Dear Larry Nassar,

I am relieved that you will spend the rest of your life in jail.

Honestly, the rest of your life isn’t enough time to consider what you have made of your life.  How much pain you have caused.  How much you have altered thousands of lives for the worse.

I am relieved that these women had a kick-ass judge.  I’m glad she was a woman and saw the truth for what it is.  Saw you for who you truly are.

Larry,  you desire a cheap forgiveness.  A quick forgiveness, when neither of these are the definitions of forgiveness.

You witnessed 7 days of nothing but extremely brave, truthful testimonies.  Not a media circus.  An actual judge who believes in the power of story & doesn’t discount it because there isn’t enough evidence. A judge who believes that each story has a right to be heard.  That in each story is incredible pain, and that justice plays a part in each woman putting their lives together again.

You spent your whole life wanting women to feel extreme shame, just so you could use your perversion to “hide” your own shame.

You spent your whole life hiding and living a double life, and distancing yourself from love.

You wanted your power and prestige so you could fool institutions.  You played nice guy and made friends so that thousands would stand by you, even when young girls were confused about how a “nice guy” could have abused them.  Even when the beginning of the accusations were made public, you still ran for the Holt County School Board to look like an involved citizen.  And the sad part is, you got votes.

I’ve watched your story, because it resembles my own in many ways.  Now my abuser doesn’t quite have the acclaim you do.  But she’s a doctor.  And she has many backing her.  And the courts side with the abuser until sufficient proof is given.

But maybe, just maybe, more people are listening now.  Maybe people see how predators use their power to prey on the vulnerable.  Maybe people see how abusers play the “good guy” and that’s why it’s so easy for the survivor to get caught up in self-doubt.  Maybe people see how difficult it is to live with injustice when women have told others in authority and it was disregarded.

As I watched the testimony of the women you abused, all I thought was, “They are brave.  They are strong.  You didn’t knock them down.  They have more grit and strength & vulnerability and love than you ever had or will have.”

Each woman you abused will find her own way to wholeness in her own way, in her own time.  Just the fact that hundreds came forward already means that they are on their own healing journey already.  May they heal.  May they heal in spite of you.

May you have the courage to look at yourself for the first time in your life & truly grieve.  And grieve.  And grieve some more.

And realize that the hardest thing that you ever have to do awaits you.  You have the opportunity to look at your yourself honestly, and if you are courageous, learn to forgive yourself.

May the jail cell provide the place where you realize that you are not beyond love–and yet for you to find love, you must find it in yourself.

As a spiritual person, I too, must believe that you are not beyond love.  Because in order to say that, I must have such incredible love for myself, for my worth & dignity.

Find that for yourself, Larry Nassar.  Find that for yourself.

 

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Processing Sick Woman Theory

 

Last week, I needed to rest more deeply.  I needed to lie down, take baths, breathe, and just say no to what I thought my day was going to look like.

My period started and it was more painful than usual, as I haven’t gone to acupuncture for 6 months.

I started with this feeling of guilt, this sense of responsibility.  That in order to “feel better” or “be well,” I needed to make sure that I scheduled an acupuncture appointment for next month.  That somehow I needed to be “more on top of” the self-care game so I could show up like a “normal” person in this world.

I quickly recognized what I was saying to myself and apologized to my own body for my self-sabotage. But I did ask myself, “Where does this come from?”

That answer would take a lot longer to answer than this blog post.  But while I was lying in bed I came across Sick Woman Theory, and I kept saying “yes, yes, yes” over and over again.

Please read it, even if you don’t agree with where she is going politically-there is such beauty in her piece.

I also realize in myself, that the more I heal (or cope) in body, mind & spirit, the more I am able to show up for myself, but also allow my anger and gifts of being an advocate to channel in not only productive, but beautiful ways.

And to a great extent, this showing up is political.  For any person who is marginalized (especially for those trans and queer women of color), showing up as themselves is the act of resistance.  And then the question becomes, “How can more of us show up more fully in this world?”

Showing up will look like many things to people who cannot get out of bed.  Showing up looks like texting other sick friends and just asking, “How are you today?”  or “I thought of you today.  How are you feeling?”

Sometimes showing up is going old-school and getting serious about having a pen pal who understands what you’re going through, without the pressure to respond instantly.

Sometimes showing up is just being vulnerable with people and saying “I need this.” Your gift is your vulnerability, although we have been trained culturally to feel like a burden.

Sometimes showing up is your own self-care, just for you, without needing to serve any productive purpose. And without needing to explain to anyone if self-care is self-indulgence. (Thank you Audre Lorde!)

Sometimes showing up is your own tears, about taking all the pills in the world and still not feeling how you want to feel.

