Moving Toward the Sun

I’ve been in a depressive episode for nearly 8 weeks. The decline has been gradual. There have been good days scattered throughout, but I’ve been edgy, tense, fatigued….my mind has been too loud some days, eerily silent during others. I’ve been crying off and on in my bathroom to hide my breaking from my kids…in my car as I drive from one errand to the next. I’ve had to shift to auto-pilot to just get through hard moments, root myself in detachment to keep from getting swallowed up by the stress. I’ve spent the last two weeks cycling rapidly between hypomania (marked mostly by agitation and a mind packed with too many thoughts), and a dragging depression that swallows me up and sends me into its belly for a few moments then spits me back out into the sun and air where I can breathe again. And then everything’s still and quiet…I feel “normal” and then the cycle repeats itself hourly, daily, weekly….and so it’s been for nearly 2 months now. Rinse. Settle. Repeat.

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I’m still in that critical postpartum window. I just weaned nearly a month ago. My body and hormones are in flux and adjusting as a result. I hate it.

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Stress is both motivating and crippling for me. I can handle 10 things going on all at once with ease. It’s once the 11th shows up demanding my attention that my mind starts to split and scatter off into darker corners. I think about my life these days and chide myself with all kinds of “should” statements for feeling and being overwhelmed by all I manage on a day-to-day basis: baby is teething & raging,  middle child with special needs, oldest was just diagnosed with ADHD and his enthusiasm for school has waned significantly, trying to overhaul our home and parenting lifestyles to accommodate and support their needs (like increasing structure and making our home more sensory friendly), supporting my husband while he deals with stress at work. New therapy schedules, trips to the pediatrician, and comprehensive psychometric testing have dominated our lives over the past month. Up ahead there is more testing to be done, and meetings with the school district to discuss accommodations for Brennan and evaluations and placement for Alex who is gearing up for preK this fall…

It’s not all stressful. I’m involved in birthing great projects. I’m taking my mom’s advice on avoiding burnout by feeding my spirit so I don’t fall prey to losing myself, you know? I’ve joined writing & art communities online,  I’m painting at 11pm, I’ve signed up for retreats and writing eCourses, done a couple of write-ins with groups, and I’ve done a juice cleanse to try to reset my body and mind. I’m re-reading Daring Greatly by Brene Brown as well as books on painting, sensory processing disorder, creativity, and feminism. I’m trying to find my way here still, in this space as far as my writing is concerned. I’m trying to learn how to embody all the parts of myself that have come alive over the past few years-artist, writer, advocate-in the midst of the daily demands on my person and time as a mother and wife. I’m trying to bloom where I’m planted. At 31, it’s still a stumbling process though.

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I’m searching for my flow amidst the rhythms, rocking and swaying as the ebb and flow of my life’s current carries me throughout my days. But the stress of everything gets triggering and I find myself cycling with the ebb and flow as a result sometimes. That’s when my knees buckle and my head spins. My chest constricts and my brain starts to feel like it’s suffocating. My grip gets weak. Fatigue sets in and my steps forward get heavy. Taking care of myself gets harder, and usually becomes the last checked off item on my must do list-if it’s checked off at all. I end each day feeling as though I have no safe place to come up for air and just process my thoughts, fears, and anxiety…I end most days feeling unsettled and bottled up, stuffed to capacity and as I close my eyes to sleep I’ve found myself starting to pray like Jabez, asking God or whoever is listening for an increase in capacity…in ability…in might…

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My hair is pink again with some blue added for extra fun. My hair and color are always my first lines of defense against the disorder of my brain chemistry and mood.

