Congratulations!

Last week, I had a follow-up appointment with my doctor.  I have these appointments 3-4 times per year to gauge my progress and continue to tweak my treatment plan to best serve me and my healing.

The nurse leads me into the room and asks me what my dominant symptoms are to tell the doctor, before he comes in to meet with me.  I smiled as I told her, “I don’t have any dominant symptoms.  I’m feeling really good.”

She smiled back at me, took her time to really look at me, and replied, “That’s so good to hear.”

The doctor and I talked about my most recent lab results, how I’ve responded the last several months to new medicines, new IV’s, and adding in new foods.  We talked about how this summer with the high humidity should be different than last year, and yet I told him that I feel like I can tell how much difference these medicines have made by the time summer hits.

The entire 1/2 hour conversation was mostly about how I’m feeling–not what my test results say.  And as we were talking, this calmness came over me.  I was having a collaborative conversation with my doctor, where we were talking about my “subjective” feelings and they were validated over a number on a lab.  We talked about how I can adjust some medicines based on how I feel, because I know how to honor and listen to my body.

As I was leaving the room to go wait for the doctor’s notes in the lobby, he said, “Congratulations!”

The images that flooded my mind as he said that were of the dozens, even hundreds of people who have been a part of this healing journey with me.  From friends & family, to healing professionals, to strangers–it truly does take a village.

And, I have worked really hard.  Sometimes I shy away from saying that because I’ve been conditioned to feel like that’s arrogant.  But it’s not.

And sometimes guilt sets in because I am a young privileged white woman with access to resources that many people cannot even fathom.

Yet, I’m learning to sit with those feelings and just observe them.  And still say, “I’m healing & I’m worth it.”  And I have persevered and persevered and persevered.  And I deserve to feel good.

Hearing “congratulations!” from my doctor at first felt a little out of place. But then I paused, took a deep breath, and let the impact of his words sink in.

When he first saw me, I was on the brink of quitting my job.  I had just been sexually assaulted by a doctor.  I was exhausted and barely making it.  He has seen me through unemployment and multiple moves and black mold exposure and starting my own business.

So “congratulations!” meant “You’re making it!” but not only that, “You’re beginning to thrive!”

And he’s right.  I’ve not only gone through a lot of external changes, but I’ve done a lot of inner work–and the combination of a lot of hard work over the last several years–is a greater level of health and wellness.

I’m grateful for how my inner and outer work has changed my life, for my people who have journeyed with me, for simple encouragements that stop me in my tracks, cause me to take a deep breath and smile.

 

Photo courtesy of Serge Estege on Unsplash

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Small Moments of Bravery

 

I walk into Westfield library on Monday afternoon to tutor a few of my students.  All the study rooms were taken, so I sat down at a table in the adult common area, put my headphones in and started my Facetime session with my first student.

Even though my headphones were in, I could still hear most of the conversation next to me, another person doing a remote tutoring session.  Our roles were flipped though; she was the student and I was the tutor.

Her tutor would dictate a sentence and she would say each word as she wrote it, and then correct it.  This format repeated for about an hour, as the student would comment about words that were difficult, or praise herself for long words spelled correctly.

After both of our sessions were over, we had a short conversation.  She rushed into the heart of her story without skipping a beat; “I’m 60 years old, and just learning how to spell and write.  I didn’t learn how to read until I was in my 30’s.”

I smiled and just said, “You’re really brave.”

“Thank you.”

She asked me what it’s like to be a tutor and thanked me for the work that I do.  My next student came and prematurely cut off our conversation, and yet this everyday conversation marked me.

It was simple, and yet time seemed to hover a move a little more slowly than usual.  This woman told me that she was writing a book about her story with learning disabilities, and how she got through school without really knowing how to read or write.

In my line of work, I’m aware of how many children and adults can’t read; so her story didn’t surprise me. Yet what marked me was how she had embraced her limitation–and yet was desiring to give her creativity to the world, in a way that was most difficult to her.

I’m a better person for meeting her, even though I don’t even know her name.

The tenacity with which she knows that she has something to say to the world is contagious.  And she wants to find her voice now.  And she knows that it’s not too late.

May we all know that it’s never too late to find our voices.

The Flu and Thoughts on Letting Go

I got the flu last week.  The 24 hour kind, where I woke up and thought I was fine, until I was sweating one moment and freezing and next, and then I had the sudden urge to get to the bathroom as fast as I could.

