I am in a tornado.
Or maybe I am the tornado.
It swirls around my limp body, tossing it back and forth, up and down. I reach out for relief, try to grab hold of something to ground me. But the tornado is too fast and too strong. The winds swirl, debris cuts my face, I gasp.
Occasionally, the winds die down and I swirl slower. I get a glimpse of calm and float for a moment, enjoying the reprieve but skeptical of its permanence. And then a storm comes and I’m caught again.
No one is there with me. There are people below, yelling upwards, trying to tell me what they think and how they feel and sometimes it feels good to be noticed, nice to know that they can witness my situation from the outside. But the people are as powerless to stop it as I am and many of them believe I deserve it.
I didn’t do enough, not enough of the right things. I didn’t think the right way.
The tornado swirls faster.
I didn’t believe what I was supposed to believe. I didn’t smile and submit and sit back enough.
Spinning, spinning, and dizzy, yelling into the nothingness for some kind of relief.
It’s my fault. I brought this on myself. I must have, because that’s what everyone tells me. It’s what the church tells me. I did something wrong because the default is peace and if I’m not feeling peace, it’s me. It’s me. Not them. It’s me. I’m the tornado.
It’s not the institution that gives every bit of its godly power and control to men and tells women they are ungodly for wanting it. It’s not the lies it tells about its origins, stories completely fabricated or so sugar-coated you think you’re eating cake instead of crackers. It’s not the members who judge anyone who isn’t as orthodox as them. It’s not the lack of real choices, real consent. It’s not the marriage that definitely has to be between 1 man and 1 woman (unless God tells the men up top that multiple women is totally fine). Definitely not gay marriage though. Heaven forbid.
But it’s me. It’s me creating this tornado and if I just had enough fucking FAITH, I could make it stop spinning.
If I could change everything about who I am. That’s what the winds tell me. It’s not enough to be me. I must change, they say, because who I am is. not. enough. Who I am doesn’t allow me to be happy in this church but that’s not a good enough reason to leave. There is no good enough reason. There never will be.
I cry, not deep sobs, but silent tears, the kind that are afraid to come out because admitting to the sadness might be too much. As my lifeless body continues to swirl, I can’t admit that I’m sad because that’s not peaceful and if it’s not peaceful, something is wrong with me. Not the church, but me. I’m the problem that needs to be fixed. A problem that shouldn’t be fixed anywhere but the institution that created it.
But those tears escape my searching eyes and flow freely into the tornado. And then I let them because I’m me.