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I visited my psychiatrist last week at the VA. This is another area that I can’t seem to find solid footing. We’ve lived here for nearly two years and I’m on my 3rd psychiatrist. Obtaining talk therapy has been a fail. The appointment scheduling system here is confusing and useless to me because I have very little say in what days and times fit into my schedule that’s already inundated with the kid’s school and therapies. I’ve had to fight to get treated, and I’m constantly having to say “but if you read this and go here, research and experts agree that….”. I feel lost in a system that I’m constantly told is for me to use and that I should trust. But the bureaucracy I face with nearly every interaction chips away at that trust. I have no confidence in my mental health care these days, in the professionals assigned to my care. And yet, at my appointment last week, I sat in front of her desk and allowed myself to become undone. Completely and unapologetically. I unloaded nearly 24 months of thoughts and stress right there in her office in 20 minutes while my smiling baby squirmed and cooed in my arms. She listened to every word. Asked some questions that dug a little deeper. Apologized for all the trouble with the system I’ve had and for not really hearing me 6 weeks ago when I told her my anxiety was becoming a problem. She admitted that lack of knowledge about medications while breastfeeding restricted her ability to really give me what I was needing. We decided now that I’m no longer pregnant and breastfeeding we could get more aggressive with my meds again-go back to finding a more therapeutic dose. So over the next two months I’ll be doing that-going up on lamictal and prozac and trying out an additional med for anxiety. I started the increase yesterday. I’m hoping by the end of the week my brain and mood will start to grab ahold and adjust accordingly.

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I’ve struggled today to pick everything back up and keep walking. To push past and through. To square my shoulders and lift my chin. To turn a deaf ear to the tape playing in my head that has all kinds of lies and frenzied talk on a loop.

But I’m doing it-picking up and pushing. I’m moving forward. Slowly. The sun is shining outside despite the cold front that’s moved through. I’m working my way out into the sun, breathing in deep as I go.

A Prompt Response

 

One of the writing communities I’m a part of holds weekly write-ins via video conference. While I’ve been a member of this community since early last year, tonight was my first time participating in one as it was happening. By the time I joined the conference, everyone was reading their responses to the first prompt “When do you feel heard?”, and blowing. my. mind. like. WHOA.

We were given 30 minutes for our 2nd prompt and here’s what I finally word vomited after wanting to throw my paper, pen, and laptop out my back door. 

Prompt: “Show Me Your Brave”

I hold them in the palm of my hand never knowing if they’ll be enough to keep me through the next 24 hours. I stare at them intently, as if my gaze alone can make it so that they do. I tilt my head back, close my eyes, and pause as this unknowing whispers my own doubts back to me, louder than the why I must in spite of. It’s in this nanosecond of a moment that fear always roars its loudest, reminding me of what exists within, and its capacity for destruction. I feel the darkness, I smell the fire, I hear the frantic call of madness, the hollow wail of despair and I wonder if 150mg is enough for 24 more hours. My hands shake as I swallow each one and bring the cup to my lips to further assist them on their way down. 

It’s the only way to find out. 

 

*to learn more about The Story Unfolding & Story Sessions writing community, click here*

My Dear Addye, With All My Love, Susan

Hello, dear readers of Butterfly Confessions. Lauren of My Postpartum Voice here. I’ve recruited some of Addye’s friends to write posts for her blog while Addye babymoons with hear new little one. This letter is the first guest post and it’s written by the fabulous Susan of Learned Happiness. If you’d like to submit a guest post to be published while Addye is babymooning, email me at mypostpartumvoice (@) gmail with “For Butterfly Confessions” in the subject line!

Without further ado, I present Susan’s lovely words for Addye…..

 

My Dear Addye,

You and I have been friends for 3 years, now.  And in that time, I have watched you transform into a wholehearted woman.  You took chances with your life and made huge leaps of faith – faith in yourself more than any one person.  You have learned to be honest with yourself about who you are and who you want to be.  Your integrity has been hard-fought and is well-deserved.  You honor me with your friendship.

You said when you married Bert and took his name that it was the beginning of a new life – one written by you and you alone.  One that speaks to all you hold sacred and points to a fulfilling life with your family.  And this baby?  Is a part of that new life.  I can see it in your eyes – in the way you look at him and hold him.  I have experienced the hope brought by a new baby birthed in joy and a sense of calm.  It renews the spirit.  And I couldn’t have wished a better birth experience for you.

SusanQuoteRemember that no matter how good your birth (or how much you love that amazing tiny man), having a newborn is a special kind of torture.  The nights are long and the days are even longer.  And no matter how happy you are, it’s okay to be exhausted.  It’s okay to be emotional.  And it’s okay to still need help.  This is not a test of your spirit.  You are not being graded on how gracefully you weather the fourth trimester.  There will be beautiful moments and there will be unbearable ones.  And your tribe?  Will be standing beside you for both.

