Saturday, May 30, 2009

Overwhelmed with email

The response to my Bonhoeffer talk has been nothing short of astonishing. The depth of questions, comments, sharing and interest has startled me. I didn't really expect anyone to watch a 47 minute talk on a computer monitor let alone engage the ideas. Thank you for being interested!

Over the next week or so, I want to explore some of the feedback to Bonhoeffer. Excellent thoughts, ideas and of course, now new questions. :) If you have ideas or thoughts you want to explore with me, please post them in the comments section or send me an email juliecinci [at] gmail [dot] com. Also, yes, I enjoy speaking and if you want me to come to where you are, I will.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Bonhoeffer: Religionless Christianity

This is an audio of my talk from the Truth Voice (Subversion) Conference in Dayton last weekend. We have a video of it, but right now only 12 minutes are posted. I'll put up the embed once they have re-uploaded it. I think audio is less distracting anyway (I use my hands so much! lol).

Bonhoeffer: Religionless Christianity

The meat of the material really gets going after minute 13. I give an introduction that includes personal story and some biographical detail of Bonhoeffer's life. I'd welcome any engagement with these ideas. Am slowly putting together a little dossier of materials, insights, writings and stories to include eventually in some sort of book. Yes, the elusive book goal! :)

Anyway, enjoy!

Here I am!

Julie Bogart: Bonhoeffer's Letters from Prison from Virgil Vaduva on Vimeo.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The way it is

I've started about five blog entries in the last several weeks. Here's the thing. I don't do well with secrecy, with protecting my inner life from view. I'm a bit of a soul-exhibitionist, in case you hadn't noticed. Yet these last several months have required a bit of delicacy in what I share. I've slowly let the story out with those who've asked privately. I'm finally to a place now where I can share more. So let me do that so you know what's going on with me.

In January, my husband and I separated. We've had a little back and forth since then (where he's lived at home again) but as of April, the separation became certain. We are living apart and sharing the kids. No one does this kind of thing lightly. The articles, books, radio show hosts that talk about divorce being too easy these days and how marriage partners dump long-term commitment for a younger model or because they're bored and want an "easy way out," are insensitive jerks. They're living in some fantasy I call "ideological-land" where they create a narrative to back up their defensive apologetics to describe the world as they would like it to be. It would be far more helpful if they stopped talking about how easy it is to leave a marriage and focused on how heroic so many people are for staying in them while in excruciating, soul-alienating pain.

Truth is, I have yet to meet anyone who has cavalierly tossed a marriage aside. Who does that? The ones that do must not be well-publicized, because by now I would have met this overwhelming majority. Rather, most people I've met, read, had the privilege of knowing who've been through separation and/or divorce, agonize over the loss of history, shared story, children, couple identity, joint assets and even that happiest of experiences: familiarity. For longterm marriages like ours (24 years), upsetting the apple cart of our family's story has been the most emotionally exhausting and painful thing we've ever done.

It's a myth to think that people move on to avoid the hard work of repairing their marriages. Did you know statistically, for instance, that married men who have affairs are far more likely to return to their wives than to leave them for the other woman? FAR more likely. Even when they are still in love with the other woman! The reasons to stay married are compelling and powerful, even when there's violence, alcoholism, drug addiction, emotional and verbal abuse, and extramarital affairs. So imagine some of the lesser reasons couples become dissatisfied (growing apart, financial instability, fundamental differences in lifestyle or religious outlook, trauma in the form of illness or wayward child, job loss...) and realize that people do tend to figure out ways to put up with a lot of crap for the sake of the "institution" or more poignantly, their families that they love, or more cynically, their fear of the unknown.

In fact, now that I'm in the whirlpool of marital dysfunction, I can't believe the divorce rate isn't higher! One of the most startling discoveries during this process is how many friends have shared their marital stories with me and how many suffer... a lot. Yet they stay married. (Many of them can't think of anything else to do since they haven't worked in 20+ years, either). Clearly the social pressure to protect the status quo "works" (I use that term loosely) a lot better than most of us give it credit for.

