If “belonging” costs freedom, it’s too expensive

A good, simple reminder at church today — we are joined as one. In God’s eyes our spirit is one. We need to act that way.
— My stupid journal, 2014

Before I decided to leave the church, I would try to embody these kinds of “reminders.” But they went against my true nature.

Since I was old enough to roll around the neighborhood alone in the 80s I have felt it: The need for freedom.

My purpose here on Earth, I believe, is to live free and to show people that they…


If you mean to do it, it’s a willful sin and it’s not forgiven, they said

The story of a brainwashed but stubborn woman’s return to herself, with excerpts from her stupid journals. See intro post

The days sure fly by. I can’t believe it will be a year already this July that M and I have been married! It has been a good year — you know people always say that the first year is the hardest, but it really hasn’t been too bad at all.

I think the thing that makes it hard is getting used to living…


The story of a brainwashed but stubborn woman’s return to herself, with excerpts from her stupid journals

“There’s gotta be something I can do with all of this shit.” — Me, December of 2020

I’m a survivor. Luckily, I came out of the womb stubborn. Despite my seeming ‘strength,’ I am as sensitive as hell. Writing has always been there for me.

I’ve been through some shit: Divorce and cancer, which sucked. A pregnancy loss followed by a successful pregnancy (with a 52 hour labor; grimace).

But honestly, nothing compares to the most difficult passage of my life so far — leaving my fundamentalist religious community. The roots of belief (or as I like to call it, brainwashing) were planted in me when I was too young to question anything.

I still eventually did…


As I co-parent with a Fundamentalist Christian

Photo by Marc Kleen on Unsplash

Being raised in northern Minnesota by two devout fundamentalist Christian parents there were no two ways about it: I was going to grow up Fundamentalist Christian.

I was raised in it, got confirmed in it, made all my friends in it, got married twice to someone in the church (and divorced twice). After my second divorce six years ago, I had a choice: Raise my son the same way, or leave the church that brought me so much anxiety and try to help my son discover his own spirituality.

My son (now nearly eight) from a young age saw the…


24 year old me. Married and mad about it.

My sister sent me this old picture. I remember sitting in her apartment kitchen as she took this photo on 35mm black and white. I had traveled over two hours north to stay with her for the weekend, leaving my husband at home, as I often did. Seeking respite and fun with my sister was one thing that saved me.

I got married at 19. Nineteen. A baby bride.

6 out of 6 of my best friends from the church got married as young or younger than I did. Four out of the six of us are divorced now. Some remarried.

Before we got married, I imagined bliss: Naked…


Photo by Morgan Sarkissian on Unsplash

I see you:

Running around the lake on your lunch break.

I see you pushing your running stroller at nap time.

I see you running alongside your kids who are reluctantly biking alongside you.

I see you in the early morning, I see you late at night.

You are out there.

Despite being tired, stressed — or because you’re tired and stressed.

Despite the weather, or because of good weather.

I see you.

You are making that 30 minutes, that 22 minutes, that 4 miles or 10, or that hour — yours.

You’re owning that time.

Because you need to…


A Skeptic’s Poem

Illustration by Leen

Love.

What is it?

Is it codependency?

On both sides:

If you love me, I’ll love you back.

A negotiation?

A solution to alone.

We hear:

Love is a verb.

Love is a choice.

Love is all you need.

Love is everywhere.

There’s romantic love versus the broader ‘love’

Versus self love

What is it?

Is it so basic it can’t be defined?

So broad, encompassing?

Or so elusive it can’t be pinned down?

Is it a shifting vapor,

A cozy blanket,

a sweet sense

floating like a halo

Is it found inside of joy

Or deep within the sorrow…


I’m just not gonna go anymore

Illustration by Leen

My love affair with social media started twelve years ago. A very brief recap:

Then: I joined Facebook in 2007, when I was 29. It was cute and fresh then. Even the name sounded cute, aww, Facebook? Kinda like a yearbook. I was newly divorced and reeling from it (I was married at 19, which is a future post all to its own) but I appreciated the novelty of hearing if someone else was also bored at work. And much like an interactive, realtime yearbook, I liked the potential reconnection with friends and possible partners / suitors.

Now: Age, 41…


Illustration by Leen

My son still goes to the “only right church.” The one I left.

The one I grew up in.

The one that says dancing is wrong. It can “lead you astray” and is only a way to “celebrate the world” and takes place in situations that “aren’t the right place for a child of God…”

I heard this growing up in sermon after sermon. Yet I still danced. Some of my best moves were to Huey Lewis, Madonna, The Bangles. I would shut the door of my room and get down. Music was okay in my family. My mom was…


Preface:

You’re nearing 60, and it’s been a good run. You have a husband you’ve been married to for almost 40 years, you’re a grandparent, you’re retired.

Life is on a steady, low-key kind of ride.

The golden years.

You look in the mirror, and you no longer evaluate or poke or prod.

You just are.

You have weight in places your mom did, or maybe your dad. Or maybe your aunt Betty.

It’s how your family all looks, if you peek at those old photo albums:

Bigger bellies, thin legs. Big smiles. Laughing, usually.

People that loved hard, enjoyed…

Leen

Agnostic. Cancer survivor. Divorce survivor. Proud single mom. Freelance designer + illustrator. Stubborn optimist. Finding my new path.

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