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Posted by Joel Greene on

Memoirs of a Pseudo Life | Ages 15-23

Before reading this post, I recommend you take the opportunity to read my second memoir entry.

So as I left off in the last post, I had just started having a crush on my youth pastor’s daughter, Cody. Yes, Cody is a girl and it I didn’t even know that Cody was normally a boys name until later.

After having Simber reject me so fast, I was cautious. That is until a couple of the other boys that also had crushes on Cody, found out. After the guy who I thought had the running lead for her affection moved away, I tried to gain her trust but she sort of still had no interest in me. Putting crushes aside, I continued to have some difficulty relating with other boys and the girls were finally starting to open back up to me but were more interested in boyfriend and girlfriend relationships. I can even remember a couple girls having crushes on me but nothing ever came of them, typically it was because they were not my type (If I ever knew what that type was) or because I had a crush on Cody, so I sort of ignored  them. (Sorry, whoever you are.)

One heavily involved family at church, had a couple boys who were about my age. And from time to time, we got opportunities to spend time together. One such time, was Sunday after church when their family had invited other prominent church families over for a cookout. I was always much more innocent and younger looking, so many boys quickly rocketed past me in height and build. Heck, I can even remember a few girls being taller than me for a while. That afternoon, myself, the two boys, and a couple of their friends were chatting in the bedroom and for reasons unknown to me, the four of them decided to take the opportunity and torment me, by locking the bedroom door and shouting insults my way, all while I curled up in a ball in the corner. While I was fortunate to not have been physically harmed, it was a defacto scaring experience in my life to have other boys take advantage of my demeanor. For many years during my youth, I encountered time after time, boys my age or slightly older, be cruel and bully me. It was a huge betrayal of trust and I can remember have very little trust in many guys after that, I always got much more along with adults or girls who would give me the time of day.

There however one boy that I became friends with, Ryan. His family started coming to our church after God called his dad into our small town revival and made a total renovation on his family. I could write a whole section on this but I’ll spare you the details. We had a fairly close friendship and Ryan for a while was a positive encouragement to pursue God more. I hung out with his family and stayed over for a week once while my parents went on a Cruise.

I’m going to break this mundane story for a moment and tell about a funny time with his family. So I was working at Walt’s Food Center at the time and it was common for me to work late, so this one week when my parent went out of town. I came back late and Ryan’s mom made sloppy joes for dinner. She served me up a couple sandwiches and I began to eat, one my very first bite, I look down and right at the edge of my teeth marks was a dead fly mixed with the meat. I didn’t usually react to such things but I leaned over to Ryan’s dad and showed him the fly saying “Don’t tell her but I found a fly.” Suddenly he fly up from his chair ripping the sandwich from my hand yelling “HONEY! Joel found the fly!” I was confused but after things calmed down, turns out the family just played fly roulette. Apparently while cooking, a fly was buzzing around and she smack it with a fly swatter, only for it to get lost in the sloppy joes. The whole time the family was suspecting someone ate it and never expected for it show up in my sandwich.

One afternoon, while driving around going to the mall to meet friends, getting lunch, and finally going to the local park to play a game of volleyball with friends. We were sitting in the car and after feeling more comfortable with Ryan, I can remember saying something in the regards of what if I was girl. I don’t remember the context and I’m sure part of it was coming from my gender identity struggle. And now that I think about it, I was probably joking that if I was a girl, Ryan would have been the type of guy I would be into, but do know I was never gay and it was purely a what if thought. But while he was getting out of the car, he remarked “While, if you were a girl, I’m sure we wouldn’t know each other.” And that boggled me for sometime, as I didn’t know what he meant by it. It would have come out years later after he turned away from God, that it would have come out that he was now openly gay and apparently he dealt with this issue prior to us even knowing each other.

