Your light will shine when all else fades
Your glory goes beyond all fame
And the cry of my heart
Is to bring You praise
From the inside out
Lord, my soul cries out
— Hillsong United, “From the Inside Out”
I’m hurt and I’m hurting. I’ve been hurt by people in churches before because, well, we are sinful creatures and that’s what happens. While I recognize that, there’s a certain amount of faith and trust that you place in your church leadership. Sometimes, that faith and trust seem to make them infallible in your mind. So when lousy news comes your way, it can be devastating.
2015 has been a year of significant downs rather than ups. Not just in my personal and work life but also in my spiritual life. For most of the year, my family has not attended church. There’s always been something going on, whether it’s an injury, depression, lack of sleep, or early nap time for the little man. But we’ve attended when we’ve been able to. However, of course, when I either make plans to attend church or have just attended church, an earth-shaking event occurs. In August, it was the departure of an elder and his wife—people we were close to and related to most. In September, nearly 3 weeks later, another elder resigned out of dissatisfaction with the choices of our denomination. That left 2 elders and—honest to God—I don’t know how many deacons. Now, it’s November. And we finally make it to church. There was a big meeting 2 weeks ago and I figured it regarded the position of the remaining elders. Boy, was I ever wrong.
My senior pastor resigned during the meeting. I had planned to attend but ended up working late and just didn’t feel up to it. Now, I’m glad I wasn’t there because I don’t think I could’ve handled the shock of what I would’ve heard. It was a big enough shock for me simply hearing it from another church member in nursery. And that wasn’t even in full detail. One of the elders sat us down after church and explained what happened during the meeting and what led our senior pastor to resign.
All day Sunday, I found myself simply reeling from the shock of no longer having a senior pastor to turn to. It’s like someone I put faith in and trusted for 3 to 4 years broke that trust. So, of course, I too feel broken. Hurt. I hoped I’d never have to go through this again after the pain of what I endured at my last church. As I go through my mind, with each previous church, there’s been an element of pain and broken trust. Why should the present or the future be any different? But I feel as though I need to hope for the best. Funny how I can hope for the best in a church full of sinful people but fail to hope for the best in my own life, a person full of wickedness and sin.
I pray for the restoration of my former senior pastor and his family. I pray for my church because I love my congregants dearly and hope that we are able to survive this storm. I thank God for our sister church in Philadelphia that is willing to help us during this time of need. And I thank God that He is faithful to us even when our shepherds are not.
Fashion & Sponsored Posts.
A few words (maybe paragraphs?) about fashion. Fashion exists for comfort except on possibly rare occasions when all you’re supposed to do is look good. Get some comfortable shoes, some comfortable pants, a comfy shirt, and maybe a cozy sweater to complete your outfit. Are you going to Walmart? Please, leave the stilettos at home. I don’t care who you think you’re going to run into.
I love it when I see a woman dressed to the nines at the airport. She has a short-sleeved (maybe ¾-sleeved) shirt, stiff pants, stiletto heels that only Lady Gaga could reasonably get away with, and no sweater or jacket in her carry on. I stand there with my Old Navy bulky sweater (as a backup, of course, temperature varies in airports and planes), long-sleeved V-neck sweater with a tank underneath (peel off layers, if need be!), comfy jeans, socks, and New Balance sneakers. (Bonus points if you own a clog that allows you to wear socks with it.)
This folks, is my fashion. A Beatles T-shirt and bootcut jeans held up by a belt. Skechers shoes. Done. I’ll also have you know that Chapstick did not sponsor this post even though I use their cherry-flavored lip balm in the winter. Just the right hint of red and I don’t need to look into a mirror to apply it properly.
I am probably the sloppiest fashion person you’ll know. So sloppy, I don’t even take pictures of myself. (Well, mostly because I’m fat now and don’t like the way I look but still…)
You will be hard pressed to find me doing product giveaways on this blog. For one, I don’t blog often enough, and two, the only sponsorship I’d care for is from The Container Store (which, boy, could I take pictures of all the ways I contain my home…). But I am just not into fashion. The stores I talk about are limited. (Have I told you about this great store called Target???)
There’s a jealous part of me that wants to be a mommy blogger—in the business sense of the word. To win sponsored trips to Disney and other vacation resorts for my family. To acquire a nice gift card for myself and another one to give away to a lucky commenter. But the time, the effort, the pretense… I don’t have it. Not only that, I talk about topics that alienate people, not encourage them to come read a post.
So I am just content to be a blogger who’s a mommy. Thanks.
I believe I’ve alienated many of the people of color I used to get along with online. I’ve probably annoyed many of them too. But I suppose it’s all right because I’ve always had a hard time getting along with people of color. There’s been a string of shootings, usually involving white cops and black victims. I don’t believe it’s all about race. I think I’ve iterated before that the white cop vs black victim thing is more of a class issue, eg, middle-class person policing a lower income neighborhood. I’ve been challenged on not being colorblind. And the older I’ve gotten, the less colorblind I’ve become. I think that’s OK as long as recognizing color isn’t used as a tool for division.
