Jaded

Ever since I grew to adulthood,

I hear the echoes

of everyone who told me,

“That’s not real.

That’s a fantasy.”

Most of the time, I silence them

With a wave of the hand,

And maybe a deep breath,

But then,

Sometimes, a wave of grief comes,

My heart begins to ask,

“Were they right?

Does God give us dreams to take them away?

Does He dangle hopes of a beautiful future,

Just to laugh when you are in pain?

There are times in my life when I believe them,

When the hope that God is listening grows as faint as a fading heartbeat,

The ache swells until my chest begins to cave into itself.

I cease to breathe in in terror of reality,

I force myself to breathe and anger overtakes me that God has turned His back.

But He hasn’t turned His back.

He is here when hundreds have told me He doesn’t hear me.

He is waiting for me when I can hear Him through the despair.

He hears me when I cry out in the pain of the skepticism that is our world.

Cast behind you the words of those who condemn you for belief in hope.

Cast behind you the belief that grief will win.

Cast behind you the grief that God doesn’t hear you,

And doesn’t love the real you.

There is a place for you.

Just because you haven’t found it doesn’t mean you won’t.

Use your wounds to heal others until you escape the chains,

And then free the slaves.

Sometimes God answers no, but not when it’s His promises to you.

If you are called to something, He will bring you to it somehow, I believe.

I believe.

I believe.

I believe.

Even here in the darkness.

I believe.

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The Tension Between Gratitude and Desire

Lately I’ve been having a struggle that seems so stupid to me sometimes, but other times it is enough to paralyze me with anxiety. I have been struggling with being grateful for what I have when I want more. I think maybe I feel like it is inherently ungrateful to want things. The reason I feel silly about it sometimes is that some of the things I want are very normal things, but what paralyzed me is that so many people don’t have what I have; and I feel like I should just be grateful for having that.

I grew up with death as a very active piece of my consciousness. My heart would stop, and we didn’t know why; and then we knew it had to do with food but not exactly how so. Because of that I was always conscious and terrified of death. I was afraid I was going to die pretty much every second of every day. It was my reaction to anything that went wrong, and often still is. An event that actually could cause death, or a death of someone I know, can send me into a tailspin that I can’t seem to recover from for weeks, or longer.

Then, I lost Emma, and then more babies. Losing her wrecked me; like nothing I had ever experienced. My faith crumbled into anger, grief and loneliness. When I got pregnant again, I sobbed for days in terror of what I was sure was another oncoming miscarriage, and a worse one because I was further along.

When Willow survived, I was ecstatic with joy., I still feel it when I look at her, the certainty that I was going to lose her and the absolute glory of holding her.

Then there was Sage, who I feared for for different reasons. I feared her being early, more than I feared her death. This time; there was a part of me that believed she would live. Her childbirth was the successful home birth I wanted, but I feel a twinge if sadness when I think about it because it still wasn’t what I expected.

I struggle with that. I feel like I should be so grateful I had such a great childbirth, and I healed from what happened with Willow and Sage was so healthy. It feels blasphemous almost to grieve the parts I struggled with in the face of what could have been.

I think that’s why I hate the cliche mom phrases about children in Africa not having whatever you are upset about having, or the first world problem jokes, because I am all too aware of how lucky I am to be holding these precious people in my life. I have no right to complain or grieve anything else I may be upset about.

At the same time, I believe that God gives us our desires for a reason, and that He wants to fill them and give them abundance. It is a struggle for me to balance that belief with knowing just how much I’ve been given. I think sometimes I am not grateful enough; and other times I think that I am so grateful it hurts.

There are moments when I hold one of the babies and my entire body feels like it will explode in gratitude for them, other times they both pull on me at once and I want to scream, but I also shudder under powerful guilt for feeling that way.

Now, there are several things I am waiting on that I desire powerfully and all-consumingly, and I am so angry at myself for that sometimes because I feel like I should just be content, but at the same time I keep reminding myself my desires are normal and valid.

All I can do is pray that God sees my prayers of gratitude amidst my tears of desire.

Maybe today pray:

God I give you thanks for everything I have, hear me thanking you even when I cry out in the struggle.

#Checkyourprivilege

The Church was on my list of parishes to check out anyway, so when I realized it had the only Mass time that would work for me today, I hurried to the car. I went back and forth the whole drive over whether it was crazy of me to skip Mass at our home parish, but I hadn’t been to praise and worship in months, and it had been years before that. I started to get a little nervous when I saw the exit I was supposed to take. There was nothing around but power lines in disrepair and a junk yard of cars. It even had the trademark blue jalopy with the orange roof, netted in with the chain link fence that is an immediate warning sign. As I drove I remembered another church that was in the industrial part of town, but in a gorgeous haven inside. Maybe it will be ok I thought.

