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Thoughts About Brooke

So yesterday Brooke told me I was going to hell because I am not a Christian, and she tried to convince me that she is not brainwashed.

And when I asked her how much she felt cared for by me, she didn’t want to answer. Then she said “I have no doubt that you care about me.” But she did say she felt frustrated. So she’s not totally alexithymic or defensive. A more defensive, more alexithymic person would have said something like, “I don’t feel frustrated. I just feel like you don’t want to listen to me and there is no point in talking to you.” Or she might have said “I just think you don’t want to listen to me...” which is the same thing. Both are thoughts, not feelings.

I hate even talking about religion. I feel hatred for Christians on the whole. But I do care about Brooke. I like her. She’s one of my favorite people in the world right now. And it hurts me to see what has been done to her. Its been done so well she adamantly claims she chose her beliefs and it was her decision. But to me this is a bit like having your taste buds deadened and then being offered only spoiled food or nothing to eat and then saying you chose the spoiled food voluntarily.

In Brooke’s case, something has deadened her feelings. She doesn’t use her feelings to make decisions. She doesn’t think about her feelings. She thinks she is thinking about her feelings when she is thinking about deep thoughts, but that’s different as you and I know. It’s only Brooke and people like her who are semi-alexi, lol, that don’t know the difference. But I’ve grown fond of Brooke and I am going to try to help her, even though I don’t feel too optimistic on this whole Christian thing. I have found that talking to them is worse than talking to a wall. At least a wall doesn’t tell you that you are going to hell.

But let me tell you and Brooke, why I am fond of her, why I care about her. There are a lot of reasons and I will put them in no particular order, just as they pop into consciousness.

- She reminds me of one of my favorite people of all time. Jacquie Scott in Australia. She looks a bit like her, she thinks a bit like her and she’s a bit of a smart ass like Jacquie.

- She lives near a place I used to live when I was young.

- She is trying hard to work on getting more in touch with her feelings, she is trying hard to understand herself and improve herself. Like her ability to have friendships and relationships

- She has been really sweet to Jen. Very patient. Very accepting. Very understanding.

- She has a pretty high self-esteem.

- She trusts me a lot.

- She doesn’t get defensive often

- She laughs at my jokes

- We are about the same age emotionally. (Though most pple would probably say she’s more mature!)

- She’s just 13 btw. So she’s the youngest of all the people I’m talking to. And I have this instinctive “protect the young females” thing. I think its natural and healthy since they do, of course, hold the key to the survival of the species. They are going to be the future moms. And let’s be honest, the world doesn’t need men as much as needs women. Especially now with all the stupid white men in power like George I-surely-must-be-an- idiot-and-can’t-see-it Bush.”

- She paints her fingernails black and wears black clothes even though it makes her Christian mother worry that she is becoming a devil worshipper.

- She’s a good listener.

- She has been helping me with things like cleaning up my journal and doing research on alexithymia.

- She has been looking to me for advice and guidance, without getting dependent, needy or clingy about it.

- I’ve never felt manipulated by her. Never felt attacked and hardly ever felt judged – the only exception being when she told me I was going to hell because I am not a “Christian”, which reminds me that is what I started writing about, isn’t it?

Well, I am pretty drained right now. But I will try to keep writing something that might help Brooke see the problems with dividing up the world into separate religions.

I can’t remember my original thoughts right now, not fully, so I will just make some notes.

I would guess that she starts to feel defensive. Instead of feeling empathy for all the people who are being punished simply for their beliefs, and instead of even feeling empathy for me, who she says intellectually is a “great person”, I would guess she feels defensive. Its pretty much impossible to feel empathy and defensive at the same time.

What I’d like Brooke to do is stop thinking about what the Bible says, and her mother or the people in her church or those who she has known who call themselves “Christians” and just think about someone like me going to hell for eternity. My guess is that she won’t feel very good about that.

The trouble is that her beliefs have already started to corrupt her natural, instinctive feelings. What if Jen said she didn’t believe in god for example, would Brooke think it was more important to “save her soul” than save her life? Would she try to talk to Jen about Jesus and not just listen to Jen as she did the other day?