I hope with all of my heart that the darkness you fear is blotted out by your joy.  But if it’s not, if it all becomes too much, you are armed and you are never alone.

With all my love,
Susan

I’m Here…Just Consumed By Life

Sorry I haven’t stopped by here since May 20th. Life’s been pretty consuming as of late, and I’m not as good about writing my way through periods like this as I was a year ago. Things are busy busy busy and I’ll be honest-sitting down to write has proved to be more difficult than I would like it to be. The words are there, waiting to be given life, the stories are stacked up on shelves in my brain, the desire is there, but it all just becomes a jumbled mess when I sit down to type or even write in my journal.

Part of it is because my brain is so scattered, thanks to my disorder and my recent hypomanic episodes and cycling. Part of it is because I become to preoccupied by my compulsions to clean, organize, and rearrange everything in our apartment. Part of it is because I’m fatigued and the energy I do have is poured into being  pregnant, mama, wife, housekeeper, cook, errand runner…the desire to create or give anything back to myself lingers quietly in folds of my heart, but never finds its way to execution. My mind is scattered and my hands feel inadequate, empty, unable to form the words or images that are mixed in the chaos.

Part of it is because I’ve become completely immersed in a new parenting approach with Alex and in implementing new routines and techniques I hope make like easier for him…and for all of us, really. I’m seeing how different and significant some of his needs are and in a lot of ways re-learning this whole parenting thing. From how I discipline, to the words and tone I use when speaking to him, to even how much pressure I apply when I touch or hug him, my whole posture towards parenting and mothering him has changed. Most of my days are consumed with being engaged with him in ways I wasn’t before. Learning about sensory processing disorder, autism, and what we’re learning from his therapists since April has given me new ways to engage and interact with him  that are different from how I did before. It’s been quite the learning curve-there’s so much more to be aware of these days! I’m more watchful, taking note of the slightest change in attitude or behavior (positive or negative), more apprehensive and mindful about how changes in routine, however slight, will impact him from moment to moment. In some ways I feel like I’m on high alert from the time he wakes up until he finally falls asleep after I’ve put him back in his bed and given him a deep pressure squeeze for the fifth or sixth time. I’ve had to become much more patient, learning to move at his pace, and how to move him along faster in a way that he can understand when we’re short on time. I’ve found that all of this has taken an energy that I, especially being pregnant, barely have the reserves for. The simplest things from washing his hands to getting dressed to helping desensitize his facial muscles before his speech therapy sessions is all a process; exhausting and consuming, but one I’m committed to helping all of us navigate and learn as best we can.

Part of it is because I’m committed to being well during this pregnancy and am forcing myself to focus on self-care. This becomes increasingly difficult when pregnancy is kicking my ass, particularly when migraines attack, and my blood pressure is low. The migraines have been pretty frequent this pregnancy; during a good week I only get one, during my worst I’ve had them for 4 days straight. Functioning when I’m a wreck physically feels impossible, but I somehow get through making sure the kids have what they need for the day and that’s about it. Aside from eating and taking my medications, taking care of myself takes a backseat and I have to fight to make things like taking a shower, combing my hair, getting in any kind of exercise or leisure activity a priority. Overall I’m doing better on the self-care front than I have in the past, especially during my last pregnancy.

All of this focus on concentration on these other areas of my life leave little for my writing here and painting….advocating even. I had all of these plans for my creative pursuits this year but the mental and creative bandwidth I need to execute them isn’t what I’d like it to be. For some reason I can’t seem to find space for those two to fit in my life as of late and this does sadden me. Frustrates me. Leaves me to wonder how I’ll fit them in when there are THREE children to give my time and attention to. I’m hoping I can find a way….I’m in awe of those who’ve found a way to balance and navigate it all.

