How Blogging Changed my Life

This month I have been blogging 11 years and I want to share this post again. Some of you have read it, other have not.

I am having a problem starting this post because if I wrote down everything it would go on for pages and pages.  However, in order for the story to make any sense I do have to start at the beginning.

I was raised by my mom and my (step) dad who were both very accepting of everyone no matter what.  Both of them were blue-collar workers and lived their entire life based on acceptance of all.  They lived, worked and voted their beliefs.  I never heard a derogatory comment come out of their mouths.  I never heard a racial slur or an insult based on mental or physical capabilities, religion or sexual orientation. Even my biological father, who I rarely saw was a man of strong values when it came to acceptance.  He was a Union representative and stood up for those who were discriminated.  Back in the 70’s and 80’s the majority of people in the working force that dealt with discrimination were either uneducated or “non-Caucasian”.  My biological father fought for all of them.  He did not back down.  Even though my biological father was an abusive husband and father he had good qualities.  I believe my outspokenness, my spirit of fighting for what is right and standing up for people who can`t stand up for themselves came from him.

So, what the hell happened to me?  I don’t know.  I really don’t.  I started going to church when I was 16.  I went on my own and my family did not attend. It became my entire life.  (Even as I write this I feel so much shame.)  I basically turned my back on the way I was raised.  I started believing that people who did not believe the same religious beliefs as I did were “doomed to hell”.  I started believing that homosexuality was a sin and homosexuals chose to be gay.  I believed God did not hate them but God hated their choices.

(I am having a lot of trouble writing this.  I feel humiliated but I have to tell this story.)

I went to church and believed these beliefs (among many others) for about 12 years.  Then 9/11 happened.  I got very depressed.  I could not understand how something so awful could happen.  If I voiced my questions of God’s place in such devastation in church I was told not to question God.  But I did.  My outspokenness started getting me in trouble.  From there, I stated questioning everything.  Why did God allow poverty, mental illness, physical disabilities?  Why did God allow the Holocaust?  Why did God allow small children to be sold into the sex trade?  Of course, nobody had answers that satisfied.  I was simply told that the world was a sinful place and all the bad things were as a result of sin.  I could accept some things being a result of sin.  I could not accept things like during the Holocaust babies were thrown into the air and used as target practice.  I could not accept babies and small children being sodomized.  I could not accept all the atrocities.

Over a period of a year or two my faith plummeted.  I prayed daily for answers.  I read the Bible and looked for answers.  I found no answers.  I became very depressed.  In that time my evangelical husband offered no support.  He and I started going completely opposite directions.  During this time our marriage ended.  (There were many issues outside what I was going through spiritually.)

So, here I was single and on my own.  My church friends never called me when I separated from my husband.  I stopped attending church as I found no comfort.  I left church each Sunday feeling worse than when I arrived.  I would drive home and cry.  I prayed.  God was so far away.  Or was God even there in the first place?

It was during this time I started blogging.  I read many, many blogs during this time.  One day I came across the blog of a man that had H.I.V.  His partner had died and he was living with the disease.  I started reading his posts but did not comment. I also started reading blogs of others in his community.  And I saw something I had never considered.  His hopes and dreams were just like mine.  His love for his mom and dad was just like mine.  He grieved the loss of his partner.  He spoke openly about everything.  For the first time I started seeing a man and not a homosexual.  I eventually started commenting on his posts.  Very few of his posts had anything to do with being gay.  It was seldom mentioned.  He spoke about visiting his mom.  He took pictures and talked about travelling. He told stories about his cat and his church. He spoke a lot about living with H.I.V.  And I finally got it.  He did not “choose” to be gay.  It was who he was.  I eventually “came out of the closet” with him and told him what I had believed and apologized to him even though he never knew when I first started reading his blog that I was reading it in judgement.  I asked for forgiveness.  He was deeply touched but one of the surprising things was one of his friends read my comment and it brought her to tears.  She was a lesbian and had been persecuted ever since she came out of the closet and nobody had ever apologized to her.

