#PinkHairDontCare

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So the other day I’m sitting in my therapist’s office discussing one of the most traumatic moments of my life, and kinda laughing it off because it almost sounds silly. I wasn’t discussing being molested or raped- not to say that’s not a discussion, it absolutely has been for many years, in fact, it has monopolized many a’therapy session. So much so that I have blown off other traumatic moments because when you compare them, you kinda can’t top sexual abuse. Well, that was my mainframe, anyway… But let’s not compare apples and oranges…. trauma is trauma. These moments can define you, and they did define me in many ways. I’m working towards living MY life and not basing everything off of my past.

SOOOO I’m discussing the days leading up to my baptism into the (cough* CULT *cough) ICOC. I was 15, it was the summer before I started high school, my parents FINALLY let me dye my hair pink, and I really wasn’t buying “the god thing”. My parents/teen leaders expected me and my sister to go to Teen Camp, and we did… At this point my closest friends had been kept from me for months. You know how I was a bad egg because I questioned, and am not easily silenced. The “church” decided it was better to isolate me… and they were right. Being left out was awful. It didn’t make me believe in god, it made me feel like there was something wrong with me. Like I was broken for not having the same blind faith as everyone else. It came down to being treated badly and either ignored or rebuked, or I could “study the bible” and be baptized and be treated kindly.

At this point, you have to understand that I literally didn’t see life beyond the ICOC. I didn’t dare to imagine it. I was RAISED drinking the koolaid. I felt like it was wrong, but what did I know? I was trained from the get go to believe that this was the only way to live. So when I questioned, I felt like I was “in sin”. It was scary and lonely and confusing. No one sympathized. Even the kids who rebelled still had some sort of faith in god. I was the only one that didn’t. So I told myself that I was wrong, and I should at least try because if I TRY, if there is a god, he will “soften my heart” and I will have my friends back, and my parents would be proud of me. That’s what I did. I studied, (studying The Bible in an ICOC or ICC church is pretty intense. Over the course of a few studies, you have been brainwashed into believing that the only way to achieve salvation is by confessing your sins to someone *who’s going to share with other people*, having a specified discipler and being baptized by someone in the ICOC/ICC. You’re eventually expected to distance yourself from family members that are non disciples.) memorized and regurgitated. After passing the “Prove It” study, my disciplers informed me that I could be baptized by next Sunday, but I had to dye my hair back to a normal color because I was” too noticeable and that’s sinful. God doesn’t like that sort of thing.”

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Remember how I was 15 years old and I had been begging my parents to let me dye my hair pink for like 3 years??? And FINALLY they said yes???? But, guess what, my cool pink hair was sinful. Just like my personality “made the boys struggle” (You guys, I wasn’t even cute, boys didn’t like me. I was awkward and mousy and plain. Flat chested, short… I wore glasses and read books. TRUST me when I say that I was not the girl that “made boys struggle”.) I was infuriated! Of course to be saved I had to conform. After deliberation and prayer, I bleached out the dye, and was dunked into the Pacific Ocean that Sunday. I really hoped my first breath after my baptism would feel like my first, that I would feel cleansed and new. It was a devastating slap in the face to see that I felt exactly the same. Only… pissed. These people have been lying to me my whole life. (I know some of you feel like your baptism meant something, and, OK I’m not saying nothing changed for you, I’m saying it didn’t work for me and it wasn’t for lack of trying.) Never mind the fact that at 15, how much sinning could I have done. I was actually on the more angelic side of the spectrum when it came to actual “sinning”. Realistically, I just wasn’t a bad kid. And after fuming for a few minutes and receiving awkward hugs, responding as honestly as I could when people asked me over and over, “How do you feel?” (probably just to reaffirm how they tell themselves they felt after the baptisms. In fact, I remember asking my best friend the same question before I was baptized, if she felt new, I would, too.) to which I answered, “cold.” I thought, “And I dyed my hair for this?”

Jenna and her rad blue ombre
Jenna and her rad blue ombre

Just over a year later I “fell away”. Afterwards I pierced my belly button, my nose, and tongue. At 18 I started getting tattoos, but I stopped dying my hair. Weird, right? I don’t remember consciously deciding I wouldn’t dye my hair again, but it’s been roughly 10 years and I finally dyed my hair a few months ago, nothing crazy, just blonde streaks. a month or two later I went a little further and went very blonde ombre… kinda dipping my toes in. I remember that feeling, the change every time you look in the mirror. New. Baptized.

And that’s the revelation I had.

For years I have avoided “ceremonial” signals of change. I stopped believing in these big moments that signify transformation.

And then, I decided it was time to dye my hair pink. Why? Because I want to, and I’m an adult now, so piss off! (Yes that was a drop Dead Fred reference) And guess what… I absoFUCKINlutely LOVE my hair! (I especially love that my husband dyed it for me #keeper) Also, we decided that all the kids should rock colored hair, because, why not?