At any rate, while I find it hard to write and paint these days, I have found it easy to keep up with vlogging-probably because I can just do it on my phone while I’m on the go and have a few minutes alone. So I think that’s just what I’m going to have to do for now because it’s the one thing that I can keep up with that fits in best with everything else. It’s the one thing I feel I can keep up with right now on this front. I’m hoping to write here during the summer, but know that if you don’t see me here, you’ll be able to find me on my YouTube channel, addyeBeesWorld, where I’ll mostly be sharing the nitty-gritty of navigating bipolar disorder while being a pregnant mama. Feel free to watch and subscribe-I’ve done videos for weeks 15, 16, and 17 so far (I tell you what we’re having in my second video for week 16!) And of course, I’ll always be on Twitter :) (@addyeB)

So that’s where I’ve been, what I’ve been up to, what’s going on. I’m still here…I’m just consumed is all.

Maybe I just need to Lean In…anyone have Sheryl Sandberg’s number?

The Surprises Keep on Coming….

I mentioned in one of last week’s posts that I submitted two pieces for BlogHer’s Voices of the Year and explained why. I submitted them knowing full well that I had no plans of attending the conference this year (or desire to); as I explained in that post, I was submitting them just because I felt like taking a leap forward and opening myself up to opportunity, really.

On the same day I submitted those pieces, I found a surprise greeting me in my inbox at the end of the day-an unexpected opportunity. It was an email from Shannon (@mrlady), BlogHer’s conference programming manager, and I couldn’t peel my eyes off of the subject line:

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When I was finally able to read the rest of the email, I put the phone down and immediately started pacing back and forth in my living room, my mind flooded with thoughts….

Me? 

Whoa. 

What?

ME?

I’m small potatoes…how’d I get on the radar for something like this? What about [insert name here] or [insert name here]? THEY should be the ones doing this….

How will I get there? 

I’m not a speaker….

What will I say?

I’m not worthy of this…there are SO many others who I know deserve this and are better advocates and have bigger platforms than me. 

What will Bertski say? 

Of course when I called him, he left no room for doubt-I was going to accept the invite and we would use this opportunity to take the boys on a family vacation. He’s so damn supportive, especially when he knows I’ll talk myself out of something great like this.

I hung up, emailed Shannon back, and yesterday I officially accepted my speaker’s invitation to BlogHer’s HealthMinder Day. I’m being afforded the chance to do what I do here on the blog-talk about mental health and what it’s like to share my experiences with it with all of you-the rewarding, the hard, the reasons why I continue to do it, etc.

I’m excited. I’m humbled. I’m honored. I’m scared shitless. I’ve never spoken to a room full of strangers on this level, EVER. I don’t feel worthy, especially when I consider what amazing writers and bloggers my co-panelists are, AND when I think of the other amazing writers and women who blog about mental health and deserve an opportunity to share in a forum such as this.

I don’t feel worthy of it, but I know that it’s the right opportunity for me to say yes to-does that make sense? It feels authentic to the kind of writer I am, and what this space is…I don’t feel worthy of it, but at the same time I realize that playing small when opportunities such as these present themselves to you serves no one, least of all yourself, so I’m choosing to be grateful and enjoy every part of this. Besides, when I asked Kelly (@mochamomma) if she had any advice and told her how nervous I was, she had this to say: “Remember why you write. Speak your truth. Drop the fucking mic.” Pretty much the kick in the ass I needed to step into the moment and accept the gig. Yep.

Do I hope to gain anything out of this? Sure-I hope to gain connection-connection with others in a healthy, constructive and empathetic dialogue about sharing our experiences with mental illness and wellness. I want to encourage others to share their mental health related stories and I want to also be encouraged to keep doing the same-Lord knows I’ve almost nuked this space at least once a week since the new year began.

So….I’m going to BlogHer this year! As a speaker for HealthMinder day! I’ll be here-Will I see you there? I hope so-go register and then let me know you’re coming so we can meet up :)

Also, moral of this story: Always leave a little room for opportunity-you never know what it has waiting for you.

Also, also: Marriage. Baby. Speaking gig. 2013 better stop blowing my mind with all of these surprises.

Let's talk about mental health in the online space, shall we?

Let’s talk about mental health in the online space, shall we?

