Bare Feet on Broken Ground

Archive restoration note: in this post I referred to God as “Infinite One,” but I no longer believe in a higher power or intelligent design. -Cynthia, July 2018

Today when I stepped outside, I felt the words, “Take off your shoes and make this ground holy.”

I grinned and thought, “It’s been so long, Infinite One!”

And then I walked down the road and back, being ever present and creative and mindful of the music and the ground I walked on.

I thought as I walked, perhaps those who go barefoot are more present with the earth, and they feel pain on rough ground, especially paved roads, because the earth is in pain. Then I wondered if we feel the pain of others when we are in pain, when we get close. Shoes protect our feet from getting up close and intimate with the energy of the earth. We shield ourselves from the positive energy we could gain. We also do it to keep the pain out. We don’t want to feel the broken glass we’ve carelessly littered upon her surface, we don’t want to taste the way gravel and tar is too tightly packed for her to breathe.

Perhaps it is the same with each other – when we are in pain, we are feeling the pain of another. We inflict pain because we are in pain. The earth is only communicating what she knows, she’s simply trying to tell us to stop hurting her, but we wrap up our feet and so we can’t hear her cries.

Maybe nothing is silent. It’s just all speaking a different language, and we need to reach out beyond our senses, beyond habit. Ask your intuition what it knows. Feel with your bare feet. Listen to what the earth is telling you.

Anyone who hurts me is in pain. Some of them tell me it’s my fault, when it isn’t. I know they are in pain, and I recognize it, but I do not accept their pain and pass it on. I do the same with the earth. I did not throw that bottle there, I cannot uproot the roads. But I can be there with her, and feel with her, and notice what others do not.

Paying attention is what leads to change. I will not numb myself to her messages.

It only hurts to feel her skin because someone else hardened her surface – like an abused child, she does what she was taught. She doesn’t blame me, she’s sorry, she begs me not to get close because she’s ugly and ruined now – and I say no, Earth, you’re beautiful. I don’t mind the rough surfaces. I want to know you, even with the bruises and brokenness, and I want for you to get better.

So I bare my feet.

Purity Culture and My Sexuality

Re-upload note July 2018: I originally pissed my family off by coming out as a Christian ally to gays and lesbians, notwithstanding the education I had yet to receive on the fully inclusive LGBTAIQP community. Within a year, I realized that I was bisexual, and had suppressed and minimized any feelings I had toward femme and nonbinary people, in addition to the attraction to masculine expression I was expected to have. This is my coming out post, finally online again after 2 years thanks to the archive restoration project, originally uploaded on April 17, 2015.  

I know that it’s a secret,
And that I gotta keep it,
But I want the lights on
Yeah, I want the lights on
And I don’t want to run away anymore
Leave the lights on, leave the lights on, leave the lights on
What would they say, what would they do?
Would it be trouble if they knew?” –Meiko

I had my heart broken twice before I realized I’d been in love. That might sound like an exaggeration or melodrama, but it’s actually possible thanks to the wonders of purity culture.

When I was a teenager, I read and re-read books like Sarah Mally’s Before You Meet Prince Charming, Eric and Leslie Ludy’s When God Writes Your Love Story, and Debi Pearl’s Preparing to be a Help Meet.

They kept me strong in my dedication to never think about sex, or to think about members of the opposite sex. I had my obsessions and celebrity crushes, but if the image of seeing someone naked ever entered my mind, I’d fight it out with quoting the Bible.

I knew I would only ever give my heart to one person – the man I would marry. He must show interest in me; women don’t initiate. The concept of mutual consent, mutual interest, was never introduced. If he didn’t reciprocate my feelings, it was a meaningless feeling, and feelings were worthless. I needed to control my very thoughts, so I could give my whole heart to my husband, along with my first kiss. Just toeing the line of saving sex for marriage was too low a standard for me.

Blame doesn’t fall on any one person for how I controlled my thoughts. It was a personal choice, something that was very important to me. The people around me reinforced the notion that I was doing the right thing. Some people were better at the game of self-thought-policing than I was, and they made me feel like I could never be good enough. Some people saw me as unapproachable because I was so sincere. Every failure looked like rebellion and felt like despair.

Surely I didn’t love my best friend when I started college. He didn’t love me, so I told myself to “guard my heart” and push away all emotions of attachment. At the same time, our late-night conversations kept me going through my darkest depression and most intense stress. I finally told him that I needed space to figure out why the sight of his name gave me such indecipherable pain.

It would take me months to unlearn what purity culture had taught me to do: conceal all desire, even from yourself.

So it was that I fell in love with a man, and didn’t realize what had happened until afterward. I just assumed I was straight because I was attracted to men. It never occurred to me that I might make the same mistake twice, equally blinded to my desires toward a girl.

It was similar – I had a crush on her, but didn’t know it. She once kissed another girl in front of me, and I desperately wanted to kiss her. Even that feeling was not enough to make me think I wasn’t totally straight. I figured I was just curious, having never been kissed. Giving gifts is something I rarely do and often feels like an obligatory chore, but I gave her thoughtful things that I knew she’d like.

When we had a fight that ended our friendship, I was devastated. Another friend asked if I’d been in love with her. I said no, of course I wasn’t.

A few months later I got an email, and was instantly interested – this person, who hadn’t revealed their gender or identity, matched me intellectually. I assumed the sender was male, and entertained thoughts of meeting, and we exchanged lengthy emails.

The person who wrote these intelligent, complex, and beautiful emails revealed that she was a girl, and I realized it made no difference to me.

I started asking my friends questions – you don’t see both the male and female body as equally attractive? I’d assumed that everyone appreciated the aesthetic differences between the genders.

In the world I grew up in, there were two kinds of people: straight, and broken. Nobody was born gay, the church and chapel services insisted. The idea of other identities on a spectrum was far outside our reality. The idea of romantic and sexual relationships other than marriage was blanketly labeled as “sin.”

Of course I’d think I was straight. If I could close off my feelings for men, I could certainly close off my feelings for women. It was only after I started to learn what attraction felt like, that I knew I liked girls. I always had liked girls. I just didn’t know that my experience was any different from anyone else’s, because we never talked about our feelings. We never defined our terms.

Humans are beautiful to me – whether they’re male, female, or non-binary.

You could call me sapiosexual, in that I love people for their intelligence, and my level of attraction depends on how smart and interesting the other person is. Many sapiosexuals, though, don’t find the human body sexually attractive, and I do. It’s also accurate to call me pansexual, because I’m open to dating non-binary or trans people, in addition to the binary genders. For me, the title I’ve chosen is bisexual.

I’m bisexual. There, I’ve come out, now you know.