One down, 239 to go. Weeks of seminary, that is. I have a handful of different ways of explaining how I got here- and more importantly, how I agreed to stay here taking 16 units a quarter, four quarters a year, for the next six years. My general answer is to shrug and say that I don’t know. If someone pushes me a bit further, I will recite some brief speech on how my PhD will enable me to do anything and everything I might want to do in the field of psychology, how I love the area, or how I just didn’t get any other grad school applications in before the shit hit the fan at work. What I almost never tell people is that I came because I am terrified, more terrified than I can remember having ever been of anything- of facing the questions and conversations that I know I will have to face while I am here, and that is exactly why I have to stay and face them.

While traveling this summer, I entertained fleeting thoughts of dropping out before I even arrived at this seminary/psychology grad school and heading somewhere like the women’s studies program at Berkeley instead. But that would be the easier thing to do, and taking the easy way out has really never been my style. And so here I am, in a program that prides itself on teaching integration, seeking out a sort of personal integration of my own. What they teach here is an integration of Christianity and Psychology, but what I’m here to learn is an integration of a different sort- an integration of my faith with my increasing awareness of my sexuality, and what a poor match it is for the heteronormative culture in which I find myself embedded.

So far, my progress has not been stellar. I make a lot of alternatingly weeping and fury-laced phone calls to my friend B, who is raging her own, less closeted war in grad school out in North Carolina. On days like today, I also might make a quick pit stop at the coffee shop down the street, where the woman behind the counter, an old friend who happens to be one of the few people on this side of the country with whom I share a sense of camaraderie in any of this, notices before I do that I am shaking from some inexact combination of stress and over-caffeination, and consequently offers me a cup of decaffeinated tea instead of the nonfat triple latte that I had planned on ordering. But it turns out that the tea actually does a pretty decent job of calming me down, and the ranting with B generally do an even better job, and before too long I find that I am remembering how to breathe, which is a really great thing to remember, and an excellent place to start, I think, all things considered. And then eventually, I also start to find that just a little, just around the edges and maybe a tad bit in the center, I am also remembering how to be. To be authentic. To be honest with myself. To be the way I am increasingly understanding I was created to be.

Under the circumstances of me being a seminary student, and a PhD student, and whatever the hell all that entails, now might be when you would expect me to launch into some sort of sermon on all the peace and inner tranquility I am finding, and how others can find it to. But remember, I said it was just a little bit here and there, and really for the most part I am still all twitchy and weepy and angry and uncertain inside, so I’m afraid there will be no sermonizing or lists of five easy to steps to inner peace coming from this direction. No, the truth of the matter is, I am not expecting to find many answers, not now or in the foreseeable future. I don’t hold much faith in clear-cut answers anyway, and I haven’t for quite some time now. But what I am looking to find is my misplaced words. My friend, the one from behind the counter at the coffee shop, used to tell me back when life was not quite so complicated, or at least complicated in a whole slew of different ways, that when you let something steal your words, you let it hold far too much power over you. And I’ve let my terror over facing my sexuality steal my words for way too long now, and I am determined to find my way back to them- if an anonymous blog of rambling word vomit is the only way to do, then so be it. We’ve all got to start somewhere, don’t we?

So today, today I am clinging to the fact the I may be feeling particularly damaged and unstable, but B assures me that I am not alone in this. I am joined in a sort of collective instability with all of us who identify with at least one of the initials that make up the acronym for the list of sexual minorities, which I know begins with LGBTQ, but I can’t seem to remember how it ends, no matter how many times she tells me. And maybe that it is true for the whole situation, come to think of it- I know where it begins- with this painful/weepy/angry sense of collective instability, but I don’t yet know where it ends. I pray that it will be in a different place, far from here. That is the closest I can come to praying these days. For now, it is enough.