Friday, January 25, 2013

how then do we love?

Last night, I went to my first Marcella Project Salon. Dr. Jackie Roese left her position at my church to start this organization which, quoting their twitter page, "exists to transform women to be critical spiritual thinkers & excellent teachers of God's Word." With that they already had my attention, but as an added bonus, most of the salons are held in a local winery. Awesome!
This month's topic was homosexuality. (If you are a DFW local, you can read about the others and purchase passes & materials here.)

At first, I was a little surprised (and nervous) about the older ladies and gentlemen walking into the winery with me. For some reason, I was thinking I'd be surrounded only by like-minded peers. (And oh! In walked in some leaders in our church too!)
Nonetheless, I got settled in amongst the 40-something other attendees–with a now-needed glass of red wine in hand–next to a friend from Bible study.

So, we began.

One of the first questions Jackie asked us was, "Why are you here?"
Several answered her, but all of the reasons could be whittled down to this: it's personal. These are our friends, sisters, brothers, parents, children. This is not something that is happening "out there." This is something the church needs to deal with, and in a different way than it has been. (Basically, we have SUCKED.)

We went over a lot of great material. We read articles, journals, and excerpts from books. We watched videos and listened to personal stories. We read the always-quoted verses in the Bible, and the history, culture, and people behind it all. We discussed which arguments on either side were strong or weak and why. We talked about the history of marriage, and how it has looked over time. (Hint: not like it does today.)

Most of the material we discussed was actually not new to me; I've done a lot of my own research. But, it was amazing seeing some other believers' eyes being opened to such new information (and truth), overriding some serious myths* that have been told–many from the church.
(Like one lady asked, and I'm paraphrasing, "If you think your way is right, why did you need to make up lies about it to get other people on your side?" Amen, sister! I feel that way about a lot of things...)

There were a lot of lightbulbs and wonderful discussion, and then there were some things that just made me cry.

One of the women had a daughter who came out to her as a lesbian several years ago. The mom told us there were times she couldn't be in the same room or even look at her for fear she would vomit. GUYS.
You guys. We HAVE to do better than that. That story put tears in my eyes.

Then, I think Jackie rocked about everyone's world when she said, "Gay marriage is GOING TO HAPPEN."
Not if it happens. When.
How will the church deal?

That led us to the ultimate question of the night: not, "Which side are you on?" but "How do we take this knowledge with us? How then do we love?"
And I will push a little further and ask: are you more concerned about being loving, or are you more concerned about being right? (I will err on the side of love.)

What do you think? How do you think the church needs to change?
I have my own ideas, although I don't know if they will happen for a little while. ;)

*Examples include: pedophiles are gay, ex-gay ministries can cure homosexuality, you can't be gay and a Christian, etc.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

30 days to go

I'm so happy!

One month from now, I will be married. :)
Almost everything is set in place. I just have to pay a few more wedding bills and pick a beach. That's IT.

I'm entirely convinced just the two of us in St. Thomas was the way to go. I've had little glimpses into traditional wedding planning, and I don't like it. I COULD do it, but I think I wouldn't be as happy or satisfied. *cough perfectionist! cough*
I'd rather focus on other things!

I'm so ready to get away, relax with my fiancé, and make new memories together.

Pre-marital counseling is going well, too. Chris and I had discussed a lot of things beforehand & went through a book, but a professional always helps. Even if I *know* certain things, hearing a therapist say it just STICKS with me. I don't know why. (That's why they're the expert!)
Found out tonight, though, I will need a couple of individual sessions with her because I have issues. :) Oops.

One month is going to go by so fast. Trying to savor it all.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

I've been busy!

Long time no blog! Sorry, I've had a lot to do. :)
This isn't going to be a intense post so much as it will be a mini-update on my life.


First of all, I GOT ENGAGED 18 days ago. YAY!

Chris and I are getting married this December in St. Thomas and moving into a new place together right after. AHHHH, I can't wait.

Yes, it's a short engagement and it's going to be a small ceremony (just the two of us), but we did that on purpose. I do not want to be anxious over planning a wedding. My fiancé (!!) says, "I'd rather concentrate on the marriage than the wedding." YES!  (Besides, I do not know one married couple that has NOT said, "I wish we just would have eloped.")

