In Others' Words…

The gift of America’s rock bottom.

“I was set free

because my greatest fear had been realized…

And so rock bottom became a solid foundation

on which I rebuilt my life.”

JK Rowling


I keep seeing things about the state of this election being America’s rock bottom, and I have to say that makes a certain amount of sense to me.

When I was deep into my disease, when alcohol had taken over my life, I was miserable. There was no enjoyment in it.  I hated drinking.  I was filled with despair and hopelessness.  I knew I was betraying the woman I was meant to be.  I was betraying the idea of who I knew I could be- but I couldn’t stop.  And as my sickness became more and more apparent, the people around me grew frustrated and angry- they just wanted the old me back.  My life had become completely out of control and so, so ugly.

My drinking spiraled when my marriage imploded, but my marriage ending did not cause my alcoholism, it merely kicked it into high gear. It took what was a relatively dormant, slow growing malignancy and accelerated it. It was like I had a chronic condition from the time I was eleven.  I had long stretches of remission punctuated by flare-ups.  But I was never well.  My disease just manifested itself in more socially acceptable ways before my drinking took over.  My disease looked like fear and perfectionism and control issues, anxiety and unhealthy relationships.  Not great, still causing a ton of damage to me and to others, but more comfortable.  “Nicer.”

Alcohol just took those underlying symptoms and brought them front and center.  Fed them, so they grew stronger.  Exposed all the unhealthy patterns.

Donald Trump did not invent racism, misogyny, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia or class warfare- he merely tapped into those existing cancerous veins and the fear is bleeding out. We can see it, hear it, feel it.  Donald Trump read the board, that’s all. What are people afraid of? How can I turn that fear into anger and that anger into hatred? He identified our monsters, dragged them into the light.

It’s what every demagogue in history has done- give the people a common enemy they already fear.  Then they tend the fear.  Feed it. Stoke it until it becomes hatred. That’s all hatred is, you know- weaponized fear.

It all feels completely out of control, doesn’t it?  It’s all so, so ugly, isn’t it?

Maybe it’s all the childish rhetoric of this election cycle, but the phrase that keeps occurring to me is, “It takes one to know one.”  Maybe that’s why I see the fundamental cancer growing here- because I was so sick, for so long.  All of those years, even when I wasn’t really drinking, I was so sick.  I just wasn’t sick enough to need to get well.  So even though my steep spiral to the bottom was awful, it was also the greatest blessing of my life- because it allowed me to get sick enough to recognize that I needed to do the work.  To heal.  Not just stop drinking, but get WELL.

We all desperately want this election to be over, but part of me is afraid for the awfulness to go back underground.  Part of me is scared for it to get comfortable again.  Because the way it was before this election wasn’t good, it was just more comfortable.

America is sick. We are so, so sick. Can’t you feel it?  Are you getting that same gnawing, queasy feeling in the pit of your stomach when you actually look at what’s been exposed in this election?

We keep saying, “This is not who we are.”  But it is, friends.  This is exactly who we are. Right now, this is exactly who we are.

We are a country with deep fault lines of fear running through it.  Donald Trump did not create those fissures.  It would be pretty to think so, but he didn’t.  Those cracks are THERE, which means the foundation of our country, the first country built on an IDEA, is unsound.  That’s the astounding thing about the United States, it’s the thing that moves me to tears every July 4th.  This beautiful, ugly country of ours is predicated on the notion that all people are created equal.  It is a radical premise of a promise that we betrayed right off the bat, and have yet to fulfill.

Better now than then?   Yes- in some ways. But for too many people, the idea of America is just that.  A really beautiful idea of a country.  Great in theory, but not the country people of color are living in.  Not the country transgendered people live in.  Not the country women live in.

When I was spiraling toward rock bottom I was filled with despair.  The problem just seemed too big to tackle.  My addicition was insurmountable.  I couldn’t get better, I knew it, so I didn’t even want to LOOK at the wreckage I’d created.  It was too painful, too scary.  To overwhelming.  I thought if I could just STOP, if this cycle could just END, I could go back to the way things were.  I prayed to God to put things back the way they were.

Thank you, God, for answering that prayer with a resounding, “No.”

I crashed.  Hard.  I crashed and I sat there at rock bottom.  I stopped drinking.  I looked around.  The wreckage was still there.  You know why?  Because the drinking was a SYMPTOM, just like this election is a SYMPTOM.  The stopping drinking was the first step toward getting well.  Then came the work.  The examination of my issues, the admission of my wrongs, the commitment to do and be better.  The work continues, every day.

In recovery there’s a truism that once you know you’re addicted and are aware of what recovery can be, it ruins your drinking.

America is addicted to its fears and its privilege.  We’re addicted, but we’re not enjoying them anymore.  So even when the election ends we will be aware of how sick we are, and we can’t un-know it.

This rock bottom is a gift.  An opportunity.  One we will decide to seize, or not.

There are people that don’t.  They stop drinking but don’t go further.  They’re referred to as “dry drunks.”   The wreckage continues.  Worsens.

They stay sick.

When this election is over, we will do one of two things:  We will prioritize comfort or wellness.

We will either stay sick or do the work.


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Two worlds

“I didn’t hear the accusations,

I only heard the denial.”

Jerry Falwell Jr.  


Last Friday, we were all made privvy to what sort of things the Republican Party’s choice for president says about women when he thinks he’s among friends.  Allies, even.  We got a little insight into the sorts of things the Republican Party’s choice for president believes he is entitled to do to women, given his celebrity status.

Trump: “Yeah that’s her with the gold. I better use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her. You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful… I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait.

And when you’re a star they let you do it.

You can do anything.”

Bush: “Whatever you want.”

Trump: “Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”

Everybody was outraged.  We-ell, that’s not exactly true, now is it?  Not everybody.  We learned that most men seem to hear things differently than women do.

The initial reaction was a flurry of articles and blog posts and open letters from women asking men how they could support the Republican Party’s choice for president after his blatant misogyny and sexually aggressive talk about women.  How they could continue to entertain the notion of voting for him after we heard him blithely brag about sexual assault.  The articles asked men how they could, as fathers, brothers, husbands, and grandfathers, not denounce this man as the morally unfit predator that he is?

I have been guilty of making this argument. I’ve put it in that context because it does not seem that most men care about this until it is framed that particular way.  I don’t know. Is it a “not in my backyard” sort of a thing?  It’s okay if he hates other women, but when someone intimates that it might have an affect on “your” women it becomes relevant? I mean, we say, “THIS IS NOT OKAY!” until we’re blue in the face, but until we ask, “IS THIS OKAY FOR YOUR DAUGHTER?” most men cannot seem to hear us.  Until it is brought into their personal world, they don’t see the harm.

