How to Stop Mass Shootings: ACTIVE LOVE

https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2019-08-04/el-paso-dayton-gilroy-mass-shooters-data

Today, while researching what to do about mass shootings in America, I came across this article. The author of this article researched what the commonalities between the shooters were. Two of them, made my heart ache: most of the killers suffered from some sort of mental illness, and most of them suffered some sort of traumatic event. As someone who has a mental illness, and someone who has been alone through a traumatic event, I have been there, and I have lived moments where I just wanted to watch the whole world burn, but it doesn’t have to be this way.

I have struggled with anxiety and depression my whole life. I didn’t know how to talk to my parents about it, or how to get help. They didn’t understand what was happening to me, and neither did I, so we just pushed through. I pushed through nightmares, stomachaches, paralyzing fear, fainting, and more. Sometimes, every day seemed like my worst nightmare.

It got worse as I got older. I had to take on more responsibility and more worries, when I was already crushed under the weight of what I was already struggling with. I was constantly yelling at myself for not being able to get it together like everyone else could. I tried to go to counseling, even made it a couple of times, one was really helpful, the other was really not. Counseling was expensive though, really expensive, and I was struggling with money and years of built up money anxiety, so it wasn’t an option.

Something that I think a lot of people don’t understand about depression and anxiety is the brain fog that complicates everything. While some people may just say, “Oh, I’m going to a counselor,” it may not be that simple for someone who really needs it. They may be paralyzed with fear of what the counselor might do if they say the wrong thing, they may be terrified about how the heck they are going to afford the counseling, they may be worried about how they are going to get to appointments, if the counselor is going to judge them, or even if the counselor’s office is going to smell weird. It could be anything, but it’s terrifying. If the person also can’t afford it, or has a hard time affording it, on top of that, it’s really hard to see it as an option.

The thing that sucks the most, though, about depression is the loneliness and isolation. Our culture, especially Christian culture, is hellbent on positivity. We talk about “energy vampires” and negative people, and “debbie downers,” and we encourage each other to back away from them, to keep ourselves healthy. This makes me so angry I could literally spit. These people are the ones who need help the most, and they are the ones who are not getting it. When I was going through my very worst period of depression, nearly all of my friends stopped talking to me. Completely. Then at the end of the year, they were like, “Why didn’t you tell us it got so bad?” This is how we treat people who are struggling, and then, we are surprised that they are losing their minds?

This brings me to a part of my history that is really hard for me to talk about. My miscarriage. When I lost Emma Rose, I was a newlywed with big hopes and dreams for the future that all came crashing down around me. We were navigating the complicated time of figuring out new family relationships while everything I believed in seemed to me to be a lie. We were grossly mistreated at the hospital after waiting for 6 hours, so much so that even three years later, when I complained too late, the hospital held a training session for the doctors.

It’s not just the medical field though, Catholics are great at helping out the people that they think need help. The people that they see as good and holy and fun get an abundance of help when they need it. They get meals delivered to them, flowers, money sometimes, all kinds of things. I DO NOT IN ANY WAY BEGRUDGE THEM THIS. I AM HAPPY FOR THEM, AND I EVEN HELP. However, I was the unpopular Catholic. I got the facebook “I’m sorry’s” and a meal from my mom(who did offer to help more, but we just were so lost we didn’t even know how to ask.) Worse though, my husband and I were treated horribly by the Catholics in our area. A youth group ganged up on us making nasty side comments about birth control and bragging about who got pregnant earliest. We said nothing, though we were pregnant first, but we cried on the way home. Priests gave homilies over and over again about how holy the families with a lot of children were, and I couldn’t bear staying in Mass for one second longer than I had to.

Now, I am struggling with post partum depression, on top of the depression and anxiety I already had, on top of being low income and figuring out motherhood. After months of searching, I finally found a counselor I could afford, then the entire world fell apart every time I tried to go, and then my car broke down and my mom got a job, so now I don’t have the time to go, and even if I did, I’d have to take both toddlers. I have called multiple remote therapy places, and their discount rates are absurd. If you are low income, $180 a month is NOT going to happen. Seriously. Even Catholic Psych’s low income option at $120 a month is crazy. If you are living on a low income with anxiety and depression, this is your worst nightmare.

