Published piece: Threads of Hope

Hey faithful readers,

I got published! I wrote a piece for Radiant on hope, and I also got to read it on an open mic night for them and Ever Eden. Here’s a little teaser and a link to read it.

I woke in a puddle of blood. As I rushed to the bathroom, tendrils curling around my legs, I felt my fear coming into stark reality. She was gone. We had lost Emma three years before, and this pregnancy was just long enough (31 weeks) for the process to be my worst nightmare. Shaking uncontrollably at what was to come, I woke my husband. We haphazardly gathered our belongings and rushed to the hospital

Read the rest at: https://radiantmagazine.com/2020/04/22/threads-of-hope/

The Silence

For the last few weeks, I’ve barely posted on here. I felt guilty and I insulted myself for it, but it wasn’t until tonight that I realized what I was doing.

I have a bad habit of getting too caught up in what everyone else thinks about me. We have all heard that one, I guess, but for me it’s true. I am such a people pleaser that I have almost literally served myself to death at times. It takes a superhuman amount of strength for me to pull myself out of the shame spirals that result from this, because no matter how hard any person tries, you cannot please everyone every time. Which means that if you try you will just end up in a tornado of failed attempts.

Well, I got into my drafts this week, and I got to see concrete evidence of me letting my people pleasing kill my creativity. There was post after post that I remembered being so excited about posting, but then I felt awkward or embarrassed, or afraid. I doubted myself, and I let it keep me from posting and from writing.

I have fought this battle before and I will fight it again, but today it’s time for me to pick back up the pen, (figuratively, I don’t write with a stylus on here. 😉 )

My Worst Nightmare

I had every writers worst nightmare happen to me today. I got a good look at everything I don’t have. I don’t have writing credits, I don’t have many connections, I don’t have time, I don’t have so many things it hurts. I posted my own rec post, but I don’t know that it’s really meant for people like me. The other writers all seem to have something more than me, confidence, support, experience, again, time.

It’s an age-old problem for artists. I know this. Ive been trying to tell myself that all day today. This is the curse of being an artist, feeling like you have nothing to offer, and offering it anyway, and sometimes even acting like you have the world to offer, and sometimes thinking you do.

I read some entries for contests I was going to enter last night too, which didn’t help. On some level, I knew I was not at the same level as these people. I’m not a genius with dialogue, I don’t write character studies-yet. I’m not the perfect seasoned writer. But I did think my movies were worth seeing. Now I don’t know.

Today, I don’t know why I even bother. Today, I wonder if screenwriting was just a fantasy I made up in my head because being a kid was too hard. Maybe my parents and everyone who told me not to dream were right. Maybe what I have to say really doesn’t matter. Maybe I’m supposed to give it up. But I don’t want to. It is in my blood. It was my hope and my dream my entire life, and it never leaves me. No matter how hard I try to shut it up, or pretend I don’t want it, I breathe this.

It is what gives me hope while the entire world seems to be falling down around me. It is what gave me shelter when the whole world seemed too bleak to survive. I prayed, yes, and prayer matters, but deep down amidst the despair I need my voice to be heard, I need to do what I’m meant to do, and I do believe I’m meant to do this. God knows me, and He knows my heart, and He knows I have this in me. Even if I sound like a complete idiot to everyone around me.

I am terrified that I have this need and desire for no reason, that it’s some sort of joke from my own stupid psychosis and a God that doesn’t care. There have been times when my entire life is defined by this fear. I want to believe that God gives us our desires for a reason, and that He will fulfill them. On this, I place my hope, and I pray everyday that I’m not wrong.

The Power of Unity: a review of Grey’s Anatomy on Abuse(TRIGGER WARNING EXPLICIT CONTENT AND SPOILERS)

Tonight, on Grey’s Anatomy, I witnessed, in my opinion, one of the most powerful moments of television in all of history. It may get missed, because we are in season eleventy hundred at this point, but it shouldn’t. It was an episode about abuse and assault, and there a million things to talk about about how masterful everyone involved was. The pivotal moment of the episode was a message of unity, a message to every single survivor of every single kind of suffering or trauma. “You are not alone.”

The episode begins with Meredith’s traditional monologue, this time about trauma, and how it can hide in the most banal moments of existence. Just as a memory of home can appear as quick as the wafting smell of apple pie, a flash of light at the wrong angle can send a person back to the moment they were dead, or wished they were. Immediately, Grey’s is letting us know that the episode may be about one kind of trauma, as we all know from the trailers and warnings, but it’s also about every kind.

