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Bethany G. Paget

Midwife of words

Month

June 2014

Them – a guest post from Jamie Bonilla

Jamie and a met through a writing group I was once involved in. She and her husband were driving through Colorado last summer and needed a place to crash. Boom!

Jamie is one of my kindred spirits. In fact we began our dreadlocks on the same night in October. The full moon.

This woman can also blast out some poetry.

city screams
pour through smoke rafters
as i look to a sky
hazed and unjust
the ache
is in ‘them’
and not ‘us’
and how can ‘i’ know
what ‘they’ must feel?
i can only assume
it is what we all feel, sometimes

alone
unsafe
stuck

maybe mine is metaphysical
(and excruciating)
maybe theirs is physical
(and excruciating)

what conversation would it take
to hold each other’s pain
close
to witness
the stressed fabric
about to pull apart
knowing we can’t fix it?
what would it take to be
human
together?

My beautiful friend Jamie
My beautiful friend Jamie

Batter my Heart – A guest post by Brekke

I met Brekke like I meet all my new friends – Twitter.

I’m on vacation this week and wanted to leave you with some poetry. Since that’s what I’m into these days.

Batter My Heart

Batter my heart, three-person’d God…

Rip, crack and tear asunder
those glass walls that I have foolishly
erected in the hopes of salvaging my salvation.
Those pains that quake across the plains
of my chest, my ribcage, my uterus
take those clenched-fist, teeth-ground tremors
and explode open the canal to my heart.
Displace my joints, stretch me wide, welcoming
your new life in me. Shudder my soul, Oh
God, expand me, rend me beyond all recognition
and labor in this human body a new beginning.

_____
Italics quoted from John Donne’s Holy Sonnets​

Brekke blogs at http://www.reluctanttheologian.com/

Sons of Anarchy as Family

“Riding through this world all alone
God takes your soul, you’re on your own
The crow flies straight, a perfect line
On the Devil’s Bed until you die”

 

I have been watching Sons of Anarchy.  I originally tried it months ago but one of the opening scenes was incredibly triggering and I had to turn it off. I decided now would be a good time (or maybe not) to try it again.

I am finding that I love it.  I realize it’s dark and there are themes that are terrible for some people.  But I love it.

And I figured out why.

Because they are all about family; protecting family, loving their families and making sure that justice is served.  I know in real life that family is probably not a biker gang but there is something alluring about it when you have never had a nuclear family.

I did grow up with my parents but I wouldn’t call us a family.  It was them, my mom, step dad, brother and sister…….. And then there was me.  I was always on the outside looking in, feeling like I didn’t belong and at times being told I don’t belong.

I didn’t have protection; my own parents were my abusers.  Anyone I turned to for relationship or safety either wasn’t in the position to take that on (teachers) or they were not people who stayed in my life for a long time.

So watching this show and seeing (albeit illegal and reprehensible at time) the way they love and protect their family and those that hurt them.  I’m thinking in terms of, though what they do is dangerous and illegal; they love their family and they show them by protecting and always having their back.

That’s where the allure is. It’s not to be a biker’s chick or be a part of a family that beats the shit out of a drug dealer for selling crank to his pregnant ex wife.  It’s to be protected and loved.  To always have someone watching my back and protecting me if I when and if I need it.

I know that I cannot always be protected.  I see this in my own life now that I am responsible for protecting myself and Abigail.  As an adult now of almost 33 I still long to be protected.

I gather that most of it is about having someone to stand up; to advocate for me and honestly, deeply loving me.

I don’t doubt that there are people who love me; I am experiencing a gigantic part of that love now as I sit here writing this post from a beautiful front porch with my coffee.  There is still that griefs that it’s not love from my parents I am receiving.  It’s the love of a community of people who have banded together as a tribe of hooligans to love each other.

The hard thing and trite as it may be but you cannot truly love anyone else until you love yourself, for me that includes sitting in the freshness that I am also deeply loved by God.  Seriously, try sitting for 30 seconds and mediate for 30 seconds on the fact alone that you are DEEPLY LOVED by God.  It’s mind boggling.

So Sons of Anarchy; will I keep watching?

Probably, I have enough warnings from people to know when it starts to get dark.  For right now its how I am witnessing and processing each episode with my own grief.  It’s incredibly painful but so necessary.

As Always,

Bethany

Truer Words Have Never Been Spoken

Coming up with a cheesy one liner doesn’t seem appropriate for this.

When the person who decided to report me to CPS took a random chunk from my blog about how I cannot take care of our basis needs ie: grocery store and pharmacy. It was totally taken out of context. To the blog as a whole and to that specific part of my life.

The premise of the blog was “feeding your neighbor” it was part of Esther Emery’s link up for April.  What I wrote about was that, without a car it makes it the things like going to the grocery difficult.  Yet in that very same blog I explained how we have all these awesome people who give us rides.