Anyway, that seemed to resonate on some level, because then followed articles by men expressing outrage on behalf of the women in their lives- because apparently we are to be championed and revered.

Initially, it was pretty refreshing to see men weighing in on this at all.  I mostly saw this on Twitter, where I tend to follow writers, thinkers, and artists whose work I admire.  On my Facebook feed, it was pretty quiet.  Y’know, from the men in my actual life.  A few weighed in.  The usual suspects, who I have come to appreciate more and more in recent days.

Then there began to be articles and posts by women pointing out that men shouldn’t be thinking of women only in terms of their relationship to men.  That they didn’t need to be a father or a husband or a brother to recognize this behavior as deplorable – they just needed to be decent human beings.  You know, like we women are human beings, and worthy of respect apart from any connection or relation we have to men.

“I’m offended as a guy.”

Tom Hanks

It made me reflect on why I felt the need to make that argument, and the answer can be found in the same Facebook  newsfeed.  When Brock Turner got off with a slap on the wrist, I saw virtually nothing posted by men.  Not on their own pages, anyway.  MAYBE they’d like a post or comment on what a shame it was, but there was a decided lack of outrage.  Bill Cosby?  Crickets.  The Republican Party’s choice for president’s comments on women throughout the campaign calling them fat, ugly, commenting on menstrual cycles as though they were a character flaw and declaring breastfeeding and the need to use the restroom to be “disgusting.”

You could hear a pin drop.

You’ve probably seen that meme that says, “Privilege is when you thnk something is not a problem because it is not a problem for you personally.”

You know what privilege looks like?  It looks like being surprised by the number of times the GOP’s choice for president interrupted Hillary Clinton during the first debate.  I did not see or hear a single woman express surprise over that.

You know what privilege sounds like?  It sounds like men immediately making the recordings about them. We heard men say, “Can you imagine if someone taped what you said in private and played it for everyone to hear? We’d be screwed.”  Really??  Then you should probably examine the things you are saying in private. Misogyny articulated in private is still misogyny. Who you are when you think no one is listening is WHO YOU ACTUALLY ARE.

You know what privilege does?  It assumes.  “When you’re famous they let you do anything.”  I think people are fundamentally misunderstanding the GOP’s nominee here.  I think THEY really means society, and LET simply means he got away with it.  Ask  any woman how many times she’s fended off unwanted advances, been kissed, groped, grabbed, pinched, backed into a corner- how many times she’s smiled and moved someone’s hand, laughed and tried to extricate herself from an unwanted embrace. Then ask how many times the man faced consequences.  I bet those guys would say, “She let me do it.”

Privilege is being shocked by the staggering number of women who immediately began responding to Kelly Oxford’s tweet asking us to weigh in on what age we were when we endured our first sexual assault.

You can only be shocked by that when the prospect of assault isn’t even on your radar.  I take sexual assault into account every single day.  I take my dog out late at night before I go to bed, and I take precautions every single night.  Which means every single night I am aware of potential harm.

It occurs to me that on police shows when they are trying to scare male suspects with prison, the threat is always of rape. Because it’s just the worst thing they can imagine, and the notion of being in an environment where that could happen at any time is so horrifying and terror inducing they know it will be effective.

Well guess what, men? That’s the world women live in. ALL the time. Not just when they’re locked up and have had their power taken away for doing something wrong. ALL the time.  Every day.

That means your ‘worst case scenario?’ Your ‘DefCon 10?’ That’s our Tuesday.

Men take safety for granted the same way women accept danger as a given.

We cohabit the same earth, men and women, but we don’t live in the same world.


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It just kind of showed me that it’s okay, you know what I mean? And that there are people out there living healthy, happy lives and are absolutely fine, and who happen to be gay, as well.

Troye Sivan


Today is National Coming Out Day.

It is a day dedicated to celebrating acts of bravery.  Imagine what it must be like for a kid, summoning the courage to show who they really are to a family and a world that might turn its back on them, revile them, abandon them, even harm them.  It is a stunning act of valor. To show up at school and stubbornly insist on being who they are, who they were made to be, and face bullying, exclusion, discrimination?  These kids are warriors, make no mistake.  There are battlefields, and there are battlefields.

LGBTQ+ kids are at increased risk for violence, sexual assault, addictionand suicide.

The other day, an article commemorating the 18th anniversary of Matthew Shepard’s attack- a brutal beating which lead to his death five days later-  came up in my newsfeed. I remember how I felt watching that unfold on the news. At the time,  I had a six year old son, a beautiful little blonde boy with an angelic face- just like Matthew.  I thought about the level of hatred and fear that would be necessary to tie another human being to a fence rail and beat the life out of him. Hours later, he was found by a passerby who initially mistook him for a scarecrow.

It made me afraid for my child.  It made me afraid for the world.


Matthew was a rarity in 1998, a young man living in a rural area who was openly gay.  We take being ‘out’ for granted a bit, nowadays.  Because that’s an area where progress has been made.  We have openly gay politicians, clergy, entertainers, writers, athletes. LGBTQ+ youth can look to these people and know that it’s possible to live openly.  To stand in your truth.  But maybe not in your family.  But maybe not in your church.  But maybe not in your little town.  Still, it’s progress.  It allows for that possibility.  Those role models stand out as beacons of hope.

On good days, I look around and feel encouraged by that progress.  I see afterschool programs for LGBTQ+ youth in public schools, I see inclusive language being used more, I see whole families at Pride events.  I spoke at Wild Goose Festival last summer and heard so many great conversations going on- people asking questions and listening to answers, truly seeking to learn, to understand.  There was a tent specifically for LGBTQ+ youth and every time I passed I saw kids laughing and singing and connecting.

At Goose, I attended a forum on justice.  After it ended, I got up and took note of a table set up in the back of the tent dedicated to stamping money with messages of support for the LGBTQ+ community and criticizing HB2.  The festival is held in North Carolina, a state which decided to codify hatred and ignorance into law last year.  Because that’s the other side of the good days.  That we have politicians willing to not only speak intolerance from their positions of power, but seek to actively feed into people’s deepest fears- using the prospect of child sexual abuse at the hands of the transgender community, which is both an asinine and a hugely cynical move.  It is, in a word, deplorable.  These bullies have big pulpits, though, and the power to legislate hate.