I texted all my clients and told them that I needed to cancel.  I didn’t go to my last Qigong group.  I read an entire book, and listened to several podcasts.  I would throw up occasionally, then take a nap.

The details aren’t that interesting (ha!), and yet a few things hit me last Wednesday.

First, I know how to rest.  It’s like my body just let myself throw up.  It let me know when I was ready to try a cracker, to try a pretzel and see how my body did.  My body guided me to equilibrium and I trusted it the entire time.  Having the flu didn’t feel like an inconvenience, but just a time to slow down and have my body instruct me in how to get well.  Quite honestly, over the past several years, I had to learn how to rest.  I had traveled way too far over false ground.  The fact that resting came naturally, and I didn’t fight it, just means that I’m much closer to living in line with who I am.

On top of that, I was on my period!  Through vomiting and bleeding, I was getting a double message of letting myself let go of what I no longer needed.  Since last summer, I’ve transitioned in so many ways.  My health moved me into these decisions quickly–and yet now I can see that my health was nudging me in different directions that I’ve needed to go.

New job.  New home. New church.  New self-care routines.

I understood none of this while it was happening–we normally don’t!

More questions emerged that I’ve just let be questions:

  • Why do I live in Westfield?
  • What kind of church am I looking for?  Why?  Or am I looking for a church at all?
  • How can my self-care sustain these longer work hours?
  • How can I make Orton-Gilllingham more accessible to more people, while still caring for myself?
  • Who am I accountable to in this time?  And how to do I know?
  • Who am I and how do I know?

Deep questions usually surface in the new.  And they have.  And I’ve been pushed to lean into these questions.  I needed to let go of two jobs, that I liked at one point but were no longer working.  I needed to let go of a home that was close and convenient to everything, but was damaging my health.  I needed to let go of a church, where I had found community, and yet because of several factors I needed to say goodbye.

There are always new opportunities behind the grief.  Once my eyes were fully opened, no longer filled with exhaustion and tears–I saw my life for what it was.  Although I built a business feeling at about 15% myself–I am at capacity now, and I’m making plans for how I want to expand my services when there is a wait list.

Living in Westfield has been a place of rest, with a lot more country driving!  I had this strong sense when I was preparing to move that although busier in several years, that this was a season of rest.  It’s quieter.  I can see the stars.  I can easily walk down the street.  And my health has most definitely improved living here.

I’ve moved to more gentle self-care routines.  I engage in breathwork, in Qigong, in daily creativity through writing.  I can do these at home or with a group.  In fact, I see that I need both.  I’ve let everything that felt vigorous fall away.  This wasn’t the plan, but it just happened.  No more vinyasa yoga.  No more regular trips to the yoga studio.

As far as church goes, coming into the Episcopal church has felt like a homecoming to me.  I started going to an Anglican church in Memphis 4 years ago during the Epiphany season.  The liturgy truly was healing to my sick body. I didn’t realize how much I longed for that liturgy again, until I stepped through St. Christopher’s doors.  I didn’t realize how much I needed to come out as an asexual, until I looked on their website and read “You are welcome here. You are welcome if you are rich or poor, gay or straight, single or married, Democrat, Republican or something else.”

I wept when I was researching Episcopal churches in the area and I saw that they had a Lay Eucharistic Minister ministry where a volunteer would bring  the Eucharist to your home if you were homebound.  I thought of how many Sundays I didn’t go to church because of how sick I felt, or knowing that I would react to mold.  How over time that made me feel disconnected and isolated.  It was comforting to know that if I needed to stay home, I could just give the church a call and someone would come and visit me.

I let tears fall from my eyes when there were prayers for the sick imbedded into the liturgy.  I felt seen and represented.  I felt encouraged that there was an anti-racism work group, that the assistant rector was a woman and the bishop of the Diocese is a strong black woman.

Saying goodbye to those things last summer opened up space for my practices to align more with who I am, to give me excitement and hope for where I might be headed.

Last month, in my spiritual direction session, my director reflected back to me, that I speaking about themes that all began with c: community, courage, collaboration, construction, creativity, claiming, curiosity, contentment.  She encouraged me to see this time not necessarily as de-construction, but actually construction.  “You are constructing a beautiful life,” she said.

We also talked about how St. Christophers begins with a c.  My director said, “It would be interesting to look at what patron saint Christopher is.”  A few days later I did some research and found that St. Christopher is the patron saint of children and travel.

