Tag Archives: fear

Silent Marchers: “Candace”

Silent Marchers is a series of stories from real women (and men) who wanted to march in the Women’s March on Washington and various sister marches across the nation, but could not be there for a variety of reasons. These are their stories of why they weren’t there, why they wish they could have been, and why they support this cause and all that it stands for. Their hope is that you might find yourself in one of their stories, and know you’re not alone. Together, we will resist.

***

Hi. I’m “Candace.”

But not really.

This is not a story that I tell very often, but I want to tell it now. This movement is showing me how important it is to speak up.

I was sexually abused as a child by a family member.  It has been more than ten years ago now, and my family still doesn’t know. Thankfully, it never amounted to anything. Just a few “abuse sessions” as I refer to them, and then it was just over.

This family member is still in my life. He pretends like it never happened and actually considers us “friends.”

Several years after that happened, I became involved in a physically and emotionally abusive relationship with a boy four or five years older than me. I ended up being hospitalized, but not from physical abuse. It was his words that put me there. I spent the end of my junior year in high school in a hospital because I wanted to die.  I spent three years in counseling after that because the feeling never went away.

It still resurfaces sometimes.

This has made me a stronger person but it has also caused many problems in my current relationship. My fiancé felt used for the first half of our relationship because I was so wrapped up in hating myself that I didn’t have much room to love him. I’m really lucky that he stuck around. That is how I got to finally experience unconditional love.

We now have a young son together, but I had a miscarriage four months before I got pregnant with him. It sent me into a frenzy at the time. I lost all the progress that I had worked so hard for. I had almost been normal before that. I had gotten to where it was only once a month that I was having days where I shut myself away and cried for hours. But after the miscarriage, I returned to being a daily crier. It sent my relationship into a downward spiral that we are still trying to recover from.

We had another pregnancy scare when my son turned three months old.

That’s something that almost ended us for good.

silentmarcher2I wanted an abortion but wasn’t sure I could handle the guilt. It caused so much tension that I nearly ended my life. Again. (I almost left my tiny baby alone once during this time. I am still ashamed of that feeling.)

I heard so much negativity and shaming in the media regarding women who abort fetuses. The guilt over what I was feeling lead me to almost end it all. I almost left the love of my life to be a single parent to my still so new baby.

I am so ashamed.

I ended up miscarrying again.

Had I not miscarried, I would have gotten the abortion. Had I not miscarried or gotten the abortion, the pregnancy would have been enough to cause me to ruin my family and myself.

I was not emotionally able to handle another child.

I wanted to march in the women’s march, but I couldn’t. We have only one vehicle and only one source of income. My fiancé was working a fourteen-hour shift that day. If I would have had a way to get there, I would have gladly pulled out the baby carrier and marched with my son strapped to my back. I wanted to march, not only for myself for anyone sitting at home who had ever had the same feelings I had – just hoping that they could find the courage in themselves to do whatever they thought was best for them. Only them. No one else.

I also want my son to grow up knowing how to treat a woman. I want him to become a man who knows how to respect both himself and everyone else’s rights.

My life is tarnished but livable. His is pure and ready to be filled with all the things we have to teach him.

My name is “Candace.” But not really. And this was my Silent Marchers story.

***

“No woman has an abortion for fun.”
– Elizabeth Joan Smith

Silent Marchers: “Amy”

Silent Marchers is a series of stories from real women (and men) who wanted to march in the Women’s March on Washington and various sister marches across the nation, but could not be there for a variety of reasons. These are their stories of why they weren’t there, why they wish they could have been, and why they support this cause and all that it stands for. Their hope is that you might find yourself in one of their stories, and know you’re not alone. Together, we will resist.

***

Hello.

My name is “Amy.” But not really.

I wanted to march in the Women’s March. I was all set to travel to Washington D.C. to march with like-minded men and women for a cause I believed in.

But I didn’t quite make it.

Here’s why.

I suffer from anxiety/panic attacks. As much as I wanted to be there, the thoughts of being in the massive crowd with no escape was petrifying. I knew there would be no easy way to find friends there due to the crowds, friends who would make me feel safe, so my anxiety won.