I think about being a young kid weighing the pros and cons of coming out.  I think about how scary that must be, even for kids who are pretty sure their parents will be supportive- because their parents are not the only adults who wield power over them.

The rate of LGBTQ+ youth substance abuse is 190% higher than the rate among straight/cis kids.  190%  That makes perfect sense to me.  Of course it is.  When you are in pain, you look to numb.

Suicide is the leading cause of death for LGBTQ+ kids nationally.  That is not surprising. When you are in despair, you look to leave.

And let me tell you, this is not a kid problem- this is an ADULT problem.  WE are in charge of the world in which they live.  WE have created a society that feels and frequently IS unsafe.

For every kid out there who is struggling with questions of identity- you are loved, regardless of what conclusion you come to.  For every kid who is trying to figure out how to tell their parents who they really are, there is support.  For every kid who is being told at their dinner table, from the altar, and from their government that who they are is wrong, or bad, or broken- please remember that just because the words are coming out of the mouth of an authority figure does not mean they have the authority to tell your story. And anyone telling your story in such a way to contradicts the three basic plot points of ALL of our stories, that we are whole, good, and loved, is LYING.

People lie for all sorts of reasons- ignorance, fear, shame…  That doesn’t make them a bad person, necessarily- but it does disqualify them from being a narrator in your life.

What can you do, as an individual to make this world a safer place for LGBTQ+ kids?  You can be a safe place for a kid to speak their truth.  You can be a Kayla.

For those kids out there who have taken the step to speak their truth already, I sit here in complete awe.  You knock me out, and you are my role models.  It is an absolute act of courage to insist on inhabiting your space on this earth honestly.  To say, “This is WHO I AM, and I DESERVE TO BE HERE.”  Do you know how many adults haven’t managed to do that?  My guess is a very high percentage of the very people telling you to sit down and be quiet fall into that category.  Remember that.  All hate has its roots in fear.

For those of you who have not yet found a way to tell your story, keep trying.   If you’ve determined your parents are not a safe place to do that for now, find another way.  Find a safe place.  You can email me.  I will read your story.  Because, my darlings, the story you’re not telling is in charge of your whole life.  And you are not alone, although I am sure it feels that way, sometimes.  There is help to be had, even if it isn’t coming from those whose job it is to do so.

You are loved.  Don’t you dare let anyone tell you any different.  So, sing your song. Speak your truth.  The world needs exactly you, right where you are.

Sing, sing a song
Let the world sing along
Sing of love there could be
Sing for you and for me.

The Carpenters





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Do not follow me on Pinterest.  I don’t know how I even got there.  It’s all a little confusing.

Grey matters

She said, ‘There is no reason
and the truth is plain to see.’
But I wandered through my playing cards
and would not let her be
one of sixteen vestal virgins
who were leaving for the coast
and although my eyes were open
they might have just as well’ve been closed

A Whiter Shade of Pale – Keith Reid & Gary Brooker


We love to live in absolutes.  We want our heroes pure and our villains purely evil.  The truth is often murkier than that.  Black and white is as simple as it is unyielding.  It’s cozy, though.  That kind of thinking requires very little of us.

One night last year, Mary and I were going through some old family photos.  Why do we do that?  I think there are lots of reasons.  I know I look for clues.  Someone should have seen something, the signs were there.  Maybe I’m looking for black hats.  Proof of evil.

One time, I found myself holding a photo. In it, hanging over the mantle, was a painting. A seascape, I think.  Mary said, “That’s one of Grampa’s.”

There are turning point moments in life.  That was one of them.

Up until that moment, I had no other contexts for my grandfather.  I have no memories of him as a grandfather.  No playful or affectionate memories.  Just pain and shame.  Just terror and panic.  Just darkness and predation.  He was solely an abuser.  Solely an agent of harm.  He was just that one thing.

The thing is, that has never been true of anyone in the whole history of ever.  We are none of us all one thing.

The idea of my grandfather as an artist pierced the black and white armor I’d built up around my heart.  I paint.  I taught art.  Mary paints.  All of a sudden there was this thread, something that I really love about myself, that binds us.

Until that point, it had quite simply never occurred to me that I had something other than the events of my trauma in common with him.  In that moment I felt the shocking grief of realization- he was my family, and I was his.  Is.  Am.  That’s just so hard to untangle.  He was a fisherman and I am drawn to the sea.  He hooked rugs.  So did I.  He was a cook.  I love to cook.

“She said, ‘I’m home on shore leave,’
though in truth we were at sea
so I took her by the looking glass
and forced her to agree
saying, ‘You must be the mermaid
who took Neptune for a ride.’
But she smiled at me so sadly
that my anger straightway died.”

My tendency has been to line item veto his influence on me.  He only gets credit for the harm he did, except I don’t think it works that way.  It’s why incest is so complicated.  In the rare event a child is abused by a stranger the perpetrator gets to be JUST THAT.  Not so when your abuse plays out like a classic horror movie and the creepy call comes from inside the house.  Try as you might to keep it black and white, you necessarily end up having other contexts for your abuser.

When I was growing up if someone asked me what my heritage was I would say Irish.  That is a half truth.  That is my mother’s side.  The family I claimed.  The family who claimed me.  It was so much more comfortable for me to paint a picture in which that side of my family was my WHOLE family.  I have a whole other half.  They wrote me off when I was a little girl, and so I returned the favor.  They were the bad side.  To them, I was the bad girl.  How tidy.

This past year, reconnecting with Mary, I have had to challenge some of my assumptions.  I had people who I’d reduced to cartoon characters fleshed out for me- not necessarily in ways that flattered them, but it DID humanize them.  It made them actual people.  It made them real, and real people are harder to hate and much harder to dismiss- so much less black and white.

That’s uncomfortable.  I like my pain and resentment to have hospital corners.  I want to be able to bounce a quarter off that shit.

The thing about black and white is, it doesn’t allow for grace.  Not God’s grace- that we all get, and it’s got nothing to do with merit.  That’s what makes it grace.  I mean the kind of grace we extend to each other.  Categorizing someone as all one thing doesn’t really allow for that.  There’s no room for grace in the black and white.  Not for you, and not for me.  I am able to extend grace to another human being when I not only see the grey in someone else, but when I acknowledge it in myself.

I’ve learned that as soon as I start talking about someone in absolutes I am actively trying not to forgive.  I want to stay in my head, in that comfortable, destructive dance of anger and blame.  Once I’ve acknowledged the grey, once someone is human to me, my anger becomes slippery.  It makes it impossible to hold on to, to clutch to my heart and justify my lack of mercy.  In the end, those white and black cowboy hats are just a conceit employed in the movies.

