Ever Widening Circles >> Finding a Voice After Sexual Assault

“I thought I could fly…well, at least until my wings were clipped at the age of 4 when I first lost my innocence to my grandfather.”

In my last blog, I told a little bit of her story…

She was four years old when her grandfather molested her for the first time.
She was five when he raped her to the fullest extent of the word.
She was eleven before he quit, presumably because she’d soon begin menstruating.
Soon after, another family member began molesting her.
When told, a trusted youth pastor brought it to her parents rather than the police.
They not only deemed her a liar, refusing to believe her, but threatened her with shunning and worse if she didn’t remain silent and protect family secrets.
And in the decades since, she’s sunk deeper into their grave of lies, afraid to speak, afraid she doesn’t matter, afraid what they said about her worth, her belovedness, her value – or lack of all – is true.

Now, at 32 years old, she is beginning to find her voice.
It’s my honor to share her story in her words.

>>>>>

I live my life in widening circles
that reach out across the world.
I may not complete this last one
but I give myself to it…

waterdrop Funny the way life circles out and then back and then further still again. Often the journey is conceived geographically, but it’s the circumnavigation of waypoints deep within that map who we are as the circles widen.

My roots are nestled deep in the rural South of the US. There’s a friendly politeness to the people even if it lacks any genuine concern and a certain brand of Christian religion weaves through-out the culture. God often seems not one of compassion for those of us who doubt, question, are gay, or live in the grayer areas of life, but a God who casts off any who struggle to walk the straight and narrow.

For a precocious child who found turmoil way too early in life, I’ve found that such beginnings reverberate for years even as our small circles widen until we return again only to reach out further still. It’s hard to hold hope in such a God, especially when life curves.

Innately, I was always a bit of a risk taker, I pushed the envelope, I questioned everything, I thought I could fly…well, at least until my wings were clipped at the age of 4 when I first lost my innocence to my grandfather. For a while, I fought as best as a child could. I became insolent and angry, and in the midst, tried to reach out to the Church and my family, all who labeled me the problem. To them, it became more important to protect those who hurt me than how I felt. I lost all trust. As the next several years wore on with no relief, I slowly lost the rest of myself. In 9th grade, alone and with not much hope to cling to, I tried to kill myself.

In the hospital I found that tumultuous anger got me nowhere. So, I numbed to the pain and instead sought comfort in food and cutting. AND as my circles widened further into college, grad school, and finally, divinity school all of which I ran away to, to make sense of life…like my hidden scars, my weight increased proportionally through the years.

I’ve been to Burma and back, Appalachia and back, San Francisco and back, and a number of other places…and if any answers were found, it only lead to more questions.

AND then my life circled back to where I swore I’d never return when I left at the age of 17. BUT see the roots of my present journey started in the previous circle while I was in Nashville. The place I came to know as home. It was there that seeds of hope were first planted quietly in music, which has always been my life-blood, and then friendship, my saving grace and anchoring; whose beginnings were unknowingly fertilized in the circle of my high school days.

Now in my 30s and somehow back in the hauntings of where it all began; I couldn’t just sit still and languish. I found the courage to return to one of my first loves…horses. AND in the span of a year, as I’ve fought to find myself again, I’ve loved and lost and gained in so many ways: Friendship that challenges and teaches much about love, trust, and family. A beloved pony who began to teach me how to fly again even when I fell and had to get back up again…and again. I’m no longer carrying over 100 lbs that I had before… AND because I think it has something to teach me and a couple of good friends have encouraged me, I am training to run a half-marathon in February despite the fact that I’ve never ran more than 2.5 miles up to this point.

I’ve found that you CAN’T run from the things that are killing you…instead they must be faced. AND that’s why we circle back. How else can we heal? Only then can we make another revolution, wider still, and bring life and love to those encountered along the way.

The process is painful, excruciatingly so…and I DON’T know if I will complete this one. BUT maybe I’ll FINALLY begin to live into myself.

…I circle around God, the primordial tower.
I’ve been circling for thousands of years and I still don’t know: am I a falcon,
a storm, or a great song?

*The poem bookending this piece is from the Book of Hours by Rainer Maria Rilke.

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If you or someone you know has been or is being sexually assaulted, please call the National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1.800.656.HOPE

If My Liberation Is Bound To Yours…

“White friends, from a basic to do list standpoint: displace. Sit in the pain. Invest in one relationship. Give. Share. Retweet. Read. Listen. Get to know the heart language of Black Americans. I cannot imagine how different the Ferguson protests would look if even half of the Ferguson police force took this advice.” ~Grace Sandra

Today, a friend of mine linked to a Deeper Story blog authored by Grace Sandra, in which she – a Black American – asks her white readers to do this simple thing: Sit, listen, invest, and “learn the heart language” of our black neighbors. She implores us to displace ourselves, to get beyond our privileged lives. To understand the systemic injustice at the heart of the causes we are often quick to champion (and even quicker to forget or abandon).