HEY YOU: Don’t Drink the VOTY Kool-Aid

I gots some thangs to say…..forgive me if this just kinda tumbles out, I’m not in the mood to filter much today. Here we go:

Yesterday I listened to a heart whisper and submitted two pieces for BlogHer’s 2013 Voices of the Year, one visual, one written.

I submitted them because one of my words for this year is “pursue,” and when it comes to my writing and art, my intention this year is to pursue opportunities for them to be showcased. Why? Why the hell not? I write and paint for myself first and foremost and will always do so even if I have zero readers and the world thinks my art is a travesty, BUT I’m also a storyteller who believes in the power of sharing your experiences with others. Writing and painting save me from the parts of myself that thanks to illness are hell-bent on destroying me-and so does sharing about my life through the written word and visual art. Sharing my stories here and through paint are my way of giving back-I hope that at some point, what I share and convey in what I create helps someone on some level, in some area of life be it motherhood, mental illness, abuse, or just life in general.

I also submitted because hey, who doesn’t like to connect with others and be heard? And who says it’s wrong to be proud of what you’ve created? What’s wrong with just going for it, JUST BECAUSE you never know what will become of it? YOLO! Am I right?

I said all of that to say that I didn’t submit my pieces because I think other people will find them moving and valuable, worthy of attention. I shared them because I FIND THEM VALUABLE, MOVING, AND WORTHY. Maybe if my piece on being bipolar and a mother is selected, maybe another mom who was just diagnosed will find it and find some comfort-or find a way to contact me so she can find someone to talk to or ask questions. Maybe if my piece is selected people will stop believing people with an illness like bipolar disorder are incapable of being quality parents and raising healthy kids. But if I had decided to NOT submit that piece, then the chances of that happening are significantly reduced considering how “small” I am in the blogosphere. So I saw an opportunity to be an advocate, be a storyteller, honor MYSELF for owning my story, and took advantage of it-Like Nike, I just did it. Insecure, vulnerable, and all, dammit I sat my ass down, read through my stuff and submitted.

Maybe for you, it’s not about any of this. Maybe you just want your work to be heard, be seen, be validated, be recognized. Maybe you wrote some funny shit and you want others to recognize you’re the next Richard Pryor or Sarah Silverman. That’s OK. It really is. Go ahead-submit! Honor your work. Pat yourself on the back, man. Be proud.

For those of you who are discouraged by this whole VOTY thing, hear me: STOP WAITING FOR OTHERS TO VALIDATE YOU AND YOUR WORK AND VALIDATE YOURSELF. STOP DRINKING THE DAMN VOTY KOOL-AID. I’m watching so many of you flog yourselves and doubt your self-worth and value as a blogger, writer, and fucking human being because no one is nominating your work. I get why it’s a downer, and trust me, I think the voting aspect of the process is asinine and I know that’s what’s discouraging so many of you from submitting. But I learned a couple of years ago that sometimes you can’t wait for others to celebrate and honor you, you’ve got to do it yourself, fuck everyone else. THROW YOUR OWN DAMN PARTY. Stop waiting for an invite. NO ONE will take pride in you or what you’re putting out there if you don’t.

96 of the pieces that will be selected as VOTY will be selected by the committee-guess what? They are reading each and every piece submitted whether it has 500 votes or 0. So even if you’re small potatoes like myself, your work will still be seen. Shouldn’t that matter more than some damn votes? Even if your piece isn’t selected, you never know who will become a fan of your work just because they were on the committee and read your piece. You don’t know what kind of opportunities could come out of this. And even if nothing comes out of it, shit, pour a drink and cheer yourself for having the balls to do something so many people wouldn’t.

I know when you’re a small fry in the blog/writing arena it’s easy to get intimidated and feel left out because those with bigger platforms are being nominated, called out, read, and recognized-and recognizing their own peers. But hear me: SMALL DOES NOT EQUAL INSIGNIFICANT  and is in no way an indication of the value and worth of your work and your story.

So STOP DRINKING THE VOTY KOOL-AID. Submit something if it’s on your heart to do so. (Heart whispers are meant to be listened to-unless it’s telling you to go kill someone. If that’s the case, get a new fucking heart ASAP.) Go find a favorite piece from someone you read and submit it to honor them-if they’re a fellow small fry, I can guarantee you it will make their day and probably encourage them to keep writing, sharing, owning their story.

