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All right, my #Exvangelical bbs. I meant to do this a couple of nights ago but life has gotten in my way and it's taken longer than I intended (literally my mantra these days). But I want to talk about stories and community and #ExvangelicalHealing and some thoughts.
When I was still a teenager, in an abusive home that I couldn't even recognize as abusive yet, I came to a conclusion that has stuck with me ever since, and I refer back to it fairly often. See, I didn't know that my parents were abusive, but I DID know I didn't want to be them.
And I had a realization one day - it wasn't enough to know that I did NOT want to be something, to be trying to get AWAY from something. I had to be working TOWARDS something. I think this is true in a lot of situations, and I think it is such an easy place to land.
Especially when you are coming out of an abusive place, whether it's your home or the church, it is so easy to be so relieved you are out of that (appropriately so) and just determined never to be that again. And by all means. I am absolutely in the burn it all down camp myself.
But it's not ENOUGH. We have to know what we are working towards. Individually, but also if there is a collectively, then also that. Right now this grouping of us is so new. So many people have just discovered each other and that's so important. There is value in validation.
It can mean so much to hear that other people have experienced what you have, or to have people that you are walking through toxic theology with. Obviously I believe that or I wouldn't do things like my Dobson threads or my Elliot threads. That sort of thing helps me.
But we need to be talking about MORE than that. Community cannot be formed with trauma bonds. Right now what this community actually has in common is that we escaped something, and we don't even all agree on what that was. And, for the record, we don't have to.
But what I'd like to suggest and invite people into, is that we start talking about MORE than our trauma. That we start envisioning what we even want community to look like. I think most of us know what we DON'T want it to look like, but that won't get us there.
Most of the hashtags that get a lot of traction are us processing trauma. And I am not hating on that or shaming, please believe me. I think all of that matters and there needs to be space for that. I just also think that healing means learning to tell new stories.
Hannah Arendt in her amazing stand-up Nanette talks about how she feels she got stuck telling her trauma stories in a way that didn't help her in the long run. She turned them into jokes in her example, part of her set. She was used to putting her trauma on display for work.
She talks about how in doing that she lost a lot. When we craft a story, we choose how we shape it, we choose what we emphasize, what we leave out. Sometimes we tell it different ways depending on the audience. And again, there is nothing inherently wrong with that.
But if you tell it the same way all the time, you start to believe it. You start to forget the details you never tell. @Ivefledged and I have been reading through my journals and several times things have come up that I've conflated or told wrong over the years.
It sometimes changes the way I view a situation. Sometimes for the better, sometimes not. However you interpret your past and your life right now is valid. You are more than your trauma, we all are. But we are all also in different places with it, this is a big umbrella.
Some people show up brand new out of the church and they are raw. Some people have been out for a while. Some people have been out decades. For all of us, I suspect if you ask us today for our story about our past trauma and in ten years the same question? It would be different.
We will grow, we will change. We will re-evaluate, find different nuance, read different things into it. We'll learn new details. And all of that is fine. But by all means, let's focus on the WHOLE JOURNEY and not just that part. I don't want to just know the bad that happened.
I want to know the good. Which circles me back around to the hashtag. @ErikMKort was the one who suggested it (I have never been very good at coining hashtags). Every week I'm going to try to pose a question, something that hopefully is focused towards #ExvangelicalHealing
That doesn't mean it will all be happy every time, but I want to test some stuff, work on some fuller dialogue. And anyone at all is welcome to join in. Please share your stories, friends. They matter, the whole thing, not just the sad or angry parts (although those parts too).
I have no idea what this community is or will be. I don't honestly think any of us do. I can say that I belonged to an online message board for over a decade that was started as a support board for self-injury and eating disorders. We were all there because of trauma.
There were factions and fights, and all kinds of drama over the years. But I have to say that after a while? The sort of core group of us really almost never talked about SI or ED's except to make jokes. We just had known each other so long that that was an identity factor.
One of my best friends in the whole world is someone I met on that board, I literally don't know who I would be without it. I still am in touch with a lot of people from it (it no longer exists). We were lucky. But I also know community is POSSIBLE, if really hard.
So if you are still with me through all that, you are AMAZING, and this is why I love you all. So I'm going to sign off this thread and do a separate post with my actual question for the week. I hope you'll all join in as you feel comfortable. Sending so much love, friends.
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