Monday Club — An American Christian Mini-Post IV
After almost two weeks of posting, reading DMs, and working to create content for social media myself, it had become evident that I was starting to feel it.
Writing about everything that happened all those years ago, while healing, has also been a massive burden. My mind has ebbed and flowed through different topics, causing old, buried memories to resurface. I’ve been elated and riddled with anxiety almost always. I am by no means stopping, but it would be ignorant and dangerous not to consider the toll it has taken on my mental health.
The day before writing this, I received a phone call that currently needs to remain anonymous. I learned an incredibly disturbing story about someone else who used to attend my church.
I’ll openly admit, I completely lost my cool. I don’t recall ever feeling so powerless and tumultuous at once. I wanted to scream, and I wanted to inflict pain. My blood boiled.
When I had some time to myself later that evening, I got in my truck and drove to an empty park. I sat in the cab, music as loud as I could manage, and screamed. I yelled until my voice cracked, and I almost puked. Then I kept yelling. A mix between The Cancer Bats and Rage Against the Machine punished my eardrums. The sound coming from me became guttural and non-sensical. Then I kept screaming.
I had needed to feel the pain of others mixed with my own, and that night I did. My blind rage turned to uncontrolled sobbing. I sobbed until I started laughing maniacally until I could cry again. I turned my music down and began to gather myself.
I was remiss of all the prayer meetings in GTC. The sanctuary, dark, Jason Upton hammering through the church’s sound system. A team of people feeling, with urgent intensity, the weight of other’s burdens. We screamed and yelled until our voices cracked, and we almost puked. Then we kept yelling.
We prayed in tounges as loud as we could, beat the floor with our fists, and declared victory.
There’s no denying that there is a sort of power in that, whether you believe in it or not. People speaking in tongues is no different than holding a mantra in your head. You begin to meditate, and you connect with those meditating around you.
One is loud, the other quiet.
After gathering myself, I listened to Charlie Chaplin’s speech from The Great Dictator. A speech I’ve to listened to so many times I’ve memorized it. His words have wrung true since they were first delivered straight to the camera in 1940.
When I got back home, I meditated and calmed my mind. I carried on with my evening, but as I laid down to sleep, anxiety began to creep in.
Around 2010 I developed a severe panic disorder. After figuring out what was happening to me, I sought psychotherapy and began working on fixing my broken brain. Ten years later, I’m writing this, still, as a form of therapy. My anxiety and panic are directly linked to my experiences in church and GTC/Master’s Commission. Its grip on me has only weakened over the past decade; I’ve worked hard at eliminating it.
Medication, therapy, transcendental meditation, cannabis, creative work, and a litany of other practices have helped me, but it’s never truly gone away.
When the anxiety began to overtake me, I had a vivid epiphany; I’ve treated my anxiety like a blighted forest over the past decade. The land was poisoned because the trees were diseased. I began clearing the forest, limb by limb, tree by tree.
Every tree in that forest represented a painful memory. A time when my chest sank into ice from hearing the words of an abusive church leader manipulate my mind with forced guilt. Every limb of that poisoned tree was a time I was able to say ‘no more, fuck you.’ To that memory.
Soon, I was cutting the trees down like an expert lumberjack. The problem is, I couldn’t plant anything new; the forest was still full of poisoned stumps. Much less dangerous but still rooted in the earth.
This writing project has been stump removal for me, and I have a lot of acreage to cover.
If you are a survivor of abuse of any kind, please find someone you trust and tell them. Then find a way to get therapy. Do not let your abuser hold power over you.