So. What are you still doing here reading this? GO. Bye!

My Life Isn’t Always So Heavy. Sometimes It’s Full of Near Marriages & Tear Gas Too.

Today I’m supposed to be telling you about the time I nearly died during a military exercise in the Nevada desert.

Me+5 cans of tear gas+gas mask fail=the fires of brimstone & damnation taking up residence in my body.

It’s a good story, but before I share it with you, I have to explain why I am.

I told my friend Susan about it and she almost died from laughter. Death by laughter is a much better way to go than death by tear gas, in case you were wondering.

Anyway she didn’t really almost die laughing (duh, it’s called exaggeration) but she did have tears in her eyes, and after she composed herself she reminded me of something-I don’t talk about the other parts of my life here very often, if at all.

I’ve spent the majority of this blog’s life telling you about my struggles with mental illness, motherhood, & low self-esteem. I’ve touched a little on social issues & religion too, but the only “light” thing I’ve shared here are my Napoleon Dynamite-esque dance skills. (New here? Check the “Dance” tab up top)

I realized there’s so much about myself and my life that I haven’t shared with you, especially the parts that aren’t so heavy. Example: I used to show dogs (think Westminster type dog shows) when I was 8 years old. Also? I was pretty damn good at it too. See? I haven’t divulged that kind of info and I feel like it would be nice to do so.

So moving forward, I’m going to try and be more open not just about the heaviness of in my life, but the lighter, funnier, interesting experiences I’ve had as well. The stupid mistakes I’ve made,(like dating a guy I met on a greyhound bus on its way to Jacksonville, Florida…after almost marrying this OTHER guy I had moved to Florida for…all while I was 7 months pregnant. Yea. that.) stories from my Air Force days (like the time the government thought it was ok to let me be qualified to use seven different deadly weapons) and other random stuff from my “pre mom, pre mental illness takeover” days. Maybe I’ll even throw in some high school stuff so you can see how giant of a dork I was. (And still am)

I don’t share enough about the other parts of my life or the experiences I’ve had outside of being a mom & a manic depressive, and I’d like to thank Susan for pointing this out to me. You should thank her too because some of these stories will be TMZ-worthy. I can hear your inner gossip hound licking its chops in anticipation.

First up will be the tear gas story. I’ll try to have it up by tomorrow or over the weekend at the latest. I have to talk to some of the people who were there with me to refresh my memory on some of the details. (Inhaling tear gas causes black outs & mild amnesia)

Get ready to (hopefully) laugh your ass off at my expense. There WILL be talk about loss of bodily functions & the expelling of bodily fluids. You’ve been warned.

Every Story Deserves to Be Told So I’m Telling Mine

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“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” (Maya Angelou)  ‎”I have learned now that while those who speak about one’s miseries usually hurt, those who keep silence hurt more.” – C.S. Lewis Stories. Life experiences. … Continue reading

Covered in Shit & Earth

*WARNING: I can’t guarantee that this will make sense or be a solid piece of writing. They are just thoughts, tumbling out one right after the other.*

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Tears envelop my eyes and distort my vision as I sit here trying to type this.

I don’t want to engage in a wrestling match between words & my emotions, trying to bring the two together like matching puzzle pieces, giving them life & voice so you can understand my current state of mind.

I’m tired of thinking, of trying to process all that I’ve read, heard, and seen online and in conversations with people. I’m overwhelmed with trying to grasp and retain it all.

When I was 13, we lived in a 2 acre plot of land in a small town 45 minutes outside of San Antonio. Our neighbors on the left, the Clarks, housed chickens on the back end of their property. Our neighbor on the right, Mr. Lopez, housed goats, chickens, and a calf named Bandit. We had three Rottweilers ourselves, and I spent several occasions hopping over the fence into Bandit’s pen, trying to get them back into our own property.

It was exhausting. The pen was full of mud & cow manure, both mixing together into one slippery surface. Chasing after my dogs and trying to grab ahold of them was next to impossible…and messy. Running, jumping, and wrestling them to the fence meant being on my hands and knees, reaching through the mud & manure to grasp their slick legs and midsections. I’d often give up and just sit in the middle of the pen, silently hoping they’d tire themselves out soon & make my task easier to accomplish.

