Issues With Christian Dating

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As a recovering Christian who still loves Jesus but objects to large parts of the fundamentalist Christian culture I was raised in, I have some reflections on Christian dating in the light of what’s going on in my personal life.

Most people know that back in ancient times, the 1980s, many people didn’t cohabit. Nowadays for the most part people do cohabit, even if they are Christians. Not so if they fall on the fundamentalist evangelical spectrum, or if they have something to hide.

This makes dating a bit like a high-stakes game of poker. You put on a poker face with the intent that if you bid all, you win all, and you’re able to feed yourself at the end of the night.

In this poker round, you are both the player and your bid. You view your date as the pot. Likewise, your date sees themselves as the player and the bid and you as the pot. What I’m trying to say is, you’re both greedy, hungry, anticipatory, and there’s more than fun and games going on here from the minute you message someone on OK Cupid. You’re objectifying each other. Is this person a good mother? Will he be a good provider? Is he a spiritual leader? Will we make a good home together? What will they give me?

What I’m trying to get at here is that there is no enjoyment of the other person for who they simply are, and there is no fun in dating.

For many high-anxiety types who come from fundamentalist homes, realizing the first time I just sat back and relaxed – or enjoyed myself – was a big deal. I was out of college and hiking on my neighborhood trail. I wasn’t analyzing anything, trying to grapple with hidden meanings, or attempting to ascertain whether I deserved to be viewing nature in all its glory or not. Nature was her own thing. She was cool all by herself. She didn’t serve me. I wasn’t here to get anything out of her other than to see what was up. And, I wasn’t here to persuade nature of anything. I was just walking down a dirt trail, tripping over tree roots, getting sweaty and dirty, purely myself. It was the first time I had done something like this. And I enjoyed it for what it was.

Likewise, I believe healthy secular dating adopts this model. You message someone on Bumble because they seem interesting and you want to see what’s up. There are no wedding bells going off in your head at your first coffee meet up. All this is is a relaxation into a person. If the relaxation turns sharp and uncomfortable, you tell the person goodbye, and you ease on into the next phase of life, whether it involves another person for a while or not.

I’m not saying secular dating is without its pains and pitfalls, because anything involving human beings is messy. But I do believe it has far less dangers than the traditional Christian dating model.

Christian dating is, at its best, objectifying and idolizing, whereas secular dating is far more down to earth and honest. If you want to get to know someone, it’s best to see them as a human being instead of a potential spouse. More open conversations flow that way because there’s less stress and pressure.

I may be writing this because I’ve been burned, but I’ve had other girlfriends coming from fundamentalist evangelical homes echo my sentiments. At the end of the day, it’s up to you whether you want to walk down an aisle blindfolded or slowly acknowledge someone for who they are.

Mental Health Awareness Month AKA My Life: Why I Am Thankful For Every Night I Spend With My Husband

I suffer from an extreme form of fibromyalgia, which gives me constant pain and even worse pain flares, and post-traumatic stress disorder, which can turn ordinary life experiences into nightmares. Because of this living my life is a bit like Russian roulette: you play your cards but there’s always a price, no matter how they’re dealt. You’re never sure when you’ll get shot, either.

My husband and I have an extra bedroom, and during pain flares I often find myself retreating there to avoid skin-on-skin contact. Even worse is when my PTSD is acting up, or when my pain and PTSD are going bananas at the same time. The spare room is my hidey-hole. It’s right next to my office, and it makes a sort of blanket fort.

After beginning EMDR, my marriage with my husband has significantly improved. The best thing about EMDR for me is the use of imagination to cope with daily life. That’s me in a nutshell. If I feel scared by a loud noise, I can escape to my private worlds and receive comfort instantaneously.

I’ve been in a pain flare for a month, and have spent most of my time in my figurative blanket fort. One time the pain got so bad I started crying. I wanted a friend. Anyone who could acknowledge what I was going through.

I plodded through the house in tears, calling my husband’s name. I knew he was my friend. He was and is my best friend. It was midnight, and I was afraid he would come out of our bedroom in a huffy attitude. But I was met with buttery, gentle sympathy. He caught me in a warm, tender embrace as I cried, and I knew I wasn’t alone in this battle.

“Do you want to spend the night in bed with me tonight?”

I didn’t hesitate.