That seemed too fitting.  The last several years have been an adventure, with so much literal travel, but also a deep traveling inward.  I’ve been on a crazy adventure, oftentimes one that doesn’t make sense.  But then there are those moments, where time feels like it just stands still, and for a moment you know in your body that you are right where you are supposed to be.

I suppose you could say, that instead of fighting the flu, and being frustrated that I had to miss work, I simply took it as an opportunity to say, “I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.”

Bringing My Female-ness Into Lent

Credit given to YogaDivinity

 

Ntokaze Shange coined:

i found god in myself

and i loved her

i loved her fiercely.

She penned these words in her play “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf.”

This is becoming my mantra for Lent.  A Lent in which I am desiring to hold onto the best of tradition, yet being open up for the new–the parts of myself that need an overhaul, as I pray for my country, which also needs massive overhauls.

Yet, I must start with me.  And I must bring my Female-ness into Lent.  And one of the biggest ways I have done harm to myself & to others is in the act of conforming.  So, I am giving up conforming for Lent.

I have spent a good 3 years since my diagnosis going inward.  Healing.  Questioning.  Becoming more embodied.  Recognizing the impact of trauma on my mind, body, & soul.  Doing less, in order to realize who I am so I ultimately can “do” more.  Not “do” in the traditional sense.  Doing in the sense that who I am and what I do are one in the same.  That my beliefs and my social practices become more aligned.

What has happened as I’ve gone inward, yet apart of various communities of people in this process?  I have found God; the God who has strong feminine qualities, as well as masculine.  The God always urging me to lean into who I already am.  Because only in healing myself, can I actually help others heal.

Part of who I am is that I have a strong voice.  And this has been an aspect that has needed profound healing in my life.  I have used my voice again and again in my life and have been silenced, have been told, “it’s all in your head, or “you’re hysterical” or some other version of this.  Being told once is painful, but you keep going.  And yet, I was told this for about a decade, while I sought healing for myself.  This produced in me a self-doubt and self-questioning that began to dominate my life.

From the place I’m at now, I know that while my physical illness has brought immense pain, it hasn’t been worse than feeling like your voice was taken from you.  And at the end of that decade, when I finally received a diagnosis, I was sexually assaulted 3 months later.  And I used my voice to confront this situation right away, only to be silenced again, told to see a therapist & that I should be glad I received treatment from one of the best physical therapists in Indiana.

That was the last straw for me.  I was tired of using my voice and not being heard.  I was tired of systems that kept perpetuating violence & evil.  I was worn down, confused, and angry.

This fierce God met me with silence, which at first seemed downright wrong & uncaring.  Little did I know that I needed the contemplative path to let Mystery sit with me for awhile.  To expose my anger & pain and let silence, ritual & friendship slowly heal my worn out soul.

I needed a fierce-motherly God.  Not the fierce-judging God, I was exposed to in my childhood.  I needed a God that said, “Rest here for awhile, while I fight for you.”

But I also needed a God that said, “While I fight for you, you will re-learn how to fight for yourself.  How to use your voice again in a non-violent & powerful way.”

Ever since I was young, seeing pain & suffering broke me open.  I am a person who sees injustice & when I see it, I can’t unsee it.  I am filled with grief and anger by the injustice I see.  I am an intuitive empath and I am a woman with a strong voice.  And yet, as of late, I’ve compromised my strong voice, because I became disillusioned.  It didn’t seem like my voice mattered.  I had reached a place of despair where I thought, “Why speak if no one is listening?”

I am giving up conforming for Lent, because the healing that needs to happen in me, is for me to continue to become more integrated.  That my strength is in a dance with my compassion.  That my truth is not compromised for the momentary desire to fit in with a certain group.  That my unique inward journey is not compromised to fit the dogma of institutionalized religion.  That my anger can surface and can transform into forgiveness.

This fierce god in me-I do love her fiercely, even as I learn to love myself fiercely.

 

Winter 2018 Health Update & What’s Saving My Life Right Now

I haven’t shared a “formal” update of how I’ve been doing health-wise, so I thought I would update everyone.

The winter has been incredible for me.  There have been quite a number breakthroughs in my health in ways that I can’t entirely explain.  Winter has been a season of trying new things, diving into friendships, feeling more established in my business.  There has been both hard work & joy, challenging, yet simple decisions that needed to be made.