1732007173256It keeps me from living my life and can be so debilitating that some days I don’t leave my room at all. I had even mentioned several times to my housemate that I didn’t want to go alone, and feel a bit betrayed as she swore she wasn’t going to any marches and went to one any way.

Petty, maybe, but I don’t trust her now.

For those of us with anxiety and depression there is so much stigma and guilt we bear that when our fellow female friends dismiss it, it’s even more devastating.

Here’s why I wish I could have been there.

I am a firm believer in equality for all. We have had the Equal Rights Act on the table for what, 90 some years, and it still isn’t ratified?? I am worried to death about insurance issues if the Affordable Care Act is repealed fully. My parents and most of my family will be affected. I worry about fellow veterans who are tossed aside after money-making wars. Our environment is in extreme danger and we do not have a back-up planet to go to!

Here’s what I’d like to say to anyone out there who may have found yourself in my position.

If you suffer like I do from anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues that kept you from marching, DO NOT BEAT YOURSELF UP OVER IT! Sign petitions, call your representatives, offer to volunteer at local political offices where the crowds are manageable. We can still fight the good fight, it just might not be on the mainlines. I am struggling with guilt over not going but I’m trying to do my part in the ways that won’t make me panic. It’s been a rough few months since Nov. 8. But I’m still here. I’m still fighting.

In my own way.

My name is “Amy.” (But not really.) And this was my Silent Marchers story.

***

“When an individual is protesting society’s refusal to acknowledge his dignity as a human being, his very act of protest confers dignity on him.”
– Bayard Rustin

 

This is Why

“Why can’t you just get over it?”

“What’s the big deal? You ‘lost.’ Move on.”

“Can’t we all just get along?”

“Give him a chance.”

“This is Sally. Sally voted for Trump. This is Bob. Bob voted for Hillary. Sally and Bob are still friends. Be like Sally and Bob.”

Oh yes. I’ve heard them all.

And so have you.

And each time I hear them, I stop for just a second and consider it. I mean, I like peace. Peace is pretty cool. I like when people get along. I like when we work together and hold hands and move forward. I like to forgive. I like to “let it go.” Those things feel good. And they sound great.

Ah. But then I remember.

I will not get over this.

“Why won’t you let it go?”

Let me try to put this in terms you might understand. Let me show you my why.

I want you to picture this in your mind. A man grabs my 16-year-old daughter and holds a gun to her head. He threatens her. He tells her that the life that she has known is going to change. He makes fun of her friends, her family, her.

I stand by and watch.

I wonder how this happened. Where did this man come from? What did my daughter ever do to him? Why can’t I stop this? He’s too strong. He holds the gun – the power – and I have no idea what to do. I hate him. I hate him for what he’s doing to her. I hate him for instilling this fear into her. I pray that he won’t pull the trigger, but know deep down that even if he doesn’t, so much damage is already done. So much.

And then.

Then I notice he’s not alone.

Standing behind him, is you. No, you aren’t holding the gun to my daughter’s head. And hey, you maybe even don’t agree with him holding it there. You think he’s being a little too rough. You know he’s not really going to hurt her. He’s just saying all that stuff, he doesn’t mean it.

And yet.

Yet.

YOU HANDED HIM THE GUN.

gunThat is my why, people.  THAT is my why.

The fear that this incoming administration has put into the hearts of so many in this country is UNFORGIVEABLE. And if you voted for it, you are to blame.

Are we really going to lose our insurance? Is the LGBTQ community really going to lose their rights? Are disabled children really going to lose protections within the school system?  Is the black community really going to again be looked down upon as the “less thans”?  Is there really going to be a wall built between us and our Mexican friends? Is our country really going to be besties with a dictator who has proven himself vile and evil? Are women really going to be treated as weak and unworthy of respect because our leader deems them so?

You know what? I don’t have those answers. I don’t know what’s going to happen.

But what I do know is this fear.

This fear is real. It’s debilitating.

And I know who is holding that gun.

And I know who handed to him.

Is he going to pull the trigger?  I don’t know if he will or not. But, as for me, the damage is already done.

