Roots: The Devil’s Shape

A mix of prose and poetry describing psychological abuse and sexual assault. Not for the faint of heart.

The Bible is not meant to be read literally.

Nor is the title of this article.

This isn’t an article about the big red-horned fallen angel who supposedly hates God and rules over Hell.

Well, that’s a lie, it is.

But not literally.

This is an article about my own personal Satan.

In biblical sources, the Hebrew term satan describes an adversarial role. It is not the name of a particular character. Although Hebrew storytellers as early as he sixth century B.C.E. occasionally introduced a supernatural character whom they called the satan, what they meant was any one of the angels sent by God for the specific purpose of blocking or obstructing human activity.
– Elaine Pagels, “The Origin of Satan,” 1995

It was then,

As I was a woman

All drawn out of shape,

That the Devil appeared

With his devlish smirk.

He took me up by the mind

And told me his name

I’ve since forgotten it.

But I’ll never forget what it means.

The Devil came up from Kentucky.

I drove him here myself.

We met online.

We’d spent the several weeks previous texting and calling one another every day.

It was going so well.

I’d gone through a divorce about a year and a half  prior and I finally felt ready to date again. I’d dated one other guy briefly. He was nice, but not for me. We’ve maintained a friendship at least.

This time, it felt right.

We met for lunch and then I drove him up tour my hometown.

All throughout the day, everything was perfect. We got along every bit as well in person as we had electronically.

I decided to invite him back to my place.

He sat down, legs spread in my easy chair.

And then, his shape changed.

He became someone else.

Satan revealed himself to me.

He said he was in love

With another woman,

drawn in his shape.

He could never love me.

But as a waif.

He brought me to

The other side of the veil.

Showed me the void,

and took me to Hell.

He wanted to be called “daddy”

and called me his whore.

If I was a good girl

Maybe I could be more

Maybe he would take me down

For a spin upon his cock

And maybe he would unravel me

From this knitted sock.

The Devil took my shape that day,

And twisted its already twisted form.

Then twisted

and twisted

and twisted it more

And that’s the last thing I can tell you about that. The rest is one big blank I have ripped out of my mind. I honestly can’t tell you what followed.

I can only remember the terror of it.

Complete subversion. Total bewilderment. Utter disorientation.

What did I do? What choice did I have?

I like to think I stood up to him and overcame my adversary right then and there and threw him out of my house.

But I know that’s not what happened.

The nearest memory I have, I was driving again, on the road back to Kentucky.

He seemed pleased.

His shape wasn’t twisted anymore.

He was the same as before.

I thought about driving my car into the Ohio River.

The world would have been a better place if I did.

He haunted me for years after.

My mind was filled with monsters. The world was on fire.

Once you meet the Devil, he’s always with you.

He’ll never stop trying to rip you from Heaven and condemn you to Hell.

But, like any adversary, he can be overcome.

Like God, and like me, I hope you have angels to help if you ever meet him.

It was a long road to calling myself a survivor, but I’m lucky in that I had a very strong social support network in my life at the time. So many wonderful wounded women who had been through similar events helped me to overcome him.

They are all like sisters to me.

Their support taught me an important lesson. The devil can’t catch you if you’re smarter than him. And so that’s what I did, I became smarter than him. I poured myself into my work. I studied and worked harder than I’d ever known I was capable of and became crafty enough that he couldn’t catch me anymore.

In a weird way, I’d like to thank him.

I’m a much better person because of what he did.

But that would require forgiveness, and that’s not mine to give…

The devil almost had me fooled.

He knew the weaknesses of my shape

And exploited every one.

His tricks twisted me

To his own twisted shape.

But I learned from his tricks

Some tricks of the trade.

I learned how to spin

To twist who I am

And I learned how to do it

Better than him

I learned how to shape

my words,

my body,

my thoughts,

my actions,

my movements,

my soul

To be impenetrable by the Devil

I’ve cast from my Throne.

Condemned,

to eternal shaplessness.

He taught me to shape

And how to forget.

He taught me survival

And the pain of it.

He taught me forgiveness…

and the truth therein:

Sometimes, it’s best left to God.

I hope he’s somewhere praying.

He can arrive at any moment

You don’t always hear his chime

He will try to change your shape

He will try it every time

And sometimes, if you let him

While you’re not watching your shape

He will take and take and take from it

And take,

and take,

and take..

