In Others' Words…

Rest to resist

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This is your brain on too much Twitter.

M’kay, loves.

I hit the outrage wall doing 90 recently. It felt like every time I stepped away from the computer I would come back to some new bit of awfulness.

Even when I was trying to work I would check newsfeeds, get distracted- re-post something, make a call, check a fact, engage with someone who commented on something I posted…

Lather, rinse, repeat.

I got done getting the kids ready for bed, let the dogs out. Saw that someone had retweeted a well-known white supremacist, who expressed his delight at how well this is all going.

I started to cry.

You guys. We’re three and a half weeks in. Are you exhausted?

I am. I’m exhausted.

I’ve been making excuses to not do things because I feel a responsibility to pay attention to every headline, weigh in on every issue, check every fact, call every elected official- and I’ve been forgetting to take care of myself.

4 years. 1460 days. And we’re 28 days in.

Sweet friends, we have got to remember this is a marathon, not a sprint. We cannot give away what we do not have. We cannot pour from an empty cup.

Eat. Sleep. Exercise. Laugh. Pet dogs. Dance. Flirt. Fall in love. Make art. Read books for pleasure. Get your ass to a meeting. Go outside. Drink water. Get quiet. Breathe salty air. Pray. Unplug- for the LOVE, please unplug from time to time.

We need every voice to speak out. We need every pair of feet to march. We need every heart to break.

We can’t get complacent. We can’t ignore what’s going on. We cannot un-know what we know.

BUT.

In times like these, let’s call them ‘dumpster fire days,’ it’s more important than ever to seek joy like it’s your job.

Stay woke, my loves. But also, REST.

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Here are ten things that are filling me up right now.  Please tell me what you’re doing for self-care in the comments!

  1.  Heading away to Austin for a long weekend with my Favorite.  No kids.  #thankyouJesus
  2. My dog.  All dogs.  Probably your dog.  What do people without dogs even DO with themselves right now?
  3. Checking in on my people.  When I start to get too stressed I text people I haven’t chatted with in a while and see how they’re doing.  Connection helps.  No being alone with the internet.  S’no good.
  4. UNPLUGGING.  Seriously.  Step. Away. From. Twitter.
  5. La La Land.  Have you seen it?  It’s not going to change anyone’s life and there are serious movies out there that deserve your attention- but this is a completely delightful slice of unabashedly romantic escapism pie.  Also, Ryan Gosling- which I never *got* before, but now. I. DO.  Late to the party, but I’m here.
  6. Boooooooks.  Just finished James Prescott’s Mosaic of Grace (see book review page) and Rachel Macy Stafford’s Only Love Today (review coming soon!)  Also, just heard Jen Hatmaker’s new book is called Of Mess and Moxie – so we’ve got that going for us.
  7. This Is Us.  I can’t even talk about it…. ohYESican.  Randall.  William.  Our Kate.  Jack.  Nope.  I was right.  I can’t.
  8. Tiny subversive acts.  They are unbelievably restorative.  I tweet to the Senate Majority Leader every morning.  He and I are going to be great friends.  I can feel it. He hasn’t responded yet- but nevertheless, I persist. seewhatididthere?
  9. Make a difference in YOUR community.  Meet a need right in front of you.  Small acts.  Great love.
  10. Listen for the voices of love.  Hate and fear are so LOUD- sometimes it’s easy to think those the only stories being told.  They’re NOT.  Here are just a few people you can reliably turn to for love stories:

Glennon Doyle Melton

Jen Hatmaker

Shauna Niequist

Matt Bays

Jacquie Lewis

Elizabeth Gilbert

Amandla Stenberg

Linda Sarsour

Rachel Macy Stafford

Humans of New York

The Work of the People

Valarie Kaur

James Prescott

John Pavlovitz

Broderick Greer

Rene August

Kid President

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Okay, my loves.  If I’m writing this book (and I am) I need your help- I need to build this platform.

Please consider doing the following:

Come hang out with me on Facebook!

Follow me on Twitter!

Come see what my dog is doing on Instagram!

If you’re following me on Pinterest… don’t.   And I’m sorry.  I don’t even know how I ended up there…

 

 

Mosaic of Grace – A Book Review

“Grace is disruption. When the worst has happened, grace says the worst thing isn’t the end. In positive disruption, grace challenges us to commit to ongoing transformation.”

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It’s serendipitous James Prescott’s book, Mosaic of Grace, came my way in this particular season of my life.

The idea of grace has been nipping at my heels of late.

For most of my life, I never thought much about grace- not in terms of God, anyway.  As I’ve shared before, I broke up with God when I was nine years old.  It took over thirty years to bring me back to the table.

I think there are many reasons we struggle with the concept of grace.  It’s kind of ephemeral, isn’t it?  Especially given the way our culture is today.  We’ve become convinced we need to prove our worth, earn our belovedness- and that makes sense, because every ad we see attempts to reinforce one message, “You are not enough. You are not enough. You are not enough.”

Grace is not contingent on our good behavior, we can’t strive for it, earn it, or lose it, because it’s extravagant, boundless, and not one of us deserves it.  It’s completely unfair. That’s what makes it so counter-intuitive- and why some people describe grace as “scandalous.”

It’s also what makes it grace.

In Prescott’s book, he explores the nature of grace, how it plays out in our lives, and what our role in it is.  I’d never heard anyone posit that we humans have a role in grace before- only that we are its recipients.  That alone piqued my interest, the notion that we have some agency in the way grace plays out in our lives.

“I didn’t comprehend grace

until I asked God to love me

to wholeness and not to pieces.”

Early in the book, the author explains the title.  He talks about the Japanese art of kintsugi, also know as kintsu kuroi.  I was all in at that point.  I mean, I have an entire other blog based around the concept of making things beautiful at the broken places.  I love the notion of God’s grace being the gold that mends the broken pieces of our lives. Grace as a binding agent.  As the author points out time and time again, though- that only happens when we acknowledge our brokenness and surrender the pieces to God.  If we refuse to admit we’re broken, or we continue to clutch the shards of our pain, our failure, and our harms, they will go unrepaired.