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The God Thing

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For such a small person, I seem to have an overload of “issues”. I am so tired of caring so much! I am in a constant struggle to find the middle ground, but my ego is fighting for black or white. I have always been neutral about religion, it doesn’t sound like it sometimes, but in reality, believe what you want. Who am I to say what is what? No, personally I do not believe in the Christian god, but I have friends and family who do. I love and respect them, and am thankful for their hearts, and convictions. Besides certain literal inconsistencies, my real aversion to Christianity is people. I grew up saturated in hypocrisy. Not everyone involved was as harmful, but for a child to grow up in such a huge group of liars, you can imagine my discomfort with Christians. It was embedded in my brain for my entire childhood, 2 years old to 16 years old, that this “church” was the ONE AND ONLY way to God. A god I had no real concept of. God is a very difficult concept if you think about it. Actually for some, it is a very simple concept… God is a security blanket, a reason for everything. Humans are constantly wondering “Why?” and if the answer is “God.”… there is no further reason to search. For some reason The God Thing never fit right. I know people who are so comforted by the thought of God, but here I am, here I have always been, feeling uncomfortable, confused and alone. I know all of the arguments, I studied The Bible, I went to church, I was even baptized, which is shocking, I’m sure to those of you who know me (I can even walk into a church without bursting into flames!).

So, if my question is “Why?” and the answer is “God.”, then my real question is “HOW?”

I think I know what God is. And the answer is simple, the journey to achieving “God”… not so simple.

God is inner peace.

You might hate that I over simplified the master of the universe, and there is no need to get offended. I’m not saying you’re wrong. In fact, I’m saying you’re right! If you’re thoughts on your god comfort you, if you are able to give your problems to your god, if you are able to “let go and let God”, then your god is inner peace. I know religion tells us there is ONE GOD and ONE WAY and ONE CHURCH, and there are rules and guidelines. In that case, what I’m saying can’t possibly be true, right? OK, well, I want you to know that you are probably right. Which one of you? Which religion? Which god? I don’t know, but someone has to be right, right?

Or we can just say the truth, we don’t know, which is true, and we may never know. But for the sake of my health, I’m going with inner peace. I’ve tried the traditional god, and then I gave up. I gave up on all of it, I spent years being lost, angry and lonely. I’m ready to find Peace now.

For as long as I can remember I have been attracted to yoga. I love breathing through the discomfort, and stretching every muscle. I love that you have to focus on breathing only, (even though I have horrible balance and have to sometimes focus on balancing). I love how quiet and peaceful yoga is. Lately I have found a lot of comfort in yoga, and thanks to beginning to read Eat Pray Love, I have been inspired to learn more about it, which, honestly is what sent me on this mission to find Peace.

The first interesting thing about yoga is that yogis use/used it to help them meditate. When you meditate, you are supposed to sit still and focus on nothing, clear your mind… this is not an easy task, I have tried and failed many times. However if you are sitting for hours in one position your back is bound to get sore, and it’s hard to clear your mind when you are in pain. So, if you practice yoga, you strengthen your muscles, and massage them, you stretch them out, and you feel great. Then you can sit for a few hours in one position and focus on nothing. And by nothing I mean God and by God I mean Peace.

This is where prayer comes in. I have a serious unnatural fear of prayer. I mean I am flat out distrubed by prayer. I feel anxious simply thinking about praying. My heart is racing right now as I type because prayer freaks me out! You’d think I’m writing about spiders! The funny thing is that I believe in the power of prayer. I have read studies and witnessed miraculous recoveries, I believe in prayer, but I cannot bring myself to do it. For a log time my reason was that I don’t believe in god. Obviously I was not about to pray to something that I don’t believe exists. So that should really be the end of my prayer debacle.It’s not… because prayer works. I believe prayer works because people put so much positive energy into the universe, and energy is powerful, even more powerful with solid faith behind it. So many people pray, to so many different things, and everyone seems to think that whoever/whatever they are praying to is “the one” because they all seem to work. This makes me think that everyone is praying to the same “thing”.

But why can’t I pray???

It must be my ego, my shattered ego that can’t stand the thought of being burned by faith again. There was one other time in my life that my ego wouldn’t allow me to do something… My ego would not let me fall in love. For years I would not let go, I would not let my walls be broken, or even cracked. I kept my relationships on the surface. I could not be intimate, or honest. My ego was protecting my heart because we had been shattered to pieces , and the healing process took years. I had been so naive, and I paid the price. I guess The God Thing is similar, I was just as heart broken by my church as I was by a boy. I learned my lesson. I am so glad that I found my fiance, and that I finally did break down my walls with him. But it was scary, and a long process. It was humbling. My ego didn’t like it. So it makes sense that my ego is fighting longer and harder for my faith.

I want to pray to the universe, I want to feel a connection to the world, I want to put my faith out there, and believe in affirmations. I want to let go! To let go of negativity, to stop fighting the world, to stop fighting myself. These things are scary for me, it’s scary to type, it’s scary to say. I know I should ask the universe for inner peace… but I can’t yet. For some reason I’m not there. I’m scared of the answer.

OH PS: We got married in August 2013!

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