It took me about 15 years to come full circle.  From a loving and accepting family I became a judgemental, self-righteous hypocrite.  During this time I also asked forgiveness from my family for turning my back on how I was raised.  The amazing thing is everyone accepted my apology and never brought it up again.

It has been a long journey.  I no longer go to church as I still find no comfort.  My faith is what it is.  I have more questions than ever but I do still believe in God.  I am at a place where I have no answers to the problems in the world.  Perhaps I never will.  The difference now is I have so much love.  I never would have got to this place if it were not for blogging.  Blogging opened up my eyes to how other people live (not just homosexuals).  Blogging has also showed me that people of faiths vastly different than mine were amazing people.  Blogging has shown me that there is a huge world out there.  I love that.

Update – I do go to church occasionally now. I consider myself a Quaker which is vastly different than my old beliefs. 

28 thoughts on “How Blogging Changed my Life

  1. That’s really interesting Birdie and very moving – thanks for sharing.. and happy 11th year to you Blogger! x

  2. Thanks for sharing your post with us. I came by earlier when I was on
    break but had to leave and come back now to read it all.

    Love posts that share personal stuff, way better than any other kind
    of blog. Wish you the best.

    Boogie boogie.

  3. What I love about this (and you!) is that your mind is open to the possibilities of change and understanding. So many people do not have that capacity. You need to stop feeling change. Obviously, you needed something in your life and I’m sure that church seemed to have the answers. You outgrew them. That is something to be proud of, not ashamed of.
    I am glad blogging saved your life. It saves mine over and over again.

  4. Well I’m a practising Christian and a transman. Neither of which I talk about much on my blog. This was a very interesting post, it’s great to hear more about you, and what you believe in.

  5. Oh Birdie….I could have writen this post. Only it wasn’t blogging thatt saved my life. It was the tragedy of my beautiful daughter becoming a heroin addict that saved me from the life of religous superioity and pride and judgement. I have met a God of love and acceptance and I pray that my girl can find Him too. Thank you for SO bravely sharing this post. Sharing your heart.

  6. I remember reading this post on a previous occasion. It was a good post then and it’s a good post now. Growing and changing is life affirming and something to always be proud of.

  7. Tears here. I read this post for the first time today. I am moved beyond words. I have certainly made (and still make) mistakes. I hope that I have the courage you displayed and learn to apologise when I discover that I have been unkind.
    Thank you, so much, for being you. Doubting, questioning, and full of love.

  8. I had not read this before, and I am so glad that I did. What a beautiful, honest and raw and revealing post. I understand even better the depth of your empathy — I have always felt you to be a deeply empathetic person. Have you ever listened to “Letting Go of God,” the one-woman show by the Saturday Night Live comedian Julia Sweeney? I think you’d really like and relate to it — she’s hysterically funny and very, very profound.

  9. And so, like most of us, you have gone full circle. However you obviously picked a bad church to attend. Did you know that there are over 39000 Christian denominations in the world today? Plus other non-Christian but highly spiritual religions that cannot be counted. As it says on my blog, “Faith holds us together while religion tears us apart”. You are solid in your search and that is what is important in life. Not having all the answers but always searching. So glad you are hanging in.

  10. I don’t think I’ve ever read this before today (my mind is a sieve) but I tell you, it moved me. There is NOTHING to be ashamed of. When you knew better, you did better and THAT is something to be proud of! Xoxoxo

  11. I was brought up in a strict religious Catholic family, but I had a very open mind. I secretly became a Witch in my teens shortly after my Confirmation. I stopped going to church and left religion behind because I couldn’t accept the one fact that the Catholic church and a few other religions treat women as third-class citizens. It’s so appalling to me and that is why I have left and make fun of religion in my blog. I hope you aren’t put off by what I do.
    Other than that, I need to make the time to go back and read your earlier posts. This post moved me greatly.

  12. Nothing to be ashamed of here. We grow, listen, absorb and evolve. It’s those who remain stagnant in harsh criticism who need to reevaluate more. Fine post, Birdie.