When I was working in Special Ed, we were required to get trained in de-escalation and handling adverse behaviors. I found it fascinating.  We learned so many different things – everything from tactics to prevent an escalation, to how to best free your hair from an enraged kid’s death-grip.

All helpful.

There were a couple of things I took away from that training that I think about frequently- I mean, aside from the hair tip.  One of them was this: There comes a certain point in any escalation when there’s no walking it back.  The person is so undone, so far gone, the only thing you can do is to let it play out.  Anything done to forestall it after the episode has gone past that point will surely lead to another escalation, and another, and another.  The only answer is to let the cycle play through to the end.  To exhaustion.

That takeaway applied to one of my favorite and most challenging students, and also eventually, profoundly, to me.

He was sweet and funny, and smart. On paper, he was considered non-verbal, but our team didn’t think so.  Most people just didn’t speak his language.  He sure did understand a lot, and he generally let us know what he wanted us to know- you just needed to pay attention, is all.   We adored him.

He would escalate many times a day, and it was hard. When he did, he would hit and throw things, sometimes he would bang his head on the wall or the ground.

Once he’d reached that tipping point, we needed to just let it play out.  Keep ourselves safe, keep other students safe,  keep him safe if we could.  When we were in that space, when he was raging and crying and striking out, I had one thing that I said to him, verbatim, over and over, every time.

“When you are ready, I will help.”

He’d scream and collapse, throw punches in the air, cry.  It was awful to watch.  I am certain it was even more awful to be in it.

Eventually, he’d wear himself out.  The cycle of escalation would run its course and he’d exhaust himself.  He’d surrender.

He’d get quiet.  I’d give it a minute to make sure he wasn’t faking me out.  He’d peek at me tentatively- as if to say, “You’re still here?  Are you mad at me?”

I’d smile and say, “Are you ready?”  And he would say one of the few phrases he could articulate…

“ALL DONE!”

Then he’d smile, pop up off the floor, and we’d carry on.  We’d do the work.

I was ALWAYS ready for him to do the work and succeed, but I needed to wait for his willingness.

I think that is EXACTLY what God’s grace is like.

“Grace confronts us with the truth of who we are. It strips us bare and challenges us to change. It tells us we are not condemned, but that we are loved unconditionally,

just as we are.

And then, most importantly, grace says we are loved way too much to stay as we are.”

I think that’s precisely how it was when I was in the worst of my alcoholism.  If we think of someone’s increased drinking as an escalation of addiction, then the playing it through to the end, the exhaustion, is rock bottom.  I was on the ground, throwing punches in the air, fighting an unwinnable battle, and God was just waiting for me to be done.  The grace was ALWAYS there, the willingness was not.

Recovery begins where our exhaustion, our surrender, our willingness meets God’s grace.

When we hear of someone falling prey to or losing a battle with something akin to one of our own struggles, one of the first things you hear people say is, “There but for the grace of God go I.”

I have to say, you’d be hard pressed to find a phrase that gets my back up more than that one.  Not because I don’t believe in God or in grace, but because I do.  Deeply.

I think there’s an underlying implication that the difference between the person lost to…you name it- addiction, suicide, drunk driving, lung cancer…whatever- is that God has granted you, in particular, some sort of “stay” of grace.  The problem with this is, it presumes that grace is a pie and not all of us gets a slice- or if we do, they’re unequal.

I just fundamentally do not believe that for one single second- in fact, I find that notion reprehensible.  If that were true, that would be a very small god, indeed.

God’s grace.  Our willingness.  Of the two, only our willingness is in question.

Grace is tricky to write about.  I think we all have a personal experience with grace, and we don’t all understand it in the same way.  What the author does so successfully is to give examples of the way God’s grace and his own willingness have converged to work change in his life.  My favorite writers are the ones who understand the power of vulnerability and “me too.”  What James Prescott does so beautifully throughout the book is offer up examples of where his own pain and failure were transformed by God with candor and, well, grace.

Do yourself a favor and check out this book. You can order it here.  James Prescott also has an amazing podcast, Poema, that you can check out here.

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Okay, my loves.  If I’m writing this book (and I am) I need your help- I need to build this platform.

Please consider doing the following:

Come hang out with me on Facebook!

Follow me on Twitter!

Come see what my dog is doing on Instagram!

If you’re following me on Pinterest… don’t.   And I’m sorry.  I don’t even know how I ended up there…

Try not

Do or do not.  There is no try.

Yoda

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I was having a discussion with a friend this morning about gratitude.  I explained that I used to think of gratitude as a feeling- something that just came over me.  Now, that’s great when everything is easy-peasy mac ‘n cheesy, but then gratitude is something that happens to me.  Then it’s fleeting, and determined by life circumstances, and sometimes life sucks.  I thought I had to wait for gratitude to happen, or to try to be grateful.

I now recognize that gratitude, like literally every other thing in my life- love, faith, sobriety, yoga (jk.  I only talk about doing yoga.  I just have the pants.) that I hold sacred, is a practice.  I must practice gratitude every single day- build up that muscle memory, so that when life kicks me square in the teeth my gratitude is still there.  I have to focus on gratitude, I have to set the intention, yes, but then I have to DO IT.

I remember fb messaging a friend about five years ago and saying that I was going to try and stop drinking.  Of course, I picked a friend who lives in Florida, who I wouldn’t run across in the wine section of Trader Joes- but even so, I think I actually meant it.  I think I did try.  I tried all the way up until 18 months ago when I stopped drinking.  I stopped trying the same day I stopped drinking.

Last year, I told several people I was going to try to write a book.  And I did.  I did try.  And here I sit a year later, not having written a book.

There’s a saying in recovery circles- pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.  DOING is pain, TRYING is suffering.

Listen, you can either try to stop drinking or you can stop drinking.  You can either try to write a book or you can WRITE A DAMNED BOOK.

idea

Whatever that thing is for you, you can try to do it or you can do it.  It is as simple and hard as that.