No, I won’t be getting over this any time soon.

I will remember.

I will remember.

And I will fight with the last breath I have in my body to ensure that no one else will ever be held under that gunpoint again.

Watch me.

***

 

 

 

Let Us Grieve

“One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.”
– Bryant H. McGill

***

So, here’s the thing. I have a little favor to ask of you, my fellow Americans. It’s not much. Just a tiny little thing you might be able to do for me.

STOP MINIMIZING OTHER PEOPLE’S FEELINGS.

Okay?

Seriously, y’all. Stop it.  Now.

What does that mean? you ask.  “Minimizing other people’s feelings?” Valid question. So here, let me give you a few examples:

“Stop whining.”

“It’s not that big of a deal.”

“Calm down.”

“Get over it.”

If I had a dollar for every variation of those I’ve seen in the past 24 hours, I’d have enough money to advance to the presidency myself.

Here’s the deal. I’m going to let you in on a little secret, okay? Ready?

We don’t give a shit who the president of the United States is.

Yup, there it is. I said it.

Is that not very patriotic of me? Eh, maybe not. But it’s the friggin truth. Are we going to be inviting him over for dinner? Is he going to be babysitting our kids? Giving us marriage advice?  Exchanging presents with us on Christmas Eve?

No. He is nothing to us.

WE DON’T CARE.

But here’s what we do care about.

How the rhetoric and example of the person in the highest, utmost position of honor in our country is going to trickle down to the people we are around every day.

Think it doesn’t really matter?

Think again.

Yesterday, kids all over America asked to stay home from school. I know, because mine was one of them. Were they overreacting? Making a big deal out of nothing?  I don’t know. You tell me.

“I turned out the lights on my third graders at 7:38. They come in my room at 7:35. They were arguing about the election within minutes of walking in my room. I turned out the lights and told them that the election was not going to change how we treated each other and we would not be discussing it. They are eight years old. My class doesn’t fight. They were yelling at each other. If kids are acting this way, how far will adults go?”

These are the words from a THIRD GRADE teacher in our small, rural town in North Carolina today.

Third graders.

A facebook status from a concerned friend of adoptive parents:

“So, I’ve been holding this in all day but would like to share it with you now. A friend of mine and his wife have an adopted son from Central America. He came home scared and confused from school yesterday and said that some kid told him that if Trump wins the election then would be sent back to Mexico. My friends had not discussed Trumps policies with their son so this idea was coming straight from others. Connect the dots. This is simple and basic and real. It’s not some media pundit taking up air time. This is our America and it pisses me off. If you think this a problem in our society and would like to discuss how we can fix it then I welcome your thoughts. If you don’t recognize this as a problem then you are part of the problem…”

Again. Right here in Nowhere, North Carolina.

Or better yet.  Here.  How about this one?

“’Yes, sweet boy, God loves you. I love you too.”’

A co-worker whispered these words in answer to a sobbing student today. A student who was born in America, just like my girls. A student who takes care of his siblings and takes on more responsibility on his shoulders than my girls have ever known.

This student walked into his school today to taunting, “You’re going to be sent back to Mexico.” He buried his scared, hurt face in his teacher’s shoulder, and we found a safe place for him to cry. Through my own tears I said, “Find the good people to hang out with today. There is bad, but there are always good people.” And I prayed in my heart, please God, keep letting the good show up.”

That was a middle-school teacher in our same little rural town.

“Please God, keep letting the good show up.”

We are in the middle of nowhere, people. Obama, Trump, Hillary…those people are never going to step foot in this little town that is so far off of an interstate we barely know how to tell people to get to one. We don’t care which one of them is sitting in the oval office at any given time. We really don’t.

THIS is what we care about.

Each other.

If you think this election doesn’t affect every single person walking across this land we call home, you are sadly mistaken. If you are one that can just shrug it off and go about your business and not let it affect you – hallelujah. Good for you. I’d trade places with you in a heartbeat.

But I’m not.

These parents aren’t.

These teachers aren’t.

These students aren’t.

We are in pain, people. Our country is broken. Our hearts are broken. For lack of a more eloquent term, we are treating each other like shit.