The season of winter has accelerated my healing in the last few years, and so I’ve learned to take intentional steps to slow down, and make sure that my body is responding appropriately to nature’s signals.  That meant that the Christmas season had a much slower pace, and I just said no to lots of things.  Joining Wayfinding’s conversations and practices around a simpler holiday season were life-giving and grounding for me.

I took a 4 week Christmas break because I could!  At the end of those 4 weeks, I attended the Mystic Soul Conference, where I was encouraged to breathe in community.  I was challenged and encouraged.

I’ve been meeting with an EMDR therapist since October, and our work together has been very fruitful.  She’s helped to guide me back to my body’s knowledge–that I hadn’t lost my voice, it was just buried under heaps of trauma.

I decided not to join a yoga studio, but instead to learn Qigong at the Indy Healing Center.  Qigong is an energy practice, and the movements, have not only helped me continue to connect with my own body, but my own energy, in a very deep way.  I’m excavating my own limiting beliefs through this practice and becoming more and more aware of how my mind has been affected by illness.  I’m learning about the organ systems, and what it means to be out of balance.  This practice has been a huge part of the transformational work I’m doing right now!

I’ve been breathing!  Deeply and in healing ways.  I start my morning with a breath work practice, reminding myself of my own powerful life force, and I transition from breathing into writing for 20 minutes before I start my day. I participated in several group breath work classes this winter as well.

I’m choosing to believe that my narrative is so much more important than my health stats & numbers.  My latest food allergy test revealed that I have healed a lot of my food allergies, although my candida still remains stubborn.  I’m starting to wonder/believe/hope that I can heal my candida through energy work, rather than loads of supplements & medicines.

My qigong teacher stated as a side comment in class, “Thyroid issues start to show up when a person is no longer able to express their purpose.” That statement was meant for me.  For I’m discovering that the more I speak my truth in public (not just in my journal!), the healthier I feel.  After years of processing and grief (and generally being stuck and too much in my head), I finally connected to the Energy needed to forgive.  And I will need this to keep on forgiving, myself included.

I’m working a full-time job, and I’m doing well.  I’m learning how to conserve my energy, how to guide my students daily, and yet how to regain that energy that I gave while teaching for several hours per day.   It’s amazing.  I had no idea if full-time was even possible or what it would look like–but it’s here and it’s good.  My smile is coming back.

I found my way to a new church, St. Christopher’s Episcopal.  There is this energetic draw to the Christian church that I’m trying to find words for.  And I’m a millennial, quite aware of the issues at hand, and that more and more people are leaving the church in droves.  I think I’m asking “Why am I here?” while I keep on attending.  More questions than answers, and that’s quite alright.

What is saving my life right now?

  • My own breath
  • Forgiveness
  • Writing on the question “Who am I & how do I know?”
  • Telling the truth
  • Becoming reacquainted with my strength
  • Gluten-free BBQ chicken pizza from Jan’s Village Pizza (Westfield shout-out!)
  • Laughter about trying to make Paleo frosting that tasted great but looked awful!
  • Playing a well-loved hand-made game of go-fish dyslexia-style, with several of my students.
  • Friday night pizza ritual coming back–can you tell I’ve been missing pizza?!
  • Falling asleep watching the Olympics
  • Brunch, and coffee, and dinner with friends.
  • A London fog at Noble Coffee & Tea, to make lesson planning more bearable.
  • Qigong, particularly the “Dragon Stands Between Heaven & Earth”
  • Impact statements from the Larry Nassar case-such bravery & honesty in the quest of healing.
  • An introduction into ancestral healing at the Mystic Soul Conference

A Letter to My “Doctor”/Abuser

 

“Two times a week, I work right across from the doctor’s office, where I was sexually assaulted.”

I said this phrase a few months ago to a friend over dinner.  She nodded and asked, “How do you feel when you pass the office every week?”

“I’m able to stay in the present moment, but I still do feel sadness and anger.  Sometimes I want to walk into the office, and just yell at her.

Other times, I take several deep breaths & just pray, ‘I hope she doesn’t hurt anyone else today.'”

I still pray this prayer twice per week, as I drive across 116th Street in downtown Fishers.  I felt this prayer bubbling up again in my body as I watched the impact statements from the brave women sexually assaulted by Larry Nassar.