Fast forward through ages 15-18, I was actively involved in our youth group, doing overheads and handling pre-service games from time to time. I had also started driving at the age of 16 and owned a 1993 Convertible Ford Mustang. I start referring to my youth pastors as a sort of mentor in my life and with the included three trips to the Brownsville youth rallies (Branded by Fire), I had won over the trust of Cody’s father. So I made it a point to hang out with him and his family more often, I think I was over a few time, most the time it was to fix computer issues. By this time, there was no denying that Cody had become aware of my liking for her, I tried frequently to hang out but I had difficulty since her friends were not my friends. But wanting to do the right thing I decided that getting the approval to pursue her from her father was the first step, something I felt none of the other guys were doing right. I don’t remember how it started but I invited her father out to dinner and a White Sox game. You know, dated her father, which I still stand by as a great way for a young man to start dating a girl he likes. The day went quite well and during dinner had a conversation about my future and aspirations. At the time I believe I had just started working at Radioshack and at the plans to possibly move up to a Store Manager. Everything was fine until it came time to drive over to Sox Park. While in the car I hinted at my interest in Cody and this is when things didn’t go so well, he basically told me that his daughter was not interested in having a boyfriend. He never gave me exactly an answer if he was okay with it but I felt like while he was sincere that Cody wasn’t interested in anything serious, (Which I respect) I felt like he was more so telling me to stay away, than she was.

By this time, things were getting better with other guys my age, probably because their hormones were finally balancing out. But sadly girls were like always only interested in relationships, I did find it a bit easier to talk with them but nothing like when I was a preteen. By late 18, I was well on my way working at Radioshack and Revival had come to a close shortly after our church moved to a new building in Matteson, Illinois, also renaming themselves to Believers Church. To this day, it’s incredibly sad that designed a new building with the intend on continuing Revival, as we had all the necessities anyone would want. To this day many people have a hard time believing why certain design decisions were made, but truly could only understand if they experienced that small town Revival years before.

A few years into our new building and out of nowhere my youth pastor just out stopped coming to church and I assumed he officially had quit. I was waiting for them to show up one Sunday to give them something and when I didn’t see them I called, only to confirm this fact. After learning that several other high-up families also just quit coming and many of them took the route of insulting our pastor via a letter. One longtime deacon did just that, calling our pastor terrible names and never confronted him personally. For reasons unknown, most of them left with bitterness in their hearts. Regardless, I felt somewhat betrayed and confused, I was never given details to his reasons but the weeks following, the pastor’s daughter was put in charge of the youth.

Since I didn’t take much of an active role in meeting people outside of church and many of the people my age range had left, my parents finally spoke up and suggested my sister and I started looking another church, preferably with young people to date. I can distinctly remember visiting two, one was a Japanese church far up north (I’ll save my passion for Japanese people for later.) and the other was Second Place church, where I learned many of the younger people from our church went, including my ex-youth pastors. My sister and I went one Sunday morning, and while the service was good, it was what came afterwards that shocked me and made me decide to part ways with many of these people.

I had not only the opportunity to speak with my ex-youth pastor for a bit, I also spoke with several other previous members of Believes, and generally I just felt like all their words were very unchristian and bitter as expected. My youth pastor in particular did not speak kindly of Believers Church and he even went as far to suggest my family should just quit because Believers Church was dead and not going anyplace. I do strongly disagree with that claim because when his family initially left and I asked if they had found another church, he claimed they felt like God told them to leave. I’m sorry, but that was in no way God. He even says in the Bible, to not neglect the gathering of believers, if he truly wanted you to leave, he would have proved a new church before telling you to leave. And this is when I ended nearly all connection with past members of Believers Church.

Not to get out of order here, but years later, 2015 to be exact I got married to my now wife and out of honor for what used to be, we invited my ex-youth pastors. Keep in mind for years I was never able to get phone calls through to him, he rarely answered but I wanted to do the right thing. A week later, I received a phone call and it was his wife replying to our invite. She didn’t take a moment to ask how things have been or ask questions about my fiance, she simply said flat out that they were unable to attend, no reason what so ever. I’ve had many people suggest that since we were having the wedding at Believers Church and that our pastor was our officiant, that our of a bruised ego, they didn’t want to have to deal with old church people. That was the end of it for me, it has given my a largely broken heart for a family that the Devil has blinded. I can only pray that God helps them once again in the near future.

