ me.

I have been working on my dissociative tendencies with my therapist, and I told her about eucalyptus. She had me buy a bottle of essential oil for ‘homework’ and told me that, whenever I start to disassociate, I should put a drop of eucalyptus oil under my nose and write down the last thing that I remember before disassociating.

It has been helping. I honestly have been disassociating for a very long time, since childhood, really – so sometimes it’s hard for me to see why it’s such a bad thing. But the goal of PTSD treatment is to “connect” to the traumatic memories and integrate them into your past, so that makes sense.


I have finally been able to cry and have it be okay.

For the longest time, it was very difficult for me to cry.

That’s because, during my Event, one of the people who was escorting me (I had to be escorted everywhere I went after they found out I was gay, as if I was contagious or an active danger to others) saw that I was trying very hard not to cry. Well, okay, what actually happened is, I was staring off into space and in kind of a dissociative state. The tears were somewhere behind my eyes, but I wasn’t ‘there.’ I was dissociative throughout most of the experience – it was a defense mechanism.

Well, my escort looked at me with this expression of pure, utter disgust and hatred, as if I was dirt, and she was like, “You don’t have to be strong.” She said ‘strong’ as if it was a dirty word.

So then that made me cry.

From then on, it was extremely difficult for me to cry. I always felt like someone would be completely disgusted with my inability to be strong. As if they would judge me and get some satisfaction out of watching me break down.

I started to be able to cry again a few months ago. At first, it was somewhat retraumatizing – I cried at my job.

(My job was a ‘trigger situation’ because I had several religious coworkers, and one coworker in particular had this screamy-voice that sounded too much like other screamy-voices at that camp. I once listened to her yell at my Catholic supervisor because Catholics are “not really Christian,” which triggered me really badly. My coworker and I would constantly be like, “why is she even allowed to do this job” – you could see how easily she triggered our clients, many of whom suffered from C-PTSD and things of that nature.)

So I cried at my job during supervision. (In social work, you check in with your supervisor every week to make sure that your emotions aren’t getting in the way of your job.) And my supervisor was very into the strict Catholic gender roles, so she kind of reacted to me with disgust – as if I was a weak man for crying, therefore, I could not be counted upon to take care of the clients.

So that was difficult to have to be retraumatized like that.

But then I began to cry at home. No full-on sobs or anything like that. Just tears streaming from my eyes.

I don’t know, it really is kind of healing.

One thing that also really helped me was having a super-manly man in my cohort talk about how crying helped him cope. We were at a training where we discussed secondary trauma, and this young man who is, like, the picture of society’s ideal masculine man – with a full-on beard and tons of body hair and interests that revolved around sports and a beautiful girlfriend and just a general masculine energy to him – told us that he would put on a sad movie and start “sobbing like a baby” after work. He said that this helped him cope with what he saw every day.

It was just amazing for me personally to hear such a masculine man say something like that. It really reaffirmed what I already intellectually knew: It’s not a sign of weakness to cry. It is healing. Men can cry.

Atheism & Asatru

I have long been a huge fan of atheism. It personally helps me to cope.

There is just something comforting about being able to logically order the universe and to have the past belong to the past – like, the Big Bang created everything. But you have no obligation to worship the Big Bang just because it made everything, and it isn’t a conscious being that can make judgments. Likewise, it’s comforting to have a prediction of the future that is based upon logic and observation rather than delusional fears and fantasies about Jesus Christ swooping down and gathering his favorites before God smites the earth with pestilence.

I also do NOT feel like, “OH MY GOD THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO GOD AND IF YOU SAY THERE IS, THAT THREATENS MY WORLDVIEW!” … I simply feel like the whole question of God is completely irrelevant. And it’s like – when you’re an adult, it doesn’t matter that you don’t believe in Santa Claus anymore because you have learned that he actually symbolizes the love of your parents who give you gifts. Your world is not devoid because you do not believe in Santa Claus.

I was an atheist at the time of the Event. They were able to get through to me enough to kind of instill a Pascal’s Wager flavor of agnosticism in me: better believe in God just in case a wrathful angry being truly is out there.

Looking back, my first atheist partner really helped me to heal. She was very outspoken about her beliefs – “There is NO God!” and lightning didn’t strike her down or anything like that. Her example was great.

I thought about Asatru for a little bit, but it doesn’t really comfort me in the same way as atheism. Though I do love things like its emphasis on rebirth and renewal in the Ragnarok story. And I love the Poetic Edda – it really makes a ton of sense and stuff. And sometimes I feel like I understand it better than the stuffy Oxford professors who wrote the footnotes at the end of my particular edition of Poetic Edda, lol.

But, I don’t know, just the whole idea of the gods and goddesses being out there somewhere. It’s not something I can personally relate to. It seems like something that would once have helped my ancestors make sense of the things around them, but isn’t as relevant to the modern world.

That is just my own personal opinion. If you believe in Asatru, great. More power to you.