I started praying as I drove, “God please protect me. Don’t let it be too dangerous of an area. Please don’t let me get infested with bugs. Please don’t let my car, or anything in my car get stolen.”

I laughed nervously when I saw the train tracks. “Haha, I’m literally going to be on the wrong side of the tracks. It could get better on the other side?”

The train passed quickly, luckily, and I drove through a lovely little park. The played ground was a little beat up, but it allayed my nerves a little bit. That was when I saw graffiti on someone’s house.

I had never seen graffiti on someone’s house before. Instantly, a scene played out in my head of a family walking up to their house and seeing it, trying to explain it to their child. It flared red against the grey peeling paint of the house. I saw all of the houses differently after that. I saw fear and lack of safety, and I realized how ungrateful I have been for never having been in a situation like that. I felt like the Pharisee from scripture, “thank you for not letting me like that person.”

I’m ashamed to admit how judgemental I got. There were couches on the front porches, one on the curb, I could feel myself separating myself from “these people.” Then I saw the Church. They were spidery black tendrils wrapped around the stone that seemed to be barely holding itself up. It was contained by another chain link fence, and I was so relieved that that was not the Church I was going to-because it was obviously condemned.

It wasn’t.

It was the Church I was going to.

The parking lot was crowded to say the least, and you could barely call it a parking lot. It was a series of pot holes and piled asphalt so big you could barely tell where the ground originally was. There were no painted lines except in the very back and I got trapped in a corner because the parking lot was designed badly. I grumbled to myself about it, and inner road raged about the other cars that pushed me to know how to get out of my spot.

I walked in alongside a Spanish teenager holding a guitar decorated like a mariachi band instrument. The inside was breathtaking. The stained glass windows in particular were some of the most magnificent I had ever seen. They rose high above the congregation in saturated color bringing life to everything inside. I asked for the location of the bathroom and was directed out of the church to the basement next door.

I had never seen anything like it. The ceiling was low and jagged, the floor slightly uneven. There were areas where stone and rock peeled through as if the walls could not hold back what was here before the Church. The tile was grungy white like my church had when I was a kid, before my mom and our family spent hours scrubbing it to make it look better.

Inside the women bathroom, the ceiling was large lumps of hard plaster that hung so low that I had to bend to get into the stall that couldn’t lock. I hurried as fast as I could to finish. Only after did I realize that there was no sink, and went looking for one only to find it in the main basement space next to a washer and dryer. The hand dryer was suspended on a stone wall, someone had scrawled on it “this works.”

I went back in to the Church and sat down to wait for Mass to start. Mass was in Spanish completely. I guess that made sense since I was the only white person there, but I was too annoyed by it, now what? I was going to have to sit there in silence and pray while the Mass went on around me. To be fair, I hated Latin Mass when I was a kid and it felt like that all over again, so I probably over reacted because of that, but still I would like to be excited to see different cultures Mass styles.

The language barrier left me free to think and observe throughout the Mass. I couldn’t focus on actually praying. I gazed into the gorgeous stained glass windows, but squirmed in disgust at the smell of mold rising from the burgundy vintage carpet. I watched the families thinking how cute they were, but also thinking how they just wore normal clothes. They wore the kind of awkwardly shaped outfits that thrift stores have to give. I simultaneous thought, they are so poor this is all they can afford, and maybe this is what I am supposed to be like. Maybe I should figure out how to just be happy with shabby worn out clothes.

It occurred to me that I was on such a high horse, like I was better than them because I don’t shop at goodwill, or because my Church is so beautiful, or because I kept thinking about how good I had it. I became a swirl of thoughts and emotions.

Well, Mother Teresa talked about how loving the poor are to each other, maybe my suffering is just different from theirs because I’m so lonely.

Maybe we are supposed to be poor so we can love each other as much as they do.

Some people would say it was their fault they are stuck at a church like this. Couldn’t they go to my Church too? Why would they come here?

Maybe they don’t have cars and they don’t have a choice.

Oh my gosh I am so judgemental.

They are all duh better Catholics than we are.

They are just normal people.

I used to hang out with more people, since when did I sound like such a racist?!? I love Mexicans!

They are just normal people.

Why does it feel so much like a Latin Mass? The Spanish church in Dallas didn’t feel this way.