I called Mary this morning and we talked about this.  We talked about how Grampa never really LOOKED at us.  She said she found one of his wedding pictures and that in it, his eyes struck her as endless and empty.  I told her that when I think about his eyes, I think of shark eyes.  Black.  Flat.  Dead.  Maybe he didn’t look at us because he couldn’t, because then we would be human.

I told Mary I’ve gotten curious about him.  She says she has, too.  I’m not sure what that will lead to, but I’m willing to look, finally.  I’m ready to dive into the grey.

“If music be the food of love
then laughter is its queen
and likewise if behind is in front
then dirt in truth is clean
My mouth by then like cardboard
seemed to slip straight through my head
So we crash-dived straightway quickly
and attacked the ocean bed.”


Love Warrior: Book Review

We know what the world wants from us.

We know we must decide whether to stay small, quiet and uncomplicated or

allow ourselves to grow as big,

loud and complex as we were made to be.

Every girl must decide

whether to be true to herself

or be true to the world.

Every girl must decide

whether to settle for adoration

or fight for love.

Glennon Doyle Melton   –  Love Warrior: A Memoir

A few weeks ago I received my ARC copy of Glennon Doyle Melton’s new book, Love Warrior.  I was a little excited.


I was also nervous. I knew it was going to challenge me in some ways, and I wasn’t altogether looking forward to AFGO.

You guys.  THIS BOOK.  This may be the bravest book I’ve ever read.  It required bravery from a whole family.  I don’t know many people who would have the integrity to write something as unflinchingly honest and contemplative as this one is. The wisdom in this book is hard-won.  It made me want to be a better writer, a better truth-teller.  A better woman.

This book is about many things, or maybe just one.  It’s about body image issues, spirit/mind/body connection – which was, somewhat laughably, my college credo- addiction, sex, intimacy, connection, marriage- but ultimately, LOVE.  This is a love story, but perhaps not the kind you think.

One of the things I’ve been thinking about since reading this book (twice) is how helpful I believe it will be for survivors of sexual trauma.  I will be adding it to the list of resources we give to all participants at Say It, Survivor workshops.  Child sexual abuse is not part of Glennon’s story, but her relationship with her body and therefore with sex is what we hear from survivors time and time again.  That disconnect.  That seeing our bodies at best as “other” and at worst as the enemy.

Early in the book, the author refers to “the first time sex happened to me.”  I had to put the book down for a little minute when I read that.

For most of my life, I had that disconnect.  I floated away somewhere else during sex.  My body was not a safe neighborhood as far as I was concerned.  A crime scene, actually- so I wasn’t about to hang around.  I’d detach, not really be in it.  The thing about that is, it turns physical intimacy into something being done TO you instead of WITH you and for a survivor of sexual trauma that is seriously dangerous territory.  You feel like a means to an end.  I mean, what is sexual abuse if not masturbation with a victim?  In crimes of sexual assault sex is the WEAPON.

And for someone who is terrified not to be in control, the notion of physical abandon was terrifying.  That requires real vulnerability.  Also, I knew men were inherently dangerous.  Even the ones I loved.  Maybe especially them.  But I knew what to do and what to say.  I’d been taught early and well- I knew what my role was.  And I resented the hell out of it.

You don’t get to the other side of that without some seriously hard work.

This is a love story.  Oh, sweet friends, YES- it most certainly is.  This is a story of a woman deciding to love herself enough to do the hard and sacred work of healing psychic and spiritual wounds that were encouraging her to live small.  This is a love story of a woman learning to tune out those voices that come at us from every side and try to harangue us into submission.

You can listen to those messages.  You can take them in.  You can be small and quiet and pretty and nice.  Pretty and nice are my two least favorite words.  You’ll be rewarded, sure- but you might die, too.  Maybe not all at once.  Just a little bit, every day.

It’s about the mixed up messages boys get, too.  The world we live in encourages girls to keep their bodies at a distance and boys to partition off their minds.  Sex is either painted as purely a matter of the heart or the body- not both- so there are disconnects all around.  Girls go away in their heads, and boys try to pretend it’s purely a physical act.  Both are damaging misperceptions.

This book may have been born out of a marital crisis but it isn’t a ‘how to fix your marriage’ book, though I am sure some will try and frame it that way.  This isn’t a tell-all, shame the wrong-doer memoir.  Not even close.

This is a story of a whole family showing up for each other and trying to do the next right thing.  This is people engaging in love, the verb.  And it’s a family telling the truth about it.  There’re all kinds of bravery in play in the telling of this story.

I remember an essay Glennon wrote for her first book, Carry On, Warrior – it was entitled Easter.  I was a little undone by it.  It was written in the early days of reconciliation and work after the author learned her marriage was not quite what she thought.  It was hopeful and achingly beautiful.  I never got an Easter in my marriage, there was no re-growth.  No spring, with all its promise and newness.  I grieved that for a long time, but I see it differently now.  My marriage didn’t have a spring, but I did. The marriage didn’t grow back after that long winter, but I did.  And that’s hard, but it’s not bad.

Here’s the thing, though- when things grow back, sometimes they grow back differently.  There are environmental variables, there are warmer days, cooler nights, drought, downpours…

As some of you may know, Glennon shared that she and her husband Craig have decided to separate.  I want you to hear me when I say this- that does not do one single thing to undermine the message of this book.  It does not make it any less of a love story- in fact, it underscores it.  Love stories don’t look like just one thing.  A marriage ending in mutual respect and caring, with both people having shown up and done the hard and sacred work of healing is a much greater testament to love than two people staying together when it no longer works, setting aside what their hearts and souls need in the name of what the world and Disney deems a happily ever after.  We none of us owe anyone else a tidy ending.  Real love isn’t tidy.  It isn’t sentimental, and it isn’t ephemeral. It’s messy.  Muscular.

At the end of the day, we none of us can love anyone else well until we truly love ourselves.  Love Warrior was hard for me to read, and then I instantly re-read it.  I dog-eared pages, I underlined.  I texted friends quotes.

I cried.

I’m doing a lot of hard work on myself right now.  Examining character defects, shining a light on things I would rather ignore.  I’m realizing that so many of the times I’ve done damage to others it’s been borne of my inability to authentically love myself.  I’ve spent so much of my life buying into the messages I was sold- letting other people tell my story.  That saying, “Hurt people hurt people?”  It’s true.