Don’t get me wrong, there are wonderful Asatru followers, like my uncle, who find that it does help them make sense of their personal world. For instance, my uncle – who is severely mentally ill, to be honest – owns his own house, and he is so proud of being able to do that. He sees caretaking of the home and hearth as one of the things that gives life meaning, and Asatru expresses that value system.

But some people on the Asatru path seem like even worse assholes than fundies. I am fucking tired of going online and then reading Angry White Teen Male anti-Semitic white supremacist bullshit, like, “Jesus is a weak passive skinny Jewish ass – OUR Gods are brave enough and courageous enough to FIGHT BACK!” It’s just like… *sigh* children.

So yeah. Atheism ftw.

“PTSD Time”

A typical symptom of PTSD is a distorted perception of time, which I am calling “PTSD time.” “Losing time” is common, and I’ve talked to people who experienced sensations like time speeding up when they got triggered. And, it sounds weird, but sometimes I forget what age I am.

Flashbacks also tend to mess with your perception of time. I personally have had only one full flashback so far: she was standing there, holding out her box of tissues. That was when she was super nice to me after she lied to me and told me that she had called my parents and they were extremely upset at me. After that, that’s when she quoted the Romans verse about homosexuality.

What they did in the cult – and I’m now convinced that it was a cult, because I remember things like the leader telling us that God had personally blessed him with that land, and he made us do things like chant “We love [name of group]” – was so damaging because they really manipulated me. They did everything they could to cut me off from my parents and my support system and to have me bond to them as the new support system.


Anyway, I haven’t had many full flashbacks, but I definitely have felt that same type of fear and helplessness, as if I am in that situation again. Rationally, I know that I am in 2012 and that nothing threatens me, but I’m still terrified to go outside.

And I guess there’s some disassociation – whenever I walk somewhere like the grocery store, it’s like that scene in Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring when Frodo stares at the tunnel of trees and it stretches out just before Sam snaps him out of it and Frodo and Sam dive into the tree’s roots to hide from the ringwraith. It’s hard to explain, but it’s almost like the world is bigger somehow and I’m smaller somehow.

It’s also like American Gods by Neal Gaiman, when they go “behind the scenes” of this world. They slip away from this world and into a different reality – although I should clarify that I don’t literally dissociate and “go to a different place.” Some survivors do, especially in the case of C-PTSD, and it is a perfectly normal process to work through, but it is not something I have experienced yet.

Anyway, in the behind-the-scenes world in American Gods, time passes normally. But then, when they re-emerge, one character notices that a month has passed and he is surprised because it felt like they were only there for a short time. It’s kind of like that for me sometimes.

It’s also like the Norse conception of time:

Perhaps the most notable difference between modern thought-patterns and those of the ancient Norse people relates to the concept of time and being in relation to time. Modern Western culture has adopted the Greco-Roman view of time as past (that which has gone before), present (that which is) and future (that which will be). The Norse/Teutonic way of seing time is not threefold, but twofold: time is divided into “THAT-WHICH-IS”, a concept encompassing everything that has ever happened – not as a linear progression, but as a unity of interwoven layers – and “THAT-WHICH-IS-BECOMING”, the active chaning of the present as it grows from the patterns set in THAT-WHICH-IS. For the Norse mind, all that has been is still immediate and alive; the present only exists as it has been shaped by the great mass of what is, and the future only as the pattern of that which is becoming now should shape and turn in.

This is… exactly how I feel. Like time isn’t quite linear, but like the timeline of my life kind of goes and reconnects with itself and stuff. Imagine that you are looking through those “interwoven layers” instead of being at the ‘peak’ of the “great mass of what is.”

I’m over my mini-Asatru phrase, by the way. I thought about it, and atheism is still the value system that personally brings me the most comfort. Asatru doesn’t really help me to cope in the same way that atheism does. But that metaphor of time rings true.

Black Christians

I do not know very much about black churches in general, but in general they do not trigger me despite the fact that they tend to have a Protestant flavor to them like the traumatizing variants of Christianity that I was exposed to. There are exceptions – individual black Christians may trigger me, and individual white Christians may not trigger me – but this is a general pattern I have noticed.

My Event involved only white Christians – I was trying to bring up a memory with a single person of color in it, but there were none. Every single person there was white. White supremacy and cultural appropriation was all around me during my Event. Like – people seemed genuinely surprised that the native american tribe that their activity group was named after had once existed and was not simply a myth. Even though we were on that particular tribe’s former homeland! So, personally, I am triggered by white protestant Christianity, especially white supremacist, more than other flavors.

I feel like there is a stereotype of the Angry White Atheist who goes around telling black people that they are stupid for worshipping God. And that’s, unfortunately, true a lot of the time – there are a shitload of racist-as-fuck white atheists. For example, white gay people who think that homophobia from black churches are the enemy. Which is not true at all for several reasons. And, given the historical trauma that the black community has gone through – I can see why black churches would be important to some people in ways that are different than white supremacist churches.