I’d expound more on this but I’m working on Chapter Two.

Love you so.

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Okay, my loves.  If I’m writing this book (and I am) I need your help- I need to build this platform.

Please consider doing the following:

Come hang out with me on Facebook!

Follow me on Twitter!

Come see what my dog is doing on Instagram!

If you’re following me on Pinterest… don’t.   And I’m sorry.  I don’t even know how I ended up there…

The thing.

“Only put off until tomorrow

what you are willing to die

having left undone.”

Pablo Picasso

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Yesterday I came upon a post that I published two years ago today.  It was about New Year’s Eve, and it has me thinking about goals and resolutions.

I used to think I made them regularly.  I didn’t.  I made wishes.  Not the same thing at all, in the end.  Not even close.

I wished I could be in shape.  I wished I could control my drinking.  I wished my abuse didn’t still haunt me.  I wished my marriage was better.  I wished for a new job.

I was always wishing for end results.  I wanted to be AT the goal- the finish line.  Fait accompli.  Woohoo!  Cue the confetti!

The thing is, some of those things were not possible, and the ones that were required work. They required discipline, surrender, commitment, resilience, sacrifice… And I wasn’t wishing for THOSE things.  I was like the person facing bankruptcy wishing to win the lottery.  What’s the one-fell-swoop solution to this self-made problem that requires NOTHING from me?

We almost never, ever get those- and that results in a New Year/same old resolutions cycle that can be hard to break.

In the past two years I have managed to make real progress on some of the recurring items on my list.

I have been sober for a little over 18 months.  I am deeply committed to my sobriety, it comes before every single other thing in my life, because without that I know I will lose everything else anyway.  When I pray about it, I don’t pray for sobriety.  I pray for the willingness and the commitment to do the work necessary for me to remain sober.  I do that work every day.

I know who I am meant to serve, and I work on it every day through Say It, Survivor.  I am called to do that- it’s not just a job, it is missional for me.

I’ve written consistently on this blog for two years, which has provided me with a forum to talk about things that matter deeply to me.  As a result, I’ve had the privilege of bearing witness to many of your stories.  That’s a blessing for which I am profoundly grateful.

I have finally come to a place of real healing.  I believe down to my bones that the story you aren’t telling is the one in charge of your whole life. You either own it, or it owns you.  I have told my story countless times, both in writing and as a speaker.  Every single time I tell it, the stranglehold it once had on me weakens.  I can honestly say I no longer have an ounce of shame about my abuse or its aftereffects on me. I have reclaimed my story, and for the first time since I was a little girl I know peace.

Those are all really big things.

My thing this year is also big.  It’s been a life long dream.  I am saying it out loud, and I have a plan in place to make it come to fruition.  I have a plan to hold myself accountable.

I’ve got some things I want to say, and it’s time to say them.

This year I am writing a book.

That’s exciting to write.  Exciting and terrifying.

YAY!  EEK!

I’ve been flirting with it for the past year and a half.  I have had meetings with a few people, discussed some different ideas for books.  Started to work on proposals.  But then it petered out, or I got distracted by life.  I’d be swayed by spomeone else’s vision for what my book should be, and so when I’d lose momentum or feel stuck I didn’t have the passion and commitment to push through it.  I was treating writing the book like a wish, not a goal.

So yesterday, I sat in a cafe, laptop and cappuccino in front of me, and wrote the outline. I know the title.  I can see the path forward with it, and I am determined not to stray.  I will be treating it like a job that I am required to show up for, every day.

I’m praying for the courage and doggedness writing this book will require.  I’m praying for serenity and clarity, so I can think my ideas through to the end.  I know how to write, for heaven’s sake- I just need to DO IT.

When I first attended Storyline a couple of years ago, Donald Miller kept asking us, “What will the world miss if you don’t tell your story?”  The question stayed with me.  It wouldn’t leave me alone, frankly.  So I answered it, and told my story.  That’s very likely why you are reading this today, because he posited that question,  I decided it wasn’t rhetorical, and I got to work.  I didn’t wish my story had been told, I TOLD IT.

So now I’m asking you-  what’s THE THING for you this year?  What is that dream you’ve been making a wish rather than a goal?  What is the thing you know, deep down, you’ve been called to create?  Who are you meant to serve?  What’s the idea that has been following you around, nipping at your heels?  Is there a story trapped inside that only you can tell?

These are not rhetorical questions.

Say your answer out loud.   Make a plan of accountability.

Listen, you don’t need to worry about doing it perfectly, because- spoiler alert- you won’t.

Are you laboring under the impression you’re guaranteed a tomorrow?  You’re not. Holding out for the perfect time?  There IS no perfect time.   Waiting for there to be no obstacles?  Good luck with that.

Even if someone else has done or is doing what you want to do- YOU haven’t.  YOU haven’t done that thing with YOUR particular gifts.  YOU haven’t told that story in YOUR voice.  YOU haven’t tackled that problem from YOUR perspective.

The world needs your offering.

“Do your thing, with great love, right now.”

Shauna Niequist

You don’t need to abandon resolutions just because you fall down. We all fall down.

Just pick yourself up, get your ass in gear, and declare it a new day, a new year- whatever.

If you’re so inclined, post your thing in the comments- if not, tell someone.  Email me.  SAY IT.

If not now, when?  If not you, who?

Get up and do your thing.  Every. Day.

Time’s a-wasting, and the world is waiting.

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Okay, my loves.  If I’m writing this book (and I am) I need your help- I need to build this platform.

Please consider doing the following:

Come hang out with me on Facebook!

Follow me on Twitter!

Come see what my dog is doing on Instagram!

If you’re following me on Pinterest… don’t.   And I’m sorry.  I don’t even know how I ended up there…

 

Merry enough.

 

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The kids and I were out and about yesterday.  One kid flew in from the west coast, we picked the other up at school.  We had some lunch.  We headed to the mall.

Saints preserve us.

