Category Archives: this grrrl’s life

half & half

No words today. Instead, here are two songs that represent the two feelings I fluxed between all day:

Both sides, now

One of the songs on my epically sad playlist is Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides, Now.  It’s funny how perfect some of these songs are to where I’m at right now in my life.

One particular stanza feels especially relevant:

But now old friends are acting strange
They shake their heads, they say I’ve changed
Well something’s lost, but something’s gained
In living every day

I’m on the verge of that lost/gained dichotomy: tomorrow, Jerry is moving his things out to a new place. After 10 years of being a couple, we are no more.

I’m still not really in a place to write or muse about how difficult it all is. Right now I’m dealing with the shock of everyone who finds out we are separated — which puts me in that weird place of having to comfort people who are in disbelief over our separation (while I’m the one who feels so broken about it).

Meanwhile things between us two are quite amicable, and Emma is handing it all so well — which is the priority for both of us!

Anyway, if these NaBloPoMo entries have felt more melancholy than usual, this is probably why. There’s a whole new chapter of my life starting tomorrow.

Off to continue packing.

Therapeutic writing

Screen Shot 2014-11-08 at 10.28.59 AMMy therapist yesterday suggested I start practicing therapeutic writing — which is funny, when you think about it. What has this blog been for me over the last 12 (!!) years but a place for me to write therapeutically?  Of course over the last few years, I haven’t been here as much as I’d have like — life gets into the way, and sometimes it’s easier to send out a quick tweet than it is to write a whole post.

And I’m not quite as honest and vulnerable in this space as I used to be. Again, I guess life gets in the way. The older you get, the more hedged you become, and the less willing you are to open yourself up. There’s too much risk in being judged or rejected for what you say.

That said, I still think I reveal more about myself online than many people do. Despite being an introvert, it’s liberating to be able to write down your thoughts and opinions down and then hit ‘publish.’  To a certain extent, I don’t care if the world knows what my secrets are.

Anyway, I have a feeling I’ll be publishing more secrets and utilizing this space in the coming weeks. Big life changes ahead.

“in Christian Love” #not

So yesterday I did something unusual – I listened to a sermon, specifically a sermon from my old church in Savannah. It popped up in one of my social media feeds, and being the curious grrrl that I am, I had to listen for myself.

The topic was on homosexuality and gay marriage – an issue that’s admittedly close to my heart. I suppose there was a part of me (a small part) who was hoping my past church had moved on past its discriminatory views that I remembered.

Of course I was disappointed.

I chose to listen to the sermon on my evening walk, so last night if you saw me muttering aloud to myself as I walked, now you know why.

The sermon is the last part of the “You Asked for It” series, where congregants wrote in topic suggestions for sermons. The minister delivering the talk is the same one who has been the pastor there ever since I was little.

If you check out the church’s Facebook page where the video is posted, you’ll see nothing but glowing comments about how “compassionate” and “balanced” this sermon is. Part of me is hoping that negative comments about it have been scrubbed, because I have a hard time believing that we watched the same sermon.

Here’s what I saw:

I saw a minister who abused his position of power. I saw someone who knows he is influential in the lives of so many who look up to him and consider him as a spiritual leader in their lives. And yet this leader can in one breath say that he “loves” you, but then quickly turn around to dismiss/discredit/destroy you. That kind of faux compassion is nauseating to witness (both in person and on tape).

[For example, in the midst of his homosexual shaming, there was also some slut-shaming also thrown in for good measure — In reference to his point on “addictive homosexual behaviour”, here’s an actual quote: “girls in every high school in our community are addicted to the attention that sex can bring, and they discover that lesbian behaviour will turn on guys, and they push that button. Like a drug user.”]

Also throughout the sermon I saw this minister cite shoddy research, more than once, to bolster his argument. In the beginning of his talk, there were huge generalizations made about vague scientific studies and psychological findings. The dismissive label of “urban legend” was tossed about when referring to any recent findings of genetic dispositions to homosexuality (though no sources cited to back this supposed legend).

Later in the sermon, as he started to cite specific research to back more of his more odious points, he cited research that was anywhere from 21 to 36 years old.

For example, one of his key pieces of evidence was that “only 1% of the American population is homosexual.”  What wasn’t mentioned is that this stat is at least 21 years old, as it comes from this 1993 NYTimes article.  And this decades-old statistic is the most recent research that’s cited in the sermon!

Other claims and sources used as evidence:

Of course when the pastor cites this research, it was never stated how old these findings were. Just how relevant are these results, decades later? A precursory google search reveals that several of these studies have questionable issues with them, but for someone who’s listening in the congregation, are they going to take the time to follow up on the information that is being presented? It is completely disingenuous on his part to present these findings as relevant facts for people to consider.

But beyond the large amounts of faux piety and substandard research in the sermon, what bothers me the most is the damage it will cause to people sitting in the pews who are in fact members of the LGBT community. Do you know what was the “solution” that was given to these individuals? Choosing to live a life of being single and celibate. Because according to this minister, sex isn’t a physical need, it’s just a desire – so, in order to be an accepted member of this religious community (and by extension, loved by the God of this community), you will need to reject and suppress intrinsic parts of yourself and your identity.

While I’m pretty good these days about leaving religious people alone with their beliefs, this is one place where I have to call BULLSHIT. Why would anyone want live under the weight of this kind of hurtful dogma, especially when there are real-life people who are being crushed in the process?

If there’s a bright side to be found in this situation, it’s this: I am so glad that views like these are being recorded and broadcast. These desperate pleas to maintain religious dogma at the expense of human beings are being more and more drowned out in our society. Having a sermon like this recorded for posterity is important — so when (not if, but when!) it’s a foregone conclusion in our society that LOVE IS LOVE and no government should stand in the way of same-sex commitments, we will be able to pull up these videos and remind ourselves of how hurtful some religious beliefs can be.