The foolish thing in all this is

This twisted

twisted

twisted shape

This shape the Devil’s made of you

Is his own devilish shape

The only shape that matters is

The shape you make alone

The shape that you take with you

That pattern you follow

The shape you make is better

This shape is your own

It’s knitted

and drawn

And painted

and sewn

It’s battered

and bruised

and berated

and honed

It’s in the music you make

It’s in the sound of your voice

It tastes just like the taste of your tears

It’s woven into choice

It overcomes the worst you fear

It can bring your thoughts to cheer

It’s in the burden on your back

It’s the plan when you attack

It’s your guide

when nothing’s clear.

 

It’s written into the presence you have

And the way you make your way.

 

Next time Satan tries to twist it:

Overcome the meaning of his name.

The Shack

An ode to the changes we need to make in America.

A boy and his gun

Were having some fun

When his dad got home from the army

He took him out back

They shot at his shack

And his dad went back in the morning

They repeated like that

Every year

Every time

A new piece of gear

 

His father was his hero of course

Three tours in Iraq

But more than that

A fourth one he feared

A fourth one to take his dad from his years

 

But he taught him how to respect his guns

And how to shoot and how to have fun

He taught him how to shoot at that shack

Just like his dad had shot in Iraq

 

And then when his parents divorced

And his dad left them

Alone for the course

He had to support his mom

And he said, “I’ll get a gun to protect you mom.”

“I swear.”

 

He struggled as he worked

From store to store

Longing for a weapon

To fight his own wars

But he never got one

He couldn’t afford

Because his mom needed surgery

And there was this girl, who worked at the store…

 

He wanted to provide for them

To control his own ward

Where he’d keep and protect them

And guard from the porch

When they came

He’d pull out his gun

And ward off his ward

To protect his sons

 

But he couldn’t afford one

And so he lost his girl at the store

And a few years later

His mother died too poor

 

His family gone

He now lived alone

Money problems over

He could finally afford

A gun like his father

Had taught him to sport

He’d finally be able

To fight his own wars

 

He got his gun

And he took it back

To where he’d learned to shoot

To shoot like in Iraq

He learned to fire

To care for and clean

His brand new, fully featured AR-15

Collapsible stock and quick magazine release

So he could shoot and protect his streets

And keep on shooting..

 

Modified to repeat repeat repeat

He shot that old shack ’til nothing was left but concrete

 

finally after the deed was done

on that same foundation

where he was cleaning his gun

he thought of his father

and remembered the fun

but his father was gone now

sixteen years weighed a ton

 

he wanted to cry then

but he held back his tears

his father had taught him

“real men don’t cry”

“their fire dries tears”

“they never give up:

they set fire to the world

and enchant the girls with

diamonds and pearls”

 

it was a valuable lesson

he held to its truth

though try

though he might

he cried like a fool

“my father was wrong..”

he thought

“…or might I not be a man?”

 

he stood up and shouldered his tool

to prove

his own truth in this war

to make things like they were before

 

he’d lost his father

and family to (((SJWs)))

who’d taken over his pews

and kept him their tool

he knew what to do

he’d strike at the source

he’d take his country back

and he’d take it by force

he’d stop all the marxists

their ideology

he’d take it all back

with his AR-15

 

and so he marched

with it strapped to his back

ready to shoot it

like he’d been taught by the shack

he took it over to district 67

and marched in the school at 11

 

he shot 7 teachers there dead

and fired 16 more shots

all of which missed

12 ricocheted and tore through the door

where a group of kids hid

twenty and

four

who were shot in cold blood

no way to escape

 

when he saw them lying there he felt

the tears come again

and the lies overcame him

like a bullet to the head

Cipher

go about your business–

there’s nothing to see here–

just a girl in a corner

looking for words–

words to teach of a new way

to see– and define things for

what they truly may be–

 

she’s so close to

meaning

but so far away–

maybe she’ll find it

some sane day

when she takes the time

to find the right rhyme

and the rest of the song

falls into place

 

but the rhyme doesn’t

matter– it only gets in the way

of the rest of the message

she’s grasping to say– to you–

you who she already told

to just go away–

watch some television

or some other thing–

get on Facebook–

look up some porn–

whatever you do

when you find yourself bored–

that’s what life’s about

for you– nothing greater–

nothing more

 

what have you done

to learn how to know

what’s happening– here and now–

what do you know about

the girl in the corner–

who’s writing these lies

about you down– nothing–

nothing, nothing she’d say–

there’s nothing to see here–

just go away

 

[Originally written, 2008]

The Paint

In honor of Valentine’s Day, here’s a poem I wrote with a broken heart.