By my early twenties, my issues had returned to all time highs. My abuse of food and my emotional stress was a hitting it’s breaking point. It was easier from the ages of 12 to 18 to conceal my gender identity struggle since God became more of a focal point in my life, but once Revival ended and church became a place of only Sunday morning feel good sermons, my issues resurfaced and grew even larger.

Posted by Joel Greene on

Memoirs of a Pseudo Life | Ages 10-15

Before reading this post, I recommend you take the opportunity to read my first memoir entry.

So as I left off from my last post, by the age of 9, I came to make a strong friendship with the daughter of my mother’s high-school best friend. She was roughly my age and we got along very well. She appreciated many of the same things as I, such as bike riding (which was a skill I had recently learned at this point), playing pretend house, building forts. Plus to much my surprise, my mom even permitted us to have sleepovers. Course I got the typical you’re a boy and she’s a girl, so don’t do this or that speech but fairly easy stuff considering I was friends for the friendship, not because I necessarily liked her.

But to my dismay, as I grew my desire to have been born a girl only grew with me. It was still frowned upon at home to play with “girls” toys, so it was commonly preferred to play or have sleepovers over at her house. By the age of nearly 11, I mostly grew out of my childish toys and playing things like pretend house, but nonetheless Stephanie and I continued to have sleepovers and playdates.

Sometime between the ages of 8 and 10, my mom was apart of a homeschooling support group at our church. Every Thursday, the parents would gather and discuss their evil plans on how to further the ultra conservative movement… just kidding, I mean discuss how their kids were doing and their individual curriculums. We the kids, on the other hand, would sit at two tables in the youth room and do our school work. Unfortunately, just like any other church activity, they forced us to sit at a boys table and girls table.

At such a young age, this didn’t make a whole lot of sense. To be honest, it still doesn’t make much sense. On this one particular day, a girl who bullied me well into my teens, called over and out loud, claimed I was sitting at the wrong table. I obviously knew she had to be jesting but I proceeded to ask why, in which say replied “Because you’re not really a boy, your just a girl trying to pretend to be a boy. But we all know you’re really a girl…”. Again, I well knew she was joking and was probably picking on me, because she liked me but in any case, this is not something you say to a boy actually wishing he was a girl. While it was not a negative experience, it was just an ill experience that worsened my dark fantasies.

Easter | March 30th 1997

I remember March 30th 1997 well, it was the day that Revival broke out in our small church in the corn fields of Monee, Illinois. Exactly one year after the Smithton Outpouring (My current church) and nearly two years from when the Brownsville Revival started. My church was into putting on stage productions and the rehearsal for our Easter resurrection play came immediately after a group of people returned from visiting the Smithton Outpouring. From the stories I was told, this experience drove people to cry out for a revival awakening at Christian Life Fellow during their moments of prayer before and after the play rehearsal. Only after a few weeks, the church was primed for Revival and the week following, we had our first Revival service. It was four services a week and we had people come from all over the world to see our tiny church of less than 500 people.

With Revival and having a good friend like Stephanie, things were good. Even for a while I would hang with the girls after service and do things like braid hair; Which by the way I was named the best at braiding hair, which made several girls jealous. That is until puberty hit. I don’t know for sure but I was somewhat a late bloomer, not like really late but easily one of the last to experience it. I couldn’t understand why but slowly the girls I did know at church, started ignoring me and preferring to hang with other girls their age. The boys just got rougher and started talking about girls in purely relationship ways, and some even got outright sexual, likely a side effect of going to a public school. I even encountered one formal friend in my neighborhood who apparently already had sex at the age of 13. Which that was when my father finally gave me the talk about the birds and the bees. Let’s say he was extremely nervous about telling me (in the car after lunch) and I on the other hand, was more so not surprised but very much still unsure why my friends changed so much.