At communion, the priest said something, and then a small percentage of the congregation went up and received communion. I ran through scenarios of what he might have said, but I dared to go up for communion anyway. Most of the congregation remained in their pews. I still can’t wrap my mind around that. It seems absurd to think that they would all think they were in mortal sin. I had never seen anything like it. In every Church I have ever been to, almost everyone goes up for communion.

By the end of Mass, I had realized that I was coming up against my privilege. I was face to face with a completely different culture, and realizing what I did and didn’t have. I was seeing my discontent as completely absurd, but I needed to work forward better. I wanted to be just one of them, but at the same time, I thought of them as something other than myself. I wanted to think of them as people just like me, but I was suddenly so aware of the divide, and of how completely I did not understand them or their lives.

Finally, I resorted to prayer for them, and for myself, that I would know how to love these people, but not pity them, how to help them, but not to make them feel like less. I tithed more than I ever do, because it was all I could think to do. I wanted to restore their Church, to remodel their bathroom, to rip up the awful carpet, but I couldn’t. It occurred to me that if I were to do that to the Church, it could skew the value of property in the area, so I would rather help the whole neighborhood a little bit, than remodel just the Church, or they could end up feeling out of place. It could be such a sweet area, if someone had the money to help them.

The more I see places like this, the more grateful I am for what I have had, but simultaneously I learn more about what I don’t have. I hope that one day through everything my husband and I are doing to help ourselves financially we can be there to help others too. I hope that I rebuild every low income area I can find. I hope I can remodel the lost places. I hope I can give to all people a sense of home when I talk to them, and treat them all as equals, no matter how different their culture is.

Lea Michele: What I wanted to say to you back then

Lea Michele,

I haven’t forgotten you. For years I have had the image of you plastered in my mind from the tabloids after you found out Cory Monteith had died. My heart bled for you. There was one that talked about what he said to you in his last voicemail. It struck me as cruel to report about such a sacred moment in your life. It still does. I have this image of you clutching the phone, crying, and maybe smiling, with paparazzi and flashing cameras all around you. I cannot imagine how hard it must have been to go through losing him.

Who knows, though? I don’t know you, maybe you were always fighting, and you wanted out of the relationship. Maybe he was abusive and you couldn’t stand him. Maybe you never really loved him at all and it was all just for publicity. Or maybe you loved him as deeply as I love my husband or any of the people I’ve lost, and maybe your entire world fell apart when he was gone.

The truth is, I don’t know, but I do know, that whatever the case, you deserved alone time to deal with the loss. You deserved the space to process all the stages of grief without every moment being reported. You deserved time to mourn however you needed.

I want you to know that I pray for you still. I don’t do it everyday, I’m not a stalker, but every once in a while you come to my mind. I think of what a hard time that must have been, and I hope that you have found peace and happiness now. I hope that sometimes you forget it even happened. I hope that it doesn’t hurt too much when it crosses your mind. I hope that you have healed as much as time can heal. I don’t believe time heals all wounds, but I believe it softens even the worst of them.

You may think I’m crazy for writing this letter, honestly, even I do, but I am learning to be true to myself and I write this to honor who I was when I wanted to cry for you, but I felt too silly. I wanted to honor the compassion that I was filled with back when everyone got angry with me for being obsessed with celebrities. I want to let the light I had shine, because I don’t know you, but I love you. I wish the best for you, no matter where or who you are now.

Love,

Me

Thank you, Jussie Smollett: Sending love

 

The first thing I saw when I searched for news of your attack was,

He “turned down extra security before the event.”

My mind started spinning with conspiracy theories from every TV show I have ever watched. If this was the CW, you would have perfectly orchestrated the attack for some money-related reason, or some politician would have done the same, but so that they would get the vote. I caught myself, and I couldn’t believe that was where my mind went. Then, I felt myself question, what if he did make it up, what if I end up feeling stupid?

On the other hand, my heart broke for you, and I was so angry that someone would be so petty. What if you were in a meeting and they told you that they could provide you a second bodyguard, or third, or you could buy more time with one of them? I can honestly say, I don’t think I would have chosen extra security either. How could you have known that you would need it?

Then, I caught myself again while reading the accounts, “Oh, the rope around his neck was a thin one, how convenient,” and I recoiled at myself in shock. I don’t know when I became so un-trusting, that I would look for the smallest detail and use it as an excuse to believe the worst in someone. I used to believe that everyone was good. When I was a kid, I would have prayed for you every day, though I would also have been terrified for my life because my empathy couldn’t understand that I was not the victim of any and everything I witnessed. (Note: I am not exaggerating about this, I once had a dream the KKK tried to burn my house down, and I have never fully recovered.) Some people in my life scared me, though, and now I guess I have hardened my heart to keep from being embarrassed.