There’s precious little that will deplete you of the holiday spirit faster than a trip to the mall on Dec 23rd.  We did some shopping, saw a movie, did a little more shopping.  We weren’t done- still needed to make a quick stop at a store outside the mall.  Before we’d left the mall parking lot, I’d criticized three or four drivers for their “bad life choices.”  I checked in with myself, and decided to call it.

We went home.  Shopping unfinished, but me relatively sane.  That last gift may get purchased today.  It may not.  Either way, the world will go on, and I will not have ruined what precious time I have with my kids together by being a crazy person.

I chose presence over presents.

We give things so much weight at this time of year.  We give joy more weight, we give despair more weight.  For me, when I was drinking it was even more extreme- because I could only feel things at the poles of human emotion.  When you are anesthetizing yourself, if your emotions aren’t registering at an 11 they don’t register at all- you are numb to them.  I think that’s why so many addicts are surrounded by drama.  It’s the only way they can feel.

There’s a second half to the Serenity prayer, you know.  And in it, there’s this line:

“So that I may be reasonably happy in this life”

Before I got sober that would not have seemed an estimable goal.  Reasonably happy? Why?  Why only reasonably?  I was a go big or go home kind of a girl.  I didn’t understand that real joy- the kind that fills you up- is never manic.

I used to spend so much time focused on making Christmas the BEST CHRISTMAS EVER. Last Christmas was a standard to be exceeded- this year would be EVEN BETTER.  It’s gluttony, really.  It’s a gluttonous approach to joy, and any time you see someone indulging in gluttony it comes from a fear of scarcity- count on it.  It’s behaving as though joy is a finite resource to be scavenged, hoarded and used up.

The past two weeks I’ve been really mindful of a few things.

I’ve focused on being rather than doing.  Instead of racing around shopping, and baking, and decorating, and partying, I’ve been saying yes to different things.  You need to talk? Yes, I have time.  You want to meet for coffee?  No, I’m not busy.  You need a ride?  Yes. I’m checking in on my people.  I don’t care about attending events, I have relationships to tend.  Instead of standing in a room full of people talking about nothing, I can sit across from a friend and listen to everything.

I need only celebrate the Christmas I’m in.  It does not need to resemble holidays past, and it does not need to be a portent of Christmases to come.  Just this one day.  This one, reasonably happy, present Christmas with the people in front of me.  My people.

My prayer is that this Christmas you love and feel truly loved.  That you have moments of wonder, and understand that you’re enough, exactly where and how and who you are. That you see the people in front of you, and are seen by them.  That you feel safe and held and not alone. That you remember that joy is not the same as glee and consumption. And that you are reasonably happy.

Love you so.

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Hey beloveds!

I am writing a book and in order to get said book published it is awfully helpful to make the most of your platform.  At least, that is what The People Who Know The Things tell me.

SO.

Please consider doing the following:

Come hang out with me on Facebook!

Follow me on Twitter!

Come see what my dog is doing on Instagram!

If you’re following me on Pinterest… don’t.   And I’m sorry.  I don’t even know how I ended up there…

Luna

“I had learned early to assume something dark and lethal hidden at the heart of anything I loved. When I couldn’t find it, I responded, bewildered and wary, in the only way I knew how:

by planting it there myself.”

Tana French

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A while back someone recommended Bessel van der Kolk’s brilliant book, The Body Keeps the Score to me. I’ve now read it twice.  Slowly.  I am usually a very fast reader, but this is both dense in content (though very readable) and profoundly impactful.  It explained me to me.  When I finished it the first time I felt I had the answers to so many of my long-held questions.  When I finished it the second time, I realized I’d formed new questions.

I love that.

Dr. van der Kolk began his career treating men coming back from Vietnam with what was then called shell shock, and went on to become one of the world’s premier experts on trauma, and one of the first people in his field to research and understand PTSD as it relates to survivors of child sexual abuse.

Trauma physically changes your brain.  It changes neuropathways, it changes your hardwiring.  It can even change your DNA, meaning that trauma and abuse might be intergenerational for reasons that have their root both in nature and nurture.

Doesn’t that blow your mind and also make the most perfect sense?  All wars scar the ground on which they’re fought, usually for generations to come.  Isn’t it the most logical, natural thing that when your body is the front line, the battle field, that future generations are affected as well?

This is why all doctors should be administering ACE tests to their patients as part of the intake process. It’s crucial information.  Adverse experiences in childhood affect all aspects of our health throughout our lives.  A high ACE score is an indicator a person is at increased risk for chronic disease, mental illness, substance abuse, and violence.

One of the more persistent aftereffects of PTSD is an over-stimulated amygdala- which means your brain looks for and perceives threats everywhere.

We survivors look for threats everywhere, and as I’ve come to understand more and more- we generally find what we are looking for.  Our brains are constantly assessing for threats, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we avoid them.  Don’t we all gravitate toward the familiar?

How many times did I avoid the guy that was “too nice” and pursue the guy who was clearly…not?  The truth is, the nice guy wasn’t TOO nice, he was just less inclined to harm me, and I honestly had no idea what to do with that.  That kind of security made me deeply uneasy.  If I did somehow find myself in a relationship with someone like that, I’d sabotage it.  I’d hurt him.  I’d poison the water.

I was drawn to the guy who’d hurt me or leave me. That was somehow safer.  I understood that.  That made sense to me.  That guy?  I couldn’t get enough of that guy. That guy felt like home to me.

If you are mired in shame, if you believe your only value is rooted in your sexuality, if pain and abuse are your baseline, you will find people to validate those beliefs, and they will find you.

“Our study showed that, on a deep level, the bodies of incest victims have trouble distinguishing between danger and safety. This means that the imprint of past trauma does not consist only of distorted perceptions of information coming from the outside; the organism itself also has a problem knowing how to feel safe. The past is impressed not only on their minds, and in misinterpretations of innocuous events… but also on the very core of their beings: in the safety of their bodies.”

Bessel van der Kolk, M.D.