I still have so much work to do, but this book helped.  I think it’ll help you, too.  I’m betting you have a “ME too” moment or seven.  Do yourself a favor- if you haven’t already ordered it, do it now, and read it.  You’ll feel less alone when you’re done.


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“We are all stories, in the end.”

Steven Moffat

I was talking to a friend last week and our conversation went deep. She was telling me some things about her past, and when she got to a certain part of her story her voice changed. It tightened. She stopped making eye contact. Her shoulders hunched. She got physically smaller.

I looked at her, this funny, smart, strong woman who I’ve grown to love and respect, folding in on herself.  Another origami girl.  I got pissed

I held my hand up and said, “Wait. Stop.”  I leaned in and asked quietly, “Who is telling your story right now?”

She looked at me, confused.

I believe babies are born loved, necessary and enough. So that’s our story when we come into the world- Loved.  Necessary.  Enough.  That’s our baseline.  The most basic of plot points.

Then our stories get entrusted to the adults in our lives. They tell our stories until we are old enough to do it ourselves.  That is an enormous amount of power to have over someone else’s life, and adults have a sacred duty to wield that power with integrity and discretion.

When your story is entrusted to someone worthy of that responsibility, it’s told like a great biography. These are the facts. Your praises are sung. You are reminded of your Belovedness, your necessary-ness, your enough-ness. It’s your truth.  And even when there’s a HARD truth, even if it’s something you’ve struggled with, failed at, need to work on, it’s told with compassion and without judgment.

Those people, those trustworthy people, tell your story until you can tell it for yourself and then they hand it back to you. If you are going through a hard time, if you have forgotten who you are -that you are loved and necessary and enough they might gently tell you your story to remind you, but they know it is not theirs to keep in the end.

The trouble is, not everyone who gets that privilege is worthy of it. Sometimes, our stories end up in the wrong hands.  There’s even a term for it in fiction- an unreliable narrator.  That’s appropriate, actually, because in the hands of an unreliable narrator our stories become works of fiction. And just because it’s fiction doesn’t mean it isn’t hugely persuasive. Heck, I sat in the theater at the beginning of Jurassic Park and thought, “Maybe they CAN make dinosaurs out of mosquitos trapped in amber…”

Anyway, this friend and I talked some more.  She asked, “How can you tell when someone else is telling your story?”

It’s a great question.

In our workshops we spend time with the participants helping them to untangle the narratives of their lives, so I’ve been in a position the hear many women tell me their stories- and this is what I’ve come to believe:  Anytime you feel shame- you know that hot, sick feeling in the pit of your stomach?  Anytime you feel that flush of shame, someone else is telling your story. Even if the words are coming out of your own mouth. Your story has been hijacked.

Because here’s the thing, you can admit wrongdoing and not feel shame.  You can have made terrible mistakes and not feel shame.  Shame and guilt are very different animals. Guilt is your conscience- a giant arrow pointing to something you’ve done that says, “Hey!  You know that was wrong.  Make it right.”  Guilt serves a purpose within reason. Shame does not.  It is singularly destructive.

You know how from time to time you’ll hear a story about some crazy fish that is normally only found in the Amazon but somehow it shows up in a river in Michigan? When that happens, the fish in question is referred to as an ‘invasive species.” It decimates the local marine life.  It is destructive, because the fish who are supposed to live there have no natural defense against it.

Shame is foreign.  It’s an affront to your inherent belovedness, it implies you are not necessary.  That you can NEVER be enough.  Shame speaks in absolutes and offers no grace.  It is always introduced by someone outside of you.  It is never indigenous.

That’s actually great news, because if shame doesn’t happen organically, if it is not inherently part of who we are, it can be removed.  Eradicated.

The first step is identifying those chapters awash in shame.  The second is identifying the narrator- who is telling that part of your story? Round up the usual suspects.  Then, question their stories.  Stack those stories up against these three things, the bones of the story you were born with: Loved.  Necessary.  Enough.  If the stories contradict those facts?  Rewrite them.  YOU are the author of your life.  YOU are.

Until you do those things, you can’t reclaim your story.  And if you don’t own your story, it will own you.  Guaranteed.

“Keaton always said,

“I don’t believe in God, but I’m afraid of him.”

Well I believe in God,

and the only thing that scares me is Keyser Soze.”

Verbal – The Usual Suspects

Yes and No

“Burnout is not reserved for the rich or the famous or the profoundly successful.  It’s happening to so many of us, people across all kinds of careers and lifestyles.


If you’re tired, you’re tired, no matter what.  If the life you’ve crafted for yourself is too heavy, it’s too heavy, no matter if the people on either side of you are carrying more or less.  You don’t have to have a public life or a particularly busy life in order to be terribly, dangerously depleted.


You just have to buy into the idea that your feelings and body and spirit aren’t worth listening to, and believe the myth that busyness or achievement or both will take away the pain.”

Shauna Niequist


I’ve always had a great work ethic. I am a hard worker, like my mother before me. I might not be the smartest or the most talented, but I will outwork you. Count on  it.  I will push myself to exhaustion and beyond and take sinful pride in it.  I’ll demur offers of help and I’ll tell myself that “if not for me” this thing- whatEVER it is- will not get done.

I know so many women who fit into that same mold.

They DO everything. They HANDLE everything. They don’t need any help- Nope.

“I’ve got this!”

I have had so many conversations with women in which they detail their travails at work or in their volunteering. How tired they are, how much they have on their plates- how the whole place would, quite simply, fall apart without them. I say this without an ounce of judgment because I have been as guilty of it as anyone.

It probably comes off to a lot of people as self-confidence or martyrdom, but the older I get the less I buy into that.

It’s all hustle, and hustle is the farthest thing from self-worth. Hustle is, “If I don’t make myself the linchpin of this whole operation, there won’t be room for me at the table.” Hustle is, “If I’m not indispensable, then I don’t have worth.”

The need to be necessary is back-breaking and soul-depleting. And it’s a vicious circle. People stroke your ego and tell you how X, Y, and Z would quite simply not happen were it not for your efforts.

That, sweet friends, is not the hallmark of a successful endeavor OR a healthy dynamic.

So why do we do it if it isn’t good for us and it isn’t good for whatever the project is?

I think it’s because we’ve conflated being busy with being worthy.

When I was at Wild Goose, I heard Rene Auguste say, “If your self-worth is determined by what you produce, you are enslaved- whether you are rich or poor.”


When she said it, I had that little frisson you get when you hear something that is a fundamental truth.