“Yes. Yes, yes, yes.”

We went off to bed and I slept hard, for the first time in a month. I woke up in time for breakfast with him. My pain flare wasn’t gone, but it had abated a little. But I was happy to see his face next to me in the morning.

Marriage gives you a guardian angel to watch over you, someone to fight with you and for you, and you likewise, when it’s a good one. I just needed to remember to reach out. My husband had been shelved by my physical and mental turmoil, and I merely had to remember he was my friend to find peace and solace.

Spending the night with my husband is not something that happens every night, and I don’t think that’s a doomsday marker for my marriage. It’s not because we fight. It’s not because we don’t love each other. We are learning how to cope with my physical and mental ailments together, and we will spend the night together every night as I improve and we both learn to communicate. I have hope and gratitude for us. This is why I am thankful for every night I spend with my husband.

My PIXAR Movie PTSD Metaphor

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You live in a black and white world except for four colors: red, green, yellow, and blue. As you look around in your periphery you see patches of green, yellow, and blue if you don’t have trauma. If you do have trauma, you may sometimes see a spot of red that engulfs your vision. When that happens, you collapse backwards.

Every day of your life you wake up a new person. For every past day of your life you have been a different person tainted with the different colors of that day. Each time you wake, you are a grey, blank slate ready for the day. Your past selves wake too and follow you in a line in chronological order.
Let’s say you and your past selves get on a yellow bus with mostly blue passengers, but you pass a red building. Suddenly, you collapse backward to the person who saw red in that building on one particular day. Your present day self is gone, and you begin to shake.

This can happen for other memories too – perhaps autumn leaves make you see green, and you acquire green for that day and all your past selves with green autumn leaves collapse backwards and you collectively enjoy the leaves together.

See, I always thought people were always more than just who they are when you meet them or greet them for the day. They are moments upon moments of themselves. This is how I’ve tried explaining PTSD to my husband. I think it’s working.

Do you have any PTSD metaphors?

Blessings Keep Falling in My Lap

Another experimental cover.

Today I was asked to send in my resume for a writing internship. I listed all of the writing I had done, and I felt a warmth inside me.

While checking my publications at the Mighty, I discovered one article that received over 400 likes. This is a milestone, as only a few before mine broke one hundred.

I haven’t told the husband yet as he watches John Oliver on his iPad, as is his morning ritual, but I am quite excited. Maybe one day I’ll be a thousandaire in the likes.

In addition, yesterday I was told by Offbeat Bride that I had two more articles I was going to be published by them. As a longtime fan of the website (seriously… I was thirteen) I can’t wait to say I’ll have three articles with them and be part of their bride tribe.

Then there is, of course, my experimental poetry book, It’s Okay, Magic Happens.

My book, It’s Okay, Magic Happens written under my old pseudonym and available for $0.99 or free with Kindle Unlimited.

It’s experimental mainly for the fact that it was my coping mechanism for PTSD over 9 years and I only took the good stuff, stuffed it into Scrivener, and wanted to see if I could make a book. I wanted to see if I could learn a new technology. Friends who had read my poetry for years told me to self-publish for about three of the nine years the poems collected static on my computer.

Right now I am working on a bridal book I hope to get traditionally published. Email me for more info.

I am hoping this internship leads me closer to becoming a paid, full-time writer. But I am still blessed even if I don’t get the job.

The Absolute Realness on PTSD and Marriage

Before Bear and I married, we honestly didn’t know how bad my PTSD was. I knew I had it to some degree, but it was vanquished because I didn’t talk about it. It was simply buried like a honey-badger about to attack our tiny baby marriage from beneath the surface. Does anyone remember that meme?

I remembered how bad my PTSD was when it first started. I would scream in the shower and twist my shampoo bottles across the water. I’d cry randomly in everyday places. Eventually I developed chronic pain once I did stop talking about it. I turned online to vent my fears. But the biggest thing was, the medical professionals denied my PTSD because I kept it under control by staying single for 6 years until I decided to date again, at my roommate’s suggestion.

Once I did, my career spiraled out of control. I began to see and hear things that did not exist at work coming from my male coworkers. There was no way I could work in an office. By the time I quit my job was the time I started going steady with my husband, who had no idea what was actually going on. Neither did I – I thought I had developed schizophrenia.