I've already got a coordinator and a photographer; we start pre-marital counseling soon; and I *think* I found a dress, but I'm going shopping again this weekend.
Even this stuff has me pooped & stressed. I can't imagine doing something bigger; I'd be on anti-anxiety medication by the end of day two. (I really would.)


In other news, my Bible study started up again last week while I was on vacation, so tonight will be my first night. I missed my girls!

I have always been blessed by great groups of friends in each stage of my life (high school, college, Arkansas, Dallas...). I'm so thankful I pushed aside my nervousness about doing something new by myself and signed up for Bible study two years ago. :) I love my Table 17!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

dear you

Dear you,

We've been through a lot together.
Sometimes, I think you're great, but most of the time we've known each other, I've been less than cordial to you. I have a lot to apologize for.

I'm sorry for poking you, pinching you, weighing you, cursing you, even wanting you dead.
I'm sorry for starving you because I thought you were too big and too ugly.
I'm sorry for not being able to look at you in the mirror without getting sad, or even angry.
I'm sorry for hiding you under clothes too big or clothes so many because I was embarrassed of you.
I'm sorry I wanted you to look like someone else.
I'm sorry for not listening to you when you SCREAMED for me to change. I heard you, but I didn't listen.

Years ago, I would have even apologized to you for "letting" someone else hurt you, but it's not my fault. And it's not yours, either. Nothing you did made you deserve what happened, no matter what other people might say. Believe me when I tell you this.
In those times, I hugged you, cried for you, tried to comfort you.

It took a long time, but I now see that there is so much more to you.

You are STRONG and healthy. I can see muscles, now. I see strength.
You are beautiful. You are, dare I say, sexy. You have boobs, hips, a waist! They're awesome! They're not things to hide, but things to appreciate.
You are affectionate and a comforter. You give hugs. You give kisses. You hold hands. You pick up babies and cuddle them. You rub the bellies of animals and touch their noses to yours.
You smile and laugh. You make dumb jokes. I can see the beginnings of creases in your face, but that only means you've smiled SO much.
You can make music. You can SING! You can play instruments! With a guitar in-hand or piano keys under your fingertips, you are home. (We'll work on you being more comfortable with a microphone in your face... You can do it!)
You are smart. You get things. You learn easily.
Your hands and feet bring love and the Good News to people who have never known it.

From now on, I will try to enrich you, every part of you.
I want to keep you strong and healthy. I will go to my boxing class and do pilates at home. (Maybe, I will even run more! Maybe...)
I want to keep your mind sharp with books, articles, games, and dialog with friends. I want to keep learning things.
I want to keep your mental health in check and go back to therapy the moment I think I need it again. I need to remember the tools I've learned and put them into practice.
I want to surround you with wonderful, healthy, honest people. They sure do help you to be the same. I also want you to stay away from the people and things that will hurt you.
I want you to be confident. I want you to stand up for the things that aren't right, the things that hurt others.
I want you to keep learning about Jesus. I want you to love like he loves.

So, for now, I will sit alone in my apartment in my underwear, and be okay with it. I will drink my glass of red wine, not thinking about the calories but thinking about the health benefits and the lovely way it tastes. And I will paint a picture with my acrylic paints, because you are so good at that.

I love you.

PS - Read other love letters here.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

the subthreshold

I had a mild setback with my workouts.

Last Thursday, we did a lot of upper body stuff: pushups, burpees, bag work, & mitt work. I guess I was a little too hardcore because I was ACHING the next day; everything from the chest up hurt.
A few days later, the pain on my right subsided, but my left felt worse. Upon closer inspection, I noticed a bulge on my ribs under my left armpit; it was painful to the touch. I was so swollen that it was actually messing with the nerves in my arm/hand.

After much freaking out and Googling, I determined it was only a strain (and not a tear).* I had to accept I wouldn't be able to box for a couple weeks.