I’ve always been one of the first to shoot my hand in the air when volunteers are needed, whether I have the time and energy for the commitment or not.  I’ve always taken on more than anyone could reasonably be expected to handle.  And I was prideful about it- I thought it was a sign of unselfishness.  That it made me a giver.  Now I’m not so sure.

You see, my every yes is also a no. That’s what priorities ARE. They represent of a hierarchy of what we value. My yes to a should commitment is a no to a want/peace/love/rest/joy commitment. We have finite hours in finite days on this beautiful blue planet of ours. We cannot do everything, and the more ‘shoulds’ we entertain, the less joy we will feel.

If I say YES to taking on another THING, another obligation that doesn’t feed anything other than my delusion that the world will tilt off its axis if I’m not there to balance it all, then I am saying NO to conversations with my kids, walks with my dog.  I’m saying NO to sunsets with my Favorite.  I’m saying NO to fresh air and sleep, to cooking and reading and painting.

And the things we say YES to will suffer too, because they’ll be done with a weary and resentful heart.

My need to HANG ON with a Vulcan death grip to every little thing to make sure it gets done is nothing short of bananas, and it’s unhealthy for me and for the people I love.

My friend Rachel writes beautifully about this topic all the time on her blog and in her book Hands Free Life.

My friend Kate, a glorious, funny, smart, talented writer wrote about this very thing on her blog I Hold Your Heart just this morning.  There’s something in the air, I guess.

Rachel opened the door with her honesty about her realization that in her hurry to get things done she was missing out on her own life.  I read Shauna’s brilliant book, Present over Perfect and found myself highlighting and dog-earing pages as my eyes stung with tears.  The reflexologist asked me if control *might* be an issue for me.  Now Kate’s post about putting her well being not just back on her priority list, but unabashedly at the TOP of it.  Sometimes the Universe conspires to help us get out of our own way.

I was talking just last night about how my default setting is to not take care of myself until something is emergent.  I don’t cop to tired, I power through until I’m exhausted.  I don’t get colds, I get pneumonia.  I say I don’t have the time or money to take care of myself, but that is simply untrue.  It’s just not a priority.  And I act like that’s unselfish.

It’s not.

I am a single mom and sole supporter of two kids.  What I can’t afford is to NOT take care of myself.

What is even HAPPENING, y’all?

I’ll tell you what’s happening- we’re burning out left and right, and chalking it up to efficiency or love.  You GUYS.  That is just not how you love your people, by wearing yourself out voluntarily.

“You can’t just sit there and put everyone’s life ahead of yours and think that counts as love.”

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

I saw a meme on Facebook the other day that stopped me in my tracks.  It said something to the effect of, “What you do is SO LOUD I cannot hear what you say.”

Because that’s the other piece of this, friends.  The other piece of this is that our kids are watching.  Our GIRLS are watching.  We are teaching them how to move through the world by what we do, so we can tell them they have inherent worth but we are not modeling that for them.  Is this constant striving, proving, hustling what we want for them?  Do we want to see them, a couple of decades down the line, depleted and stretched too thin because that’s what we taught them?

I know a woman who says this thing all the time, “I have enough, I do enough, I am enough.”

I don’t think I ever think I am doing enough.  And I worry about the few things I’m not doing.  I mean, if I don’t do them will they get done?  Will they get done properly?

The truth is, they might not.  And life will go on, either way.  So maybe it’s time to stop, and let go.  Not of everything, obviously.  There are life things that are non-negotiable, but so much of my busyness is voluntary.

Maybe it’s time to focus on saying YES to the things I say I value most dearly even if it means saying NO to the quick-fix validation of busyness and accomplishment.  Don’t do it because I said you should.  My sister has a friend who says, “Don’t should all over yourself.”  Do it because life is short and precious, and there are people right in front of you to love, and they will not always be there.  There will never be another sunrise like the one tomorrow morning, the shells on the beach today will not necessarily be there tomorrow.  Nothing is guaranteed.

Finite hours, friends.  Finite days.


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Pressure points

I’ve been in a lot of pain for a very long time.

I have a lower back issue that’s worsened over the past few years.  Several members of my family have had similar issues and had to treat them surgically, so my assumption was that I had genetic predisposition to it.  I figured that combined with stress and a couple of years in special ed (which can be pretty grueling physically) led me to where I am now.

Anyway, I am in pain all day, every day- and it’s been getting worse.

For Mother’s Day, my Favorite gave me a gift certificate for a massage every month for a year.  I know.  Best.  Anyway, I’ve been using them, and after a not-great experience the first month I’ve found a therapist who is fabulous and it’s been helping- not with my lower back, but the rest of my back which has been in knots as a result of compensating for the main issue.  Solidarity.

On one visit, she mentioned to me that I carried a lot of tension in my neck and shoulders (which I knew) and also, she said, “Oddly, you carry a lot in your feet.”

Huh, I thought.

The last visit with her, after my six-hour return drive from Maine, I was in so much pain it was hard to lay in any one position for long enough to let her work.  She suggested that perhaps I try reflexology- she thought it might help.  Dr. Andrew Weil says, “Reflexology (or foot reflexology) is a therapy based on the principle that there are small and specific areas of innervation in the hands and feet that correspond to specific muscle groups or organs of the body.”

I am tired of being in pain, and am willing to try anything that might forestall surgery.

I had an appointment today.  I had no idea what to expect- I knew the focus would be on my hands and feet, but beyond that I knew nothing.  The therapist said, “Your hands are where you hold your recent pain, your feet is where older pain is stored.”

In retrospect, there really ought to have been ominous music in place of the eerie lute music that is apparently mandatory in spas.

She began working on my right hand.  It was a little uncomfortable at first, and then she put pressure on a point on my hand below my thumb.  I am not kidding you, I gasped.  She continued to work, and I could not believe how painful it was.  I mean, excruciating.

I feel it’s important to note here that I have a really high tolerance for pain.  I am not a complainer, it has to be BAD before I do anything about it.  My daughter was almost eleven pounds and I gave birth to her with no pain meds- if I say it hurts, it hurts.

The therapist said in an offhand way, “I notice you aren’t breathing.”  I said yes, that’s a thing I do.  Not breathe.  She said, “When you’re in pain?” I said, “Yeah, and also, y’know, in general.”  She suggested I try breathing.


It actually was.  It still hurt like hell, but it is actually more manageable if you’re allowing your body to function properly. Then she said, “Is control an issue for you?”