I have no doubt that one reason teens don’t feel understood and sometimes feel suicidal is because their parents don’t listen to them. Instead their parents lecture to them about all kinds of religious things which have little to no relevance in the teen’s life. For example, take Jen and her school counselor. Let’s say Jen was upset, as she just was, with her school counselor. Would Brooke interrupt Jen and tell her that they should pray together or that she should ask for “god’s” guidance or something? I am pretty sure that this would not be as helpful to Jen as what Brooke did instinctively. Brooke was a better listener than many trained “professionals” the other day when she was listening to Jen. Trained professionals would over-react, for one thing. They would start to lecture her and say she shouldn’t be drinking. They would start giving her all kinds o useless advice like “You need to talk to your parents.” Or they would report Jen to someone and totally destroy her trust.

Anyone who has spent even a little time talking to Jen knows how much it hurt her that her friends betrayed her trust. This is something else I love about teenage females. They know what is really important in life. They know that relationships are important. They know that closeness is important. And they know that trust is essential to a close relationship. Jen has stopped telling people things. She talks to me and Brooke and Ocean and Ana and Sarah L and Sarah W and Milli and Darren and Kelly because she trusts us all. What I have done for Jen, no religious person would ever think of doing. I have introduced her to all these people. People who accept her. Who don’t judge her or lecture her. Religious people, at least pretty much all the ones I have known for my entire life and in every country I have been in, just don’t make very good listeners. Sooner or later they start trying to convert you to their religion. Jen doesn’t need to be converted. She needs to be understood. She needs to be emotionally supported. Religious people might say “Jesus loves you” and “God loves you” but Jesus doesn’t hug people and neither does god. Teenage females like Jen, Ana, Ocean, Sarah, Milli need hugs. I think Brooke does too but she hasn’t allowed herself to feel that need. I didn’t when I was 13 so I sure don’t fault her. Brooke is way ahead of where I was when I was 13 or even 23 or 33. There is no way I would have even been interested in any of this.

Sensitive teen females also need to feel safe. If you have been judged by someone, you don’t feel safe. If you are even afraid of being judged by them, you don’t feel safe. Imagine what would happen if Jen were to go to the Christian church which is part of her school and say that she has been drinking? Can you imagine the lecture she would get? She would probably walk out of there convinced that she is going to hell. She already has an extremely negative self-concept. That might be all she needs to push her over the edge. She might think, well I am going to hell anyhow, so I might was well get it over with. But even if she didn’t kill herself, she would lay awake at night wondering “Does God hate me? Am I a bad person? Am I going to hell if I die?” Just like she lays awake at night wondering if she is really selfish and arrogant like her school counselor told her.

Teenagers don’t need to be worrying about things like that. It’s not helpful. And they know it. So if they are given half a chance, they won’t share their secrets with religious people. Just like Brooke would rather talk to me than to her own school counselor, who chances are pretty good, is probably religious herself. Non-conformists don’t make it very far in the school system. But whether she is religious or not, Brooke has her reasons for not wanting to talk to her. Brooke’s instincts tell her it is not safe. And I can feel pretty sure that if I started lecturing Brooke and judging her and giving her too much advice, she would stop talking to me, too.

I don’t know if she tells her church pastor or whatever it is as much as she tells me. I doubt it. She probably knows it is safer to tell me. She knows I am not going to go run to her mother and say “Oh no! We have to do something! Little Brooky has been cutting herself! This is terrible! What on earth do we do?! I think we better call a psychologist!”

Well, I guess that's enough for today.

So Brooke, how do you feel about what I wrote??




Additional thoughts...

I just remembered David Caruso's explanation for why those people crashed the planes into the twin towers - in other words how he said "because they are evil." I want Brooke to think a little more deeply about cause and effect than that. I don't want her to turn to such simplistic, unhelpful answers. I don't want her to tell her own kids one day "Because it is wrong" when they ask a question. And if they ask why is it wrong, I don't want her to say "it just is." I want her to be able to give more intelligent answers, in other words.

Something else....