This comes on the heels of having just learned from our next-door neighbor that last week, just half a mile down the street at our local laundromat, he was handcuffed, maced, and booked by local transit police for having “stood too close to the sidewalk” while waiting for his wife to finish up a load of laundry.

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Dear Ms. Trainor: I Think You Missed The Point

15270741875_5019710647_mSo about that Meghan Trainor song… I think it’s time to have this conversation.

The party-pooper conversation you knew was coming from one of your friends sooner or later.

I’m that girl. Feel free to tune me out. Or feel free to be the other girl who’s angry with this girl for shaming The Radio Girl and in so doing upending and/or damaging the cause of feminism just as much as I perceive she is (even though that’s not what I’m doing at all).

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I Am Pro-Life*

(*actually, wholly, totally, 100%, not-just-anti-abortion)

I AM PRO-LIFE.

I am anti-violence. Anti-death penalty.

I am against anything that would create an enemy of my neighbor – even my violent, criminal neighbor – and make him a monster deserving annihilation, rather than the beloved of God needing desperately to be reminded of who he is to whom he belongs.

I AM PRO-LIFE.

I am against the weaponizing of people, and especially the church. Our war is won and the Victor is Christ, who achieved victory through His own shed blood and no one else’s.

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*Unless

unless1Today, I read some people talking about how absolutely certain they are that Jesus would never ever hire a homosexual, and how appalling is the very thought.

And I got confused.

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Marriage 101: It Sucks / Happy Anniversary

Processed with VSCOcam with x1 presetYou called me out upon the water. The great unknown, where feet may fail…**

There are myriad blogs out there about how to keep the marriage spicy; how to love well; how to honor your husband or love your wife; how twenty years later you’ll be more in love than ever…

This is not that blog.

It’s not that I don’t think those words are true or useful – I do. It’s just that, given the recent tumult of my own marriage, I’m wishing someone had warned me up front of this basic reality:

Marriage sucks. For everyone.

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Regarding The Beard, The Bible, and The First Amendment

phil-robertson-getty-gospel-according-to-phil-gq-magazine
“Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men…”

“It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”

“I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. We’re going across the field…. They’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’—not a word!… Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”
– Phil Robertson, in GQ Magazine

Three things.

1) Dear LGBTQ Friends of mine. You are not less-than.

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Happy Birthday Jesus! Love, The Slaves

(c) Paul Kuczynski . Via http://twentytwowords.com/2012/07/06/13-dark-pieces-of-satire-to-make-you-stop-and-think/

(c) Paul Kuczynski . Via http://twentytwowords.com/2012/07/06/13-dark-pieces-of-satire-to-make-you-stop-and-think/

So here’s my rant for the day.

I’ve seen a blog floating around, proclaiming that those who shop on Thanksgiving Thursday “are part the problem.”

I agree. Whole-heartedly.

But the idea that we can separate Thursday from Black Friday is absurd to me.

Because in both cases, we’re not merely interrupting the holidays of our friends who now have to work instead of eat more turkey; we’re not merely contributing to and bolstering a wholly consumerist culture. No, in any case – whether shopping on Thursday, Friday, or throughout the month for red hot deals and steals from standard retailers – we’re contributing to the global slave trade. We’re burying our heads in the sand and pretending that Wal-Mart and Target employees are the only ones who warrant consideration in this sordid tale of stuff hoarding, all in celebration of the Sweet Baby Jesus.

Even when we bypass Thursday’s sales “on principle” and shop Black Friday instead, we’re almost certainly purchasing things produced by slaves around the world.

I cannot emphasize this enough: If we’re shopping for deals and steals, demanding cheaper stuff, we’re not shopping with a conscience.

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PS: A Post-Script to My Open Letter to Birthing Moms

PS: A Post-Script to My Open Letter to Birthing Moms >>

Please keep rejoicing and celebrating your pregnancies out loud and on Facebook. We who can’t have babies don’t want to be the reason for your silence, anymore than we want to be wounded by your words. Most of the time, we’re excited for you and with you! We know what is to “rejoice with one another.”

We just hope that, even as we rejoice with you and celebrate your magnificent birthing bodies and growing babies, you’ll grieve with us and hear our hearts when we ask you to appreciate what you have, glory in this divine gift, don’t take it for granted even for a moment because it may be in that moment that you lose it forever.

Sincerely Again,
Amy

Dear Birthing Mothers: On What Not To Say Out Loud

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Dear Birthing Mothers,

I’ve wanted to write this letter to you, to us, for a while. But until this moment, it’s been a thing of anger for me. I’ve read your comments, your Facebook statuses; I’ve read of your wishes and dreams and hopes and losses, and I’ve seethed with anger at your ignorance.

But right now, in this moment, I’m not so much angry with you as I am sad and hurt for those you unknowingly wound.

Like me.

Like my hyster-sisters.

Like all the mothers who’ve lost their babies before they were born, or in the birthing suite, or long before they were ever unborn beauties and were only plans.

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