Sometimes the Tower’s energy can save your life—or make it worth saving.
I squirmed in a folding chair on a Saturday afternoon, wishing I were anywhere else on the planet. Three other folding chairs faced me in a semi-circle, filled with the middle-aged asses of my father’s friends, church elders wearing polyester suits and stern expressions. The church was empty save for me and my “Judicial Committee.”
They lectured, but not much registered above the din in my head. I struggled to stay in my body enough to respond. They pulled Bibles out and read scripture, expecting me to read along. I managed to look like I was. For emphasis, I’d sometimes be instructed to read a passage. At nineteen, I found that humiliating, like being in the 3rd Grade. Except in the 3rd Grade, I enjoyed reading aloud.
The lecturing was punctuated with questioning—accusations, more than anything. A confession, a confession! Let’s see if we can break her down or trip her up. Does she admit her sins? Is she repentant of them? I did my best to comply without selling my soul in the process. At that point, I was still hoping for a compromise.
“Do you believe this is the Truth, Dixie? Do you believe this organization represents the Word of God?”
I sucked in my breath and hesitated. There’s never been a more pregnant pause.
I didn’t know what to think or how to feel. I’d been brought up this way. This religion was the center of my family’s life, and all I’d ever known. You have to understand, I really wanted to believe it! Do you have any idea just how much?! I WANTED to. My life would have been so much easier.
I didn’t care about practicing by that point—I only went through the motions to appease my family. I didn’t feel conviction but was willing to acknowledge there could be something wrong with me. Wasn’t that what everybody thought? Finding out I was crazy may have been preferable than having my life erased. I didn’t want to get kicked out, mandatorily shunned by family and friends. (But I didn’t actually believe I was crazy.)
“I don’t know,” I responded truthfully. I left the “probably not” part sit in my head. But I still knew as I said those words, I was pulling the trigger of my fate. It was a Tower moment.
The meeting broke up shortly thereafter, as there wasn’t much left to say. My committee no doubt had much clucking to do over my unrepentant attitude. As I was getting up to leave, my father’s best friend said something about me dressing provocatively.
“What?” I had no idea what he was talking about.
“The slit in your skirt,” he told me. The insinuation was, I’d showed a little leg, slit coming up to just below my knee, in order to convince their penises to be lenient.
“It’s my mother’s dress,” I barked back, disgusted. I guess that pretty much says who they thought I was. That tower was coming down.
This isn’t a story about having a crappy family. Honestly, it would be easier if I merely had a crappy family. Then, I could be resentful. I could get therapized. I could declare myself “An adult child of religious fanatics” or something. But that really isn’t true.
My family believed I cashed in my ticket for a perfect, eternal life in paradise out of sheer stupidity. I was living in sin, smoking pot and shacking up with a schizophrenic dude in a divey trailer. That doesn’t exactly impress anybody! I didn’t know what I was doing, lost as Hell and most anybody looking at me would have considered me a bad bet. Hell, many still do!
But it was my path out. I would not change a thing. I will also NEVER tell someone else what to believe and this is exactly why. Is this not a precious insight? It had better be, because I paid dearly for it.
Don’t tell others what to believe. It is, for each of us, a sacred path to discover own truth. And never assume you know who someone is by what you see on the outside. You could have just caught them in a Tower moment.
Can you think of your own Tower moments? What have they done for you?