  13. Organised religion never did anything for humanity. I left the catholic church as a teenager and have never gone back. I try to do the best I can because that’s the way I want to live.

    I am sorry you are back in the clutches of depression; it sounds more like unhappiness at the state of the world to me. There is too much evil in this world, often caused by organised religion. We shouldn’t close our eyes to it but also not let it colour our every moment. We can do little to change it but live a good life, hurt no one and practice kindness. We are only responsible for ourselves. Apart from that, practising acceptance of yourself and others, as your family did, has much to recommend it. It makes life a lot less burdensome.

    I am glad that blogging has enriched your world; it is a good place to be and the experiences of other ordinary people can teach us much. It also helps to understand that we are not the only ones suffering our particular devil.

  14. I’ve always said that I believe in god but not religion. It’s when human beings start telling other human beings how god should be that trouble starts. Any religion limits the Big G – and that’s the biggest sin of all. If god truly is everything (s)he has no boundaries. Everything and everyone is part of it. That way the evil things are down to the humans that do them. Oh dear – I think I need to do my own blog post on this or I shall take over your post!

    Remember you are a loving, caring, open-minded person who just lost her way for a while. I’m glad to know you.

  15. … And that is basically why I became a Quaker, too.

    I was brought up by parents who sent us to Sunday School in a Baptist Church but did not attend themselves. I began searching for spiritual meaning in my twenties and thirties and attended several churches. I asked vicars to call and talk to me. Most of them didn’t make an awful lot of sense because it was clear that they were repeating dogma. During this period, a Christian friend of mine (let’s call her Friend 1) switched churches from the traditional Anglican to an Evangelical church – supposedly much more open, friendly, and in touch with the congregation. I went along with her once or twice. Well, an old sad story began to play out: a mutual friend of hers (Friend 2; member of the same church and mother of two young toddlers), was being beaten by her husband and finally got up the courage to leave him. What did the congregation of her church do but ostracise her, saying that it must have been her fault, and that she’d promised to love, honour and obey, etc, and by leaving her wedded husband she was committing a sin! And then an older, sadder story … she began having an affair with Friend 1’s husband, and their marriage broke up, too. And so Friend 1 was also ostracised by the church, simply because her husband had strayed!

    I cannot deal with this kind of hypocrisy. But it was fortunate I suppose, because I ended up at the Quakers and found my spiritual home there.

    Your story is not, I think, that unusual. We are the product of our upbringing – even to the point that we need something to rebel against and if it’s not there, we’ll find our own reason. You could consider yourself to have been indoctrinated by the church into those harsh beliefs. What is important is that you had the strength not only to examine them and toss them aside, but to come out into the open and speak about it, and apologise. I call that very brave, and also quite humbling.

  16. Unlike yourself, I was raised as a judgmental, self-righteous hypocrite. I believed everything that I was taught. I lived it 100%.
    I was in my 30’s before I realized first that I am gay, and second how much of a hater I was. I hated everything. I had no tolerance for anything or anyone that was different than me. Problem was, everyone was different than me. That’s a hard pill to swallow, but over the last 15 years, I’ve learned to accept people for who they are and where they are on their path in life. First I had to accept myself, then I could learn to accept others.
    I’m glad you are finding your way out of the darkness to wherever you may be going.

  17. I’ve popped over from Anne’s blog and am glad I did. I can well understand how this was a difficult post for you to write and it’s so good that your family have taken you back. As for religion, I just said on Anne’s blog, I think that if we were meant to understand why we were here, then we’d understand. In the meantime we need to try and spread the word that caring and looking out for each other is the only way forward. I hate that people hate because of religion.

  18. What a thoughtful post. The blogging community is very supportive & bloggers can truly be caring friends. But it as a 2-way street and I hope you know that you have also been as important to other bloggers as they have been to you. You’ve enriched their lives.

  19. Birdie, I finally had a chance to read your post here after you linked to it to on my blog. What an awesome post. The honesty and emotion is very profound. It’s therapeutic to write and blog. Congrats on 11 years too!

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