My point is not to ask any of you to feel sorry for me. My point is that, in a lot of ways, I am a person with MORE help than usual. Not less. In fact, a LOT more help than most people have. People who are dealing with traumatic events, and dealing with mental illness, or heaven forbid, both, are falling through the cracks. I can promise you that is the truth because I am fighting a hard battle to try not to fall through the cracks and I am seeing the other people who fall.

We HAVE to get more and better help out there for people who are struggling. We HAVE to have people looking for those who are struggling and offering them a helping hand instead of turning them away. WE HAVE TO HELP THEM. We are all struggling, I know, and we are barely holding our heads above water, but we all have to help each other, and we have to watch out for the people who are getting missed.

Please, next time a friend of yours is upset more often than you want her to be, or a guy friend is acting weird, or struggling, don’t turn them away. Please give them a shoulder to cry on, not just to prevent the violence, but to heal the hurt that is all over this world right now. Please do whatever you can to help the mentally ill. Use your talents. Whatever you are good at, DO IT. Help them. Help our world to be a better place. There is so much pain, please help anyone you can.

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When Every Choice Feels Like Life or Death: Dave Ramsey with a Small Shovel

Last week, I spent too much of our grocery budget.

I was sick of not having snacks to eat or to give our toddlers. As any mom knows, all toddlers want to eat are snacks, all day long, every day, and it gets really old cooking a new meal every five minutes just for it to get thrown on the floor and crushed. Plus, I’m breastfeeding, so trying to get enough calories to sustain myself feels like a full time job in itself. On top of all of that, I was stressed, exhausted, and hungry, because the week before I didn’t overspend my grocery budget.

So I overspent.

Of course like every time I make a mistake, there was an avalanche of other things that went wrong in the paycheck, so there was nowhere to cushion. Plus, it was the first paycheck that I had really felt like I could breathe so I treated us a little bit. We got Downy Unstoppables, and I got the expensive bar soap. Some Dave enthusiasts would remind me that this was my stupid and it was fault, and I should’ve planned for the future better, do better next time. I can hear it now, because I’m telling myself all about it now.

The problem is, it’s not stupid. Right now, we really don’t have a lot of extra money. We are making big, big financial sacrifices to keep our babies healthy and loved. We can’t afford for me to be a stay at home mom, but we are working every day to make it possible and to survive it because it is so important to both of us that our little girls have me home with them.

Because of those financial sacrifices we are operating on a very low budget, with very few places to save money. Because of having so much going on, we have very little time to make more money, or to find ways to save more money. Yes, there are little places we could cut, but even our FPU coordinator said she thought we had it cut down to the barest bones possible.

The problem with being that low with only that much money coming in is that every single mistake is a world shattering stupid moment that can domino into a thousand different things going wrong. When more money is available, it’s easy to just switch around the budget to cover a mistake and it’ll be okay. In our situation, if I make a single mistake ever on how much I spend, it could affect our lives for the next month. If I get sick and don’t meal plan perfectly, or if I am tired, or if my husband works overtime, its like the entire world falls apart and I start to feel like there’s no point in even trying.

What’s even worse is the ridiculous amount of guilt I am consumed by, like it is my fault that we are suffering and I don’t even deserve for us to be better because I am so stupid. I am not stupid, I am a human going through a million different huge life transitions all at once with hormones flying in a thousand different directions. I am swimming against the current with weights tied to my back. In these moments, it is important to tell myself that. It is crucial to remind myself how freaking hard our situation is, or I just crumble in shame at my own weakness.

I have to remind myself every single day that even though it doesn’t feel like it we are moving forward. I have to remind myself to be grateful for what we do have, but it’s ok to struggle with what we don’t. I have to remind myself that we are learning important life lessons, and we have to be patient. I have to remind myself that it’s okay to accept help when it is the difference between spending time with our babes or not. I have to remind myself over and over again that there is hope.

I’m not always good about this, and sometimes the reminders feel ridiculous and I start to feel so worthless because we haven’t worked it out yet, and we haven’t finished our journey yet, but we are still trying. We are not giving up, no matter what it takes. We are moving forward even if it feels like it will never be enough. Even on the days when I feel like I am inside of a tornado, I am not giving up this fight.

