PTSD and Worship

It is not Epiphany yet, that is coming soon. In fourteen days, to be exact. But as far as epiphanies go, I have had one.

I am a very spiritual person and I love Jesus, but my rocky relationship with God also means that I can be quite sacrilegious. I told someone yesterday who asked me why I was going to the 5:00 Christmas Eve mass instead of the 11:00 Christmas Eve mass that while I really love Jesus, I also really love sleeping, and that since Jesus was gonna be at the 5:00 mass too then I am good.

This evening I was talking with a friend who just happens to be a priest (which let me tell you, isn’t for the faint of heart) and doing my “ugh my parish uses Rite I liturgy for Christmas Day service, must be because all the old people that hate change go to it.” (Yes, it’s a rude and unfair assumption, and I’m sorry). The thing is, I’ve usually been able to realize that while I prefer something a particular way, doesn’t mean it’s wrong done another way. I’ve often felt guilty for my quite over the top hatred for Rite I. I hate to admit that I’ve hated Rite I, because it’s sacred and holy and a part of the worship of the Church. But like I said, I’m often sacrilegious, and I’m just telling the awful truth. It’s how I feel. I’ve even argued passionately with people about why the Church should chuck Rite I.

Often when I feel that passionately about something, there is an underlying reason, and this was no exception. But as I spouted off this bullshit to my long-suffering friend, I had my epiphany. My religious background is that I was brought up in a fundamentalist cult. I have always loved God, but didn’t really know God. I was taught to hate myself, to feel ashamed of everything I did. My particular cult only used the King James Version of the Bible, because apparently it was the only true Bible. One of the arguments I’ve heard people that prefer Rite I use is that the language is beautiful. The language to me is basically the same as the King James Bible. I’m going to say something else sacrilegious.

I threw my King Jimmy’s in the trash. I still feel guilty for trashing Bibles, but those were used as a tool for my oppression. I know that’s probably as terrible as burning a flag, maybe worse because it’s a Bible. If I never seen another King James Version of the Bible in my lifetime, I would be grateful. But that’s not reality. I am ok with the Bible, just not that version of it. I can’t stomach it.

In Rite I, I have a physical reaction, and I get anxious and want to just run away. But tonight it hit me. For me, the language of Rite I is the same kind of language as the King James Bible, what the cult used to keep me in submission. It’s not that Rite I is bad, it’s that it reminds me of deep trauma that I’m still working to heal from. As my friend said, the church of my freedom still has triggers from my trauma.

Now that I know that, I can begin to work through it. Yes, I know that I sound bitter. It is what it is. I don’t even like the word bitter as it was used to basically dismiss me every time I had a question, or needed to talk about a situation that was totally someone else’s fault (I had many situations of my own wrong doing without taking responsibility for theirs too). It was used to spiritually gaslight me. Maybe I am bitter.

The Bible says that when we know the truth, the truth will set us free. I feel such relief. Now that I know what the issue is, I can work on correcting it. It makes so much sense, because now I know it’s a PTSD thing, and I should have figured it out before now because being in a Rite I service is exactly how other PTSD episodes make feel physically.

To everyone that has ever had to hear me go on about Rite I, I am sorry. PTSD is a bitch.