Next, we see Jo in her aftermath of whatever she discovered with her birthmother, though we haven’t been clued in yet. She finds a woman who is clearly experiencing severe suffering, and helps her to the ER. This was the first life-changing moment of the episode. Jo looks in the woman’s eyes, and instead of telling her where the emergency room is, she drops everything, all of her own struggles, the busy-ness she is using to escape, and her work for the day, to help this woman to get to where she needed to go, and to keep her safe.

The story unfolds alongside the story of Jo’s discussion with her birth mother. Jo is angry at her mother because of the scars she has from feeling abandoned and unloved. Her mother is scarred in different ways but is just as strong, and just as wounded. She confesses to Jo that she was raped, and that Jo resulted from that rape. Jo fights back with the wounds that she has, trying to forge some sort of connection, but also clearly struggling with the tension of realizing that her suffering was not the whole story.

Whether you believe in abortion or not, the next conversation they have is a gut-wrenching one. She admits that when she saw Jo she fell head over heels in love with her, but that she couldn’t stop seeing her aggressors face whenever she saw Jo. She tells Jo she didn’t have her best to give when she abandoned her at a fire station. Jo responds by telling her that she had an abortion when she got pregnant by her abuser.

It is an uncomfortable moment. Jo’s mother looks away. The set-up of the conversation is all to real, in its awkwardness. There was a moment that all I could ask was, “Is she angry that her mother didn’t abort her?” There was a sense that Jo did think she should have, and the mother’s reaction was immediate and intense, but vague. Shonda Rhimes’ shows are consistent about this when dealing with abortion, she is very conscious of the differing opinions and the pain associated with it on either side, and in true Shonda form, they allow the uncomfortable moment to exist without answering the questions it brings up or tying it up with a neat little bow. It seems to me that the most important part of it was the divide between the two of them.

Meanwhile, Jo’s patient has been revealed to be a survivor of a sexual assault. She is covered with raw, realistic wounds, rivaling any film depiction I have ever seen. The aggressor himself is not given a single moment of screen time. That is reserved for the woman herself alone. Grey’s breaks the cardinal rule of film/tv,”Show don’t tell,” but in this instance, abuse/assault is all too often used for shock factor or to up the ratings, and I believe that they intentionally refused to indulge that.

Jo encourages the woman to do the rape kit, in a way that taught me things I didn’t know about rape kits. In the person of her character, Camilla Luddington told every survivor of every abuser ever, “You can fight this, and it is not your fault.” The way she said, “You did nothing to deserve this,” is still ringing in my chest, holding up a mirror to every time I blamed myself for every thing bad that ever happened.

“You did nothing to deserve this.”

Finally, it is time for her patient to go to surgery, but she is terrified to see the faces of the men who could be around her on the way. In a perspective altering, powerful moment, they reveal that they have asked every woman who worked in the hospital to line the halls so that she will see only their faces.

Now, I’m going to take a little detour here for a second because I can already here all the defenders of men pissed off because all men are not abusers. That’s not the point. As Meredith’s monologue said at the beginning, anything can set off trauma. The point is that this is what she was struggling with, no whether or not it was right or in her head, or whatever else. It was her struggle, and because it was her struggle, it was worth protecting her from it, while she was in a vulnerable state. I’m going to resist the temptation to go off about the “snowflake” mentality and people who complain about them, so I stay focused but that rant may come one day.

In that moment, when the women’s faces lined the halls, I felt the world move. Shonda Rhimes and the team that she assembled had just brought a new light into the world. In that moment, the entire team of Greys Anatomy told every single one of us, “You are not alone.” They also told, specifically those who have suffered any kind of assault or abuse, but especially sexual assault, “We see you, you matter. You are not alone.”

In this pivotal moment, Shondaland did what makes them great. They answered the pain in the world with hope, not a hope that is shallow and false, but a sure resounding hope in the power of the human spirit and community with others. They gave us the language to heal, and an example.

The episode doesn’t conclude with a pretty pink bow of how we are all happy now because we are not alone, but it does end with one character giving her honesty to her husband and another, not. Jo is not ready to talk to Alex and the pain in her is palpable, but while she is in pain and feels alone, she has given her patient the gift of not feeling alone. It’s a tragic truth that often the one who creates love and hope for others struggles to find it for themselves. I hope that we will see Jo heal, but it shouldn’t be surprising that she needs to.

I am an undying fan girl of Shonda Rhimes and what she has created in Grey’s Anatomy.moments like this are what make her the Mistress of Television in my opinion. She has healed broken spots in my soul more times that I can count, and I pray that she has millions more to come, and that in my own film career I will touch people half as well as she does.