This person completely missed the point,

I explain that to the case worker and explain that reading the whole blog would help.

The basis for the investigation is that I don’t provide Abigail’s needs, such as food and safety.  Well food we’ve got and stocked cabinets.

The questions of my safety and mental health sting more than others.

When discussing my mental health I get very passionate about how I was treated growing up.  Thrown into therapy and on meds as a young child.  I apologized for my defensiveness and I explained everything to her.

The person who filed also mentioned my suicide attempts and cutting.  As if they are active things I am taking part in.  I almost laughed.  I haven’t even thought about either of those since 2005.  Again I was honest, but whoever it was they don’t know me because I am open and honest about those parts of my life.

I am open and honest about my past.  There’s no reason not to be.

My past is checkered and marred with abuse, neglect, being abandoned more than once.  I have made huge changes because of getting off of drugs and finding my identity as a child of Christ.

And then I got pregnant.  My life was altered.  I have shared this many times.  Our lives have been difficult for the last two years and getting on our feet is a struggle.  But I have known more joy, more peace and more intimacy with God.

He has been faithful, always.  So have the people in my community.  The women that were a part of the writing community I belonged to that raised the money for Abigail and I could go to Austin for thanksgiving.  Coming home our suite case was stolen from the baggage claim in Denver.  I had EVERYTHING in it.  These ladies pulled together and sent money, replacement items and love.  Always love.

I feel demolished in spirit especially after checking myself into the psychiatric hospital so that I could get myself straightened out after I was raped.  That was done out of love for myself and Abigail and to have that questions as I attempted suicide, that’s why I was really there.

I can assure you it’s not.

I have a feeling no matter who is it, it will feel like a betrayal; because whomever I shared those words with; I shared them because I openly trusted them with where I was at in life.  And we have had some rough year.

Now I feel like I cannot be as open and unfiltered as I was before and that makes me sad, its part of who I am.  I am the goofy one with the funny stories.  I have serious stories to share also; that is why I started my blog.   I plan on continuing to write because of this:

Bethany,

I stumbled onto your blog & just completely fell into it. This is no exaggeration– I was up until 4:00 a.m. this morning reading (& re-reading, in awe) your posts.

Your voice, your tenacity, & your courage are remarkable. I’m just at a loss for words to express how very beautifully your heart shines through your writing.

Although you didn’t ask, I would like to contribute to your Portland trip. How can I make that happen? Do you or your friend Rachel have a PayPal account?

I’m a middle school Special Education teacher, so I’m not exactly flush with cash, but the portion of fishes & loaves I do have are a blessing from above, & they are meant to be shared. His grace & abundance are meant to be multiplied, right?

Thank you for sharing your heart. I hope for you an outpouring of grace & peace, & safe passage for you & A on your journey.

Jini

Then yesterday morning I got this email and it caused me to realize why I tell and will continue to tell my story.

As  Always

It was only a sip

*TRIGGER WARNING*

I had lost my words right?  Everyone heard me say it.  Blogging felt dull and when I did blog it took me 1-2 weeks to get it done and posted.

Then I was raped and spent a week in the hospital and ALL the words, probably other people’s words too started flowing.  I am thankful they let me keep my journal because I wrote so much.

I had a hard time writing about what actually happened and I didn’t want to.

However the poetry, oh the poetry.  I wanted to dance around that my words came back.  I would have except that might have earned me an extra week 🙂

Here is another one I wrote.

One sip

Black as night

Clothes tossed to the side

My soul screams

You took something

My memory

You used my body

I couldn’t fight back

You left me naked on the bathroom floor

Ashamed

Dignity now in the toilet

I remain numb

Indifferent to your choice

Except you did not take my voice

As Always,

Bethany

 

As Always,

Bethany

Then There was Hope and Portland

If you have been reading my blog than you know that the last three weeks have been painful; no one expects to be sexually assaulted and after it happened I didn’t know what to expect.

I have said it before that I dealt with my childhood trauma and subsequent adolescent and adult sexual attacks with drugs and alcohol: I refuse to do that this time.  I have amazing support including a great therapist and outpatient resources to help.

Where I’m at internally is a different story.  I have reverted back to my childhood trauma surviving states.  I carry my hyper vigilance with me and if it were a quiver full of arrows and I am ready to shoot the first threat I see.  I jump at every noise and I am scared that he is going to come to the apartment.  So really we need to get away.

A few days after the assault happened I was chatting with one of my dear friends who lives in Portland and she offered us a place to stay for a couple of weeks and food if we could just get there.  To me it seemed like Portland would be a good place to relax and heal and working on getting my bearings straight.  I also eventually want to move to Portland so this was the perfect time also to go check things out.