In my case, having been a child of divorce, I've never ever ever imagined that my life would include a separation. In fact, if I had one goal in my life that was immovable, it was to make it to the end with Jon. And that is still my hope... that somehow out of the ashes, we'll be able to rebirth a marriage worth sharing, keeping and protecting. For now, though, I live in a shattered dream state. It takes a lot of mental and emotional energy. I thought you should know.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Finding yourSelf

In the 70's, I "got saved" during the "I Found It" campaign. My very Jewish community put bumper stickers on their cars that said, "We never lost it."

Sometimes when I think about "finding myself" (that birthright of all Californians), I waver between these two feelings: "Aha! There I am! I found it!" At other times, I cynically look at the ways other people try to define me, tell me how to feel, what I ought to know, who I ought to be... and I feel like saying, "Buddy, I never lost it. I know who I am."

I don't know why it is that I'm compelled to work on mySelf. (Is it DNA? culture? growing up near the ocean? my astrological sign: Scorpio? my myers briggs temperament: ENFP? being parented by a mom who read I'm Okay; You're Okay at a critical juncture in my teen years - "You're in your child!" "But Mom... I AM a child!"?) So many people are completely able to disregard themSelves. They make big mistakes, they have affairs, they rage, they get addicted, they overeat, they lose jobs, they obsess over porn, they shame and abuse, they cavalierly break promises... and still don't go to private therapy, aren't compelled to drink cafe latte at Barnes and Noble poring over books in the "help thyself" section, seeking an answer for how they allowed themselves to wander into the black hole of dysfunction, abuse, and secrecy.

Sometimes these perpetrators of relationship dysfunction pop into the local counselor's office for a tune up (guilt combined with "relationship pressure" leads to a couple of sessions for many of these types). But that sustained curiosity for how their souls function, for why brokenness attends their most intimate relationships, for how they cause pain to the people they say they love is absent. In some cases, the partner who had an affair and returns to his wife is so relieved to escape detection, he lies in therapy! Not much self-understanding getting through there!

And weirdly, even with dramatic measures, some of these people continue on their self-creating, medicating, papering over, reframing, bubbling optimism ways about their newfound selves rather than the necessary deconstruction of their cavalier mistreatment and secrecy that would bring genuine healing to the people they've hurt.

Meanwhile, I know women who didn't have the affair, but who have read every book on affairs to try to understand the husband who wants to be forgiven and to come back (he doesn't read the books - she does!). I know men who were berated and beaten down by controlling wives and the ex husband lands in therapy for ten years, while the ex-wife carries on secure in their old friendships with seemingly few consequences. I know verbally abused wives who spend money, time and energy on becoming strong enough to withstand the nutbrain who will dog her life with complications for as long as they share children, giving away valuable hours and brain cells to the blackhole of brokenness, instead of her artistic talents or her generous nature.

I'm the therapy and self-help section gal. I've spent countless (really!) hours working on mySelf, wanting to understand how to be good, decent, fair, healthy, assertive, self-protecting, kind, generous, forgiving, line-drawing, boundary-making, communicative... hours I will never get back for writing books, painting paintings, horse-back riding, and surfing. The quest to know mySelf, of course, has yielded good things too. I have a firmer sense of what I will and won't tolerate, of what it means to hold out for healthy relationships, of what it means to be self-reliant in that "I know I can count on me" way.

But today... I'm sick of finding mySelf. I've put in a lot of time on this endeavor and so much of that work has been to shore up relating to broken people not similarly invested. I surveyed the landscape of my relationships. My yoga instructor gave us the following meditation on Wednesday:
I will protect myself from people who take more than they give.

I will surround myself with loving, giving people.
If you aren't invested enough in giving more than you take, you're on notice. I won't waste more of my life working on mySelf to adapt to you. Finding oneSelf is about becoming a peaceful, whole, authentic, ethical person of substance who can see across the chasm to another person's pain (particularly if you caused it)... and then doing something about it.

My mother, five years after her divorce, gave me the greatest gift of all. She told me that she knew the divorce caused me pain. She also knew the pain would come in waves for the rest of my life. She said, "Julie, while I'm living, you may come to me at any time with your pain related to the divorce and I will hear you. I will hold it for you and let you express it. There will never be a day when I am done listening to you or what you've suffered."

That's a woman who knows herSelf.