The Momo Challenge: Pray for Your Enemies

As mama to two wonderful girls and a lover of teens everywhere, the momo challenge is a huge struggle for me. It comes on the heels of “Elsagate,” (another instance of people using YouTube to hurt young people.) It is hard for me to comprehend that anyone could be so evil that they would try to hurt children in this way. It scares me that we live in a world that is so dangerous.

When I was a kid, and I felt this strongly about things, people got frustrated with me. They said I was too sensitive, and that I was focusing on the negative. They said, “it’s so few people compared to the whole world, everything is fine.” As I grow up though, I am realizing we are given our emotions for a reason, and shutting them down is not the right way to handle them.

A teacher I am inspired by said that our emotions are a sign of something else, something we need to do, or something we want and have been ignoring. At first, when I heard about the momo challenge, I felt absolute despair. I was angry and miserable that the world we live in is hurting so much, and that evil was even a thing we have to worry about. Let’s be honest, I am still angry about it, but I am learning to use my emotions. So what are my anger and sadness about this telling me? What can I do about momo?

The first thing is the most obvious.

WATCH YOUR KIDS. A CBS news article reminded its readers that that is the main message about this story.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.cbsnews.com/amp/news/momo-challenge-resurfaces-police-issue-warning-to-parents/

“Our advice as always, is to supervise the games your kids play and be extremely mindful of the videos they are watching on YouTube,” The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) wrote on Facebook. “Ensure that the devices they have access to are restricted to age suitable content.””

The second thing is TEACH your kids to stick up for themselves.

In the same article, CBS says,

“Law enforcement also says parents need to focus on the bigger picture: “Even basic open source research suggests that ‘Momo’ is run by hackers who are looking for personal info,” PSNI Craigavon wrote on Facebook. “The danger lies with your child feeling pressured to either follow the orders of ANY app via challenges,’ or peer pressure in chat rooms and the like … More important is that your child knows not to give out personal info to ANYONE they don’t know, that no one has the right to tell them to, or make them do ANYTHING they don’t want to.””

This struck me. In a way it’s obvious, of course, kids need to know they have control. At the same time, how often are we teaching them that they have to do what someone else says. This may have worked in a society when 99% of the authority figures they met would have been a positive influence. In our world today though, kids will be hounded by a thousand different voices telling them who to be and how to do things and what to do. Be a shield against that. Teach your kids that they are in control of their choices, and that they choose to listen to the right authorities, whether that be friends who are trying to help vs. humiliate them, marketing that is meeting a need vs. implantig a fear, online quizzes that promise money or curses, or anything else.

The third thing, which is what I do when something is completely hopeless and there’s nothing else I can do about it, is pray. PRAY for your enemies.

I am angry and full of hatred and vitriol for these awful people that would start something like this, but deep down I believe that negative behavior comes from some unmet need in that person. A while back, celebrities started responding to trolls by looking through their twitter and seeing what their struggles were. It changed those people’s lives. What if we were able to look at things that way? It starts with prayer, it takes an incredible amount of grace to be able to set aside your anger and pray for those who are hurting you, and even more so when they are just a Facebook post in the distance. Maybe, though, they have no one praying for them. Maybe they feel completely alone and scared and it’s turning them into someone they don’t want to be.

Lastly, I just want to say to anyone who has been hurt by the momo challenge in any way, to anyone who started the momo challenge, I am praying for you. This is a sign of some serious pain in the world, join me in praying for the others who are hurting from this. Let’s turn this nightmare into a world of prayer for the victims and perpetrators so big that all the pain from it is erased by the love and grace that we spread because of it.

Workin Moms in Netflix

You guys, hold up.

This is a thing.

Netflix did a show on working moms.

WHAT?!?

Not only that, but they did one on a moms group. Also, Tully came out this year.

Do you know what this means?

This means we are so freaking lucky to live in this current time as moms. We live in a world where people are really starting to get. We are living in a world where people are starting to see that we need to make a change!

That is so freaking exciting for me, I don’t even know how to handle it. It quickens my blood when I see it, my heart literally leaps for joy like a cheesy cartoon ballerina. Because you know what? Pumping milk sucks, but it sucks a lot less when glam-boobs on tv is doing it too. And I hate when my stroller won’t fit in my car, but that girl on Netflix had the same exact problem!

I’ll be the first to admit that I compare myself to other people way too often in a super unhealthy way, but you know what? Either way, if misery loves company, I’m getting happier and happier now!

The Art of Hating and Loving: A Defense of Dan Humphrey

At the end of Gossip Girl, there is a moment when Dan must decide whether to satirize Serena or to write an ode to her. He publishes the satirical denouncement of her character, while he gives the ode to her. She is mystified by how he could be so hateful if he loved her. Throughout the show, he deals with the same problem over and over again with other friends and family members.