(Unfortunately, when I tried to explain that I don’t get triggered by black Christians to a previous therapist – a white woman – she had this instant reaction and cut me off before I could put my swirling feelings into words. I think she thought I was racist because I wasn’t colorblind. Which, I don’t know. My personal gut tells me that that’s not the case, given what I have been through, but I don’t have an objective person to check me on that. I’d appreciate a PM if I’m talking about all this in a wrongheaded way though.)

In general, religious people who are non-triggering for me see religion as part of a culture or as part of one’s individual spirituality, rather as than this one size fits all solution that the entire globe should adopt. For this reason, Shirley from Community can actually be a little triggering at times, even though she is a black Christian, because she has that latter attitude and is rather evangelical about her beliefs – but she is a genuinely good person otherwise that I am overall okay with her. And it seems like Christianity genuinely does comfort her. It’s complex.

Evangelical black Christians exist, but there are many people who are in church simply to hang out with their neighbors and perhaps to express their individual love for Jesus. And like – sometimes black churches are the only “safe” place where the community can gather. (Safe from white supremacy, I mean.)

When I went to a “feed the poor” event at a black church and saw afrocentric history books in the pews alongside the Bible, I realized that that particular church is one of the only places that teaches afrocentric history, period, in this area. I don’t know how common this is in black churches, but seeing that made me even less inclined to say, “that church shouldn’t exist.” It adds immense value to some people’s lives. I am an outsider, but black churches seem like they are a relatively “safe place” from the horrors of white supremacy, now and in the past.

I do feel like it’s a little screwed-up that black churches are sometimes the only “safe place,” but that’s because white supremacism has forced that to occur in many communities – historically and today. It is not black people’s fault for being “gullible” or whatever bullshit Angry White Atheists decided to spew today; it is our fault for forcing black people into the extremely controlling environment of slavery so that they first had to pretend that their religion was Christianity. Then, when so many years passed that the religion truly was Christianity, church was still the safest place in the area, the only place to escape the White all around – but still not 100% safe, as evidenced by things like the Tuscaloosa bombing. So, it is not my place as a white atheist to tell black people whether or not to go to church. That’s an internal issue within the black community.

I wonder if there are many fundamentalist black Christians out there? I cannot see how fundamentalist Christianity Southern Baptist style would be remotely attractive to any black person, especially given things like the long history of the interplay between the KKK and white churches. The southern baptist website says that they condemn racism, but pfft, what bullshit.

And, lol, my first google result when I tried to find “black fundamentalist Christians” was a white fundie dude saying that he has never heard churches preach race-hate, even in “mixed” congregations, therefore, liberals unfairly vilify fundies. eyeroll.gif – I guess that that answers my question. It’s odd how I can read the word “liberal” in other contexts in my own voice, then, when I read it in the fundie context, I hear how people back there said “liberal” – with so much hate loaded into that word.

But yeah, when I think of black fundamentalists, I think of religions like fundamentalist Islam. (Which definitely is not mainstream Islam – not everyone wearing a hijab is a religious extremist ffs!!!) Which, you know, it’s such a hypocritical double standard. Why do we vilify fundamentalist Islam halfway around the world when we have fundamentalist Christianity right here in this country doing so much damage. Now and historically. After all, most KKK members were Good Church Men, and still are. Let’s get our shit together already before we try to change the world.

Millennialism and white supremacy?

I wonder how much the idea of millennialism is tied to white supremacy. That correlation is something that I have noticed in white fundamentalist Christian churches.

Like – it’s not an inherently white supremacist idea in and of itself. It comes from zoroastrianism, in part. But the Nazis co-opted it – Hitler’s Third Reich was supposed to be a millennium-long reign and Jesus Christ would swoop down and help them out.

So, after WWII happened, seeing people who believe in millennialism is very suspicious. Sort of like how the swatsika or Odin’s life rune once meant something different, but then the Nazis appropriated those symbols for their own sick and twisted use. If you saw someone wearing a swastika in Salt Lake City, you would assume: Nazi. Likewise, I personally tend to assume a correlation being a white supremacist and believing in millennialism.

I am thinking about my Event and realizing that not a single person of color was there. And they were extremely big on millennialism and “the holy war” on terror (eg brown people) and that kind of thing. Which is… rather fucked up, looking back.

It may sound weird because I personally am not the direct target of white supremacy, and I don’t want to claim that I went through the same things that a person of color would have, but learning more about anti-racism is really helping me on a personal level make sense of things. I learned from experience that white supremacy and patriarchy and heterosexism and cissexism and cultural appropriation all feed into each other to create a giant fucked-up system of fucked-up and that you can’t disentangle one from the other.

I think that working through my trauma will do a lot towards helping me gain a more grounded, balanced, nuanced perspective on race issues and what my role in them is.

I feel like I am rehashing some of what I have already discussed in this blog, but it is important for somebody healing from trauma to allow themselves time and the space to cover the same ground over and over again. So this is my post.