I was speaking with a survivor recently and she professed her frustration at the way she finds herself continuously seeking out things she knows will harm her or cause her trouble- alcohol, drugs, anonymous sex, abusive partners… She wondered aloud why when she had already been harmed, she seems intent on finding people, places, and things that will cause further trauma.

She seemed surprised by my lack of surprise.  I just kept nodding.  “Yes. Yes. Yes, yes, yes.”

We all think we’re the only ones.  We all build story around those behaviors. We tell ourselves what those behaviors mean about us and it is seldom flattering.  Or true.  We use those adverse behaviors to make a solid case against our inherent goodness or worthiness.

Survivors are such good prosecutors.

One of my favorite readers has the user-name moth2flame.  She told me that like a moth drawn to a lit candle, she comes back time and time again to this blog even though reading my posts causes her pain by stirring up memories of her trauma.  I countered that perhaps it’s really that she is drawn to the light for survival- like a sunflower.

I wonder if we aren’t both right.

It’s interesting.  Mary and I use the analogy of sunflowers because so dogged is their insistence on survival that they track the sun throughout the day, physically moving, actively seeking the light. Other flowers remain passive, assuming the sun will come back around the next morning.  Survivors don’t count on much- they seldom assume help is coming.

We don’t use the image of sunflowers because they are pretty or happy (although they are) we picked them because they are floral badasses.  Warriors.

In many ways, survivors of sexual abuse seem to seek the dark, over and over again. They’re drawn to that which is harmful and dangerous.  Now, to most people that doesn’t really seem like someone trying to survive, but I get it.  I think when we are afraid to sit still for THE pain, the original wound, we seek the smaller, voluntary, seemingly more manageable pains.  The ones we’re sure we can control, right up until we cannot. We over-eat, we starve, we shop, we rage, we weaponize sex and work and exercise.

We cut.

I’ve had several people reach out to me lately about self harm.  People seeking help, information- trying to understand why someone would do such a thing.

In the book, Dr van der Kolk relates having been summoned to stitch up a young woman on three consecutive nights after she’d cut herself.  He said,

“She told me, somewhat triumphantly, that cutting herself made her feel much better.  Ever since then I’d asked myself why.  Why do some people deal with being upset by playing three sets of tennis or drinking a stiff martini, while others carve their arms with razor blades?”

I have to say, it makes perfect sense to me.  It’s desperate and dangerous, but I get it.  And isn’t it ALL self-harm, in the end?  Even the prettied up stuff?  Even the perfectionism and the hustle?  I battled anorexia during times in my life when everything felt terrifying. I might not have been able to control any of the things that were happening to me, but I could live on two pieces of turkey a day.  Well, two pieces of turkey and a lot of wine.  If that’s not self harm, I don’t know what is.

The good news is that the brain is quite plastic- meaning that you can re-train your brain. There is no one pathway to healing, but there are many approaches that work for people. Therapy (cognitive behavioral, EMDR), yoga, meditation, neurofeedback, hypnosis, reflexology, medication, prayer… for most of us, it’s not one thing.

It’s important to remember that even as we are drawn to potentially harmful things, we are called survivors for a reason- because we have somehow, someway, found a way to endure.  We have insisted on our place in this world.  We are strong and resilient and seeking.  Always seeking.

Did you know there are also moonflowers?  They only bloom in the dark.  They’re these beautiful white flowers that seem to glow in the night and have the sweetest smell.  And wouldn’t you know it- what do they attract?  Do you know what seeks them out in the darkness?

Why, moths do. Of course.  Moths do.  Those mysterious, fluttery, seemingly delicate creatures that come out at night hone in on these nocturnal flowers.  The moths ensure their continued survival by seeking out the beauty that is only found in the dark.

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Hey beloveds!

I am writing a book and in order to get said book published it is awfully helpful to make the most of your platform.  At least, that is what The People Who Know The Things tell me.

SO.

Please consider doing the following:

Come hang out with me on Facebook!

Follow me on Twitter!

Come see what my dog is doing on Instagram!

If you’re following me on Pinterest… don’t.   And I’m sorry.  I don’t even know how I ended up there…

Ho Ho NO.

 

“I do know that I don’t want to be ruled by ravenous anymore, and that full life is not the same as a full calendar.

Full life is lived when the whole system works together,

when rest and home and peace live hand in hand with taste and sparkle and go. I’ve believed in the craziness for too many years,

and while I still have a lot of questions,

the answer I need to be giving most often these days is NO.”

Shauna Niequist

So… it’s starting. Can you feel it? The ramping up that inevitably begins before the Thanksgiving dishes are even put away?  I walked into Target yesterday and got punched in the face by Christmas.   It did what it was supposed to do.  My brain went on auto-pilot: what do I need to do, what do I need to buy?  I could feel that familiar Yuletide anxiety start to creep in.  Only a few weeks left!!!!!!

Now, I love Christmas. All of it- religious and secular alike.  The twinkle lights, the decorations, the carols, the movies, Santa, snow- I’m a sucker for all of it.  I’m pretty much Buddy the Elf.

buddy

“I KNOW HIM!!!!!!!”

What I don’t love, what I reject more every year, is the stress. The hurry, hurry, hurry, consume, consume, consume. The shoulds.  The musts.  The striving.  The noise.  And I don’t mean the noise of children playing or Christmas music- I mean the noise in our heads. All the rush here, race there, do the things, bake the cookies, eat, drink, spend, wrap. PROVE. EARN.

We careen through a season built for stillness and reverence.

We have a tendency to judge those people who manage eschew the madness.  I mean, most good holiday movies have a character like that, right?  We tend to chalk it up to being a grouch, or miserly, or having lost the meaning of Christmas.

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I don’t know… I’ve always had a soft spot for His Grinchiness.  I do love a curmudgeon.  I think in many ways, the Green One was onto something.  Listen closely to what he says- he’s not ranting about Christmas at all. He expresses dismay over “packages, boxes, and bags” and extravagant feasts.  He rails against the “noise, noise, noise, noise.”  None of that is Christmas.  All of that is hustle.