Me: “…………………………” (cue helpless laughter)

I acknowledged that it might be.  She said, “Do you know anything about chakras?”  I said, “I know they’re a THING, but I don’t know anything about them, really.”  She gave me a little overview, recommended a book I could read if I wanted to learn more, and then she said, “The lower back is the second chakra.  The second chakra is about sex, control and money.”

Well, SHIT.

That’s when I got really scared about my feet.

I was right to be scared.  It. Hurt. Like. Hell.  I mean, excruciating- but it felt like it was doing something, you know?  Pain with a purpose. She asked at one point if I wanted her to use less pressure- she could, she said, “but that pain is where you need the work.”

Tell me something I don’t know, sister.

I said, “No.  Keep going.”

About halfway through she said, “You know, just because several of your family members had this same pain doesn’t mean you have to, or that surgery is inevitable.  You can choose to heal differently.”

By the time she was done I was drenched in sweat.  She gave me some post-treatment recommendations, told me I might cry tonight (it was dark in the room so I didn’t clue her into the fact I MIGHT already be crying) and sent me on my way.

I finished Bessel van der Kolk’s book, “The Body Keeps the Score” a while back.  In it, he notes:

“We have learned that trauma is not just an event that took place sometime in the past;

it is also the imprint left by that experience on

mind, brain, and body.

This imprint has ongoing consequences for how the human organism manages to survive in the present.

The body remembers.

I have focused on healing my soul and my brain and my heart- but I have largely neglected my body.  This is extremely common among survivors of sexual trauma.  We leave easily managed things untreated until they become big and emergent.  We overeat or starve.  We abuse substances.  We over-exercise or not at all.  We are prone to insomnia.

We develop a really high tolerance for pain.

We don’t breathe.

That disconnect from our bodies serves a purpose.  It’s a coping mechanism we employ when we are IN IT.  When we are being abused it’s helpful to be able to float away.  To view our bodies as “other.”  After all, who wants to spend time at a crime scene?

I think it might be the right time to start focusing on my body.  To begin thinking of it not only as the scene of the crime but also as my home.  As the dwelling gifted to me by God in which to live in this world. Perhaps it’s time to acknowledge that there are unhealed wounds encoded deep in my very bones and muscles. To finally allow for the possibility that pain does not have to be my baseline.   It might be time to learn to breathe, and to lean into the pain.

The pain that John Green so brilliantly points out, “demands to be felt.”

I just got off the phone with my Favorite.  I told him that my back feels better than it has in two years.  That I can sit down and stand up without wincing.  I don’t know if that will remain.  I said to my sister when I called her afterward, “Maybe it’s like that thing where someone offers to stomp on your foot to make you forget about your headache.”

Maybe, just maybe, instead of putting pressure on myself to charge through the pain, I can put the pressure on those points connected to my original wounds and sit through that pain.  Feel it, acknowledge it- maybe cry a little.  And then heal.



“We were kids without fathers, so we found our fathers on wax and on the streets and in history, and in a way, that was a gift. We got to pick and choose the ancestors who would inspire the world we were going to make for ourselves.”


It’s hard for me to remember a time before I had “man issues.”

The first male constant in your life is generally your father, and then grandfathers… So things can go sideways fast.

Those relationships are so powerful.  They are your first experience of what a man is, and what he should be.

And then there’s our heavenly Father.

Our Father who art in heaven became very much conflated with my father who was in Western Ma.  And then Virginia.  And then Texas.  And then Arizona.  A Father farther and farther away, geographically and emotionally.  A distant, detached, cold figure.

God was no longer Good.

I’ve been asked why I use the male pronoun and term father when it comes to God.  It’s a fair question.  I am a proud feminist. I don’t do it mindlessly or by rote.  I’ve not bought into the patriarchy.  It’s a wound I need healed, I suppose.  I need a father who loves me unconditionally.  I need that particular relationship.

In truth, I don’t believe God is male or female.  I believe God is so much bigger than that.

I was twenty-one when I had my beautiful boy.   I was single and terrified.  I felt selfish for even having him, so certain was I that I would mess it up.  That I would break him, somehow.  How does someone so shattered mother a whole child?  How does she keep him intact and safe?  That God had entrusted me with this fragile, precious little human was further proof He either wasn’t paying attention or lacked good judgment.

Having children was an act of bravery for someone like me.  Someone who saw danger around every corner.  Someone who knew up close what evil looks like, and knew first hand the relentless pain of unhealed parent wounds.  Someone who was guessing at what a healthy childhood might look like.  I parented very fearfully, especially with my first-born.  I trusted no one, not even myself.  I was so afraid to do it wrong, and so of course, I did.

It’s probably no accident I was a single mom.  I said it wasn’t what I wanted, but I wonder about that.  I wonder if that didn’t seem like the safest option.

My son was seven when I got married.  I had my daughter a year later.  Getting married was the second bravest thing I’ve ever done.  It was a spectacular leap of faith to entrust my heart to a man.  Men were inherently dangerous.  I knew that in my bones.  They either actively hurt you, or left.  Or both.  But, I fell in love.  Well, we did.  My boy and I fell in love.  That’s the thing- falling instead of walking.  Closing your eyes and leaping, instead of keeping them wide open.

When my marriage imploded, when I learned what I learned, something in me died.  I’m embarrassed to admit it, but upon learning the truth my first thought was, “Of course.  Of course you did.  You were always going to do this.”  I was angrier at myself than I was at him. “You are such an idiot,” I told myself.  I fell for it.  I actually believed in the idea of a good man.  And one who loved me.  How stupid am I?  How many men need to betray me, hurt me, give up on me before I get it?  What’s the emotional learning curve here?

How many times does the central man in my life need to choose something, someone, somewhere other than me before I get it through my thick head?

It’s a little surprising, or perhaps it’s not, that it was during this time I began going back to church.  I should note that I had little agency in this.  My best friend kidnapped me and dragged my skinny ass there.  I was drinking too much.  I was starving myself.  On a good night, I’d sleep about two hours- from 3:00 – 5:00.  I’d get up every morning, make the kids a hot breakfast, put on my mask of makeup, put on a cute costume and go volunteer at the school.

Smile and wave.

And I was pieces.  So completely undone.

I was doing what so many of us do- trying to fix an inside thing with outside things.  It has never worked once in the history of ever, but that didn’t stop me.  I’m no quitter.

I’d not regularly attended church since early childhood with the exception of a brief stint in college- where I was trying it on for size.  I grew up in the Catholic Church and much of what occurred in mass was over my head.  And then I got mad.  I broke up with God.  And growing up in Massachusetts during the church sex scandal only reinforced all my anger and doubts.