If you know what it’s like to struggle like this, and you want to cry when some people talk about paying off huge chunks of debt, know that I am here fighting alongside you, you are not alone. There will be good days when you make some headway, and there may be days where living within your means feels like dying, and I am here with you for every one of them.

If you don’t know what this is like, that is totally fine. I am happy for you, and I am glad that your experience is better, but please just be gentle with the people who are in different situations than you are. Don’t assume someone is lazy because they aren’t making every choice you would, don’t assume anything about them. The greatest thing you can do is to just be there, hear them, and remember when something was hard for you, and what you needed back them. I pray every time I feel this way, that when I am rolling in the dough in my nice, big, beautiful house, I will never forget how hard it was to get there, and I will love on anyone who is trying to make their own journey forward.

I hope we see each other on Baby Step 7 one day, have a blessed day. ♥️♥️♥️♥️

I have a theory about Post Partum Depression. I haven’t talked about it, because I’m kind of afraid I’m going to get stoned for this, but hear me out, ok? I have a theory that PPD is not really a thing as much as we think it is. I think what everyone thinks is PPD is really just a natural reaction to insane amounts of stress brought on by how completely our society neglects moms, especially at the beginning of motherhood.

Let me start this off by saying, I have said that I have PPD, and my counselor agreed. I am not saying this out of some suffering-free glass box. I am saying this out of the heart of someone who curled up on the floor in complete despair, more than once. I had to ask my husband to tell me that he wanted me alive and wanted me around, over and over again because I was so overwhelmed by it. I have been in the trenches, and they were bad.

As someone who has gone through it, I don’t know if I even believe in it. Not because I don’t believe in the suffering, but because I believe that IT IS NOT IN OUR HEADS! The problem is not women. The problem is that women are being put under insane amounts of pressure at the most vulnerable time of their lives, and then people are asking why they are having a hard time.

After birth, women have a wound NINE INCHES WIDE inside of them, and they have just gone through one of the most physically and emotionally taxing experiences in existence. I was lucky enough to have people to watch out for me for the first week after my first birth and a month after my second, and I still had a hard time. I was not feeling better by the time my family had to go back to work and daily life. They just had to go back to work and daily life.

For months after birth, women are enduring huge hormonal shifts, an adjustment to their new body, their new mind, their new life, their new child, and at the same time, most of them are dealing with working, and the ones who aren’t dealing with that are dealing with staying home with other kids, which comes with built in expectations of keeping the house clean, cooking all the meals, getting the errands done, being the best mom ever, and not worrying about money, which is no cake walk when you are dealing with all of these other things.

So moms are overwhelmed, physically and emotionally and mentally exhausted, their entire lives have changed, and everyone is telling them that everything is fine, and this is how it goes, and life is just hard. Then, we blame it on their minds that they are suffering.

My midwife gave me a list of things that would help with my feelings after birth. For a little while I had time to do them, and when I did, they helped a TON. Who has time to do anything extra with two under two though? And the people around me would ask why I wasn’t doing them, but sometimes you are barely holding your own head up, let alone able to follow all the things you are supposed to be doing.

If you are suffering PPD and you reading this, I am NOT in ANY way saying that you are not suffering, what I am saying it is possible that there is NOTHING WRONG WITH YOU OR YOUR BODY.

Women are being neglected and wronged. We do not have a society that supports women who are just starting out, that is, unless they think about having an abortion, then we will help them, either to not have the baby or to “save” it.

Women need a community to rally around them, not for a week or two, but I would say for a year. While all these hormones and changes are happening, women need extra support. Their struggles and their suffering NEEDS to matter. They need to not be told it’s “just depression,” and “maybe they should go talk to someone.” They need HELP.

I’ll just clarify here, this is a symptom of a bigger problem. I am not saying moms need help and other people don’t. I am saying our entire society is built on rushing to keep up with everything going on in our lives, but people are not helping each other. I believe we have widespread issues we are experiencing because we are not taking care of each other. I believe men need to be supported too, I believe children need to be supported. I believe everyone needs more love.

Be the love that changes the world.

I’m Fighting a War, and I Need Your Help

To the people of faith who have been there for me so many times, I need your prayers, big prayers.