‘Tis the season, all right.  The season of HUSTLE.

These few months are when I hear more, “I have to” and “I need to” about things that are completely voluntary than any other time of year.  This time of year, when we could be focused on faith and family, miracles and peace, we engage in the Hardship Olympics like it’s our job.  Like it’s our calling.  Like it’s the point.

I really began thinking about this a few weeks ago, in the lead up to Thanksgiving.  This season is a particularly challenging time for survivors of childhood trauma.  So much of our abuse happens within the family, and holidays often mean going home to the scene of the crime.  Literally.

I did a podcast recently for Spiritual Charlotte and we talked about these very things.

We generally see an uptick in members of our community needing resources, feeling a lot of anxiety.  To that end, I’ve been having many conversations about choice and agency and what is mandatory versus what is optional about the holidays.

Be ready, because I am about to blow your minds:

It is ALL optional.  EVERY SINGLE BIT OF IT.

Every single event?  Optional.  Every gift?  Voluntary.  Every tradition?  Discretionary. The percentage of ways you celebrate over which you have total agency?  100%

All of that overeating, drinking too much, spending money you don’t have?  Those are all classic hustle symptoms- and hustle is all about not believing you are enough.  Hustle is the antithesis of stillness.  It’s what we do when we don’t want to feel- and if we don’t allow ourselves to feel during this of all seasons, what are we even doing?

The holidays are not happening to you.  You are not a victim of Christmas.  New Year’s Eve is not a plot to undermine your sanity. Your holidays can be calm and bright, or they can be the fifth circle of hell.  It truly is almost entirely up to you.  The manic hamster wheel of consumption, busyness, and perfectionism is not mandatory.

Yes, if you start saying “no” people might not dig it.  Actually, they are almost certain not to dig it.  When you start setting boundaries and insisting on what you need for your own well being, people will be annoyed, frustrated, disappointed and perhaps even angry. Here’s the thing, though-

Annoyance, frustration, disappointment and

anger are not terminal- that’s the big secret.

They are all survivable conditions.

Now, obviously no one wants to upset or disappoint people they care about, but if nothing changes, nothing changes.

What I’m guessing, though, is that you’ll find the person putting the most pressure on you this holiday season is YOU- and that is GREAT NEWS, because you are, in fact, the only person whose behavior you control.

I just watched the new Gilmore Girls episodes on Netflix.  There was a scene in which the divine Emily Gilmore is purging her house of belongings.  She cites a book she’s been reading; Marie Konde’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. in which readers are encouraged to go through their belongings, hold each one in their hands and ask themselves,

“Does this bring me joy?”

If not, out it goes.

What if we did that with the holidays?  What if we examined each tradition, each event, each “should,” and truly considered whether it brought us joy?  What if we really questioned whether it deepened our faith, strengthened our connections, filled us up?

“I have to bake 7 dozen cookies for Mikey’s class party.”  Do you, though?  Bet you don’t.  Newsflash, Mikey would rather have a mom who bought cookies and is in full possession of her faculties and not a lunatic at his class party.  Trust.

Now, if baking 42 billion cookies makes you happy, do it.  If it doesn’t, don’t.  If attending a bunch of parties fills you up in some way, fantastic.  If you’d rather stay home in a Snuggie and watch Love Actually, do that.  If the bustle energizes you, wonderful.  If you need stillness and quiet to truly appreciate the season of light, then BE QUIET.

And I know some of you will say, “It’s not that simple.”  It actually is.  It is actually exactly that simple.

Your joy doesn’t need to look like anyone else’s.

And if while you are doing this holiday inventory, you find that some of the things you have always done are depleting you, making you angry and frustrated- if you’re more Joan of Arc than Buddy the Elf about them? You can bid those ‘musts’ and ‘shoulds’ farewell, send them on their way, and say, “Don’t let the wreath-clad door hit you in the ass on the way out!”

You’re going to have the holiday you choose, one way or another. You can keep hustling.  That’s an option.  Or you can slow down.  You can say no to hustle in order to say yes to joy.  You can move through this season with intention and wonder.  You can come out of the season filled up rather than running on empty.

You really can.

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Hey beloveds!

I am writing a book and in order to get said book published it is awfully helpful to make the most of your platform.  At least, that is what The People Who Know The Things tell me.

SO.

Please consider doing the following:

Come hang out with me on Facebook!

Follow me on Twitter!

Come see what my dog is doing on Instagram!

If you’re following me on Pinterest… don’t.   And I’m sorry.  I don’t even know how I ended up there…

Giving thanks

“In the end, though, maybe we must all give up trying to pay back the people in this world who sustain our lives. In the end, maybe it’s wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices.”

Elizabeth Gilbert

The current state of things on this blog:

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GUYS.  So much not writing is occurring right now.  I think it’s primarily due to all the noise in my head- especially since the election.  I need to be still in order to write.  I need quiet and clarity.  This, however, is what the inside of my head looks like much of the time these days:

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That’ll make it hard to form a thought, let alone craft a sentence.

I have a half finished essay about Thanksgiving that I keep opening and staring at blankly.  Maybe next year.  I do want to focus on gratitude, though- because that is the antidote to so much that ails me.  So, here goes- my gratitude list in this moment, wearing this bathrobe, on this day:

  1.   I have two amazing, brilliant, talented, weird, funny kids.  The world is a better place because they are in it.  Favorite has two kiddos who fill me with joy and who I love madly.  It’s an embarrassment of riches, really.

    from approx 42 billion years ago.

    from approx 42 billion years ago.

