Give Like no one else: Stay at Home Moms

As many of you know, we are doing Dave Ramsey baby steps. We are working so hard, and definitely struggling at this point. What has brought me a lot of hope in our movement forward is turning every single one of my struggles into a hope for the future.

In that vein, I thought I would start talking about those things on here, and the first thing I want to talk about is a way I want to “Give like no one else.”

I was doing my taxes a while back and we didn’t qualify for the child care credit. Why? Because I am our childcare so we don’t pay for it technically. But really? We DO pay for it. We pay a LOT. We paid my entire salary from a job I actually really enjoyed(although not at that place we will talk about that later), we paid in moving from one state to another, we paid in giving up our beautiful perfect apartment because we couldn’t afford to stay there.

The thing is, every stay at home mom is also paying in so many ways, especially in our culture. She is paying in buckets of humility as everyone around her makes jabs about how she doesn’t do enough, she tries to handle the family’s finances and see her own worthlessness in the money spectrum, she may see the other moms on facebook or tv and do her best to give up the longing to feel like a cool mom.

All of this doesn’t even start to touch the moms who would give anything to be a stay at home mom, but can’t and are paying for it in baby kisses, and missed memories. It’s one thing if they are doing something they love and are missing that time in exchange for something else, but many moms are going to work because they have no choice, being treated like crap, and feeling alone and overwhelmed.

All of this to say, my give like no one else for today is the You Are Worth It Stay at Home Mom Grant.

One day, when I make ridiculous amounts of money(I’m working on it people) I am going to fund stay at home moms with as much money as I can,and if I can it will be retroactive-meaning you will be able to get the grant for work you did in the past.

When I have the money, I’m going to have someone do an official breakdown of everything being a stay at home mom is worth, and then add a love tax, and I am going to give that to them for every single year they did it. Who receives it will be based on prayer, because sometimes the ones who need the most have the hardest time asking.

That’s my promise to you-one day stay at home moms, you will get to feel your worth. One day moms will get PAPER! 😉

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.

Ash Wednesday:What Religious Abuse looks like Ten Years Later

I hate going back to what happened to make me struggle with things. Those of you who know me are probably rolling your eyes. I don’t blame you, because no matter how much I don’t want to talk about it, I do it often. Im still trying to figure out how to exist in a world that seems easier to other people than it is to to me, and I am a little slow on the uptake. Today’s deep dive into The History of Things That Make My Life Complicated, is a kind of abuse that sparked anxiety in me that I have not heard many talk about. That is, religious abuse.

So first of all, let’s talk about what I mean when I say religious abuse. There are a million different definitions for each type of abuse and this is no exception. My definition of religious abuse is anytime religion is used as a weapon, especially to manipulate the person. To clarify, I do think it can be done unintentionally, which I believe about other kinds of abuse as well, and I’ve written about that in the past, but the effect of the abuse stays the same the either way.

I don’t want to get into the exact specifics of what kind of religious abuse I experienced right now. What I do want to talk about is why it matters at all. Traditionally, it seems that a majority of people psychologically associate God with the authority figures who are meant to teach them about Him. What this means is that one’s parents, priest, nuns, Catholic school teachers, are all representatives of God, so psychologically we believe that God holds those traits. The problem with this is that when the representative of God is abusive, the victim starts to believe that God also is abusive, even if they wouldn’t phrase it that way.

In my experience, the most problematic issue that stems from this is a paralyzing confusion about who God is that leads to an inability to pursue a relationship with Him without intense self-examination and careful processing of the past. For example, if something in my life goes wrong, or might go wrong, I have a deep inner conviction that God is punishing me for something, and I have to work incredibly hard through prayer and self-analysis to convince myself that that is not what is happening. If someone mentions evil people, I am immediately sure that I am evil, and I have to re-process the conversation in my head and, so to speak, talk myself down off the ledge. If I miss a prayer for one day, then I become terrified that the entire day is going to go badly and I am going to die so that God can send me to Hell. Sometimes, if I am trying to decide whether or not to do something, my fear about what God does or does not want me to do is so paralyzing that I do nothing out of fear, or worse sometimes I end up choosing whichever option does NOT make me happy, just to be on the safe side.