I let myself watch the impact statements for a few hours, letting myself cry, letting myself see the bravery, see the righteous anger, see justice coupled with compassion from Judge Aquilina.

As I watched these women and girls share their unique stories, we also all had the same common themes.  I saw myself; and I knew that if the circumstances allowed, I would be the one standing up, telling my story.

Yet, I also know this.  I may never get that chance.  However, I can choose to heal anyway.  And I have chosen to heal anyway.  Here is a letter written to my “doctor”/abuser.

Dear D_____________,

I wonder if you’re scared right about now.  I wonder if you were scared when the Indy Star wrote the article about Larry Nassar, who used the same abusive techniques that you use in your practice.  I wonder if you were scared of being found out.  You knew that USAG, housed in Indianapolis, was covering up the abuse, and intuitively, I know that this allowed you to flourish.

I wonder if you watched the impact statements and had flashbacks of all the people you’ve abused under the guise of medical treatment.  I wonder if one day you will ever feel any remorse.  I wonder what you would have said to me, if I would have allowed you in the room, when I met with the head doctor who just defended your sorry ass.  I wonder if you treated your daughter the same way you treated me.

I will never have answers to these questions.

There are some things I know about you though without you ever having to utter another word to me again.  I know that you’re a human being whose entire body is filled with intense shame, whether that is something you will ever acknowledge or not.  You would not abuse if you engaged the journey of self-healing.

I know that you have not accepted your sexuality.  For the things you said in that room were shaming of anyone who isn’t straight.  You would not openly shame diverse sexualities if you were secure in your own.

I know that you’re terrified to heal yourself.  To actually look at what you’ve done and who you’ve made of yourself and cry.  I know that you feel terribly hurt & so you hurt others.  And what’s worse, is that you claim to be a healer, but all you do is tremendous damage, because you can’t even look at yourself.

I know that your smile is hollow.  There’s nothing but utter chaos behind it.

I know that there is nothing more sad in the world than to see a 60-something year old woman who doesn’t know who she is.  You’ve never healed  & excavated your essence to see what healing purpose you were brought on this earth for.  You settled for the same old traumatic family dynamics,  and became a hollowed-out, vicious, and dominating version of your true self.

You should know that I’m strong and healing-more and more every day in fact. I am a brave and dynamic woman who is  realizing the extent of her own innate power. This is something you will never be able to take away from me.

You should know that I will never be like you.  I work with children, and I will never, ever abuse them.

The rest of my story you don’t deserve to hear or know.

Although what you did (and continue to do) is evil, you did teach me one thing.  Behind your gray eyes and cynical smile, I saw a decaying human being, the result of a woman who was not courageous enough to accept herself.  And so I learned that the acceptance and love of oneself, must be paramount.  It must truly be a narrow road that few find.

Well D-I’ve found it, and continue to find it.  While it’s narrow, it is freeing.  And because I have the audacity to take this narrow road, I also have the audacity to reach for forgiveness.  For I need to move on with my life and leave you behind.  But before I say goodbye forever, I do have a blessing for you.

D-before your deathbed, may you find your body and your soul.

May you know that to be curious like a child again-you will have much grief to wade through.  In order to feel that innocent again, you must be able to forgive yourself.

May you find the courage to speak the truth, even if it costs you everything.

May you actually be receptive to touch, not seeking to always manipulate and control.

May you know that Love is still looking for you-but you have to be looking for him/her/them.

Goodbye D.

 

 

Breathwork

 

It’s time that I finally write about this life-giving practice–and how it’s changing my life.

I encountered a deep form of breath work, through the instruction of a resident teacher named Beth this past summer. At this time, I was still very in-my-head.  I thought this breathing of 2 deep inhales, followed by one deep exhale all through the mouth while laying down was kind of weird.  I didn’t understand it (and that’s the point!)

To be honest, the side affects scared me.  I thought I would start breathing too fast.  My hands would start tingling, sometimes they would tighten up.  Sometimes my feet would fall asleep momentarily.  Many times I cried.  At first, my question was, “What does this mean?” although I came to learn and accept that all I was doing was moving stuck energy.  Also, breathing in this way could also be considered an active meditation.

I kept practicing once per week on my own.  I experienced some clarity, yet it became just another aspect of a self-care practice for me.  It was not yet a defining part of my inner work.