  2.   Speaking of my Favorite…my Favorite.  He really loves me- like, the ACTUAL me.  I really love him.  He’s my soft place to fall.  He’s got my back in a way I’ve never experienced before, with anyone.  I’ve got his.  It’s not sunshine and rainbows, “in-love” love.  That kind is ephemeral and hard to hold on to.  It’s the kind of love that’s a decision. Every day.

    me 'n him

    me ‘n him

  3.   Comedians.  You guys.  We are about to embark on a Renaissance of comedy writing.  Can you feel it?  Rome might be burning, but SNL’s gonna be AH-MAY-ZING.
  4.   All of the damns I do not give any more.  I have very few damns, and the ones I do have are IMPORTANT.  Brene Brown talks about carrying a small piece of paper in her wallet with the names of everyone whose opinion REALLY matters to her. I do, too. It’s 1 inch by 1 inch.  There’s space left over, and that space is growing.  I’m not kidding- I am in the erasing stage of my life.  I care deeply about an enormous number of people- I just do not care what they think of me or my choices.  I’m done convincing, I’m done explaining.  Truly.  I’ve finally stopped hustling.  No more auditioning- if I don’t have the part, I don’t want it.  And now when I start to hustle, I recognize it and stop.  I’m done trying to prove anything to anyone, I’m done trying to earn my place in this world.  I’m done striving.  I’m enough- and I don’t need you to believe that to know it’s true.
  5.  Church basements.  Nearly every day I go into church basements and back rooms and I see faith with its work boots on.
  6.   My dog.  What are people who don’t have dogs even DOING right now?  He’s perfect.  He is completely and utterly perfect.  He’s eleven, and he too has stopped auditioning.  Also, behaving.  happy
  7.  My work.  When Say It, Survivor launched, the incomparable Jen Hatmaker said, “You yanked your story out of misery and turned it into ministry.”  That’s what it feels like to me- it feels missional.  I was born to do this- I know that to be true.  I was sitting with an elderly women recently and she read me her story.  I had to fight tears- I try not to cry when someone tells me their story.  I am there to take IN their story, not to take it ON.  It’s not about me.  My tears weren’t because her story was painful, although it was.  My tears were tears of gratitude.  I was awash in it.  It is one of the great blessings of my life to be a witness for people, and to be able to tell them, when they’ve finally put something dark and heavy down- “You are not alone.  You were never meant to carry this by yourself.  I will take a corner.  I will carry it with you.”     workshop
  8.   Giraffes.  Still.  Always.
    giraffe
  9.   The ocean.  I live just minutes from the beach.  Every morning as I’m driving my kid to the bus stop I drive along the shore as the sun rises.  This morning I sat waiting for the bus to come and watched a gull, seemingly suspended in mid air as it flew against the wind.  The smell of the ocean instantly calms me.  I like it better in non-summer months.  Recently, I found myself saying to someone that I’m a rocky, New England beach kind of a girl.  It’s true.  Warm white sand is lovely, but it doesn’t soothe my soul the way the blustery, craggy beaches of my childhood do.   It’s church for me.    screen-shot-2016-11-22-at-2-46-17-pm
  10.   My sobriety.  Last year, as the holidays approached I was terrified.  How do you DO Thanksgiving and Christmas without wine?  How do people manage without being able to take the edge off?  And it’s EVERYWHERE this time of year.  Well, now I know.  They just do.   They stay sober the way they do every other day of the year. Show up.  Tell the truth.  Ask for help.  Help when asked.  Lather, rinse, repeat- forever and ever, amen.  Thanksgiving and Christmas were glorious last year, even when they were hard.

That’s a partial list, of course.  I am filled with gratitude most days, lately.  And I’m grateful for this space to write what I think and feel.  I’m grateful that you read, I’m grateful when you respond.

Happy, happy Thanksgiving, sweet friends.  Be good to yourselves.  Love the people in front of you.

xo

Laura

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Hey beloveds!

I am writing a book and in order to get said book published it is awfully helpful to make the most of your platform.  At least, that is what The People Who Know The Things tell me.

SO.

Please consider doing the following:

Come hang out with me on Facebook!

Follow me on Twitter!

Come see what my dog is doing on Instagram!

If you’re following me on Pinterest… don’t.   And I’m sorry.  I don’t even know how I ended up there…

Good Trouble

“You must find a way to get in the way and get in good trouble, necessary trouble. … You have a moral obligation, a mission and a mandate, when you leave here, to go out and seek justice for all. You can do it. You must do it.”

Representative John Lewis

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There are a few words that make my skin scrawl.  Moist.  Scamper.  Panties.  Chunk.

Then there are words that just piss me off.  Two in particular come to mind.  Pretty is one. The other is nice.

I dislike them for the same reason, I think.  They both ooze the same synthetic sweetness as sugar substitute- I know it’s SUPPOSED to taste like the real thing, but all I can taste are the chemicals.

Pretty and nice are both paper thin, and they are frequently used to keep women quiet and in their place.  Nice, in particular, seems sinister.  It’s not synonymous with being kind- not really.  It’s a vapid cousin to kindness.  It’s manners and pleasantries.  It’s good behavior versus actual goodness.  I know plenty of deeply unkind people who are perfectly nice.

Girls in particular get indoctrinated in niceness.  Nice girls are mostly defined by what they DON’T do, right?  They don’t make a fuss.  They sacrifice their passions and ambitions at the altar of everyone else’s comfort.  They’re mostly quiet. Compliant.  They follow the rules, most of which they had no agency in creating.  No boat rocking.  No disturbing the status quo.  Little origami girls, folded small and pretty.  Ornaments of the establishment, not instruments of change.

Nice girls do not cause trouble.

How many women have endured unwanted advances because it was so ingrained in them to be nice?  How many times do we, as women, put up with someone harassing us or crossing boundaries because we don’t want to hurt their feelings or make a scene?  We’re so conditioned to be well-behaved and not let our pesky needs interfere with anyone else’s wants.  How many of us have responded to a, “SMILE, PRETTY LADY!” hollered at us by a stranger in the street, because we’ve learned the hard way that to not comply is to risk the inevitable, “BITCH!” that comes our way when we don’t serve up the NICE that they feel they’ve purchased with the PRETTY?

I’ve been trying to write ever since the election.  I start.  I stop.  I feel stuck.  I don’t know how to articulate what I want the way I want.