I’m not of the popular black opinion that white privilege and white supremacy dominate everything. Do I believe white privilege exists? To some extent, but I don’t believe it’s as pervasive as people of color make it out to be. For example, is a white girl who speaks well and dresses professionally more likely to get a job than me? I think so. That’s white privilege. However, if I dress professionally and speak well, will I beat out the white girl who shows up to a white-collar interview in a T-shirt and jeans? Yep. I believe that, too. Being the most qualified for a job doesn’t just mean that your qualifications on paper meet whatever standard the hiring manager’s got. Being the most qualified for a job shows that you’re a well-rounded individual: You look good on paper, can express your thoughts clearly, and know how to dress properly for an interview. White people have the advantage (which I guess is white privilege). But I’m not of the opinion that white privilege can’t be overcome. People of color just need to work twice as hard to obtain something a white person can easily get.
Then, there’s the issue of white supremacy. Please, let’s leave the term “white supremacy” with the groups it belongs to: the KKK, the Aryans, and the Nazis. The term “white supremacy” has connotations of suppressing the advancement of other races. The majority of white Americans do not do this on an active, regular basis. To accuse the average white person in America as being a white supremacist is an insult. Nevermind that the white person may have friends of color. If that white person treats people of all races with respect, love, and kindness, that kills any form of white supremacy they can be accused of. White supremacy is played out in the hatred of other races. Not in the average white American.
I don’t really listen to rap, R&B, and typically “black” music. Not the new stuff, anyway. I noticed I only have 3 stations featuring black artists on my Pandora radio: James Brown, Rihanna, and Nat King Cole. I had a Mary J. Blige station I barely listened to. I had a Mariah Carey station that I didn’t like. I had a Kanye West station featuring songs I would thumbs down. I had a Sean Paul station that I got tired of. Although we’re getting on the dubious side of race here, I had a Michael Jackson station that played mostly Jackson 5 and Motown rather than 80s and early 90s pop.
So I’ve embraced my Pandora stations in all their diverse glory: the 3 black artists I briefly mentioned and Norah Jones, Sarah McLachlan, Aimee Mann, Rebecca St. James, Yo-Yo Ma, Paul McCartney & Wings, The Beatles, Bread, Ke$ha, Britney Spears, Sara Groves, Neil Diamond, No Doubt. I also have an MC Chris station for my husband that plays “nerdcore” and comedic songs, which is a station I also happen to enjoy on road trips. The artists on my Pandora station are overwhelmingly white. And that’s OK! They produce music that I like and my preference for music has no racial color.
The main theme in my head is how I don’t fit in. I don’t fit in within most situations. I am not the kind of person to bully my way into fitting in. I am hyperaware of the perceptions of the people who surround me and I make it a point to adjust myself to fit their expectations. I have several Twitter accounts that serve as an extension of who I am: my established account with the most followers and the most interaction; an account where I spout religious and political opinions; a professional account; and an account open to all friends, family, and coworkers that is relatively safe and free of topics that may cause arguments.
A few topics on my mind will be posted in the coming days:
- Fashion & Sponsored Posts
- Politics & News
Nothing particularly exciting. Just what you’ve come to expect from me: rambles.
I’ll break you down
I’ll take you down, down
Fill you with sadness
Make your life madness
— Fauxliage, “All the World”
It’s 1:11 am. I went to bed at 9:30 and I cannot sleep right now. I woke up restless, agitated, and irritated. I am almost always restless, agitated, and irritated these days. My patience is a thin layer of ice. Every day, I have thoughts about suicide or just not being around anymore. This doesn’t seem like a temporary regression. I feel like I’m practically right where I was in late September sans the panic/anxiety attacks.
Let’s be frank, here. I don’t want to live anymore. I’m tired of the different medications, I’m tired of the insurance hoops, I’m tired of the trial and error. My emotions are being torn apart and people tell me to “hang in there” until this science experiment yields some kind of solution.
I slog through my days, trying to deal with simply living. Making coffee, brushing teeth…basic tasks are difficult again. I’m writing this post through sheer force of will but I want to sleep. But not enough time has passed since I awoke from tossing and turning.
All I can think of is using a gun. Quick and easy. I know that method would offend many but it’s the only form of suicide I know that will be effective.
And I’m tired of talking about suicide. I’m tired of threatening to kill myself. One day, I’ll make good on my threat.
Critics at their worst
Could never criticize
The way that you do
No, there’s no one else I find
To undermine or dash a hope
Quite like you
And you do it so casually, too
— Aimee Mann, “Nothing Is Good Enough”
I am my own worst critic. And the negativity and criticism have reached critical level in my head to the point where I have seriously considered suicide. I even had a plan, too. Won’t tell you what so I don’t give any ideas to others who might be vulnerable but it was a plan I was comfortable implementing.