This was much worse when I had no idea it was going on, and I have seen it in other people who eventually figure out why they are struggling with particular issues. It caused me to ruin chances I had of doing things I really loved, out of fear that God wouldn’t love me anymore if I did them. It caused me to not try to fulfill my dreams because God didn’t want me to have them. It caused me to stop doing things that bring me joy because it seemed like God was angry every time I did something that made me happy. It made me hate life because every single thing I did was so important because I was so afraid of Hell.

The interesting thing about this topic coming up around Lent for me, is that Lent was the focal point of some severe fear and trauma for me. I will never forget the year I was convinced the world was ending because JPII and Terri Schiavo died right before Easter. I will never forget my absolute panic on the way to Good Friday service because I thought that the whole world was going to go dark for Three Days of Darkness and we were going to go to Hell because we were not at home.

I am terrified of lent.

Every year I become convinced that God will rain every kind of suffering He can imagine down on me because “It’s that time of year,” but you know what? The last several years, I asked Him to show me who He was for Lent. He has rained graces down on me that I never could have imagined.

In 2017, I was convinced that my pregnancy was going to end in a still birth or miscarriage and I would maybe die, or if the baby made it, I would die and never get to hold her, because she was due in lent. The night of Ash Wednesday my terrifying pre-term labor got so bad, I really thought I was going to die, but instead I gave birth to an insanely healthy 31-week old baby. She needed some assistance, but nothing like what anyone had expected. She was a total spitfire, bit the doctor on her way into the world, and ripped out her oxygen tube because she didn’t need it anymore. My nurses were so kind to me, the priest who visited me revolutionized my faith life, my body recovered so rapidly that everyone was beyond shocked. I was tired, like anyone would be, but I was the happiest I had ever been. Later in lent, I lost my job, and it was the answer to almost a year f begging God to find me a way to be a stay at home mom. God heard my prayers-big, scary, terrifying, barely even hopeful prayers. I still can’t fathom sometimes how completely He heard me.

Last year was a little less spectacular, but still just as important. He gave me rest from anxiety during my pregnancy so much so that for a few weeks my hyperemesis gravidarum was almost imperceptible. I stayed pregnant until 40 weeks(past Easter this time) and she was perfect.

This year, I got cocky. I thought, oh I’ll do Lent the way everyone else does. God made it very clear to me, “Oh honey, you are not ready for that, I need to hold you for a little bit,” with me in tears on Fat Tuesday. So this year, I’m going to be little again, I’m going to ask God to show me who He is again, because I keep forgetting and doubting Him. But the nice thing is, it was His idea. 😉 So if you think you might need to, this lent, give up your pride. Ask God to take care of you, and show you what you need. He is so much more than we give Him credit for.

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.

What my Miscarriage Taught me About Being Christian

Rachel Hollis said, “Everything does NOT happen for a reason, but you can FIND a meaning in anything.” My first miscarriage is the first thing that came to mind. Every time I read “everything happens for a reason,” my heart hardens and grows colder, the hair on the back of my neck stands up, and I become a little bit nauseous.

Why? You ask.

If you are asking, it is because you haven’t experienced something that painful yet.

I am not saying that you have not been through something painful, or that you have never been hurt or understood pain. I am saying that there is a kind of pain, a brand, if you will, that defies reason. It is the kind of pain that your entire body revolts at the fact that it could possibly exist. It is the kind of pain that teaches you what it feels like to question everything.

For me, that was losing my baby girl. For you, it could be failing a test that was really important. For someone else, it could be actually dying. I am not judging levels of pain, but experience of it. It doesn’t matter how big or small the pain is, but what it does.

A couple of months ago, I read a Facebook status of mine from college. It was something about how everything is in God’s plan. I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately, and about how much I have learned.

Christians. You. Can. Not. Say. That.

Not everything is in Gods plan, and that is very very very important.

Christians believe that death was NOT the original plan. Eve ate the apple and so did Adam and the snake screwed up too, but this was NOT the plan. This was ALLOWED, but it was not the plan.

God did not plan for us to watch babies die at the hands of the Nazi’s, or for us to suffer from any number of hormonal issues. He did not plan for us to shoot each other in malls, and schools, and churches. He did not plan for us to be too prideful to apologize to our friends, or to hold grudges. He did not plan for us to be sick for months on end.