you were the paint

in my blue, blue sky

the green of my trees

that green from my eyes

a brush stroke passed

and washed away

the blue, blue blends

and turned into gray

you were the paint

that made my world blend

the mix and the hue

that made my blood red

a dead dry brush

hardened by the paint

put to rest in water

soaked up the cup

you were the paint

yellow and scraped

across intangible lines

drawn around and draped

a drip drop dripped

tears down the canvas face

ruining the rhythm

purposing the pace

building down to nothing

the paint devoured all

and rolled up the color

into fat violet balls

you were the paint

that covered my world in fire

the all consuming orange

that blazed my desire

a dancing flame flickered

caught concocted copse

flirted with flesh

and licked the last drop

 

[Originally written, 2012]

The Versatile Blogger Award – Thank You!

versatile-award

I’ve been honored by Love and Everyday Affairs with the Versatile Blogger Award!

Thank you so much! I would encourage all of my followers to check out their blog for writing every bit as versatile as my own. I’m so honored to have been in their thoughts when they assigned nominees for this award!

Here are the simple rules for the Award:

Write 7 interesting facts about yourself.

Nominate 15 blogs of your choice.

7 interesting Facts about Myself

  1. I was an English Literature major who now somehow works in a high level IT position.
  2. I’ve been writing creatively since I learned how to write. Writing has always been a very important form of self-expression for me. I wrote my first stories and poetry when I was 7.
  3. I’m a transgender woman who grew up and transitioned in Mike Pence’s hometown. It’s every bit as traditional, Christian, and Conservative as you might imagine. It was terrifying in the beginning, but the presence of myself and others transformed that community. Today, most churches there embrace LGBT people as brothers and sisters.
  4. I’ve been involved in activism for women, children, and LGBT rights for most of my life, though in recent years my career has taken precedent and my efforts on these fronts have become confined to the internet.
  5. I take the Daryl Davis approach to engagement with those who hate and/or fear me. I regularly engage with transphobes, TERFs, the alt-right and far right, gender atheists, religious traditionalists, and sex essentialists. I keep the focus of the conversation on their concerns and ways I can help them overcome and the fears at the heart of them.
  6. In addition to writing, I’m also an avid reader, knitter, and gamer.
  7. I’m a bit of an arborist if that weren’t obvious by my plethora of tree memes.

Nominees:

  1. https://druidlife.wordpress.com/
  2. https://justrandomthoughts416799382.wordpress.com/
  3. https://wearywandereroflife.wordpress.com/
  4. https://educatedunemployedindian.wordpress.com/
  5. https://lestecel07.wordpress.com/
  6. https://kiramoorescloset.wordpress.com/
  7. https://pastreminisce.com/
  8. https://kaurdot.wordpress.com/
  9. https://thestoriesinbetween.com/
  10. https://sundaramchauhanwrites.wordpress.com/
  11. https://iamaman2015.wordpress.com/
  12. https://anoptimisticapproach.com/
  13. https://muselessthoughts.com/
  14. https://emptyspaces2017.wordpress.com/
  15. https://rad-femme.com/

Phew, a list of 15 is difficult for a new blogger! I’ve done my best to compile the versatile bloggers I follow! Congratulations, all!

If any of the larger blogs I’ve nominated would like to pass on the award to any smaller blogs which might appreciate this sort of award more, please let me know and I’ll replace you on my list!

Roots: Gender

An exploration into the determination of Gender, Sexuality, and Identity in the eternal quest to know thyself.

“Who knows where a woman begins and ends? Listen mistress, I have roots, I have roots deeper than this island. Deeper than the sea, older than the raising of the lands. I go back into the dark… I go back into the dark! Before the moon I am, what a woman is, a woman of power, a woman’s power, deeper than the roots of trees, deeper than the roots of islands, older than the Making, older than the moon. Who dares ask questions of the dark? Who’ll ask the dark its name?”
– Ursula K. Le Guin, Earthsea

What is Gender anyway?

Isn’t that just another word for Sex?

If you have XY chromosomes, male organs, and produce sperm, you are a man!

If you have XX chromosomes, female organs, and produce ova, you are a woman!

But what gender is God? Or what of His son, Jesus?

The Bible insists the use of these pronouns is so vital in reference to both that it demands we capitalize them.

In my life, I have studied a great deal of Christian theology.

I have never studied the Father nor the Son’s chromosomes.

I have never seen their organs.

Certainly no one has known their sperm.

I know them to be male because their sex has been expressed to be male.

This is Gender.