For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to go into film. I wanted this even as a really little girl, and not in a silly, ‘I wanna be a star,’ kind of way, but in a concrete writing films at 6 years old, I am moving to LA, this is my life’s purpose kind of way. It has never gone away, but I have lost hope time and time again.

When I was a kid, no one believed me. Everyone warned me that it doesn’t happen, and that if it does you lose your soul, but I knew better, so I kept writing and kept hoping, but the despair that had been sown in me was so deep that I never tried. Then, I went to college, and the year after I started to believe again, I experienced the most nightmarish season of depression and anxiety and spiritual warfare of my life. Years later, I married my husband who also wants to make movies, and immediately we went through a season of complete despair and misery.

This year, I have finally recovered hope and faith in God, and I believe in His promises for me again. I have been submitting my screenplay, I made a short film alone, I am consistently writing, and Patrick is making video games. At the same time, we are fighting despair back desperately with everything in us. With every step forward, huge things that scare and intimidate us are happening. We are fighting fear with everything in us, but we are tired and we are hurting.

I feel crazy saying this, but I believe 100% that we are fighting serious spiritual warfare right now. I believe we are meant to do what we have always felt called to do, and I believe we are meant to do it now. I am writing to you because we need your prayers. We need the strongest most unfailing prayers you can give us. We cannot make it through this without you. We have things we are meant to say, and we cannot win this fight without you.

Please pray for us.

Rosa Mystica, pray for us.

Come Holy Spirit.

St. Gianna, pray for us.

St. Maria Goretti, pray for us.

St. Paul, pray for us.

A Blog About Sex

So the other day,

A friend asked on a Facebook group,

Some questions about sex.

I was SO excited.

I love sex.

I am good at sex.

It’s cool.

I had answers for questions,

I had all kinds of things to say,

And then I said,

Haha maybe I should start a blog about sex for Catholics.

And then I meant it.

But like really?

Little miss goody two shoes?

Talking on the web about sex?

Teaching women how to commit to their orgasm?

Me?

That does not make any sense.

But you know what?

It makes me crazy excited.

Like bouncing up and down,

Laugh,

Feel joy,

Excited.

About writing about sex.

Yep.

Yep, that’s a thing.

“Grab her pu***”

Ok, I am not a political person. If you know me at all you know this. I avoid the news like some people avoid horror movies, I have never voted for a candidate who was republican or democrat, I tend to either become silent or leave a conversation if it becomes political even remotely. My husband is the only person who knows many of my political leanings or ideas because I think it sours people and relationships to get into the kind of debate politics tends to spark. However, something came up in my personal life today that I just have to comment on. It is completely irrelevant in some ways because the conversation centered around Trump and whether he is good or bad he is in charge. In some ways, however, it is more than relevant, and will be at any time in any culture.

A person in my life and I were arguing today, honestly I’m not even sure what the argument was about. I thought it was whether or not I had reason to believe Trump was a bad person, but later she said she agreed he was bad but kept defending her side, so I have no idea. The important part of the conversation, however, was that I told her about what Trump said about it being ok for a man to “grab her pu***.” Her immediate response was to tell me that she saw a post on Facebook of women in plunging necklines and she couldn’t help but think “What did they expect?”

Ok. For those of you who already understand why this is an issue, I’ll let you just sit with that for a second.

Imagine the screams that wanted to emerge from me. Suffice it to say, that any true emotion(that disagrees with hers) is not accepted by this person, however, so I was required to keep my calm.

Here we go.

IT IS NEVER OK FOR A MAN TO SEXUALLY ASSAULT A WOMAN.

You may say, “well, duh of course not, but what did they think was going to happen?”

No.

“Don’t you think they are inviting it?”

No.

Just. No.

It is infuriating to me that this kind of ignorance is touted as a real teaching in Christianity. Modesty, which by the way does not mean “Cover every inch of your body, you are disgusting and a temptation,” is taught as if it does. Women are encouraged not to be alone with men, because then we are encouraging them. If a woman wears something too tight, too low, too loose, then we are tempting them. I grew up traditional Catholic with weekly if not daily lectures on modesty, do you know how often I heard men talked to about respecting the wfemale body? Exactly never. I don’t count anti-porn addiction because the way that is taught is really as just another thing for men to blame their bad behavior on.(Not saying porn is ok, in fact that is a huge post for another time.)