I have watched Gossip Girl over and over again, but the most recent time this episode resonated with me. It kept echoing in my mind when I thought of friends I had lost and family I struggled to love. It occurred to me that I genuinely and deeply loved these people who I also profoundly and completely hated. I was as confused as Serena hearing it from Dan at first, but I started to see the similarities between Dan and I that explain how we could hate something and love it so powerfully, and incidentally, why the opposite of love is indifference not hate.

1. The first similarity between Dan and I is that we are both writers. We are living in our own novel/screenplay/blogpost, and everyone knows every written piece has a villain, and every written piece has a hero. If we are the hero then of course whoever we are struggling with would be the villain and vice versus. Moreover, every instant in our lives is a piece of a story and it therefore becomes more intense than it would normally have been.

2. We are both incredibly sensitive people. Dan Humphrey and I both feel things very deeply. Every single thing that happens to us is the entire world. If something is good, then it is a majestic perfect fairytale, if bad, then it is hell on earth. That being the case, when Serena slighted Dan it broke his heart and made his miserable, just as much as when she repaired their relationship it lit him up.

3. We are genuine. I think this is the most important of all. I think that if anyone really is honest with themselves, they sometimes hate the people they love, but there is a lot of fear about being honest about emotions in our society. Dan and I both strive to be honest about who we are and not to create a facade over our lives.(The fact that Dan was Gossip Girl doesn’t disprove this because even as Gossip Girl He was honest about who he was as a person.)

All of the above combine to create a perfect storm of whirlwind emotions. The important thing to note, though, is that the reasons for Dan’s hatred stem from his love for his family and friends. He is angry about what hurts them, or how they hurt themselves. We can see this in how he is willing to drop everything to help Upper East Siders whenever they are in trouble. It makes it obvious that love and hate are so closely related, that they are almost one.

If I Could Make A Change…

I’m about to be a little dangerous. Brace yourself.

I am reading Renegade Women in Film & TV, and let me tell you, it is incredible and inspiring. The phrase that I can’t get out of my head is “A woman living a creative life is bound necessarily to do things sometimes defiant by convention.” Following the introduction’s inspiring ode to the ability of women to change the future, with a nod to Geena Davis’ quote, “In the time it takes to make a movie or create a television show, we can change what the future looks like,” RWFTV prods the fire in the reader’s soul, prompting her to move-prompting ME to move. I say move because RWFTV doesn’t tell you exactly what change you are supposed to make, although it does praise the changes certain women have made. It encourages the reader to make their own change. I am inspired to ask, what would I change about what the future looks like?

Little movements I already make are easier to put into words. I want a world where sex is allowed to be fun and sacred. I want a world where everyone is kind to each other, and mindful of each other’s suffering. I want a world where the rat race is not more important than love of other people.

If I really think about it, though, what is the thing I want to change that shakes me up, that defies convention, it’s scary. I’ve got a story about oppressing women, and people that hasn’t been told. If I could change the future, I would revolutionize the Catholic Church. I would expose the religious and emotional abuse that I have witnessed and endured. I would condemn the physical and sexual abuse that gets swept under the rug or dismissed sometimes. I would scream at the Churches that are lazy and neglecting the needy. The worst, though, is I would fight the Catholic Church on the way they do things. I would scream at every condescending housewife married to a banker or a lawyer that condemns women who are having abortions because they don’t know how to pay rent. I would verbally punch every arrogant white old man for their racial prejudice disguised as concern for the economy, justified by God wanting us to take care of ourselves of course. I would satirize the newlyweds who look down their noses at homosexual couples who live in monogamous relationships, while they themselves didn’t wait for marriage either.

I would condemn the hypocrites and the Pharisees that live in our day. Here’s the problem though. They aren’t all bad. They are just good people who are trying their best. The heteronormative newlyweds cannot fathom how a homosexual couple could find the same kind of happiness as them, plus half of them have never seen a homosexual couple in the first place. The old white men have been taught not to have any emotions, but they are scared as shit because the whole world is changing, and not in their favor. The condescending housewives are terrified because they love babies, and the loss of a child’s life is the greatest pain you can imagine.

So the problem is how to protest a culture or society that has taught us cruelty and anger. Jesus dined with the sinners, yet Christians now teach their children that “you are the company you keep.” I am not saying to be reckless with your trusted circle, Jesus chose His apostles carefully. What I am saying is that just because you care how a person feels, does not mean you agree with everything they do. I have been criticized over and over and over for being on a side that I am not on. Why? Because I cannot stand to see the people hurt. I am not pro-abortion, but I will point out when pro-lifers are being hateful and extreme. I struggle with the Church’s teaching on homosexuality, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t love Jesus and the Church’s teachings in general. I hate NFP with a bloody passion, ( 😉 if you got that joke lol) but I follow it because, for me, it’s physically better than the alternatives.