I have cried a lot recently. Cried over my self-worth. Cried over the time PPD took me away from my child. Cried over my difficult relationship with my child.
I guess it’s kind of bad. I have this “Christian” faith in God. But when it comes down to it, the faith that once helped to keep me alive I have now, in actions, abandoned. I haven’t really found a good excuse to stay alive. Except for my husband. I know he’d be devastated without me.
And I mean, devastated.
On September 29, I enrolled in a partial hospitalization program (PHP) in attempt to avoid full hospitalization. (The last time I was hospitalized, I was almost sexually assaulted.) My actual PHP began on September 30. Insurance has approved 10 days in the program and I have only been able to attend 5 out of 8 days so far due to medication side effects and illness (the worst migraine of my life that lasted at least 48 hours).
I have been dealing with a lot of anxiety too. It prevents me from doing the most basic (and annoying) tasks. I had an anxiety attack over balancing my checkbook, checking my personal email, looking at my reactivated Facebook account. I refused to even try checking my work email for fear I’d get sucked into flipping out of work projects and concerned emails from coworkers.
My husband has repeatedly expressed his desire for me to live. I want to honor that. If for no one else, I am going to attempt to fight back against my suicidality and negative thoughts so he can enjoy the rest of his life with his life partner. I feel fight in me right now. I can’t promise that I’ll feel fight in me on Monday. But I’ll try to hold on to this feeling.
I was enrolled in a PHP after my full hospitalization back in 2006 and I don’t remember it being half as good or effective as it is now. While it was structured back then, it is even more structured now. There’s a pattern to it. A 50-minute pattern that I appreciate. It starts off with the full group participating in either yoga (Mondays and Fridays) or mindfulness meditation. Then we break off into 2 groups for a daily check-in where we rate and discuss how we are feeling that morning. Subsequently, the 2 groups combine for a class based on a specific topic, such as core beliefs, shame, self-care. (Quite honestly, this is the one “class” where many of us nod off. Sometimes it’s boring but sitting there as if it were a class is sleep inducing.) After that, we have lunch and then head into open group where we can discuss anything that is on our mind or help someone who is particularly troubled or struggling that day. Finally, we end the day with mindfulness meditation again and a “check-out” that allows us to rate how we are feeling at the end of our daily PHP.
Quite frankly, I never appreciated structure until this program. I always disliked structure because I felt like things would become “routine,” which of course was the point. I preferred variation, changing things up, and never knowing what might come next. But as I’ve gotten older, lack of structure bothers me. It drives me nuts. Life with a toddler is anything BUT structured. Never knowing each day whether I’m going to work late is NOT routine. Structure doesn’t have to be precise or exact. Group doesn’t always end exactly at 12:20 pm before lunch like it should. Sometimes it ends at 12:17 pm. Sometimes it ends at 12:25 pm and cuts into our lunch a bit. And that’s okay with me. It’s a simple reminder that life doesn’t always go according to plan, and I can get back on track as soon as I am able.
My PHP experience is teaching me quite a bit. I’m learning to forgive myself and be patient with myself. To not be so quick to criticize myself when I screw up or to spew negative words at myself when I’m not perfect. I’ve identified a few core beliefs that are extremely negative and cause me to feel worthless and hopeless. I’ve learned that shame causes me to be impatient with myself, to not settle for being anything less than “perfect,” and causes my inner worth to feel tainted.
I’ve also identified several aspects of self-care for myself. I’m not sure how to incorporate them daily but weekly may have to do. A few activities that I consider to be self-care include the following:
- journaling or blogging
- listening to secular music in the comfort of my home
- writing a short story or novel (yes!)
- spending time with friends
- reading the Bible
- listening to Christian music that inspires me
- attending church regularly and being part of a community
To help manage much of my anxiety, I have learned breathing techniques and grounding techniques. I never knew there were actually tangible things I could do to calm myself. I’d rather use these techniques before popping a Xanax.
So my PHP has been extremely helpful for me, and I’m really trying to absorb all of the information provided to me. I’m not ready to return to work yet. I still need to get my medication adjusted to the right dosage that allows me to function regularly (eg, lack of day drowsiness, lack of extreme morning grogginess, absence of headaches and nausea). I still have a weird jittery side effect whenever I’m still or at rest so I’m hoping that eventually goes away.
One of my primary tasks is deconstructing the core beliefs about myself.
- I can’t do it.
- I don’t fit in.
- I’m a loser.
- I’m worthless.
- I’m not as smart or talented as others so I’m no good.
- I’m boring.
- I’m not important
- I’m not capable.
- I’m stupid.
- I’m ugly.