I never heard anyone talk about how to respect a woman’s body and boundaries.

[I should note, before I go on, that while I never heard this talk to men growing up, I did have a fantastic college professor who discussed how men should view women, and he helped me to understand what I am talking about in this post.]

Now, first of all, this is a teaching that is not really even necessary for most women, because women have not been taught that anything we do is excused by the clothes that men wear.

Second of all, the example far too frequently used “if you put a great dessert on the table, do you expect people to eat it?” is laughable and demeaning. A woman’s body is not food for a man to take as he wishes. I don’t care if I put cookies out on the table and you eat them. Cookies are not a part of a human being, they do not have consciousness, they do not (as far as we know) have an opinion as to whether or not they are eaten. I could go into the Christian argument that woman’s body is made in the image of God and is therefore sacred, but I’d rather simply say, a woman is a PERSON, not an object.

Those who talk about how women “objectify” themselves by dressing in a certain way, need to reflect on what they are saying. A woman who is a PERSON makes herself an OBJECT because she wears something that does not fit into your guidelines of what is appropriate.

Is that true? Can we accuse a woman of doing that? Women in Africa go topless everyday, are they objects now or still people? When a baby is born naked, are they only an object because they are not wearing clothes? No. And it would be ridiculous to say so. But, you say, these states of dress are appropriate in their culture, or their situation. Back to the Facebook comment, what is and had been for some time the culture of Hollywood? Revealing, provocative styles designed to make a statement are the cultural fashion if you will. A plunging neckline is frequently the mildest of these things, but even a piece that pushes boundaries farther still fits into the culture of that situation.

Those who argue that women are objectifying themselves, are basically saying that a man can treat this kind of woman however he wants because she has made herself an object. No matter what a woman is wearing she still has the basic reasoning and consciousness of self that is the typical way of recognizing personhood. She is and always will be a person, and can NOT be treated like an object.

The argument itself is actually degrading in a deeply sinister way if you think about it. No one argues that a man is compromising his personhood if he wears no shirt, but if a woman wears a deep v, she is no longer a person?

Take a second to think about that.

Why do women only possess personhood if you deem their outfit appropriate?

Honestly, I feel that there’s nothing I can add to that.

Why am I only a person, therefore deserving respect, if I wear what you say I should?

Note: This isn’t meant to be a philosophical essay, or I could have gone into the definition of personhood and argued more academically my points. My point is to say my thoughts on the issue today, and these are them, do with them what you will.

Jonah

Have you ever thought about checking yourself into a mental institution?
Felt like you were looking into a mirror on the backside of your brain
And that all you found was the potential for terror and not to mention, horror-
Your own ability to destroy everything good in your own life?

I think the most horrifying moment in life is that one-
When you realize you can actually do something wrong.
When you find out everything is NOT okay, because you could be what’s wrong with it,
Then you know you would never forgive yourself for becoming your own worst.

Everything takes on a new frightening veneer of what you could almost ruin for everyone
If you breathed wrong, or longed wrong, or looked wrong, for just one second
And everything you do wrong isn’t even your fault, but you did it,
Again and again, until the world stopped turning and they threw you off to save thermselves.

A Poem About A Car

Each day she resisted, hes’tant to wake
She snapped to work only minutes later,
And jumped to do my commanding will,
But something in her longed to remain still.

I was tender with her burden a while
Lovingly urging her forward from rest,
But in the time I treated her gently
Violence surged within her body quietly.

It tore through her every move and motion
Bidding her stop, resist the days new pull,
But not until today was I required
To stop, and softly come in and inquire.

What is wrong my dearest, sweetest child?
You work so hard to breathe as I demand
But something tears you within your deepest
For that check engine light for help insists.

And so very tenderly I checked her
For what signs of mortal violence were wreaked
And in time it seemed oil was all she needed
Before her pain was healed, though so deep-seated.

So I turned from One before who came here
Demanding I succumb to His dread knife,
And seek help for overwhelming sorrow
So that perhaps I could run tomorrow.

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