I started looking at the tickets to take the Greyhound and they were $247 round trip.  I told Rachel there was no way I could afford that and that I was going to start praying for money to fall from the sky.  I was admitted to the hospital that afternoon and lost touch with everyone however when I was discharged a week later I found out she had raised $205 plus another $80 from a friend of mine.

Now I honestly don’t know who these loving, blissful people are but they have gone above and beyond what my heart could have imagined.  I feel loved, so loved.  Abigail and I have been loved like this before but this feels different for some reason.  Maybe because I am still struggling so much with the sexual assault and I suddenly think that everyone around me can see it on my face.

As we were talking last night and she shared with me the final details with me I was blown away.   The giving from these people that don’t know me at all gave of their hearts so Abigail and I can have some rest.

We leave next Wednesday the 18th for Portland and will be there until the 27th and then we are going to drive with her and her son to White Fish Montana and stay there for a week ish, then come home.  I am ecstatic.  I have never in my life taken a spur of the moment trip like this, especially one that is fully about relaxing, healing, front porch sitting and dreadlock fixing.  I am excited about getting away from Colorado for a little bit.  I am getting serious cabin fever and every time I am home I remember when happened (that which I am able to remember)

From my heart I also believe a little bit that getting away is my own kind of vindication and justice.  Since there is nothing in the judicial system they can do here (all evidence is circumstantial) from the beginning my going forward was about empowerment.  Empowerment for me in this rape to “NO, what you did was 100%; it was also about all of the other abuse I have gone through.  And though they weren’t there to investigate that, going forward gave me the voice to say to each and every person that took something from me abusively that what they did was wrong and that I was going to start standing up for myself.  Since there is no prosecution for any of those cases I am taking care of myself and my girl, taking control back of our lives and taking us somewhere healthy.

I do realize that when I come back that everything will still be here but like my therapist says if I take care of me and my (*Parts) first then everything else falls into place easier, even with and for Abigail.  She’s been off kilter as well.  It’s usually because we are bound together so tightly spiritually that she knows I’m off balance before I do.  My going into the hospital was incredible tragic to her.  She didn’t know where I was or what was going on.

All I could say was that “Mommy went to the hospital so she could get better and be a better mommy and a better Bethany.”  She hardly asked any questions but that’s how she is.  The silent type, when it gets to be too much she explodes.  That’s why I am hoping Portland will be good; there will be things for us to do.  We won’t be stuck in the house all day AND there will be other kids for her to play with.

The clincher is that when we get to Montana there will be horses.  That is pretty much all I had to say and she started drooling.

If you are reading this and are one of the people who contributed THANK YOU.  Your love is very clearly felt and I appreciate this gift deeply.

I can already feel like a transformation is going to happen.

As Always,

Bethany

Holy Table

This poem came out of my experience with leaving the evangelical church.  I attended a women’s bible study and over the course of three years these women loved me like I hadn’t ever been loved.  What I soon realized is that they loved the fake Bethany and the Bethany that they wanted me to be.  When my faith shifted and I started sharing new ideas, in excitement because I wasn’t relying on anyone else for the information, they promptly shut me out.

 

There is no longer room for me

At your perfectly lavish table

Told once I always welcome

It is the banquet table of God yes?

Now my name slips past their lips as if there were a death

Lips that used to speak love

Hearts that said I was one of their own

Now I have walked away from the God they see

As I have found Him on my own

My seat has been taken by a rule follower

And I am no longer welcome in their banquet hall.

As Always,

Bethany

Echoing Notes

I wrote in my last blog post about how I checked myself into a psychiatric hospital after being raped.  I was allowed to keep my one smaller journal because it wasn’t a hard back.  There often wasn’t much to do and I had so many painful emotions so I did the only thing I knew how to do.

Write.

And that I did.  I wrote several poems, most need some refining and tuning but this one I fixed up this morning and wanted to share it will you my loyal supporters and readers.

 

The song had a refrain that sang a melody of grief

A sad harmony

Longing for peace

Graceful at the piano she sat

Her fingers pouring out poetic notes

When words failed

And no one understood what pained her

She grieved though the pounding music

And felt the tears fall as her soul poured louder with each note into the echo of her heart

As Always,

Bethany

My Feminist Heart

Feminism didn’t come easily for me.  I fought it tooth and nail because everything I knew about feminism was “bra burning liberal flaming left wing anti birth women”  How wrong was I and I am saddened by the fact that I turned around and tried to spread these legalistic beliefs to others because in my core I believed them to be true.

When I became a Christian my new baby Jesus heart was told I had to be a republican, I had to hate abortion and homosexuality was definitely something to abhor.  Life now was all about America the beautiful and how God was going to bless us because we were a Christian nation.  Now that I followed Jesus my blood was filled with bright red blood, guns, Jesus and America.