This new church, though?  They seemed to talk an awful lot about love.  And they were super into Jesus, who I’d really been assiduously ignoring for decades.  I was pissed at God, but could never quite manage to be pissed at Jesus. (and I KNOW, spare me the theology- I’ll split the hairs I want when I’m breaking up with deities.)  I could shut my heart to God, but when people talked of Jesus I could almost hear the rusted hinges on that door give way.  And Jesus is persistent.  As Nadia Bolz-Weber says, “sometimes Jesus just hunts your ass down and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

The year I got divorced, on Fathers’ Day, I lost my shit at church.  Watching all the families sitting together while I sat alone was not great.  There was some really beautiful talk about how we don’t all get the fathers we deserve, but at the end of the day, we are already loved perfectly.  We can relax into that father relationship if we do not have another safe one.  Then the worship leader sang a song that did me in.  I fled to the bathroom, obviously.

It started to change the way I thought about fathers and God.  I began to see the gift in the hand I’d been dealt.  Maybe if your father is present and engaged and not great, that’s worse than GONE.  In the absence of presence, I had the freedom to find fathering in other places- because father is as much a verb as mother.  I forget that, sometimes.  Maybe I found the fathering I needed, in the end.

Maybe given the hand I’d been dealt, God decided to shuffle the deck.

I’ve been fathered really well, actually.  I had characters in books, movies and tv that I pretended were my dad.  I’ve had uncles who loved me, friends’ dads who taught me things, delighted in my antics, SAW me.  For a long time, I had a really wonderful father-in-law who I adored and who was unerringly good to me.  I’ve lost a few of these men, recently- which has caused me to reflect on the gifts that they were in my life.  And my relationship with God is good.  We’re good, He and I.

Some people get an intact dad- everything in one person.  Mine has been a piecemeal father.  Maybe the lesson to take away from that is that no one person can be everything you need.  It’s a lot of pressure, and people are imperfect.  I got the very best bits from a bunch of places.  On most days, I can see that for the blessing that it is.


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“Memories demand attention

because memories have teeth.”

Viola Davis


About a month ago I was talking with my cousin Mary and she asked me a question about something that happened a very long time ago, when I was about twelve.  We talked about it briefly, matter-of-factly, and then the conversation was over and we moved on to other things.

I kept coming back to it, though, and I wasn’t sure why.  The thought of it was following me around.  The memory kept nipping at my heels for a couple of weeks until all of a sudden things became very clear, as though I’d put on glasses and could suddenly see.

The truth is doggedly persistent.

Mary had unknowingly handed me a piece of my story that I’d not even known was missing until it was returned to me.

Kids are naturally imaginative and creative.  All human beings are, but children are less married to the concrete. Their thinking is more fluid, more simple- primitive, even- they know less, so they are less encumbered by facts. So, like primitive people, when there are gaps in their knowledge, or there is something they don’t understand, they fill it in with story.

Ancient civilizations did not understand weather or natural phenomena, so what did they do? They used story to make sense of it. Created gods and goddesses, rituals and rules. Now, did the volcano remain dormant because they made their annual virgin sacrifice? Of course not. Does any of that matter to the unfortunate girl tossed into the lava? Of course not.  She lived and died out of a story someone else created for her.  What Brene Brown calls a confabulation, or a lie told honestly.

That poor girl wasn’t any less dead because her sacrifice was predicated on a lie.

My childhood abuse was traumatic, yes.  But the real trauma, the lasting harm, came from people’s reactions to me telling my story.

I’d been told that if I said anything people would be upset and angry and think I was lying.  In my child’s mind, that threat was borne out.  The people in my life, by the way they reacted to my telling, unwittingly made my grandfather a truth-teller.  And because I was a child trying to make sense of something painful and complicated, I created a simple story out of a complex and confusing situation.  I decided if he was right about that, he was right about everything.

So, all of those seeds of shame took root. All of those lies he told me about myself, whether directly or by the way he treated me and used my body, became TRUE.  I unquestioningly accepted them.  You see, we humans don’t use facts to shore up our stories, we use story to shore up the facts of our lives.  We use story to make sense of the incomprehensible.  We use story to combat the dissonance of trauma.

I was bad. I was dirty. I was used up. My vaIue lay in being a sexual creature and nothing more.  What I wanted didn’t matter.  My no was unenforceable.  I wasn’t worth protecting. I was a liar. I was forsaken by God.

It did not matter that absolutely none of that was true. I accepted it all as fact and lived accordingly. Those lies became the Gospel according to which I lived my life.

I’d cried out to God to make my abuse stop. I’d prayed for justice. For my father to believe me and protect me. I believed those prayers and pleas fell on deaf ears. I used to joke that I broke up with God when I was nine years old. I never stopped believing in God, but the story I told myself was that He either didn’t care about what happened to me, or worse- that it was part of God’s plan for me. Either way, I had no use for a god that small. I lost my faith in Him. I stopped talking to Him. And so I lived accordingly. I lived like someone forsaken and unloved.

You move through the world very differently when you believe that about yourself, whether it’s true or not.

When Mary’s revelation finally settled with me, I didn’t quite know what to do with it. Where before there may have been information missing, I’d found a way to make the picture whole.  Now, though, I had this extra puzzle piece and I couldn’t put the story back together the way it had been before.  Nothing fit.  I had to throw away the story pieces I’d created to fill in those gaps of understanding- and that is hard to do, especially when the story you’d created was more palatable than the truth.

Because the thing is, story builds on story.  The stories we get told and sold in childhood become the foundation of our lives, for better or for worse.  The stories we create to make sense of things become real for us.  You can’t replace a puzzle piece and have it not affect the entire picture- especially not when it’s a core story you lived out of- because we make decisions based on those stories.  They wield enormous power in our lives.  They color the way we view the world and our place in it.

This new information, while it brings some clarity, is not comfortable. It’s confusing, and sad, and challenges other assumptions I’d made about my life.  The stories I’d created gave some people a pass on things that are inexcusable.  The story I’d told myself had made it easier to forgive.  So now I have to integrate this new truth and make peace with it.  Now I have to work on forgiveness again- which I suppose is fine.  I believe forgiveness is a practice- like yoga, and love, and sobriety.  Maybe the work is never truly done, anyway.

So I’m taking the pieces apart.  Examining them.  Holding them up to the light and trying to determine what can be salvaged and what needs to go.  When I’m done, I’ll have a new- and likely still incomplete- puzzle, and will have a new story as a part of my life.  And I will see the world a little differently, I suppose.


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