The same thing would happen at three more places of employment before I gave up and went to grad school, which was a lovely experience. But once I had a new permanent male figure in my life, the craziness exploded again – this time at my husband.

We’ve discovered that letting each other be open and vulnerable even over subjects the other thinks is stupid is the key to getting through our current situation. I’m no longer hearing monsters in the night. Tonight we slept in the same bed for the first time in two weeks. Not because he asked me to leave the room, but because I was hiding. That must have felt horrible to him.

I accomplished two sessions of EMDR this past week, and I think it’s responsible for getting my mind to chill out enough to communicate with my husband. I recommend it for anyone needing trauma therapy. Yes, you can do it remotely.

Warm hugs.

My 1/3 Anniversary

Yesterday, on 4/20 (I did that intentionally) I had my third of a year anniversary.

My marriage has been a fairytale. But not the easy Disney kind. More like the Brothers Grimm kind or the Central Europe kind, where people become disfigured or disabled in the quest for true love. What I’m saying is, you get your magical happily ever after, but magic takes manna and happiness requires danger.

Bear and I have been through a lot over the past four months. Most of it has been because of my untreated PTSD that I’m just now getting treated. I sought help throughout my life, but because I had it buried so deep within me it exploded on my wedding night.

Today I performed a literal song and dance number to express to Bear my feelings about our situation. Then I decided he just needed to hear that he was a good husband, to keep trying, as I would keep trying.

On the day of our anniversary I went into our back yard and picked two of our roses. I put them in the cup we painted together on our first valentines day. I hoped the effect was special enough to override any of the bad juju we’d been through.

When I picked the roses, I noticed how soft and velveteen they felt. I grew up in a literal rose garden. My mother’s yellow roses and my grandfather’s red heirloom roses climbed the walls of my childhood home.
Whenever I see a rose, I am reminded of childhood play, happiness, and my mother’s love.

I had quite a garden as a child, and I grew up exploring the plants and little critters that came with it. But there were always the roses climbing the walls and flower beds.

Bear isn’t giving me a rose garden, but he is giving me a pergola covered with climbing roses once the coronapocalypse is over. We’re going on a road trip to the best rose seller in the state, and I will pick out my favorites. I’lll most likely be a kid in a candy store.

Anyways, Bear, life may not be a rose garden, but it will be a rose pergola with you. Happy one third of an anniversary!

The Safe Man

I’m going to be writing about trauma therapy and marriage again today, because that’s my life right now. This is not a Whiner McBabypants post where I talk about my specific trauma, rather, these are my reflections on life, love, and marriage as a disabled woman.

You know when you just feel sad, and you just want to be sad? Your husband will cook dinner, do the dishes and watch romcoms with you but you don’t want any of it, you want to feel your own pain?

When I look back on my former life as an able-bodied model, I would call myself ungrateful. This lack of gratitude drug into my life as a disabled person, and later as a disabled married person.

Part of this led to walls-up mode. Most people think I wear my heart on my sleeve, but really this is an act of pushing people away by oversharing. If someone really wanted my honest opinion, they’d probably have to cross Jurassic Antartica with added volcanoes to get it.

I finally revealed this to my husband today, with the caveat that for most of my life, I didn’t think people were safe. But when I put his wedding band on his finger, I marked him as someone who was safe. It was my job to get out of Jurassic Antartica and place him in the sunnier meadows of my mind so I could hear him out, and ultimately communicate with him.

I really don’t have anyone or anything I’m more grateful for than him. He finished building a 4 ft tall aromatherapy garden for me today. It’s that tall so I don’t hurt myself by bending over.

Remember, learning to love is just as hard as accepting it!

Product Review: Foster-Stephens, inc White Heirloom Wedding Gown Storage and Preservation Box

Disclosure: Bear in mind that some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a commission. Keep in mind that I link these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of the commission I receive from your purchases. The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.

This past week, my husband found a $100 Visa gift card and did a very kind thing for me. He gave me the gift of a wedding dress preservation box, something I had been dying for months to get.

I loved my dress. I loved it so much I wrote an article on Offbeat Bride about it. But I love my husband more.

My husband and I have been through some real hell. There is no doubt in the medical professionals’ minds that I have PTSD although I’ve been saying that for years in an attempt to get help. It all exploded when I married Bear. I exploded HUGE twice.

