I don't have hope.
I don't believe in hope.
I have faith.
Hope to me feels like I will have to suppress all my feelings and think of the best possible outcome- even if it means ignoring the current situation. Hope is a bandaid and a smile you paste on your face.
Faith knows that everything is not okay and that difficulties are looming ahead. It knows that you may not get through without a few scars- but that ultimately you can and will move through the storm.
Hope is wishful- faith moves mountains.
Faith meets me wherever I am at and it embraces me no matter what I am feeling. It does not require me to be something I am not. Faith lets me be angry and it does not hold a bright future hostage because I lack positivity. Faith exists whether or not I believe all the time- it is always waiting to pick up right where I left off. It never asks me to be anything but myself. Faith does not require me to be happy or chastise me when I am grumpy- faith is the thing that promises that we can do anything no matter how we feel in the moment.
Hope often meets disappointment as its end.
Faith is made of so many broken bits stitched back together from every time it falls apart. It is not glamorous but it is strong and its breath is the wind that carries ship sails both into storms and then home again.
I deserve being believed and taken at my word when I tell you that I have been abused.
I am worthy of the love and grace you are so willing to extend to my abusers.
You remind me of what I am no longer willing to tolerate or accept- not anymore.
I owe you nothing even though when I run into you I see myself through your eyes for a moment- and I falter and stumble. For a moment I forget that it does not matter what you think and that I don't owe you an explanation, and that I don't need to be a sounding board for your feelings when you are not willing to have a real relationship with me and listen to mine.
You don't know this new version of me- I have put all the pieces that have fallen apart back together differently this time.
This girl doesn't believe she is subject to taking shit from anyone- especially yours. You used to make me feel like I had to be subject to your authority, your opinion and your definition of who I am. Not anymore.
You don't know me - not anymore- if you ever truly did to begin with.
It does not matter if you are my family and the elders in my life- my self and my body is not subject to any facet of your authority. It is mine and It is my voice for it that will be heard and have the final say.
The look of sadness on your face does pull at my heartstrings every damn time. It is painful. But the truth is that this separation is as much of your choice as it is mine. You act like you experience this great sorrow at our separation- but you also act like it is my fault and that I am the one causing you all this grief by my somehow willful stubborn behavior. Why won't I just let things go, or make nice with the rest of the family- it's what you always seem to say in some way or another. You place the burden of guilt squarely on my shoulders and I am so used to accepting it over the years and being responsible for everything that for a moment I still think this burden is mine. It's not- not anymore.
I am done carrying this for you when it is yours and if you actually carried it for once maybe you would feel the weight of it and choose differently.
I am done with not being defended. I am done with people not choosing or choosing other things over me. I deserve you standing by me and sticking up for what it right. I deserve better, I deserve so much better. I deserve better from people who supposedly love me. Yet I see all the time how quickly you are willing to sacrifice me when things become difficult.
I am not living a half life for you- one in which I deny who I am and what I have experienced. I have been sacrificed on the altar of all your gods one too many times and I will not bow down. Not anymore.
The hardest thing is to realize that as I build a whole and fulfilling life for me- you don't matter. You do not have a say and I don't owe you one. I don't owe you a connection to this new life or this new self- I have fought so hard to become her and I love her. You are not entitled to any part of my world and your blood is not my blood- family roots die when abuse is present. You are not my family, you are not a should or supposed to. I still can feel like I should give you a chance, that I have to talk to you, but I don't and the truth is you are not owed that. You behavior is toxic to the air I breathe and I want to live. You are not a weight I should have to carry and I will not. Not anymore.
I am not carrying things that do not belong to me into this next life.
You are something from long ago and far away- and you don't matter. Not anymore.
Letter to my baby girl on the occasion of her birthday.
I am bound to the love of you.
You are blood of my blood and bone of my bone.
I am bound to the love of you.
You stole my heart all those years ago
and the day you took my hand and I have been yours ever since.
