Recovery is Not All Butterflies and Rainbows

I am currently writing a book about being an atheist with a mental illness. I think I’ve mentioned it a couple of times on here. I am living with schizoaffective disorder and an eating disorder and with this book, I not only want to give an atheist perspective on mental health but also give a very realistic view of recovery.

Let me start with the good. After struggling for years with the mood and psychotic symptoms of schizoaffective disorder, I am able to live a fulfilling and relatively normal life. I work and I have a family. I get to do the things I love to do and I’m proud of how far I’ve come. I love being able to write about my success living with such a stigmatized and debilitating illness and I hope I can bring others hope.

But here’s where I get to the realistic view of recovery. While my life might seem pretty good and from the outside, I look pretty stable right now, I’ve actually been struggling with my eating disorder for the past few months. I’m mentally exhausted and physically sick. 

Two days ago I hit a breaking point and I’m ready to get help. I’ve been through treatment before with my eating disorder so I know a little bit about what to expect. Yesterday I started meal planning and I will contact my old counselor on Monday. I’m already feeling a little better — or at least see a light at the end of the tunnel.

It’s times like these that remind me to keep my writing honest and raw. Recovery is hard work — and while it is absolutely worth it — the journey is not all butterflies and rainbows. I’m not going to pretend it is and I’m not going to hold back. 

Most of the time I feel well so I know that even though I’m in a funk right now, there will be brighter days ahead. I’m nearing the end of my project and I hope my readers will feel the struggle as well as the triumph. 

Another poem from my upcoming book! :)

Grounded

Ivory giggles and pink powder secrets
power an endless charade.
Let it all hang out
between the pews.
Just once
let the cold stares
see your delicate pearl.
Let lace and tumbleweed
caress your bare skin.
Let your fellow parishioners
blush with envy.
Let reality swallow you whole,
and you’ll realize
you don’t need to look to the skies—
satisfaction is found right here on the ground

 

My poetry book, Free to Roam: Poems from a Heathen Mommy, will be released on February 2nd and my launch party will be that night! Here is the Facebook event. I will read some poems and there will be a Q & A. The event begins at 7:30 pm EST.

My poetry book gives an atheist perspective on being a Midwest Mom. It is for sale on my publisher’s site freethoughthouse.com, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon.

 

Come to My Launch Party!! 2/2/21 @ 7:30 pm EST

My poetry book, Free to Roam: Poems from a Heathen Mommy, will be released on February 2nd and my launch party will be that night! Here is the Facebook event. I will read some poems and there will be a Q & A. The event begins at 7:30 pm EST.

My poetry book gives an atheist perspective on being a Midwest Mom. It is for sale on my publisher’s site freethoughthouse.com, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon.

 

Promoting My Book and Getting to Know the Atheist Community

I had a lot of fun hanging out with Kansas City Oasis a couple weeks ago. Their group blew me away! I had no idea that there were active communities like theirs out there! I hope to hang out with them again sometime.

Later this month I will be speaking to Offutt Humanists and the Omaha Metro Area Humanists Association. I’m excited to meet them!

In February, I will have my launch party with my publisher and I will be speaking at Nottingham Secular Society’s Darwin Lecture.

It’s been great seeing what’s out there beyond Toledo’s city limits in hopes of building a stronger atheist community here. This has been quite an adventure!

If anyone has a group that’s curious about atheist poetry, please contact me! I would love to meet with you and read from my book!

(If you’re curious, my poetry book is called, Free to Roam: Poems from a Heathen Mommy, and will be released 2/2/21. It is for sale on my publisher’s site freethoughthouse.com, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon.)

“Soul Searching” – What’s Your Story?

This is a poem from my upcoming book:

 

How do you sleep?

Indigo rain cleansing my brain
after a restless night of “soul searching”.
Relief comes when you realize god isn’t real
and you’re released from your rusty chains.

An outlook of debilitating winter
melts and sizzles into freedom.
Like fresh linen under the morning sun —
I put my heart out on the line and won.

I’m the shy queen of my ruby paradise
which resides right here on earth.
I no longer yearn for a flimsy mystery in the clouds.
Breathe deep into the truth and sleep peacefully.

 

What was your “soul searching” like? How many religions/spiritual beliefs did you go through before concluding god isn’t real?

I went to church with friends for a short time when I was younger. I just didn’t get it. I couldn’t see what everybody else saw and everything seemed ridiculous. Then as a teen, I dabbled in Wicca. With a foundation in nature it made a teeny bit more sense than Christianity, but not much. I remember feeling a lot of confusion growing up. Then at 21, I declared I was an atheist and things were simple and clear.

So what’s your story? Did you try out other religions?

 

(If you’re curious, my poetry book is called, Free to Roam: Poems from a Heathen Mommy, and will be released 2/2/21. It is for sale on my publisher’s site freethoughthouse.com, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon.)

Do I Sit Quietly or Fight — Confessions of a Black Swamp Atheist

Do I sit quietly or fight? I feel this is a question that’s been floating around in my brain for my whole life.

I grew up in the rural Midwest, and although my own family wasn’t very religious, I was completely surrounded by Christianity in our community. I didn’t consider myself an atheist growing up, but I sure as hell wasn’t a Christian like my neighbors and friends. I was a skeptic even as a kid and Christianity was the biggest, most annoying thorn in my side. I didn’t know what brainwashing meant back then, but I knew Bible stories were pretty ridiculous and I just couldn’t understand how anyone could believe them. There was obviously something wrong with me. At the time it felt like there was no escape and I would be looked down upon forever.

I went to public school and my education should have felt like a sanctuary, but people from where I’m from know that public school doesn’t mean secular. Religious posters donned the walls of many of our classrooms and many of our school functions began or ended with a prayer — the most visible being our football games. 

This brings me to one of the proudest moments of my high school career. I was a senior and didn’t give a fuck. I knew I was getting the hell out of town when I left for college and the entire year my dad kept pleading with me, “just graduate!” I was in the marching band and decided to walk out of the stadium during the last prayer of the game. I was the beaming recipient of an after-school detention. I don’t really remember my parents saying anything to me about it. I probably just got another “just graduate!”

Like many wayward teenagers, I dabbled a bit in Wicca. The school guidance counselor called me to her office and questioned me when I came to school wearing a necklace with a pentagram on it. She said she just wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to hurt anybody. Another trouble-making friend of mine got a Book of Shadows taken away from her at school.

I was a lot more vocal when I was younger.

Fast forward to now and I’m living in Toledo, Ohio — about forty miles from where I grew up — with a family of my own. I have many years of solid atheism under my belt but the stakes are higher now. I’m scared to speak out. I have a daughter and I have to think about my job. If I live openly as an atheist things could be a lot harder. Even though I grew up in the country and Toledo is a city, it’s still pretty conservative here. Ridicule and discrimination are real possibilities if I speak out against religion or reveal that I’m an atheist.

So, that question comes up again — do I sit quietly or fight? 

Next month my poetry book will be released — it’s all about being an atheist mom in the Midwest. Having a book published feels like a pretty public admission of atheism, and I’ve decided if people around here find out about the book, I’ll let the chips fall where they may. Maybe I won’t be shouting from the rooftops of Toledo that I reject religion, but if it comes up — no more hiding. I’m an atheist.

(If you’re curious, my poetry book is called, Free to Roam: Poems from a Heathen Mommy, and will be released 2/2/21. It is for sale on my publisher’s site freethoughthouse.com, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon.)