God planned paradise for us. He planned a blissful life of lounging amidst a beautiful garden eating all the best the world has to offer. He planned a life of luxury and goodness to each other and ourselves. He planned a life of peace with Him and contentment with everyone else. He wanted us to swim in waterfalls of joy, not to sink in rivers of tears.

It took me a long time to realize this. I had to learn that these every day platitudes were wrong, or at least, not fully right. There were a million things along the way that helped me to learn it. I had to learn that God loves me, that God wants me to be happy(although that’s a daily struggle,) that God hates sadness as much as I do, and I had to let go of my pain enough to see a way forward through it.

That doesn’t mean I’m healed, I’m not convinced anyone ever is. It doesn’t mean I’m perfect, no one is that either. It does mean that I have learned something from who I was and who I became later, and it means that I can bring some good about because of my miscarriage. I can be kinder, I can defend those who are being hurt, I can hold space for those who need it, I can tend to my own wounds.

Most importantly, I have learned two things.

1. Do not tell someone who is in pain that it is in God’s plan, because it may not be, also included in this is never ever say “everything happens for a reason.”

2. The second is a prayer I say now when I am angry at God for something that has happened. “This is not what He wanted either.” I repeat it like a mantra over and over until I can breathe and I can love Him again.

#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.

The Thing That Still Bugs Me: A Petty Nun

My experience teaching at John Paul II High School was a nightmare. It was so bad that I am quite literally writing a book on how I almost lost my faith teaching there. However, the thing that bugs me most though seems so silly, I shake my head at myself everytime I think about, but I can never shake the grief I feel about it.

I loved teaching high schoolers at John Paul II. They were so kind and full of life. They thought to throw me a surprise baby shower when no one else in my life did. They asked questions. They were honest about their struggles. Teenagers in general seem to have this ability to be themselves unapologetically, and to be totally alive while they are doing it. I will never forget them, and I still mourn for them being stuck in that school, and I pray for them that they learn the truth anyway(as self righteous as that sounds.)

Those kids and their parents were there for me through one of the scariest phases of my life. I was pregnant again after miscarriages, infertility, weight loss, and years of trying to avoid pregnancy with NFP. They prayed for me and with me, they shared the joy of my pregnancy. They squealed with delight when I told them about the baby.

Then one day, I didn’t go back in to work. I woke up bleeding, and had to go in to the hospital. After the scariest week of my life, I delivered a beautiful little preemie, who was the very definition of little but fierce. I could feel the prayers of everyone at JPII impacting the delivery, because it was a miracle that I didn’t die, Willow didn’t, and we didn’t have to have a C Section. I am still shocked sometimes by just how amazing the experience turned out.

Throughout that terrifying week, I got one small bouquet from JPII(although I did eventually get a gift card as well,) but every once in a while I felt a twinge of sadness that none of my students or fellow teachers came to visit me, or emailed me, or anything. After how supportive the kids and their parents had been, and how much I had worked on building positive relationships with them, I felt like I was the outsider once again, and I couldn’t understand why or what I had done.

About a month later, when preparations were being made for me to return to work, before I had realized that I couldn’t do it, I received an email from Sister Ann Dominic. I can’t remember the exact wording, but it was something to the effect of “Everyone sent prayers and best wishes to me for you.” I read it over and over and over again. I couldn’t believe it. I still try to process it in a positive way, “At least she told me, that’s sweet that they did that.” Deep inside, though, there is a voice in me that can’t stop asking why she wouldn’t send them to me? While I was bleeding in the hospital terrified for my life, I could have used a letter or two of encouragement. When I had a baby in the NICU and had to ask permission to see her, I could have used an email with some prayers. When I realized I never got to see those kids or their parents again, I could have treasured those letters. When Willow was old enough, I could have told her about these wonderful people who cared so deeply for her before she was even born.

Anyway, she never did send them. The school closed down my email before I could tell the parents and students goodbye. They will never know how much I loved them, or how much their prayers meant to me. I am grateful every day that I am far away from that school because of the leadership there, but I grieve being away from those parents and students who took such good care of me, at such a difficult time.

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.

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