It can be best understood in three parts:

  1. Gender Identity – The internalization of personal biological and physiological experience and memory of bodily experience of the world.
  2. Gender Expression – The externalization of Gender Identity as it is expressed in one’s intent, actions, and movement through world.
  3. Gender Experience – The third-party experience of Gender Expression and culturally-defined knowledge and expectations of gendered behavior and expression.

Gender exists, as described above, both within and beyond oneself. It is internalized as a part of one’s identity, externalized through expression, and experienced, understood, and interpreted by others.

As in the case of the Christian Father and Son, the genders of a great many people are known to us without any knowledge of anything which makes them up biologically.

In fact, we may well only know the biologies of those whom we are intimate with.

Biology does not dictate gender.

Biology dictates two things:

  1. Reproductive capability.
  2. Disease compatibility.

As any rational human being would agree, men and women are a great deal more than those two reductions. All of the rest of what defines us as men and women, by identity, experience, and expression belongs to the realm of gender.

Gender is certainly not innate to biology, though it is most commonly associated with it, as part of gender identity is the internalization of biological and physiological experience as well as bodily experience of the world.

Like sexuality, gender exists as more of a gradient between two binaries than as the two ends of the binary. More often than not, we are not perfectly heterosexual nor perfectly homosexual, but somewhere in between and it is also common for us to fluidly move through the gradient as we change with the tides of our lives.

We are never perfectly masculine nor perfectly feminine, but a mixture of the two. Each of us carries within us a biological nature consisting of this mixture as well as the ability to nurture either to full potential. Women are as capable of nurturing masculinity as men are capable of nurturing femininity while still living as women and men themselves.

What makes the dysphoric experience unique is not an over-nurturing of or obsession with femininity or masculinity as some transphobes like to believe but as a discomfort and disassociation with one’s own presence which leads to losses in translation to any attempt at expressing either masculinity or femininity in one’s self.

The same discomfort and disassociation experienced by us is experienced by those we interact with and as such, we are unable to impact the world or be interpreted meaningfully by it, leading us to ghost-like existences. The only way for us to become complete human beings is to erase the incongruence in our being via transition or through finding some other way to overcome the incongruence.

Speaking as a trans woman from a traditional Christian/Conservative family who tried everything imaginable to deny herself Hormone Replacement Therapy for fear of rejection by her family, let me tell you, transition is the best option available for those who suffer from gender dysphoria.

I tried everything else.

Of course, not everyone who transitions experiences gender dysphoria. Some who might choose this do not live in the persistent state of incongruence I lived in, but may develop it later in life or realize that they have been living with it without understanding what it was and then choose to transition. The experience is different for everyone, but the end goal is the same, to conform to expression of our self-determined gender identity, allowing us to maintain comfort and strong association with ourselves and our world.

In my opinion, human beings have the right to self-determination and as such, all forms of gender and sexual expression should be celebrated and supported by our communities, so long as they allow for social stability and the safety and consideration of others.

Judith Butler said in a 2014 interview, “No matter whether one feels one’s gendered and sexed reality to be firmly fixed or less so, every person should have the right to determine the legal and linguistic terms of their embodied lives. So whether one wants to be free to live out a “hard-wired” sense of sex or a more fluid sense of gender, is less important than the right to be free to live it out, without discrimination, harassment, injury, pathologization or criminalization – and with full institutional and community support. That is most important in my view.”

I couldn’t agree more.

The truth is that both fixed and fluid senses of self are equally valid and it is pointless for anyone to wrestle with another human being over their right to self-determination. It becomes nothing but a pointless exercise in bigotry over two equally valid experiences of oneself.

This diversity of opinion over the nature of sex and gender would have great potential for societal and cultural growth if we could only allow one another to flourish rather than bringing decay to the quality of one another’s lives over petty disagreements with methods of self-determination.

There are also sexualities and genders which exist outside the constraints of their respective binaries also and I don’t mean for such people to be an afterthought in my thinking on gender, but it’s just not something I can speak to as I am very comfortable in my positioning within both binaries and I have never experienced the world outside of it.

I would encourage anyone with thoughts related to non-binary gender experience or the experience of gender determination which may differ from my views to express those thoughts to me in the comments below. Thank you!

The Splits

I want to write it

I know what wonders it can do

To paint with words

That flow fresh into rainless rifts

Becoming resplendent rivers

Like before…

Before

the splits

the splits

the splits

If I could I would fill them with water

I know what wonders it can do

But erasure is a measure

For not just one but two

Water can only fill the rifts,

Beneath, they will remain

Eroded by worded beauty

Only deepening the pain

What’s left on the surface

Is prettier, it’s true

But what true beauty can be left

When the splits have become you?

 

[Originally written, 2011]