- I had noticed over the past couple of days that I can talk easily to members of Richard's family, without the feeling that I'm having to make smalltalk. I'm sure that quite a few of Richard's family members, who've known me a few months, know far more about me than most of the members of my own family who've known me since I was born. I realised why it is that I am not close with my family, even though I have often tried to be.
My family - either on my mum or my dad's side - don't read books. They simply don't. The ones who read at all read "red-top" tabloid newspapers or the tacky weekly women's magazines that sell for 60p. From what I remember of my visits over the years, none of my family members even have books in their houses, with the exception of my nan, who has a bookcase full of books that were left there when her children grew up and moved out. My dad has perhaps two or three books that I have given him, and my mum has around 20.
Whereas Richard's family all have entire houses full of books.
I don't want to be an intellectual snob, but I have no idea what to do with people who watch hours of television every night instead of reading. Admittedly, these days a lot of the reading I do is online rather than in print, but it's still reading - taking in information and learning from it. How can I possibly relate to someone who doesn't read?
There's other things there too - I feel that Richard's family will be much less judgemental than mine would be when they find out about the various ways in which I don't conform to "normality". But I suspect that open-mindedness comes from doing more reading, which brings us all full circle...
- In some ways, I think I'm more upset about Richard's mum's death than Richard is. I know why this is - firstly, that I was already in the middle of a reasonably bad patch of depression when I heard about it, and secondly, that I only had a few years in which to get to know her. Richard had his whole life so far in which to enjoy being around her, but I'd only just met her. I have this feeling of having lost a terribly cool person that I would have liked to spend a lot more time with. I don't meet terribly cool people often enough to be able to just discard one when one comes along, so I'm feeling an enormous sense of loss.
I don't mean to imply that Richard's not upset about his mum - of course he is - he loved her heaps. But in some ways he seems to be coping so much better than I am, and I suspect this is why.
- I felt deeply weird attending a Church of England service for the first time in several years. The last time I remember going to church was in my second year at university, which would be more than four years ago. I hadn't realised it had been that long.
I stopped going to church, and vaguely stopped identifying as "Christian" because I was deeply unhappy with some of the policies of the Church of England. I'm queer and poly, and I'm pretty sure that I'm queer and poly because it's the way God made me, and I'm not happy belonging to a religious group which says that I'm a sinner for going along with the way I'm made instead of fighting my impulses. I believe that the pleasure humans get from sexual expression is a gift from God, and I'm not prepared to listen to my religious leaders tell me that I'm a sinner for wanting to do something fun that makes me feel good and doesn't hurt anyone.
Yet, despite the fact that I don't feel welcome being a member of the Church of England, I felt welcome in that actual church. Richard and I both like to look around old churches, and feel the awe and the power of them. I feel that old churches have a very strong presence. Going into the church felt like coming home.
I realised from this that I'm actually deeply uncomfortable in my present "lack-of-a-religion" state. I haven't actively looked for another group to belong to since I decided I didn't want to be C of E any more. I thought a fair bit about the Quakers, but although identifying strongly with some of their beliefs, I still didn't feel quite right. Recently, some of the more interesting posters on alt.poly have been explaining Judaism, but that's not generally a religion that people convert to unless they're marrying someone who is already Jewish, and I think it would be difficult to become a Jew having been a Christian. Also, I feel that I would like to share my religion with at least one partner, and Richard doesn't have particularly strong Beliefs, and isn't a particular fan of religious ritual.
However, Richard is talking about getting married soon, and I've always thought of marriage as a religious commitment. I would like to be married by a minister of a religion that I am a member of. I feel weird that Richard's mum, who wasn't a practising Christian, got buried in a C of E service.
Some time ago, a number of people recommended the UU Church to me. I looked into it, decided it would probably be a very good fit for me, but couldn't find any congregations near me. This time, I went to Google, and actually found the website of the British Unitarians. It seems that there's a couple of churches a reasonable distance from me, and we could possibly go there soon.
I would like to have this resolved as soon as possible, because so many things are feeding my depression at the moment, and any insecurity just makes it all so much worse...
I feel better for writing this all out. Richard actually asked me yesterday if starting this journal had helped me at all, and I told him that it had, a lot. He said "I thought so". Thrashing through my feelings is much easier when I actually write them all down. I'm going to have dinner now, and go to bed.