Sometimes showing up is taking pain medicine, just to be able to walk out the door, knowing that you’ll probably be met with scrutiny in whatever space you enter into.

Sometimes showing up is your own laughter, your own ability to learn to live in a body that others don’t approve of, your own belonging you create out of “not belonging.”

Sometimes showing up is trying to explain the isolating effects to someone who is able-bodied.  To learn the delicate art of informing, without feeling like you are doing all the emotional labor (energy you don’t have!) for someone else.

Sometimes showing up is just saying “I see you.”  To yourself.  To others. For the sake of the beauty of the world.

Spiritual Dimensions of Showing Up to Illness

December and January have been deeply healing months.  I knew that I needed to slow down; that I needed to show up to myself more fully.

I wanted my smile to come back.  I turned to nature, knowing that I also needed some time to hibernate, that I needed to let certain things die, without knowing where this journey would end up.  Historically, my healing accelerates in the winter, and so I intentionally have made time to invest in myself at the start of this year.

I intentionally took a 4 week Christmas break.  It was so restful & needed.  I had a session with my therapist.  I set up an individual healing session with a resident teacher at my old yoga studio.  I have been participating in a weekly breathing circle.  I’m learning Qigong.  I traveled to Chicago to attend Mystic Soul and visit with friends.  I celebrated my birthday & came out as an asexual. I took several epsom salt baths.  I loved myself well.

What has been the result of all this healing work is a lot of grief dissolving, allowing creativity to come forward.  I’ve needed time to continue to explore certain spiritual practices in order to figure out how I am going to grow my energy reserve as I continue to grow my business and work more hours.

What this looks like right now is that I’m writing a book!  I have no idea where this will lead, but right now, I’m just focused on my shitty first draft.  It’s a memoir; my journey with chronic illness and the gifts that come along the way.  I wake up every morning, do some breathwork and then dive into writing for about 25 minutes, at the beginning of my day.  It’s becoming a beautiful rhythm, and a wonderful way to start my day, and my resistance to show up to my story is lessening day by day.

Although I still live in my body day to day and am affected my by illness, I’m gaining the skill to look at my life more objectively.

I’m learning to say, “The fact that I have a chronic illness is not my fault, and yet I do have the responsibility to show up in my body and be attentive to the lessons it gives.”

What I keep coming back to is that autoimmune disease is the pattern of the body attacking itself.  There’s a scientific way to describe this, but that’s not what I’m interested in now.  What I’m interested in is that in order for my body to attack itself—I must have moved very far away from my true self.  I must have tried to conform to someone that I was never meant to be.

So I’m learning to stop throughout the day and breathe.  I’m learning to check in with myself, to feel my own energy, to understand my own essence.

At Mystic Soul, we were encouraged to sit with this question:

“Who are you and how do you know?”

In one sense, I will be answering this question for the rest of my life.  In another, I am a healer, a witness, a truth-teller, an advocate, a friend.  I am a work-in-progress–yet there are spiritual dimensions to stepping into my own narrative, telling my own story.  Ultimately showing up to myself, so that I can show up with others.

To Breathe More Deeply

There’s so much I could say about Mystic Soul, and yet I’m not ready to.

Above all, it was an experience.  A very different experience of spirituality and justice and healing, than I’d ever experienced before–and it was so good.

Maybe all I can do for now is talk about the shifts, speak to how my friends of color across the country are trying to decolonize Christianity.  There was a tangible feeling of healing in the body, for everyone involved.  We all breathed much more deeply together.

We faced each other in a circle, rather than sitting in rows.

We never sat for a full-hour lecture.  We talked to each other, engaged in spiritual practice together, got out of our seats and talked to people we didn’t know.

We told personal stories, rather than just quote highly-acclaimed authors.

We participated in healing silence and ritual in community.

We valued rhythm over time, not prioritizing order & efficiency over healing.

We engaged the reality that sometimes contemplation is quiet & sometimes it is loud.

We returned to the effects of trauma and how we all need to be in touch with our personal narratives in order to heal.

At times, the room of 400 people was silent and we all just breathed deeply together.

I don’t think any of these realities fit into the questions, “How was it?” or “How were you impacted?” or “What are you going to do now?”

I experienced wholeness in community.

I knew I was in a room filled with the leaders of contemplative spirituality for today & tomorrow.  And I want to listen and keep listening.

 

 

I Resolve…

2017 was a rough year.  Most of us can agree on that.  And yet 2017 did have white evangelicals having to make a decision if we were going to wake up or not.

What’s hard for us white people to come to grips with is that Trump, in many ways is the white, heterosexual, patriarchal, evangelical consciousness.  He reveals our sickness, our evil, our complicity.  And just patting our backs and thinking, “I didn’t vote for Trump” isn’t going to cut it.