The liberals and feminists were here to take over our God Blessed country; and we were to do anything we could to stop them.  I memorized Romans road and had my evangelism speech down pat for whenever I came into contact with a “non believer.”  Can I let you in on a little secret?  I could not go through with it.  IIt did not seem right to walk up to a stranger on the beach and ask “do YOU have a personal relationship with Jesus?” it was awkward and felt staged.  Why was I supposed to be “winning souls?”  They always paired us boy/girl just in case it needed to be explained fully.  Had I known better I would of walked away; but I didn’t.

I feel like I was a prime candidate for the “salvation Stepford Wife” sort of experience.  I came from severe abuse, I was a drug addict, alone and pregnant.  I was open game.  I don’t lay blame or think that any of the early teaching was done with Malice (some was) I think that there are generations of misinformation and poor theology that no one corrects or stands up to.

It makes me sad to write all of that out because I know that I alienated so many people from my life simply because I felt my beliefs were right and there’s were wrong.  They were going to hell because of their non belief and I was going to heaven.

I have written several times about my faith transformation and how it started with Twitter and reading progressive Christian bloggers.  When the word feminism came up I’ll admit I had a pit in my stomach because there were still those old submissive, patriarch strings attached to what I believed.  I also still took everything Paul said in the bible word for word.  I think now that it was one more thing that I was scared of changing.  Of letting go of more ties that were binding me to a false faith that kept me handcuffed to one way of life.

Submissive to a man, with my only worth that of a wife and a mother.  When I started hearing words like Egalitarian and mutuality I was struck by the giving and the taking of both spouses.  How the “traditional”  roles were set aside and both parties worked together.  That was one thing that struck me.  What completely pulled me to the other side and caused my “YES I’M A FEMINIST” flag to go up was reading Rachel Held Evans book A Year of Biblical Womanhood.

No longer did it scare me to say that I’m a feminist.  Every chain dropped off of me like I was a prisoner, wrongly accused of a crime and now being set free without notice.  My beliefs about woman leading and preaching changed, I saw how much Jesus saw the women he spent his days with and ultimately how God loves women and how the basis of faith is to love, regardless.

I hate that one of the hardest parts about leaving fundamentalism unlearning and rewiring all those old thoughts and beliefs.  I spent six years hearing that women aren’t this or cannot do that.  I often get that heavy feeling in my gut when approached with a new idea or if I am speaking with someone on a topic related to women.  I know it’s not my core, Jesus self that feels that way it’s the lies that wrapped themselves around my brain like a spider web and now need to be cut loose.

 

As far as stories in the bible that show me that Jesus was the ultimate feminist is when the woman who was bleeding crawled along the ground just to grasp onto the hem of his robe.  He felt the power go out of Him and He asked who touched Him.  See here’s the thing, He’s Jesus; He already knew who touched Him.  He wanted to stand her up and allow the crowed to see this woman that He noticed, that He had touched and healed.  He wanted to crowd to see that He loved her above measure.

That’s the Jesus Feminist I know.  That’s what led me to seek out more of what feminism means.  It does not mean bra burning and pro choice and gun hating like the stereotypes from the 60’s and 70’s read.  There are those that carry over yes but far and wide it means equality for all people.  It doesn’t mean that women are to be elevated above men and that every feminist wants to see men down graded to a lesser position, at least for me it doesn’t.

I am a feminist because I spent way too many years having my body be used and abused.  I was owned and called property.

I am a feminist because I am the only one who gets to say what goes on with my vagina.

I am a feminist because I was raped three weeks ago and was afraid to report because I did not know how the cops were going to treat me so I told my female friends first.

I walk the road of feminism because I want my daughter to grown up in a world where she can go to church and see a female pastor who can preach the Word of God to her.  Preach it to her with love, grace and peace just like anyone else.  I want to her to know that she can do anything, be anything and be an equal wherever she goes.

It is sad to me that there are so many churches that see and treat their women as substandard and limit them to certain positions because of their gender.  They are told to be subservient to their husbands, to ask him first before making any decisions and to keep their strong emotions under check.  What happens under this belief system is that abuse and neglect get covered up by submission.

I am a feminist because I don’t want to be told that I am emotional, dramatic or strong willed.  Those things are not inherently bad, nor are they character defects.  They are a part of me, a part of the way God intricately put me together.

I see feminism as an open door to important conversations and not just within the church.  I believe, or hope to believe it a bridge builder when it’s brought with love and grace rather than conceit and embittered attitudes.

I am a feminist because first I am human, second I am a woman and third I follow Jesus.  A Jesus who loves, notices and regards women.

As Always,

Bethany

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