I’d just sit there and watch them run in circles around the pen, terrorizing Bandit & the rest of the animals and feel helpless & frustrated at my inability to make them stop. I’d sit there, covered in shit and earth from head to toe, feeling defeated.

That’s how I feel this morning. Like I’m back out in that pen, covered from head to toe in shit & earth, tired from wrestling & wrangling, wanting nothing more than to close my eyes and pretend I’m in another place, and not spitting cow shit out of my mouth.

Only today, it’s not cow shit & I’m not on a 2 acre plot of land in Texas with 3 rowdy dogs and barn animals. I’m in my apartment trying to play with my two boys while blinking back tears & quieting a mind reeling from news headlines.

The Wisconsin Sikh shooting yesterday….The shooting spree in Colorado just a couple of weeks ago….gun control, the Second Amendment, the NRA…mental health…hate crimes…violence…

Chic Fil A, marriage equality, gay rights, freedom of speech, Christianity, Homosexuality, religious freedom, dogma, intolerance…boycotts, kiss-ins, appreciation days…

Trayvon Martin, racism, race, “looking suspicious”, injustice, politics….

HATE. From acts of violence to comments on media sites & Facebook all I see is hate.

And ignorance. So much ignorance.

And a faith being misrepresented by those who have forgotten what Jesus would’ve actually done. So called “Christians” who care more about being “right” than people.

Intolerance and polarization. Everywhere I look, I see lines in the sand and giant gaps in the middle where only a minority dare to reside.

My mind has spun tirelessly in an effort to take it all in, process it, draw conclusions, and give a voice to how it all makes me feel. I’ve spent the summer wrestling & wrangling in the shit & earth that these issues present, trying grasp ahold of my own thoughts on each and find my footing on a shifting worldview, slipping, sliding, and losing a grip that was once firm & sure of what it was holding on to & why.

My mind is back in that pen, and I find myself sitting there covered from head to toe in the messiness & ugliness of humanity, wanting nothing more than to close my eyes, and pretend I don’t see it, and that my heart is not breaking within me from the pain of it.

During a session called “Blogging the Fine Line Between Your Identity & the Issues,” at BlogHer this weekend, I felt challenged by the panelists to not look away from the ugliness. To find a way to speak to it and give it a voice.

In the past I’ve been hesitant to talk about things like race, religion & politics here on the blog. I’ve wanted to share my thoughts, questions, and perspective on various cultural issues that are difficult to talk about but wasn’t sure how or if I should. I’ve been comfortable with being transparent about my struggles but not with my thoughts & feelings on issues I feel strongly or have questions about. But then I attended this session. Heard Kelly Wickham (@mochamomma) say to “work past your own tension & discomfort,” when wanting to write about “the issues.” When I asked her “how?” she simply extended her foot on the ground and said, “like this-just step out & step up to it, a little at a time if you have to but just get out there. Don’t be afraid to take that step.”

So…this is me. Taking that step and refusing to just navel gaze and vowing to be more open with you about how I’m feeling & what I’m questioning in regards to “the issues.”

This is me saying that I’m going to let you watch me wrestle and wrangle my way through them….and ask you to wrestle & wrangle with me, share your insights & questions so we can be challenged to learn & grow together.

And? This is me, covered in the shit of all the hate, violence, and ignorance of the past weeks & saying it has left my soul weary and my heart broken. It has left me scrambling to find a way to raise my boys in a still racially divided society & infuriated with the Christian Church here in America. I’ve found myself in the middle of so many opposing sides wanting my cries for compassion to override the hate and ignorance being screamed back & forth, and just being overwhelmed by it all….

How have you been dealing with all of this? Do you feel defeated & overwhelmed too? Are you wrestling with anything as a result of all that’s been happening lately?

Things I’m Afraid to Tell You

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I was invited to write this post by a group of bloggers who are participating in a series of posts called “Things I’m Afraid to Tell You”. The TIATTY movement was inspired by a post from Jess Constable of Make … Continue reading