Cliché blog title and topic, oh, I know.
This is a lament.
I’m feeling more whole, more happy. The California sunshine is stretching me out and caressing my soul. I’m not so curled up tight all the time. I can breathe better. I don’t wake up every morning with that feeling of “oh shit” anymore. Not every day, anymore.
I want to untangle myself from this world — I want to write about books that make me happy, about ideas, about things that enchant me. I want to tell you about yoga and baking and writing process.
People here ask me about my story and I hesitate — which version to tell them? If I tell them true, tell them gory, I get stunned silence and gentle recommendations to move out and beyond this world.
They’re right. Writing about abuse in the church, about theology and faith and church and conservative homeschool communities and purity culture: it’s a small, small world. It really doesn’t affect most the rest of the universe. It’s really insular, cramped, self-absorbed.
But then, too: this morning, my day off, I got two calls (before I got my coffee!) about Christian communities in which sexual assault has been ignored to the point of blatant abuse of power. Two communities that haven’t made the news about these issues. Yet.
I didn’t sleep well last night, and this bleary-eyed grief over this stuff is compounded by my own personal sense of healthy boundaries that’s emerging. The stronger, the more whole I get — the further removed from that world I become — the more blatantly horrific these things appear.
And I realize how insane all this sounds to everyone outside of this little blogging world, how appalling it is that these abuses occur. But I still get calls about girls who are afraid to use their real names when they tell their stories because they are afraid of Christian leaders attacking them for speaking out.
How insane is that?
Why are we here? How obvious is this, and how is it that we could not see these things for so long?
Fuck everything, is all I can manage to say, half the time. I hear these stories and I hear the shame and the fear and the massive amounts of cultivated codependency for the sake of crowd control, and that’s all I’ve got. Fuck everything. Here we go again.
The anger turns numb because the abuses are too common. Fuck everything, here’s another story. Another leader. Another frightened soul. That leader steps down, but another story comes to light.
When will it be done?
7 thoughts on “Burnout”
Thanks for writing this Hännah. I have days when it feels like railing against fundamentalist abuse is the only thing in the world, and then I stop and realise how much of the world is outside there, and I wonder how I got so zoomed in on such a tiny thing. And I have other days when I am writing about things that seem so obviously wrong, that I can’t help but feel “Why are we even having this conversation? How is it even necessary to write this post in 2014?”
What you’re doing matters. But you matter too. I’m glad California is doing you good.
I haven’t experienced the kind of abuse you are referring to in your blogs, but I have been abused by the Church in other ways, particularly by uninformed, well-meaning people, such as when I was counseled by a highly respected couple in my church to stay sexually physical with a husband who practiced adultery on a regular basis with countless women. The wife’s idea was that he would find it easier to stay faithful. As much as we hate to focus on all this abuse of church leadership, it is real and needs to be exposed.
I know this may sound crazy, but have you considered writing a book about all this? I’m thinking that God may have a way for you to minister to countless women this way. It would also help you to purge all of those negative feelings, as you have been doing in your blog, in order to bring further healing for yourself. The book could focus not just on the abuse, but the healing process that you and your friends have been going through. This is just a thought and you would definitely want to bring it to the Lord for confirmation, if you think it is a good idea. I think you were talking about going to grad school and doing a thesis on the use of patriarchal language in the church, or something to that effect. That could be the first half of the book and the second half could be on the healing process….just brainstorming here…but, perhaps, such a project could also help you to be able to turn your focus to other, more pleasant, things.
Thanks for posting this. I absolutely know that feeling – I’ve felt it and continue to feel it when I work on issues of gender-based violence overseas. Sometimes it feels like the violence, discrimination, and abuse never ends. You save one child, and ten more abused children pop up.
The thing is, you’re making a difference in the lives of people who’ve been abused by the Christian community and are helping impact dialogue about abuse in the church. Being a voice for the voiceless, even if it seems like you’re barely making an impact and the work never ends, is so important. Every life you touch and help has the potential to affect other lives that have been impacted by violence and abuse in the church. You might not see the initial impact you’re making, but in the long run, you’re making a huge difference.
Continue to take time to meditate, cook, write (including non-blog related things!), swim, do yoga, and detach yourself, though, from all of this. Sounds like California is a good place for you!
Hännah, I can’t claim to know this world entirely, but I think I get it. I see it from a bit of a peripheral point of view, having spent my teenage years being raised by someone who was strictly religious for her own agenda (i.e. an aunt who thought that being “saved” along with all of the Pharisee-like appearances would make everyone in our community forget that she’d committed adultery with a married man and had two kids by him). I had purity and being a “Good Christian girl” shoved down my throat so many times that even now at nearly 38 years old, I still sometimes question my own choices in clothing, music, entertainment, reading, associations with people, and personal pursuits based on all of this “programming”.
I know what it’s like to blog from such a niche world. I’m autistic/ADHD and I blog about neurodiversity in both poetry and prose. Some days I say the word and I get the look: “neuro-what?”. It’s sometimes hard to explain these things to those who aren’t from these worlds. But, as I think we both know, there is a reason why we do what we do.
I think every little word that we write to make a difference is worth it. I think your words expose light to darkness, and truth in the face of contradiction, conditioning, and lies.
And personally, I wouldn’t mind reading about your yoga and baking. 🙂
Hännah, thank you for standing up for us, for fighting these battles. The longer I lead a “normal” life the more I realize how utterly fucked up my QF, Gothardite, Homeschooler childhood was. And every time I stumble upon a new realization, it hurts– it tears apart my soul. Sometimes I feel like I’ll never recover, let alone be able to change these systems of abuse. I admire your perseverance, your courage.
Yes, and it is somehow healing and beautiful for the simple fact that it connects us with each other, breaks down the isolation we spent so much of our lives in. My own “utterly fucked up…QF, Gothardite homeschooler childhood” left me feeling like an alien in this world. Most people can’t handle my story, its sad but comforting to know I’m neither alone nor crazy.
I don’t follow blogs, I certainly don’t comment on them, but I’m making an exception here. I feel the need to let you know that I will be following. Thank you for your openness.