And that hurts.

Some of us cry. Some of us rage. Some of us become smartasses. Some of us hide, some of us fight. We all have different ways of dealing with our emotions, but the underlying emotion remains the same.

Fear.

We are scared. We are petrified. We don’t know what is happening to us because most of us haven’t lived through something like this. This is new to us. Those of us under a certain age don’t remember segregation. Stories of the Holocaust are just stories in a history book. Same with stories of the misplaced Indians (well, unless you’re paying attention to the non-front-page headlines these days). We read those stories and we try to empathize but we weren’t there. We don’t understand it.

But when we see a little Mexican boy crying because his peers are telling him he’s going to be deported to a country he has never even seen?

Yeah. Suddenly, it’s real. We feel that.

If you don’t feel it, if you don’t have to experience it, if you’re not around the people who are acting like this – good for you. Really, good for you. I’m happy for you. I hope the rest of the world catches up to the utopia you’re surrounded by.

But for the rest of us out here?

This is very real.

We are hurting. We are scared.

And we deserve your respect.

americacry

Story about a Dog

“We fear things in proportion to our ignorance of them.”
–  Christian Nestell Bovee

I want to tell you a story about a dog.

LUCY2And it’s not just any dog, mind you.  I’d like you to meet my boyfriend Richard’s sweet little german shepherd, Lucy.  Isn’t she the cutest little booger?  So incredibly sweet.  So lovable.  So happy.  And so…*ahhem*…um, how shall I say this?…unintelligent?  Heh.  Bless her sweet little heart, she’s not exactly the brightest bulb in the box.  But she sure makes up for it in sweetness though, that’s for sure.  Well, I have a story about one of Lucy’s recent…let’s just say mental lapses…that I thought was pretty interesting.

Now Lucy is a little over a year old and, all her life, has been taught that she is NOT to come in the house.  She’s an outside dog, and that’s always been perfectly fine with her.  Well….now here we are faced with this awful winter we’ve been having, so we decided to try to bend the rules a little.  With sub-zero temps and wind chills to boot, it was time to let Lucy in the house.

Heh.  WRONG.

Lucy was having NONE of that.  You don’t teach a dog not to come in the house and then invite them in.  No way, not Miss Lucy.  Her daddy said a long time ago that she wasn’t supposed to be in the house and that was that, by gosh.  We cajoled, we pushed, we pulled, we begged…but she wasn’t budging.

So, on to Plan B.

Richard, being the sweetheart that he is, decided that he couldn’t bear knowing that all she was going to have as shelter would be a drafty garage.  Yes, it would block the worst of the wind, but it still wasn’t all that toasty in there.  So, he rigged up a little space heater for her right next to her dog bed.  That way, she would at least feel the heat from it as long as she stayed in her bed for the night.  Problem solved.  We’re going on a few months of this space heater warmth for Lucy on these cold winter nights and all has been working just fine, thank you.

Until yesterday, that is.

*sigh*

Now, I mentioned that Lucy is a sweet little thing right?  Sooooo sweet.  Smart?  Eh.  Notsomuch.

I left early in the morning for work and Richard was close behind.   We both had very long days yesterday, consisting of real estate work here and there and followed up by rehearsal (for me) and sound work (for him) at the theatre until late in the evening.  And then, after topping the night off with a quick bite to eat and a glass of wine or two at our favorite restaurant, we finally made our way back home.  And what did we find when we got there?

Lucy.  In the garage.

Stuck.

And by “stuck,” let me explain.  This space heater that I described to you is a long, low-to-the-ground type.  It resembles a baseboard heater somewhat.  Before Richard had left for the day, he went into the garage through the open door (on the opposite side of the heater) and Lucy had followed him in.  As he was leaving, he shut the garage door behind him with Lucy still inside, knowing that it was ok to do so since Lucy could easily go out the side door that we always keep open for her.  Well, what he didn’t realize, was that the heater (which was not on, by the way) had been pushed to the side just slightly and was now…um…”blocking” Lucy’s path to the side door.