- My thoughts are dumb.
- My opinions aren’t wanted.
I’m having a moment where I feel like many of those things aren’t true. But WOULD TO GOD if I always thought that way. The first step to breaking down my negative core beliefs is simply identifying them. Somehow, I’ll need to move from there. (I have a handout about this but it’s riddled with spelling and grammatical errors so I’ll have to find something on the Internet.) :)
There’s a better story
Of true love of true grace
There’s the hope of glory
And our first chance to be truly brave
It’s the place we’re going
When we can’t stay where we are
— Sara Groves, “Rewrite This Tragedy”
I don’t subscribe to the views of most black people. In fact, I may be the only black person who thinks the way I think and feels the way I feel about race relations in this country. Nevertheless, I’m a black woman living in America and I will say what I feel. My opinion is just as valid as anyone else’s.
The most recent incident of racism is the shooting in Charleston. Anyone who claims that it is not racism in any way is a flipping idiot. A white man walked into a black church, sat down with the people for an hour, and then proceeded to kill as many of them as he could. It doesn’t matter what he allegedly said. It doesn’t matter what his Facebook profile (that has since been taken down) said. It doesn’t matter what all his relatives say about his burgeoning interest in white supremacy. The facts clearly tell us that a white man, who was not a congregant of the black church, walked in and deliberately stole the lives of 9 innocent people.
But I don’t believe his actions are representative of the majority of white people. Most white people in America are not “white supremacists” and stand in solidarity with black people against injustice. While America has moved beyond government-sanctioned racism, it doesn’t mean that racism in American no longer exists.
If you’ve read this blog for a while, you know that I have always struggled to fit in with the black community. I don’t harbor views that make me leery of every white person I come across. In fact, I embrace many white people who enter my life. They have accepted me and made me feel like a person instead of a woman with a dark skin color. All of my bridesmaids (save my maid of honor) were white. My husband is white. The majority of my friends are white. I have many white acquaintances. I have rarely felt racially threatened by a white person. When I dislike someone, the color of their skin usually doesn’t factor into it. It often stems from the fact that I think they are idiots, ignorant, or inconsiderate.
Racism in America has escalated to a high level because of the media constantly shoving supposedly race-related incidents down our throats. Not every incident against a black person is directly race-related. (Notice I used the word “directly.)
Recently (within the past year or so), we’ve had a lot of incidents involving white police and black victims. A white policeman does something stupid and a black person usually suffers at the hands of the cop. As a friend (who is white) mentioned, there may be a subconscious element of racism. In America, we engineered to be leery of black people because they are often seen as “criminals” or untrustworthy. For me, it’s all about dress. If a dude (white or black) is dressed with a bandana over his head, has a baggy T-shirt on, and his pants are sagging down so you can see his Calvin Kleins, I will cross the street to avoid him. Again if a dude (white or black), is dressed professionally or even in a casual manner that appears non-threatening, I will remain on the same sidewalk. Appearance does matter.
Getting back to the white police versus black victims, I think a lot of these situations are the result of a majority of white men being cops who police predominantly black communities. As a result, there are often clashes between the two, so when a fatality occurs, it’s automatically branded as a race-related incident. I don’t believe these white cops wake up in the morning thinking, “I’m gonna kill a [insert N-word here] today.” No. These cops wake up willing to perform their duties, and when an incident occurs in area that is in or close to the inner city, some cops (again who tend to be white) act rashly, leading to the unfortunate deaths of black people.
I don’t believe the murder of many of these black victims is premeditated. But I do think we have a lot cops who are complete morons and should never have been allowed to serve.
Throughout American history, mostly in the 20th and 21st centuries, clashes between black people and white policemen have been common. Before, it was government sanctioned or government allowed. While these kinds of incidents are not as common as they used to be, there are still far too many problems occurring.
Does racism against black people in America still exist? Yes, absolutely. Are there cops who are racist? Yes, absolutely. But I think we need to do better as a country to improving race relations. White cops need to bridge the divide and reach out to black communities. Get to know them so that when an incident occurs, the first cry isn’t racism. The first cry is “most white cops aren’t like this in our community.”
Black people need to reach across the aisle too. Approaching a cop is always scary. But again, if a police officer appears non-threatening, simply smile or make a comment about his willingness to protect the community. The police are people too. They are under a lot of stress—far more than most people can imagine. A bright spot in their day can make a difference in how they respond to situations. Often when someone is in military uniform, people thank them for their willingness to serve and protect our country. Why can’t we begin to do the same for a police officer in uniform too?
Easing tension between blacks and police is a 2-way street. Maybe my ideas for bridging the gap aren’t the best. But we’ve got to start thinking of ways to improve race relations in this country instead of implementing self-segregation. White people are NOT the enemy. And if we embrace the ones who embrace us, we can begin to weed out the ones who want to harm us.