On top of this workout-reducing injury, I have gained about 4 pounds in the past 2-3 weeks. The rational part of my brain understands this is most likely muscle weight, especially since I've been better about eating protein after my boxing class. The irrational, anxious, eating disordered part of my brain screams, "OMG, IT'S FAT! IT'S FAT! FAT FAT FAT. OMG, YOU'RE GAINING WEIGHT. YOU ARE FAT." Then: "Where is the fat going? Can I see it? Is it here?" *pinch* "Here?!" *pinch pinch* "If I can't work out, it's going to get worse! I HAVE TO WORK OUT. I can't lose what I've gotten out of this so far! I HAVE TO WORK OUT."

I wish that part of me would disappear already. I want to think rationally. I want to do what makes sense.
(I have done some CRAZY things before, but I'll talk about some of those in another post.)

"As a general guideline, it appears that one third of patients fully recover [from an eating disorder], one third retain subthreshold symptoms, and one third maintain a chronic eating disorder." - Cleveland Clinic

I am definitely in the "subthreshold" category. It never goes away.
Maybe I can quiet it, or at least recognize it, but it will always be there, whispering snide remarks, promising mitigation of my anxieties, tempting me to be its only friend...

Even now, when I am HEALTHY – sculpted, thin, eating well – it whispers.
Even when my boyfriend tells me I'm beautiful and he loves my curves, it whispers.
Even in the moments when I think I can appreciate my own body, it whispers.

I have realized therapy for me will be a lifelong process. Not continuously, but continually.
I was talking with my therapist about this, and I named several times I already know will warrant me going back: when I find out I'm pregnant one day (and throughout the pregnancy as my body changes), during significant changes in my children's lives, through moves or job changes, etc.
(My therapist applauded my self-awareness, at least!)

And I say "going back" because my workplace is switching insurance companies and my therapist will no longer be covered come August 1. :( I've decided once that date hits, I'll take a break from therapy to see how I handle things...

Some good news: after my trainers worked with injured me during just one class, my muscle feels better! At the earliest, I'll be boxing again next Monday, but I don't want to push it.

*Y'all, I seriously forgot what a strained muscle felt like. I haven't had one since high school...possibly middle school. Then, I worked out every day and usually didn't get sore/strained. With boxing, I only work out twice a week and I still get sore after EVERY class.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

not really a post

But kind of a post...

I just want to say: let's have a discussion.
I don't want to be the only one yapping here. Yes, it is my blog, but let's talk about things together.

I think it's lovely since starting my blog I've gotten so many emails, facebook messages, and texts about what I write.
That's awesome, but let's share here (or in real life)!

I had an amazing conversation at my book club the previous Friday, after I posted my last blog.
We talked about what I wrote, why I felt the way I did, the dangerous implications in the linked blog's story, etc.
Most people have never been in an abusive relationship (thank goodness), so there is a lot of misunderstanding. It's easy to ask things like, "Why didn't you just leave?" or think you would be "strong enough" to not ever get in a situation like I was. (Sorry, but no one is immune! It's scary, but true.)

I was so excited to discuss. I want that to happen more.

Do you have questions about what I post? Whether personal or hypothetical, I don't mind answering. Did you have the same or a completely different experience when faced with the same things? Let's talk about it!
(This is why I post my blog on facebook and twitter, for crying out loud! I know you read it. This isn't just something I planned on sharing with my BFFs. I want people outside my closest circle of friends to learn something new, to not be afraid, to not feel alone.)

So, my readers, what do you want to know? Ask? Declare?
Let's get educated. Let's talk about it.

PS - This isn't a cry for more comments; I couldn't care less. Your emails and texts mean the world to me BUT, I think it would be helpful for all the other readers if we had our discussions there. :) It's so nice to see when there is another person (or people) besides the blogger that has questions/issues/encouragement.

Friday, June 22, 2012

abuse and the good girl


I probably shouldn't be angry-blogging, but I can't help it. (Excuse the language I use.)
This is gonna be a big one, and you're going to read more about me than you wanted to know.

I am a good girl, a goody-goody. I always have been. So, when I read this blog post, I cried.
That is not a beautiful story about redemption, that is a story about sexual assault, abuse, and victim-blaming.


A couple of weeks after we started dating, my ex and I were laying down, watching TV. He put his hand on my side, and then down inside my pants.
I squirmed. "Don't touch me there."
"Don't touch me there!" he mocked, and kept his hand there, and even slid it in further.

Things escalated.