Now, I mentioned this heater is low to the ground, right?  And by low to the ground, I mean probably 6 inches.  Tops.  So this 6-inch tall non-functioning space heater stood between Lucy and the side door of freedom.

It took us a minute to realize what the problem was once we got home.  I was the first to arrive and was shocked that Lucy didn’t come flying to me with her tail flapping as she always does.  I heard her whining in the garage, but she wouldn’t come to me.  I walked a little further in and saw that she was just standing there.  That’s it.  Just standing there looking at me.  (And crying, the poor little thing.)

So, I called to her.  “Come here, Lucy.  Come here, girl.”

Still.  Nothing.

That’s when I realized that she was refusing to step across the little heater.  I walked over and simply pushed the heater a few inches to the side, and let me tell you – you would not believe the happiness that burst forth from that sweet little dog.  She bolted out of that garage, went straight to the yard to ‘take care of some overdue business,’ and then came bounding back to me for her “Hello, I’m glad you’re home, I love you, I love you, I love you” kisses.

When Richard got home, we laughed about that silly dog being “stuck” in the garage, all because she refused to step across the heater.  But then the more we talked about it, the more we realized that, although the heater wasn’t hot at the moment, Lucy must have learned (the hard way, I’m guessing) that that heater could be hot.  So, she figured it was best to play it safe.  Even if it meant imprisonment.

Now, you guys realize I’m a writer right?  And one thing I’ve noticed about we writers…we simply cannot see a situation in only a literal sense.  Oh no – there is always a deeper meaning to just about everything.  This time was no exception.

I thought about poor sweet Lucy and wondered how many times I’ve done that myself.  How many times have I chosen imprisonment and sacrificed my freedom, simply because I was afraid to attempt something that may have hurt me in the past?  And how many times was that thing that I thought was going to hurt me, simply just there for my benefit and not going to hurt me at all?  And how many times have I, due to being ignorant to the harmlessness of the obstacle (simply because I was not willing to test it out), therefore remained in the tiny, lonely, confined space of my own making?

And while we’re on the subject – how many times have you done that?

Pretty dumb, isn’t it?

So, yes, maybe this was just one instance of a not-so-smart doggy getting stuck in a garage behind a heater.  Or…

Or.

Maybe this was one of those lessons that life puts in front of you all of the time…if you’ll just take a moment to stop and notice it.

I don’t know about you, but I sure do know that Lucy was pretty darn happy to be free.  Maybe you should give freedom a try yourself.

LUCY1

***

“Ultimately we know deeply that the other side of every fear is freedom.”
– Marilyn Ferguson

God’s Will?

godbird3

Ok, so since my Jesus post from a few weeks ago didn’t get me stoned, I’m gonna try this one out and see what happens.

I have a friend on Facebook who recently posted about the fact that he has battled and defeated many addictions throughout the course of his life, ranging from alcohol to food.  He made a blanket statement about how he was surprised at the fact that he had gotten through those trials, because he doesn’t feel like he has very much willpower.  So, as is par for the course with Facebook, the comments started rolling in.  And amid many of the well-intentioned comments, there seemed to exist the same theme.

“That’s because it wasn’t you, it was God’s work.”

“It was God’s will that you made it through.”

“God did it.”

*sigh*

Ok.  Get your stones ready.

Every single time I see comments like this, I shudder a little.  I’ve never really understood why that is.  Like I’ve mentioned in the past, I’m not the most religious person on the planet.  But I do believe there’s a God.  I do.  So, why does it bother me when I hear stuff like that?  Shouldn’t it make me feel good?  Strengthen my belief in the God that I believe in?

Well, this particular instance got me to thinking about this very thing.  I dug a little deeper into why those statements bother me so much, and this blog is about what I came up with.  Will you agree with me?  I don’t know.  It doesn’t matter, really.  When it comes to religion, politics, and all that other good controversial stuff, it’s rare to find two people who truly see eye-to-eye on it all.  And that’s ok.  But I’m going to share my viewpoint with you anyway.