The truth is, though, Jussie, is that I am so upset that you would be hurt. You are such a beautiful light to the world, and I am so grateful for you. Your performance as Jamal in Empire inspires me, every time I watch it. Kindness, compassion, and empathy radiates from you through the screen. Your every word, your every song, echoes throughout my life, a butterfly effect of hope. I want to thank you for everything you do.

I saw your family on The Chew a while back, and each of you inspired me with stories of surviving financial struggles as kids. Your mother was your world, and I relished those stories, as I lay pregnant and sick on the couch with my first baby playing on the floor. I admired the joy you and your family brought to discussions of food and family, and I aspire to create a family with that kind of spirit.

Amidst the fear, anger, skepticism, empathy, and sorrow, I happened across articles about the support for you from your Empire family and twitter feeds, and then articles about what you do for people. I already admired your courage for playing a character that would make so many people feel so much that it would emerge as anger, hatred, or worse, but now I discovered that you live the values you perform. I admire your work for LGBTQ, and AIDS. In my own life, sometimes, I don’t know how to feel about the religious and political war of gender equality vs. the traditions with which I was raised, but you have always advocated KINDNESS, and anyone can get behind that.

Thank you for being that kind voice in the world. Thank you for having the courage to perform a role that would make others feel powerful emotions. Thank you for being the kind of person who would deny extra security, because you don’t live with all of your walls up. I am so grateful for who you are as a person, and I hope you know that the whole world is not made of these people, who are willing to hurt others. There is good in the world, and there is gratitude for your place in it.

Thank you.

Come to Me

The darkness was supposed to have lifted.
And maybe it did.
But I could not see it because I was still screaming.
In the fetal position on the floor with my hands covering my eyes and my ears.
Screaming like no one has ever heard someone scream before.
Feeling every tendril of despair wrapping around me.
Bits of my heart being sucked through my skin to fly off into the outside.
It was like a tornado inside out screaming red blood into space without stars.
Screaming until air ran out.
Then and only then I was shaking,
Shaking like leaves in the rain or a body seizing with a brain bleed.
Hairs up on end.
Terrified for me.
Fight or flight after we already fought and flew.
“Please God make it stop, Help me survive!”
But He already did.

Then someone touches my shoulder tenderly.
I ignore it at first but it stays.
“Oh God, am I alive?”
My lungs tear out to meet the stranger,
Erotically I wrap myself around it, or him.
Come inside me, give me every inch of you.
Fuck.
What is this monstrous lust(?) inside me?
Come to me!

Burdened suddenly by desire my breath ceases.
Enter me.
The darkness seeps between my lips
Yanking my head back and sending my arms back in acceptance,
Surrender to my hearts last beat.
I breathe tar into me,
Pulling at it with something from deep inside me.
Eating it without chewing for a moment.
Consuming it until it is all in me,
Choking me, taking me, killing me, eating me.
Being me inside out.

Morning

It’s funny how much morning determines your day. One little thing foes just slightly wrong and you can’t recover for the rest of the day.

Today it was just that hubby and I were talking about his asberger’s, and he just tuned out all of a sudden. Walked away and went to the shower. He didn’t even understand when I was frustrated. I hate when he does that. It doesn’t matter if he doesn’t mean to it makes me feel like I don’t matter. Or like he is mad but he won’t tell me.

Anyway so now I’m feeling all melancholy.

It doesn’t help that I have an interview today with a company that has very few reviews, but most are negative. I want regular hours so badly. It feels like I am never going to get them. It’s hard because I want so bad to just get something  don’t care if it’s dangerous, or awful. I am just so sick of where I am. It’s silly but I am just so frustrated with where I’m at, and I do not know how to get out.

The Poet Will Die

Leonard: “Why does someone have to die…in your book?”
Virginia: “Someone has to die in order that the rest us should value life more…it’s contrast”
Leonard: “And who will die?”…
Virginia: “The poet will die. The visionary.”

It was one of those when somehow everything is perfectly beautiful and wonderful. A trap suffocated the joy that was meant to be expressed a the day, but it danced at the walls of flesh and fat and begged to breathe. I expunged myself of the trap by breathing it to a dear one who is always ready to hear, even if he doesn’t let me hide from the truth when it is a kind of madness and not tragedy that causes my moaning. Then, after we finished talking, I took a risk.