There is nothing you could ever do to disappoint me because I know that you grow every day. You grow stronger, amazing and brilliant. I know that life has not always been easy but I also know that you would not have been given the bumps in the road if you could not overcome them. I don't get to tell you often how proud I am of you and that whenever I look to the future I know yours will be an adventure- sometimes less than perfect but your capabilities will always shine bright.
I know there is nothing you won't figure out eventually- no matter how many dark valleys you travel through you are made of stardust and the universe. You will survive and you will thrive. Nothing could make me more proud than your very existence and the things that make you who you are- you value is something you never have to earn and it does not increase just because you succeed. Your value is based in your essence and your existence. You are valuable because you are here and because you breathe life into the world by breathing at all.
As a teenager you are given so many trials and your faith is tested at every turn- including days when your hair stands straight on end and you just want to hide. You may pray for perfection or to be the world's idea of "normal". I have done it and so have many women before you. But what I want you to know is that unlike me and others who have come before- you have people in your life who know that normal is bullshit and completely lacks courage or the fire that makes our souls burn bright. Not only that you have women in your life who can tell you that the critic in your head is full of shit and that no matter how many bad hair days you couldn't be more valuable. We will not just tell you this to make you feel better and we also understand that sometimes it is nice to just pass on the secrets we have- including how to manage and tame our hair. Most importantly we can pass on the secret that we have been there and we know exactly how it feels. We can at least tell you that we know it sucks and that these trials you face can cause pain- this thing called being a teen. But we can also tell you that you will survive and that you are so loved.
Never be ashamed of who you are because you make mistakes or because when you try to fly you fall down. It takes growing muscles to fly with wings and no matter how many times you hit the ground- it has nothing to do with your ability to fly. You are learning and growing- how are you supposed to know how to fly if you have never done it before? You have to test and try and have faith that you will soar. Don't think about it just do it- and make friends with the ground because that is your launching point to the sky.
And always no matter what just remember
I will love you forever and for always
and forever my baby you will be
you are blood of my blood and bone of my bone
I am bound to the love of you.
Sweetheart I'm an American.
As a woman who is a childhood sexual abuse survivor- having a president elected into office who believes it is okay to grab women by their pussy feels like a betrayal. This is a betrayal by the people of this United States who cast their ballot for him.
This is a betrayal by those individuals who listened to rhetoric and not their own souls and therefore have voted without any sense of being in touch with their humanity.
This is a betrayal by the religious community who instead of focusing on spiritual values has sold their soul to a rigid value system. This is where the intolerance starts. Religion- not spirituality kills grace and acceptance. Because how can you accept others if you believe that you are not acceptable and that you cannot even trust your own heart- because "the heart is wicked and deceitful above all things". How can you extend kindness and love when you are taught that love means being subjected to a certain version of God- one that is punitive, vindictive and authoritarian.
And since this is where I come from- the depths of redneck, republican, evangelical christian america, and because these are my people and my culture I will absolutely rebuke it for what it is.
Hateful intolerant, ignorant and committed to it. But worse than anything so many in my culture are not spiritual leaders who reflect the values of Jesus who is the Prince of Peace and not war- and yet they believe that God has sanctified them in their cause and therefore they are not wrong. Their version of God has given them permission to be right and never bend and to never need to question opposition- because any opposition is the opinion of sinners.
Yes I am angry. I am very angry and I am heartbroken and grieved. I will not apologize for this censure because who is going to censure those that have committed crimes against humanity but the members of their community who know better who understand the cost and who have suffered because of their communities appalling behavior. So yes I will without regret censure this as intolerant and unacceptable behavior by my culture, by my community and I will stand tall and not bend or make these words easier to hear. They will never learn until they swallow this bitter pill and experience the hate of their beliefs turned on themselves.
I do not have much privilege within this community and culture of mine- but I have learned to be the witness who will wear red anyway- and despite fear and having faced this heartbreaking intolerance myself so many times I am still privileged enough to call them out.