I’ve got some major guilt about what I’ve done in the light of my PTSD. But I’ve started trauma therapy (and missed one day due to being extremely ill) and hope that I’m on the path to recovery. Bear is who I want and who I love. He’s who I am eternally grateful for in the midst of all this crazy inner turmoil.

Lately I’ve come to realize that Bear is a human being *GASP* who has dreams, and gets frustrated and anxious when those dreams are delayed or seem thwarted. This realization came to fruition with the writing of my next book, when my beta readers wouldn’t get back to me, finding editors and agents, and not knowing my way around the book world whatsoever.

I mean, I always knew that Bear had dreams, interest, and goals. But the experience of chasing after things most people would deem trivial, such as Master Gardener, while constantly being thwarted by circumstance, enabled me to understand him on a deeper level.

When it comes to marriage, it’s easy to make the bogeyman out of your spouse, but most of the time they have good intentions. At least that’s the case with mine.

Anyways, those are my marital musings of the day, on to the review!

Product Review: Foster-Stephens, inc White Heirloom Wedding Gown Storage and Preservation Box

The Foster-Stephens box arrived in style with a neat color scheme and design. But because it’s a box within a box within a box, the actual box that holds the dress ripped when I attempted to take it out. This wedding dress preservation kit is all cardboard.

The box within the box whose corner ripped.

It’s an attractive box, in a grandma sort of way. Cheaply made and flimsy, we only paid $75 when some kits are over $200. As I was working to put the acid-free tissue around my dress, the cardboard box was bending.

This is the inside bottom of the box where the DIY bustier form is. I could somewhat make the cardboard bustier, but it was too large for my wedding dress as my dress had an empire silhouette. Or maybe it just wasn’t cooperating. In the end I stuffed my dress with acid-free paper provided with the box.

I don’t know how I was supposed to wrap the rest of my dress and stuff my bodice with the acid free paper provided because the pieces were so small. My dress doesn’t even have a train.

The DVD included with the information zip-lock, I just watched their YouTube video.

This Wedding Dress Preservation Kit Comes With

  • DIY Cardboard bustier
  • Window viewer
  • Acid-free paper
  • Cardboard box
  • DVD
  • Instructions with how to watch on You-Tube

This Wedding Dress Box Does Not Come With

  • Muslin
  • Gloves
  • Dress cleaning supplies

Before using this box or any other, you should get your dress dry cleaned!

Overall?

I put my dress in a white box partially wrapped in acid-free paper.

It cost me $75.

If you really want gown preservation, I suggest saving up and going elsewhere, but if you have a case of the poors like we do, this is a box and it does something for your dress.

If you’d like to buy it, try here.

Trauma Therapy: Beginnings

My marriage counselor has been urging me to begin trauma therapy for PTSD for about a month now. I’ve been afraid to because Bear and I have been doing so well and I don’t want to have another meltdown. Then COVID happened, and I was even more afraid.

It turns out trauma therapy is not that hard to begin, but I suggest anyone reading this doesn’t do this alone. Please consult your friendly neighborhood psychologist.

Every Sunday, I write in a journal one traumatic memory. Then the rest of the days of the week, I read the memory aloud. On Saturday I read and process the memory with my counselor and my husband.

I’ve only been doing this for two days now and chose a relatively mild memory to start out with as I’m going through a medication change. I need to come up with a list of things for my husband to watch out for. So far, here’s what I’ve got:

  • Sudden lack of communication
  • Catatonia
  • Not wanting to cook
  • Sudden willfulness in my attitude against him
  • Sudden negative talk about our marriage
  • Use of the ‘D’ word (no, not the body part…)
  • Staying in bed all the time

Although, parts of these do sound like a pain flare, honestly. But parts of these sound like my version of a nervous breakdown.

Overall I’m glad I took the plunge while my husband is working from home so I can be monitored. I’ve been told that doing trauma work could possibly cure my pain, along with switching off of my psych med.

It’s gonna be a wild ride!

It’s Okay, Magic Happens

My book, It’s Okay, Magic Happens, is finally here! Over the course of about 6 years I wrote this collection of poetry. I do believe this is chronic illness related, as these poems are related to PTSD and the general feelings that come with developing chronic pain.
I have worked on this for the past week, so please, give it a look over and a nice rating for me. It would be appreciated.