The Hours had been sitting on my bed for what seemed like weeks, even though it had been only day, perhaps because it had been lingering on my heart for years. Through the cramps of womanhood and growing pains, I limped to the bedroom to fetch the movie and curled into myself to hear it play its sweet song over me. Like a river running over the world, it began. I was not prepared for the bittersweet melancholy, but I knew I wasn’t. I had never been. That is why I had taken so long to see the movie, but I knew there was something important inside that I needed to hear.

It unfolded in front of me. The story of three women, the pressure that death pushed upon them at every turn. There is an insane therapist in Pretty Little Liars who tells Spencer that he is studying “The heaviness of air.” He tells her that to some people the air is just heavier than it is to others. These women lived in the heaviness of air. Mental issues, repressed emotions, and the trap of their own lives threatened to crush the very breath out of them. Both Clarissa and Laura are at different points pictured sitting alone talking to someone in another room. During each scene the woman is crying, crushed, and barely able to bear her own suffering. There is a character in the other room who is talking to her, and asks banal questions, demanding answer after answer. The woman proclaims her answers in sunny, carefree purity, and the other accepts them. In contrast, Virginia’s pain is far too obvious to everyone else. She cannot escape the bars that have been put around her to protect her from herself. Suffocation is the core of the three stories, linking the three women in a world of air as heavy as lead, as they strive to choose life.

I watched as they wove their lives through the web of difficulties and attempts to breathe, and connected my own struggles with theirs. I wondered where the message I had been searching for had gone. And finally, in the end, Virginia Woolf told her husband that the poet visionary must die, so that the rest of us might value life more. He is clearly disturbed by this, because she is the writer, and Virginia Woolf’s husband, of all people, should know that her writing spoke not only for its characters but for herself. His worry is well-founded since only minutes later(in movie-time) she drowns herself. It seemed to me though, that there is something to be said for the idea that the poet dies so that the rest of the world may live.

It is cliche to speak of the tortured poets. Some regard them as ridiculous, others as masochistic, others as insane, still others as bittersweet. It is clear, however, that there is something to the poetic soul that endures a melancholy that is mysterious and powerful. I will admit that I disliked The Hours, for it did not leave crystals on the outside world when I emerged from it’s spell. I didn’t laugh. I didn’t cry. I simply breathed. I admire it as a true work of art, but there is something in Virginia Woolf with which I cannot connect, probably the suicide that I hope to eradicate from my traditional set of temptations. It occurred to me, however, that maybe not every poet dies in the same way.

Virginia Woolf physically died, but maybe not every poet longs to take their own life forever, though I am certain no poet escapes moments of that desire. Jack Kerouac, for instance, went On the Road. Perhaps each day he died to the ideal life, and perhaps in dying to the ideal life, he freed those who suffered its heaviness. James Joyce wrote The Portrait of the Artist of the Young Man, about his conversion away from the Faith. The story of his conversion away from Faith, however, renewed my affection for it.(a story for another time) So. perhaps. his death of faith, allowed it to be reborn. There are countless examples of artists and ways that a death of theirs frees others. After all, the greatest poet of all time, physically died, that we may all have life forever. 

The heaviness of air is omnipresent in The Hours. It plagues everyone in the film in some way, but the air around Clarissa clears when Laura tells her of nearly choosing death, but then abandoning her children in order to survive. Her death was that of her motherhood, her pride, and her picture perfect life. Richard, Clarissa’s friend and Laura’s daughter, committed suicide. Virginia Woolf, of course, committed suicide. Both Virginia and Richard wanted to die in order to free those around them, but it was Laura’s encounter with death, desire for death, and choice to live that truly freed Clarissa from the heaviness that surrounded her. We all know it is better for the poet, for everyone, to choose not to commit suicide, but this film reminds its viewers that one must still die in some way. Surviving, one will still suffer, but bearing that daily death, may one day free another from their own. 

Suddenly So Alive

Art, and the beauty inside it, is meant to shock us,
Wrench us forward into being alive.
Suddenly a light is incandescent in our field of life,
Not line of sight, like some would say-that’s not enough

No, it comes across our field of is, was, will be,
And shines for just a moment, like a glimpse
Of peripheral vision. Pain that lights up the skies.
Tears that won’t quite come to touch wounds that won’t quite heal.

In that one shining moment we are alive,
We are touched by what is, saved by grace,
The stars are the brightest in the dark  night skies,
And loves shine brighter than the brightest green eyes.

So what do we do in this moment when everything is right?
What do we say when grieving gives way to dancing,
And for just one moment our hearts can breathe?
Well, I pray that we accept the high that oxygen brings,

I pray that we finally breathe the clear blood of peace,
Soaring high above our own hearts in invincible faith,
Overtaken by courage from another world,
And commit ourselves to another day to just be.

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