I am an all American country girl who was raised evangelical republican. I know how to hitch a trailer and how to shoot a gun. I know how to do what cowgirls do best- say it straight, simple and with a smile. I know how to get things done when I am the only one there to do it. I know how to be stubborn, fearless and focused. I have screamed at 1200 pound animals and I stopped my father from pushing me into walls because I pushed back.
I am an American girl, true blue and grit. Who better to tell evangelical white america that they are full of horse shit and they wouldn't know Jesus if he sat down next to them in church.
I will not hold your hand and tell you that I understand that you meant well. I will not blame the decision you made on feeling that you were subjected to liberal elitism. There is no excuse when you are faced with a moral decision and you choose wrong. The divisive politics in America are not an excuse for you electing a president who has no God but himself and who believes that it is acceptable to hate and persecute others.
There is nothing wrong with your values.
Faith, family and community are so important to me. And I have seen the people who supposedly value this above all else- destroy it. I believe there is something about a simple life and growing up in the country that gives me these deep roots. I believe that you don't have to have a lot of money or be elitist- I still think snobby people have a stick up their ass. I will always be a country girl. I love trucks, horses and cowboys in wrangler jeans. I genuinely believe that at the end of the day these country values are no different than liberal values. All we really want is to have a good life and to care for our loved ones and family- and we care about the political policies that affect them.
But what we are seeing now is so far from those values and the real and beautiful spiritual heartbeat of rural america. Having values or being a country girl does not mean you need to be ignorant and intolerant or to hold fast to the idea that your religious beliefs excuse you and make you right. If you think this I don't think God has given you permission or shown you his will- in fact I am pretty certain you might not be talking to God at all.
I have seen the religion I grew up with be a weapon- I have seen rural american values become a weapon. There is no excuse for what you have done.
You have betrayed me, you have betrayed the women in your lives- mothers, sisters, daughters. You have betrayed the minorities of this country for whom you should have been a voice for. Jesus was the voice for those who had little or none- he rebuked the money lenders for being in the temple and he sat with the woman at the well who would have been considered unacceptable and heathen.
I can only imagine if he were really walking amongst us this week- to see a money lender elected to the place that is a representative temple of our beliefs and humanity. I can only imagine the heartbreak that millions of women and girls like myself have just been deemed invaluable and that our bodies are not our own- that we are just things and that it is okay for abuse and violence to be enacted against us.
Women and girls are so often told that it is not okay for us to be angry because that makes us bitches. But I think we have every right to be angry and every right to express it. I think we have every right to censure and rebuke hateful and violent behavior and policies. At this moment I do not need to understand the opposition- I don't need to understand those who believe this way or to try to speak to their level so they can hear me. I have done that and I will not walk on eggshells when what you need is a kick in the ass. I am entitled to my anger at this moment- these beliefs do directly affect me and those I love. It is not my responsibility to hold your hand and make you understand. Not at this moment.
Let girls be angry, let women be angry. We are entitled to it at this moment.
And angry is not the same thing as hate. I still believe that you are living breathing human beings whose lives have value.
This hurts- this is such a huge betrayal and I will not protect you from hearing how much it hurts or the consequences of decisions you have made.
In the end what I will hold onto is what still makes me a proud american girl- and to quote Lady Grantham "Sweetheart I am an american- have trunk will travel". I will do what I need to do, I will be hopeful I will be stubborn and I will endure. If I have to yell at a few podunk rednecks along the way so be it. Ultimately I still believe in tolerance, education and communication. Without dialogue we are nothing- we cannot connect with one another and move forward.
I am a former country girl and abuse survivor. I enjoy blogging because I find it personally therapeutic. It also allows me to share my experiences with others, and bring to light issues of abuse. I write under a pseudonym for my personal safety as well as to negate any potential legal trouble over sharing my story.