I am angry.  Deeply angry.  And scared.  I suspect many of the people who voted for the president-elect felt that way heading into the polls.  I can empathize with that.  I am not scared of the same things, but I know what fear feels like.  I am trying very hard to keep that in mind.

I’m angry, and if I put that anger on paper, those who agree with me will still agree with me, and we’re exactly where we were.  Those who don’t agree with me will likely write me off as a ‘sore loser’ or ‘another angry woman.’

And I am.  I am another angry woman.

So the needle’s unmoved.

Every time I turn on the tv or scroll through social media I see reports of public displays of how people feel about the election’s outcome.  People gathered in protest, marching, memes, donations to progressive causes are through the roof. (fun fact- I donated to the Trevor Project in Mike Pence’s name, and to The Compassion Collective in honor of the president-elect.)  Sometimes blocking highways, sometimes being destructive.

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I’ve also heard racist rhetoric, seen swastikas, invective hurled at women wearing hijabs, gay men beaten up coming out of clubs, the Klan has been emboldened now that the candidate it endorsed has won. Those are not acts of protest, though, let’s be clear about that.  We need to name them- call them what they are.  Those are hate crimes and acts of domestic terrorism.

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Protest is always upsetting.  It’s supposed to be.  That is, in fact, the whole point.  It’s disruptive, too.  Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her seat was really upsetting to people. People of color insisting on sitting at the lunch counters in the 60’s was deeply upsetting to the status quo.  Susan B Anthony’s insistence on voting, and then refusing to pay the judgment against her for doing so upset the hell out of people.  The March on Washington upset people.  The Montgomery bus boycott of 1955 was incredibly disruptive.  Emma Sulkowicz dragged the mattress on which she was raped around the Columbia University campus to call attention to the school’s mishandling of her assault.  I’m betting that was a little disruptive.  The people at Standing Rock are upsetting authorities- which is likely why you know what is going on at Standing Rock.

Part of why those protests were so effective is the marked difference between the conduct of the oppressed and the oppressors.  We remember Tiananmen Square because in the face of unspeakable force- a tank- a civilian stood quietly, with valor.  We remember the marches of the Civil Rights era because the people were peaceful even as the police unleashed dogs and fire hoses on them.  We all get to choose who we are and how we move through the world.  We get to choose how we give voice to our frustration, our fear, our despair.

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Protest is upsetting and disruptive.  By design.  Disruptive and destructive are not the same thing.  We can’t afford to only fight hard, we need to fight smart.  We can’t afford to allow our message to be undercut by mayhem.  That kind of scorched earth protest might feel good in the moment, but it undermines whatever cause is being espoused.

In the past week I have written and deleted so many tweets and posts, and I’ve put up a few that I immediately took down.  I’ve enacted a 4 step process any content I decide to put out into the world must go through.

Is it true?

Is it necessary?

What is my intention?

How does it help?

I find that I have no patience for protest that renders itself ineffective because it’s mean, or violent, or makes itself easy to dismiss.  These are serious times that call for serious people and serious protest.  No one’s mind or heart was ever changed by being called names- but we must name evil when we see it.  The stakes are as high as they have ever been.  People of color, women, LGBTQ+, Muslim and Jewish people, immigrants-these communities are terrified, and they should be.  We should be.

Martin Luther King Jr famously said “Riot is the language of the unheard.”  I believe that’s true.  I understand the urge to break, destroy, and burn- I really do.  But it’s the language of the unheard for two reasons.  It is born of going unheard, and it renders your message unheard.  It makes you easy to dismiss- and there’s no time for that.  There’s no time for protest that can be written off that way.

A while back someone I love asked me to read a letter she’d written.  It was incredibly powerful.  Page upon page full of anger and pain.  It was profanity laced and accusatory- but it was drenched in truth.  It was a reckoning, and it knocked me back on my heels.

I read it a few times, because she asked me for feedback.  I asked her this:

“Do you want to scream, or do you want to be heard?  Because those are two different letters.  This is an incredibly powerful piece of writing that the intended recipients absolutely will not hear.”

The final letter she sent was a few paragraphs long.  Maybe even more powerful, and much harder to ignore.

Self indulgent expressions of outrage are a luxury we don’t have- not if we want to stem the tide of bigotry and violence, the impending legislation that would be harmful to so many, and the wresting of our national narrative by voices of hate.

We get called nasty when we use our voices and don’t back down.  When we don’t follow the script that women are supposed to in the face of misogyny.  We don’t have to break windows or block highways or be hateful to get that label, we need only not yield, not acquiesce, not appease.  The only requirement, it seems, for being nasty is to simply not be nice.

By all means, find a place to scream.  Find an outlet for that panic and rage- but not in your protest.  It’s too important.

This is a time for bravery.  This is a time for wisdom, and sacrifice, and choosing to do hard things.  This is a time to not only fight hard, but to fight smart.  I suspect it will get a lot more difficult and much more frightening before it gets better.

The day after inauguration there will be a women’s march on Washington DC.  I will be there.  If it creates a safe space for even one person, I will wear a safety pin.  If Muslims are ordered to register, I will register alongside them.  I will continue to call elected officials and hold them accountable.  I will keep using my voice and my platform.  I will use the gifts I have in whatever way I can.  I will not make myself easy to dismiss.

I am only one woman, with one voice- but I intend to use it.

I’m inclined to make some trouble.  It definitely won’t be nice, but my hope is that it will be good.

“Well behaved women seldom make history.”

Laurel Thatcher Ulrich.

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Hey beloveds!

I am writing a book and in order to get said book published it is awfully helpful to make the most of your platform.  At least, that is what The People Who Know The Things tell me.

SO.

Please consider doing the following:

Come hang out with me on Facebook!

Follow me on Twitter!

Come see what my dog is doing on Instagram!

If you’re following me on Pinterest… don’t.   And I’m sorry.  I don’t even know how I ended up there…

 

 

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

rockbottom

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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Hey beloveds!

I am writing a book and in order to get said book published it is awfully helpful to make the most of your platform.  At least, that is what The People Who Know The Things tell me.

SO.

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