I knew I was born to FREAK when I decided to be my own damn authority.
My Own Damn Authority
By Anna Kunnecke
This is a radical act for a woman, especially for a woman like me who was raised in a religious environment where ‘authority’ wasn’t a vague concept, it was as literal as hellfire and potlucks.
Growing up, I had many authorities:
My parents, Sunday School teachers, pastors. If I ever got married, my husband.The Big Book with the gold edges was the final authority, even when it contradicted itself.
Then there was God. He—and it was most definitely a He—was the big boss.
I was just a little tiny sprout of a thing, waaay down at the bottom of the hierarchy.
My only responsibility was to do as I was told. Simple!
But I had some trouble.
For starters, there was that pesky rage I felt at church: the blurred vision and churning stomach. This was bothersome, since I went to church forty-two days a week.
Then later during college there was the deathly heaviness that settled over my limbs at Bible Study (on my liberal feminist campus, just to make it fun) when we spoke solemnly about how the husband’s authority over the wife was truly a beautiful teaching that guaranteed wives peace and orgasms.
Instead of feeling peace (let alone an orgasm), I seemed to have swallowed a gallon of gasoline, and I was either going to be sick or ignite into a fiery plume of exhausted fury.
Tiny little troubles like that. Hardly worth mentioning.
I believed completely that the problem was me. Oh, I railed against certain more hard-core aspects of my religion, but I was deeply convinced that I was flawed and didn’t have the right to fight The Truth. (You simply must believe that to be the kind of Christian I was; it’s fundamental doctrine.)
Two years later I was lying on my bathroom floor. My confused but devout husband banged on the door, so I finally lifted my cheek from the cheap black and white linoleum. I stood up and looked at myself in the mirror. I absolutely loathed the woman I saw there. I wanted to destroy her. I hated that I couldn’t control her, that she wanted so many things that were Very Wrong: independence, equality, sensuous beauty and pleasure. And I understood very clearly at that moment that unless I did something drastic, I was going to kill myself.
I was 23.
So I did something beyond the pale. It was an invisible shift, as so many of the bravest shifts are.
I wondered, silently, to myself, whether maybe my life was worth more than my religion, marriage, or God’s will.
The possibility welled up in my chest like liquid gold—sweet, delicious—and I choked with terror.
I would be stepping away from everyone I loved. I was defying the very order of the universe as I knew it.
It was the beginning of a declaration that I loved myself more than my husband, my family, my friends, my god, or my salvation. And that I wouldn’t let this newly beloved self die.
Crazy as this may sound, I’m now acutely grateful for the misery of that bathroom floor. If I hadn’t been in such agony, I might have stayed my whole life in a religion that was, in retrospect, not a great fit for me. (Ya think?)
My own freakish nature saved me from a long quiet poisoning. The churn of my own stomach and the fury that I tried so hard to tame—these were loving helpers in disguise, pushing me out of a life that was utterly wrong for me.
Is there something in you desperately trying to get your attention? Could your own freakish nature, your most horrifying yearnings, be your truest compass?
Far from leading me to hell, those yearnings have led me to a deep communion with a universe fueled by love. I believe there’s an infinitely loving heartbeat that beats below everything, but I was cut off from experiencing that love as long as I was cut off from my true self.
My own heathen mystic yearnings have led me to a life that continues to unfold in mystery and beauty. Right now I’m typing in my sweet Portland apartment, looking out at an emerald green park. My daughter lights up my days with her sass and humor. My clients are a cool stream of water to me, and I get to spend my days helping other women declare dominion over their own lives, choices, and spirits.
You see, sometimes that simple declaration—of your own authority over your life—is a radical, revolutionary, healing act. And heaven knows, the world needs more of those.