I feel like I’m swimming through mud. And it’s my own fault. Let me fully explain what I’ve done.

Two days ago, I created an invitation-only group on Facebook, and invited the kids I grew up with… the ones who also grew up in The Church. And then I asked them what they think now. Keep in mind that these are people who I’ve purposefully lost touch with — when I left The Church, I left in every way possible. And then we became Facebook friends, which was kind of a leap for me — the first contact I’ve had in over a decade. And then I asked them what they think about how we were raised. It was the equivalent of nailing a hornet’s next with a baseball bat.

Clarification: Heretofore, when I reference “The Church,” I’m referring to the actual, physical building and body of people who helped raise me and played such a gigantic role in my life. I am NOT referring to the belief system that is still practiced throughout the world. I’m realizing that The Church was an extremely poor representation of The Belief, and that they are not & should not be interchangeable.

Here’s something else I’ve learned about myself in the last two days… I’ve learned that just a few well-placed words and a certain tone can once again reduce me to a puddle of shriveling insecurity. It’s like the years and education and hard-won independence that I’ve gained during the years since leaving The Church just melt away, and I’m once again that scared, apologetic little girl hoping that I don’t go to hell for poking at the powers that be. I thought that I would be “safe” because it’s all behind the computer — I mean, it’s not like I’m meeting these people face-to-face, right? Wrong. The tone is the same, whether written or spoken. It makes me feel nauseous and it makes me cry.

I am logical, as a rule. I usually admire logical arguments that are well-organized and stoutly built. But when it comes to The Church and its advocates, I’m a stumbling, bumbling mess. I read the posts on this message board, and I have no intellectual, logical response. The only part of me that has anything to say is the emotional, scared little girl who’s screaming “STOP FUCKING PREACHING AT ME!!” I hate the tone, I hate the superiority and the certainty that drips from every word.

And you know the best part? The preaching is done in such a way that, really, the problem is all mine. I have some serious baggage. I resist men as religious authority figures. I have a chip on my shoulder, and it’s like I’m just waiting for them to piss me off. I’m sure that it’s not a coincidence that I was just dandy with the message board until a guy spoke up and then I saw red. Everything he wrote made me mad. Why?

So I composed a long response to what he had written and posted it. And there was no response. It’s like I wasn’t even worth the effort of responding. What the fucking hell is up with that? Am I really that invisible? Are my thoughts really that meaningless? The Church made me invisible for 18 years, and sometimes when I talk to my father, I’m still invisible. I just want to leave, to pretend like I didn’t stir this up. I hate them. I hate this. This is not about God at all. It’s about those men and their stupid, fucking egos and power trips and God complexes. I’m really, really fucking angry right now. And I don’t know why. I just feel so helpless and fucking invisible.