I don’t regret rejecting this belief system at all.

Love in The One I Love

Last night I was able to catch a couple movies at the Saskatoon Fantastic Film Festival, including the strangely compelling film The One I Love:

It’s a film that’s billed as being one to AVOID reading reviews of, if only to save yourself from the surprising twist the film takes about halfway through.

I’ve been mulling over that twist for the last 12 hours, so if you want to remain SPOILER FREE, you had better quit reading now.

 

 

 

Still here? Okay, good. Be forewarned that this post will probably make no sense, even if you’ve seen the film.

 

 

So the plot centres around the troubled relationship of Ethan and Sophie, who decide to go away to a retreat centre for the weekend as a last-ditch effort to save their failing marriage. The big “twist” of the film is that the troubled couple ends up meeting and interacting with an idealized version of themselves. In a weird, meta-way, it all makes sense — while being both an endearing and really creepy experience.

Since last night I’ve been mulling the different messages about love and relationships that are alluded to in all interactions between ideal-Ethan, real-Ethan, ideal-Sophie, and real-Sophie.

First of all, it’s interesting how the “real” people found themselves becoming jealous over how much more their partner enjoyed the “ideal” version of themselves.  For example, real-Sophie was so drawn to the ideal-Ethan that it led to many funny scenes of the real-Ethan spying in on real-Sophie “cheating” with ideal-Ethan. And, at one point, real-Sophie feels betrayed when real-Ethan pretends to be ideal-Ethan in a romantic encounter.

Maybe there’s a deeper meaning there – how many times do we feel like the “real” me isn’t living up to what someone else loves as the “ideal” me? Can you be jealous of yourself, and your own (failed) potential?

By the end of the film, it’s revealed that only one couple can leave the retreat centre — and it looks like it will be the “ideal” Ethan leaving with the “real” Sophie.  Though of course it’s not that simple.

Ideal-Sophie ends up confessing that she loves the ideal-Ethan so much that she would rather remain captive with him than see him happily leave with real-Sophie.  Is that love? Is it love to hold someone (and yourself) back?  It’s hard to say whether ideal-Sophie feels this way out of a sincere love for ideal-Ethan, or whether it’s because she’s jealous he has found something she hasn’t.

By the end, real-Ethan makes a desperate appeal to real-Sophie to leave with him, and continue their messy, but REAL, lives.  The ideal-Ethan tries to outrun the others out of the retreat centre, but is held back.  We then see Ethan and Sophie leave.

The final scene is the real clincher.  It’s real-Ethan lovingly cuddling up to real-Sophie in bed, and she goes off to make him breakfast — and that’s when the audience (and Ethan!) realize that this Sophie is the ideal-Sophie.

What does the ending mean? Real-Sophie chose to stay back with the ideal-Ethan (and be knowingly deceived), even though it meant her imprisonment.  And ideal-Sophie chose to abandon the ideal in order to deceive what was real.

So much to think about – and it’s been a long time since such a film stayed with me.

 

I extrapolate my feelings

and I’m pretty sure this song is my anthem:

Of elevensies and almost-elevensies

Today is a different kind of melancholy anniversary for me, as it is for many. 9/11 was a day that changed the world, and in many more negative ways than one.

As cliché as it sounds, it was a day that will always stay with me. On 9/11/01 I was attending classes at Armstrong Atlantic State University (in Savannah, GA).  I remember my English grammar prof suddenly cancelling our 9:30am class and telling us to go home to be with our families. I was 23, and in that exact moment, my American bravado was forever shaken (in turn revealing an ethnocentric attitude I wasn’t even aware I had).

But not only that, due being so shaken up to what happened in New York on this particular September 11th, I finally came to the realization that I was in an unhealthy relationship, and I needed to get out.  So, one month later, on October 11, 2001, I left my husband (of two+ years). To say that this decision changed my life would be an understatement. Not only was a relationship ending (which was painful enough to go through), but then I also became a version of Hester Prynne in my community. Suddenly, due to leaving my husband, I was morally unfit to volunteer to work with children in the church. My family relationships became strained (and in some ways forever changed), and I lost many friends who couldn’t grasp the reasons why I would act so “selfishly.”

Fast-forward a few months later, and on May 11, 2002, I graduated with a degree in English from AASU, and on that very evening I found myself on a plane to start a new life in Saskatoon, SK.

A few years from that point, on December 11, 2004 I started dating a certain Mennonite boy, and two months later, on February 11, 2005 we got married.

Two years later, on January 10, 2007, I nearly had a baby! That was the day of the infamous Saskatchewan Blizzard, when Emmalee nearly made her appearance into the world. (thankfully she gave her mama another week off and came along on January 18, 2007)

On December 10, 2008, I finally defended my millstone of a Master’s thesis. And on January 9, 2014 (close to January 11th!), I was enrolled in the College of Education for my MEd.

I’m not one to be superstitious, but there’s quite a pile of coincidences surrounding me and the 11th day of the month.

Which leads to me where I am on this particular September 11th. Traditionally this is a day I usually mark with melancholy, for many of the reasons I listed above — it’s a day where I give myself some space to think and reflect and remember. This year’s 9/11 shouldn’t be any different, but it is.

I’ve dusted off my copy of Kate Chopin, and I’m rereading her book The Awakening. At one point in the book Chopin writes: “Perhaps it is better to wake up after all, even to suffer, rather than to remain a dupe to illusions all one’s life.”

September 11, 2001 woke me up.  In some ways it feels like another personal awakening is stirring within me on this September 11th too.