For much of my life, I’ve been pretty ignorant.  And yet, I cannot be anymore.

There’s too many people of color hurting and dying.  There’s too many sermons about the Good Samaritan without it having any effect in the streets. And I am among the guilty.

On Wednesday, I leave for Chicago to attend the Mystic Soul Conference.  It’s a POC-centered conference bringing to life what the Christian contemplative tradition and healing justice looks like, led by those who have been silenced again and again.  Yet their voices are dynamic and strong; and I know that I will be richly blessed by them, as they ask me to follow, not to lead.  As a white person, I’ve been invited to attend to learn, and to continue to let go of the many layers of white supremacy and patriarchy that infiltrate my being.  I will definitely write more about the conference when I get back.

 

In 2018, I resolve…

  • To follow the lead of black women (make sure to watch the video)
  • To lean into difficult conversations, rather than shy away from them.
  • To support local POC-led organizations financially
  • To make steps to figure out how my business can reach those without access to high-quality dyslexia resources.
  • To call out racism, sexism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, religious discrimination, etc when I see it.  To confront it in myself.

I want to dig into the question more, “What do I do with my privilege?”  I’m grateful that I’m on this healing journey-and yet I’m also very aware that it’s possible because of my privilege.

And having just moved to Westfield, I’m aware that I’m grateful that living in this apartment has caused greater healing for myself.  I’m also aware that I live in a town that’s 91% white, and I live down the street from the 6th best high school in Indiana.

In 2018, I resolve to be aware, to question, to be myself in the present moment.  And out of this awareness, hopefully come a little bit closer to loving my neighbor as myself.

 

Honesty Is a Good Way to Start the Year!

 

 

 

 

I’ve been considering this post for about a year and a half.

In the spirit of starting 2018 being more honest with myself and the world, it’s time to write this post.

I’m asexual.

Yep, it’s the A in LGBTQIA.

Being asexual simply means that I do not experience sexual attraction towards anyone.  That being said, I do experience romantic attraction towards men.

This post is not going to be a Q and A or what asexuality is or isn’t (but you can check out AVEN if you are interested!)

This post is about acceptance and visibility.  I’m going to reveal the questions I asked myself as I considered if I wanted to come out publicly.

I considered for awhile, “Why add another label?”

It took my awhile to realize that this wasn’t really my deepest question; it reflected what I thought other people might ask me.  Especially because this was true when I started speaking up and writing about chronic illness.

When I first started owning the fact that I indeed had a chronic illness, and started speaking that way, I inevitably faced the question, “Why do you so closely identify with your illness?”

For those who were Christians asking this question, it was in the context of “Why do you put your identity in your illness rather than in Christ?”

Simply stated, I needed to identify with an unknown illness, then to be Hashimoto’s, so I could integrate it into my being.  Acceptance could not come without integration.  But not to identify with it in some way, meant to ignore this part of myself.  It also meant leaving people to assume that I was a healthy, vibrant mid-20-something when I wasn’t.  I needed a label to say “I am sick, and this is lifelong.  I may manage it well, but it’s something I do manage every day.”

Also, notice how odd it would sound if I started asking people, “Why do you so closely identify with your health?”

A label simply says, “I experience life differently than you and both of our experiences are valid.” 

However, those with illness navigating living in a world of health, which can often feel foreign to us.  We want our experience validated as we live on the margins in a society that glorifies health and young able bodies.

Ok, back to sexuality.  Asexuals comprise 1% of the population and most people don’t accurately know what asexuality is.

So why a label?

Because I experience sexuality differently than most people.  And that’s okay. And it’s valid.

Labels have to do more with “the majority” (and that can mean many things depending on the context) accepting diversity which means changes in language to depict that diversity.

Another question I thought for awhile about was, “Why come out when you can pass as a straight person?”

Deciding that I needed to come out publicly is a personal decision related to my own emotional health.  I felt like I was hiding a vital piece of who I am, which was just breeding shame and self-contempt.

Also, for celebrating my uniqueness.  For visibility. To challenge assumptions. For a more complete acceptance of myself.

I experience my life as a white cisgender asexual woman, living with chronic illness.  I could add other identity markers like Christian, middle class, American. These are all true.

Labels can be seen as over-kill or they can be seen as an incomplete, yet important way to talk about how we experience the world differently based upon race, gender identity, sexual orientation, class, religious affiliation, health.

For we all have labels if we bring them out.

A white cisgender heterosexual Christian male born into an upper-middle class family are all labels too.  We are just taught that this is the norm.

Here’s to 2018: more honesty, more listening to the perspectives of others, more love, empathy, compassion, and forgiveness.