And this is when things started going downhill. My long time friend, started losing interest in hanging out. I felt like she instead had interest in a neighborhood boy and was hanging out with me less and less. By one point she was riding off on her bike to hang with friends that I didn’t know. And that is when I felt that in order for me to keep a friendship with her, I was going to have to have a crush on her too. I don’t very well remember how I went about this. That is until the last time I remember seeing her; I got invited to her birthday party at the roller rink. To show my love for her, I worked all day on a basket with candy and a nice card confessing my love for her (I don’t think I said love but for that age, I might have.). I didn’t get many opportunities to hang with her at the party as I never learned to skate but when the time came to give her my present. I set it in her lap and all I can remember is she just sat staring at it and after a few moments putting it aside, no “thank you” or “it’s nice”, just silence. I was heartbroken and I can remember the rest of the night, just sat waiting to go home. Right as we were loading up the van and I was waiting for my mom to finish talking with her mother. She came up to me and finally thanked me for the wonderful basket and card. It made me feel better but I had a suspicion that someone had her to say “thank you”.

It wasn’t until a few years ago, that brought up this memory with my mom and she told me that something I didn’t know. Apparently her Mom had a freak out over my gift and card. And it had something to do with an experience she had when she was young, a boy much around our age, hurt her feelings after becoming boyfriend and girlfriend. And it wasn’t just that once, she did it for a while and those negative emotions she expressed, she focused on her daughter and chances were her mom is what killed our friendship. She might have even been the reason we started seeing each other less. I don’t know. But the point is, I never saw her again after that. I became friends with her on Facebook a while back and I’ve not yet worked up the courage to message her, which I’m not sure it would be appropriate considering she is now married.

During this time and the years following, I fell into a deep subconscious depression. Even my cousins started doing other things and because of some family issues, we stopped hanging out. I tried my utmost to suppress my fantasy of being a girl and joined the crowd. While I was still high-spirited on the outside for a while, inside I was struggling to breath and I didn’t even know what was happening. I couldn’t ask for help when I didn’t even recognize what was right or wrong anymore. And worst of all, I was overeating and since my family didn’t have great eating habits in place, my parents never tried addressing it. My weight issues from that abuse of food and lack of exercise, has caused issues for me to this very day. My body being overweight for so long, has ruined my natural ability to maintain a healthy weight. 🙁

Along with not knowing what was right or wrong, I turned to trying my absolute best to get along with the other boys. Since I was now spending more time at church, than anyplace else, the church boys were all I had. To win over their trust, I tried looking cool by talking about girls like objects or having gross conversations. I even started neglecting my interest in GOD, to instead hang with them after service each night. That is until one night, while trying to “be cool” I took a scrap of paper and drew what was a crude picture of a naked women. One friend of mine, who knew this wasn’t normal (or appropriate) for myself, went straight to my dad and told him, which as expected my Dad had a fit. And to be honest, I’m glad he did. It helped me get my act together.

During this phase, I received the gift of speaking in tongues and became friends with a boy named Jaden. He was an odd kid too, as he also didn’t fit in with normal boys and we got along. I hung out with his family and slept over a couple times while I was younger. That is until something happen with his Dad and well… They had to essentially go into hiding. It was all legal and everything, and I can’t go into details here. It was just too sad and it tore the family apart.

For the years that followed, I went from crush to crush. One girl named Simber, who was technically my very first crush and had denied me fairly quickly after I wrote her a love letter. Once I was old enough, I moved up to the Poszest Youth Group and had a crush on the youth pastor’s daughter, Cody.

American Girl Dolls

So this might seem a little strange, to have in it’s own section but it would have been hard to mix in with all my other life chaos. So when I was around 12 or so, my sister was given her first American Girl doll for Christmas (or maybe her birthday) one year and my mom collected the book series and so forth. While I could never play with my sister’s doll or own one of my own, I did get away with reading the books for school. I’m honestly surprised my Mom even let me. I started with Molly, Heidi, Felicity, Kit, and Kristen; And as of 2016, I’ve also read Rebecca (Probably my favorite so far) and Caroline. I dreamed of owning my own doll and all the accessories. I even had a catalog request card I had filled out in the name of Jennifer Greene and had the dream of being able to receive those catalogs in my (fake) name.

I was so knowledgeable about American Girl dolls by 14, that one day while visiting a family from Church. I spent over 20 minutes talking with my friend’s sister about our favorite dolls, she collected nearly every doll and was also very knowledgeable.

But again, I end my memoir here and will continue in the next part.