A little over a month into our relationship, we were kissing and he kept trying to touch my chest. He was on top of me. I pushed him away. I pushed him away again. And again. And again and again and again. He wouldn't stop; he got more aggressive until I gave in.
He later told me it was the best birthday present ever, like I gave it to him freely.
He's on top of the world...and I can't stop crying for 48 straight hours.

He grabbed my hand and shoved it down his pants.

He would whine and pout when I wouldn't do something he wanted.

He "needed" naked pictures or videos, but then I wasn't "naked enough"/"naked for long enough" in them.

He got cranky when I wouldn't dirty talk and when I told him I didn't like the language he was using (vulgar names for female genitalia, etc.).

There were several times that he'd try to get me to drink more than I wanted to because he knew that would make me inebriated; it was harder for me to resist or say no.

Instead of being nice for the sake of just being nice, there were always ulterior motives.
For one Valentine's Day, he did some very sweet things, but it was overshadowed by the fact that he kept repeating throughout the night, "This is gonna make you so horny." (EW!)

There was even a time that I thought I might be raped.
We were laying around, watching TV, and he said out of nowhere, "Lemme put it in your butt."
"NO!" I cried, disgusted.
"Why...?" he whined.
"Because...I don't want any of you inside of me...anywhere."
"But WHY?!" he kept asking me.
I said no a few more times, and then he jumped on top of me and held my arms. I had been laying on my stomach; he was now on my back. I was terrified. I squirmed vigorously to get out from under him. He was laughing...and I was not.
(Nothing happened and he let me go, but it was fucking SCARY. And you know what? The only reason why he never asked about having vaginal intercourse is because that was not a Christian thing to do. HAHAHA! Everything else in his mind was fair game and not "real sex.")

Any time I planned on seeing him, I would literally pray to God that I would have the courage and strength to say "no" to his advances. He would so often whittle me down that I didn't know what else to do. (I have sob-inducing prayer journal entries where I relentlessly scribbled out these requests.)


As Dianna commented on the above linked blog post, "A simple rule of thumb in sexual relationships is this: 'A yes is only a yes if a no is possible.' In the situation, as you’ve painted it, a no wasn’t possible – this guy, whom she presumably liked, whittled down her courage and her ability to stand up for herself until she eventually just said, 'Oh all right.' That’s not active participation in a sexual relationship – that is coercive and abusive. And yet, somehow, the person who needs to ask for forgiveness…is the girl? Because she gave a coerced, unwilling, affirmative answer to a boy who should not have been pressuring her in the first place? That’s really messed up and blames the victim of an abusive relationship for the abuse that took place. [...] Maybe if she’d gone to a church where she could know that what happened to her was actually assault and abuse, and not her fault..."

If you are being abused, YOU LOSE YOUR DAMN MIND.
I didn't know how to be me; I was scared. I acted how I thought my ex wanted me to act, how I was trained. I was trained to give in, trained to be sexy and wanting, trained to act like someone else.

My even ex told me that I was responsible for 40-50% of what happened to me, even though I was ALWAYS the one to say stop or no, always the one to draw the line.

Alleyne commented, "[Ours] is a culture that encourages those abuses, by failing, over and over, to focus on them, while simultaneously blaming victims for not being strong enough to withstand attacks they should never have had to face to begin with. Fallen. Unpure. Loss of innocence. In sin. Backslidden. Out of grace. Far from salvation.
This is the church’s particularly odious and spiritually devastating spin on rape culture. This is how souls are torn to shreds.
'This story wasn’t about the boy.'
No, of course it wasn’t. It never is. And that’s why this story keeps being told over and over and over again.
How many more men will have their sin glazed over as if 'sexual sin' (when it actually exists) doesn’t take two people?" (Emphasis mine.)

I went along for WAY too long thinking that everything that happened to me was my fault because I "gave in." That is faulty thinking. I was manipulated and controlled and coerced and guilted. SUBMISSION is not CONSENT.
You surrender all responsibility as soon as someone lays a hand on you.

SO, if my story is similar to the girl's story on the other blog, do you think she needs to ask for forgiveness or be shamed for her "sins?"
She needs people to love her, give her grace, and help her recover from a travesty placed upon her by someone else.

Let's stop victim-blaming and instead teach people how not to abuse others.