My point is that if I become my authentic self, I will protest things the society of the Church does and says. The actual Church founded by Jesus is a priceless gem to me. I love it with everything in me. Half the time, though, it’s impossible to see that Church in the Church’s modern life. I say, far too often for my comfort, that I hate the Catholic Church….*pause*…as it is today, but I love what it’s supposed to be with everything in me.

So, if I could change anything, that’s what I would change. I would turn the Catholic Church on its head, and I would make it a force for good so immovable that no one could deny that it had changed the entire world for the better. It could do that. If one person being who they were meant to be could set the world on fire, what could we do with thousands?

We could have free hospitals for everyone, that are genuinely looking out for the health of others. We could have free schools for everyone, that are the highest educational caliber. We could have places for people to go who are hurting, no matter who they are, no matter what kind of hurt they are experiencing. We could teach the whole world how to love each other with an all-consuming passion ignited by the eternal Spirit. We could show the entire world that the Catholics do not need to be afraid of science, or truth, or other people’s opinions, because if we are right, then they only share in our truth. We could teach the world about respecting other people’s beliefs because we believe that God reveals Himself in a million different ways.

There is a saying that every young Catholic knows, I don’t know where it originated, but it says, “If only seven people were to be saints we would change the whole world.” What if we had a thousand?

Fiction: Prologue

You guys, I just wrote this, and I am so proud of it. I’m going to be working it into a book, and I am really really excited for it.

A few months after my first miscarriage, I started having a burning desire to have a threesome. My husband and I were struggling with intimacy because sexuality represented unanswered prayers. It represented the little person who was missing from our lives. It represented the loss of all our hopes and dreams of what our family was going to be. It represented unity, but in despair.

For months and months I struggled with this, I prayed about it over and over and over. Finally, in prayer I believed I felt God telling me, “This is a decision you need to make. If it is a mistake, you need to make it.” I’m a huge perfectionist, and I have struggled with scrupulously my entire life, and I have had the joy of many things destroyed because of how religion was taught to me. This time, I believed God was telling me it was ok to be human for a second.

We had a friend of mine over. She was beautiful and free. She represented everything we weren’t. But we loved her. She had been our best friend forever, and she had ended up closed out of the friendship because of our marriage. I think a part of me thought this was how it always supposed to be. We had done a trial run of just me and her and it had been exhilarating and free, but I had felt sad afterwards, because my husband was not there. When it was her and the two of us, it was the whole world in one room. We were hot and heavy and compassionate and sensitive, we were caring and loving and sexy and passionate. We were tangled together and gazing at each other. We were everything.

We did it again and again and again.

I would like to say that we were evil for doing it, that it was misguided and a mistake, and that it was sinful. It would be so much easier. It may have been sinful, but even now writing it, my entire body feels full and alive. My blood runs warmer through my veins. I think of unity with all of mankind and what that would feel like. I think of the promise of community in heaven, and I long for a unity that feels that profound. I long for complete union and passion with every single human being in existence.

I used to joke in college about how I believed that heaven could be an even deeper unity with all of mankind, like sex, but even deeper. What I didn’t say was that I meant it. I believe that Communion is like sex. I believe that the Eucharist is actually God, and because I believe that I believe that He wanted to be literally a part of us. He wanted to LITERALLY be inside of us. Every Sunday, I go to communion and I believe in Him as my bridegroom. I have fights with Him throughout the week about how He handled things, I complain to Him when my feelings are hurt, I ask Him to hold me at night when I’m sad, and when I am at Church on Sundays, I believe that He is creating complete intimacy with me.

Someone said once that sex is the closest we can get to heavenly ecstasy in this life. Insofar as sex is the same kind of unity as Communion, I believe that. I believe that when we truly love someone there is a moment when we cannot get close enough to them, when we cannot get them close enough in to us. I believe that union is the answer.

I should clarify before I am denounced as a monstrous heretic and declared a false prophet that I am not advocating polygamy on earth. Personally, I believe that on earth there are far too many risks and complications to that kind of relationship. However, I have a very secret fantasy that in heaven there will be some sort of heavenly unity or act, either sex or something like it, that will bring about a kind of ecstasy like nothing we have ever known. I have been so carried away in sex before that I begged my husband to stop, so I wouldn’t die from the heart-pounding, breathless exhilaration. I like to think that heaven will be that, but without the fear.

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