Beth left Indy, yet came back this winter.  I came to several of her group breath work classes, and it made me realize that I wanted to dig deeper.  I attended an individual session with Beth, where she invited me to try to practice this form of breath work daily.  Since the beginning of the year, breath work has become a key part of my emotional and spiritual care.

This type of breath work has guided me straight into my heart, into my intuition.  It helps me approach the unknown in my life with greater ease.  It is helping me to reach for compassion and forgiveness, while allowing me to explore my voice–and what I have to say.

Through breath work (and my work in Qigong, but that’s for another post!), I’m receiving messages that I never would have with just my rational mind.  I’m exploring intergenerational trauma and my purpose as someone who values justice and truth-telling.  I’m receiving so much gratitude for my journey, for the people who cross my path every day, and for the gifts even within my illness.

I’m watching some of my limiting beliefs melt away (not like magic, yet sustained breath work feels like a domino effect) and the effects on my health have been extraordinary.  My constant food cravings are gone, my energy is more constant, and the general energy moving through my body is more vibrant.   I’m experimenting with introducing more foods and it’s working!

My breath work practice is helping me to align more completely with my values.  I’m looking forward to more healing and more self-love that will transpire this coming year.

Diagnosis Day!

On Saturday, I celebrated my diagnosis day.  3 years of having lived with the diagnosis of Hashimoto’s.  It’s been a crazy journey these three years, often very difficult and isolating.  In the midst of the pain and seeming unfairness of it all, there have been some beautiful moments: being attuned and witnessing my own healing journey, the friendships that have formed, starting my own business, and learning to sit with difficult emotions more fully.

I’ve discovered a love of cooking and I’ve honed my writing skills. I’ve found yoga and meditation, contemplative Christianity, and my own inner drive to persevere.  I’m learning to lean into my intuition, my emotions, and my spirituality.  I’m writing a book about the gifts that have been gained from my illness.  I’m gaining life and wisdom from stories, both in digging more deeply into my own and in listening to others.

I posted a few weeks ago about Sick Woman Theory.  After I read it, I wrote a poem, dedicated to Johanna Hevda, the originator of Sick Woman Theory.  This is for all those who are sick, and who feel like they have to fight to be seen and who have been dismissed way too many times.

To All Those Who Shouldn’t Have Made It, But Did, And Do

for Johanna Hevda

You’re here.  You’ve gotten out of bed in some miraculous way.  

 

You showed up.  Maybe that took all your spoons.

 

I’m honored that you chose to spend your limited energy here, with me.

 

But I realize that you didn’t have to; and that would not be wrong.  

 

Funny how we define right and wrong, isn’t it?

 

Funny how we place blame on the sick bodies, those lazy people lying in bed

 

And yet, we are too afraid of their power when in public?

 

 

In our society, sick bodies are queer; and in fact, many queer people are sick.

 

We feel the deviance in being a mystic; so many of the contemplative texts come from sick bodies.  

 

So white contemplatives:  next time we quote from Hildegard of Bingen or Catherine of Sienna or Joan of Arc or Theresa of Avila or Julian of Norwich: remember their female sick bodies.  

 

Do not steal from them their insights, while ignoring their bodies.  

 

Back then they were mystics; now we shut people up in psych wards, give them medicine to numb them, and cut them off from community.  Maybe we should be listening.

 

We are cut off from community, even as we long to find each other.  And find each other we will.  We must.  

 

Blessed are you when you get out of bed, but people feel you should stay in bed to prove you are sick.  

 

Blessed are you when you stay in bed, because you know what rest means more than anyone around you.

 

Blessed are you when you speak up in order to be visible, but people prefer your invisibility.

 

Blessed are you when you are silent, connecting with the Divine, but people prefer to call you crazy.

 

Blessed are you when you go to the doctor, but the doctor calls you hysterical.  

 

Blessed are you when you are your own best doctor, because this white hetero-normative patriarchal medical institution really isn’t for you.

 

Blessed are you when you smile at the cashier, the first person you’ve made eye contact with all day.  

 

Blessed are you when someone looks away from you, because you just parked in a handicapped spot, but don’t look handicapped.

 

Blessed are you when you take time to breathe, for sometimes the earth is your best friend.

 

Blessed are you when you take time to scream, for your rage is justified.

 

Blessed are you, lying in bed all day, still hoping, still yearning for community.  

Blessed are you, seen though invisible, beautiful, though sick, hopeful in your agony.

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.

 

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.