I started this blog with a picture/quote by J. G. Holland that says “God gives every bird its food, but he does not throw it into its nest.” (And I can’t even begin to tell you how long it took to find one with the correct usage of its/it’s.  Phew!  I finally gave up and made my own.  Sheesh!  But, hey, that’s a blog for another day.  Back to the story….)  To be quite honest with you, I think that quote stands alone and says about all that I need to say.  Thank you, Mr. Holland.  But let me elaborate a little more anyway, because that’s what I do.

To me, what this quote is saying is that yes, the answers to our problems are out there.  They’re available to us.  God’s not gonna leave us hanging.  Like He says in Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you…”  I firmly believe that the God I believe in is not one who is going to toss some bad things our way and watch us suffer with no way out.  In fact, I don’t believe He is the one who throws bad things our way at all.  Life does that.  But regardless, there is going to be a way out of them.

But, see, here’s the thing.  It’s not going to happen until we get off our butts and do something to make it happen.  It’s not going to magically appear.

So, when people make such comments as “It was God’s will,” or “God did it,” I just can’t bring myself to believe that.  God may be the one who provided the answer (i.e. the “food for the birds”), but I don’t believe He is the one who made it happen (i.e. “dropped it in its mouth”).  In the case of my Facebook friend here, God did not stick down his big hand and physically turn my friend away from those addictions.  My friend did that.  He made the choice to turn away from those addictions and do the legwork that it took to break those bad habits.  And does he deserve the credit?  You bet he does.

annie2I compare this to when my own child got the chance to play the lead role in our local production of Annie.  Was I proud of her?  Holy crap, you bet I was.  But did I take the credit for her performance?  Of course not.  I may have helped her along the way.  I may have advised her, encouraged her, and supported her.  But did I do it for her?  Of course, I didn’t.  And if someone claimed as much, I’d probably be offended that they were focused on me and not giving her the credit she deserved.

I don’t think God feels much differently about His children as I do about mine.  Do you?

Why are we so scared of being proud of ourselves?  Or of allowing someone else to feel the pride that they deserve to feel?

I know we’ve all heard the saying “Pride goeth before a fall.”  Maybe that’s where this unfounded fear comes from.  But what you probably didn’t know is that this term is actually a shortened version of the verse found in Proverbs 16:18 that says: “Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”  When you look at that term in its entirety, as it is fully stated in the proverb, the “pride” it’s referring to is not the pride that comes from feeling as if you’ve done something good.  Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines “pride” in two ways:

  1. Pride:  a feeling that you are more important and better than other people; and
  2. Pride:  a feeling of happiness that you get when you or someone you know does something good, difficult, etc.

That first definition is what that verse is referring to.  Not the second.  Pride is a feeling of happiness.  Don’t you think God wants us to be happy?  There is nothing wrong with feeling proud of yourself.  Nothing.  And, on that same token, there’s nothing wrong with encouraging people to feel that pride in themselves.  They worked hard; they deserve it.  And the crazy thing is that the more pride you feel in yourself, the more likely you’ll be to keep going.  Whether it’s fighting an addiction, working to better yourself physically, or maybe even…oh, I don’t know…writing?  When someone recognizes your abilities and your talents, it really is ok to accept that recognition and bask in the glow of a job well done.  Besides, you never know who you might be inspiring in the process.

So, hey.  Maybe that might be something for you to think about the next time you innocently tell someone that it was God’s will when something good happens.  Don’t negate what they have done by telling them that they didn’t do it.  And don’t make the others out there who haven’t had such good fortune wonder why God isn’t on their side too.  It’s just silly.  Recognize them for the good that they have done, and congratulate them for it.  They worked hard for it, whether they realize it or not, and they deserve to feel pride in themselves for what they’ve accomplished.  And if you’re one of those people who deflect the compliments in that same manner?  Maybe you should work on not doing that anymore.  Yes, maybe God provided support and encouragement along the way, much like I did for my daughter as she found her way to playing the role of Annie, but I certainly didn’t pick her up and place her on that stage.  Recognize your own efforts and applaud them.

And you know what?  I’d be willing to bet that God is pretty darn proud of you, too.

***

“Calm self-confidence is as far from conceit as the desire to earn a decent living is remote from greed.”
– Channing Pollock