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Back Up and New Changes!

Okay!

So I’m very excited to announce some BIG changes happening with Beloved Unlovables. I hope you’ll become just as excited as I am.

I’m transitioning jobs right now moving to full time for the first time in 8 years when I had been completely homeless and went on disability for my complex PTSD at just 21 years old. This is HUGE. This will also mean I lose my disability check. The downside is it could cause my already tough financial situation to suffer a bit more but the GOOD NEWS (more like GREAT) is it will give me the freedom to peruse Beloved Unlovables further and add MERCHANDISE without fearing losing that check. My disability income really helped me get on my feet but I started to allow it to become a safety net and hold me back. I’m TERRIFIED but it’s more of the type of scared you feel at the top of the first hill of a rollercoaster.

Saying this, I want to tell you what changes you can expect:

First, I’m taking a break from Facebook right now and for my mental health I’m going to need to continue with that for at least a while. It’s become a very bad trigger and my mental health and recovery will always be placed first in my endeavors. HOWEVER, INSTAGRAM is where it’s happening. 🙂 I’m using the handle @belovedunlovable (no s). I believe I created one with an s but having the memory issues I do (thank you PTSD) I forgot how to log in. So make sure you follow the correct handle for daily poems, and cute pictures of my new kitten featured in my story.

Second, as I mentioned I will be adding merchandise to this site. I’m not being overly specific at this time because I’m definitely still in the early stages of this process. My goal is to have the merchandise page with a few sellable items this NOVEMBER, but tune into Instagram (and I’ll try to post here) for updates. My goal is to have it out before Black Friday so you can get your awesome Beloved Unlovables gear and writings during your holiday shopping. I’m excited and hope you will be too.

If you follow me on Instagram I’m going to start weekly live blogs. I did my first one this week announcing these changes. Right now it’s going to be Wednesday’s at 8PM EST, but as I mentioned, I’m a single mom and just getting started so it could change a bit. Hang in there with me during this transition stage. In the videos I’ll announce updates and changes and sort of my thoughts and successes and trials for the week. I hope it’ll inspire and be informative and that you’ll join me. Guest appearances by Koa, the warrior kitten, also almost guaranteed. We found him dehydrated outside under the cars last week and I named him this sealing the deal.

Maybe the most obvious change you’ll see is a definite shift in the look of Beloved Unlovables with a more pinpoint focus. I’ve been a little all over the place, but I’ve decided to really narrow what I’m doing. My message is still the same: All people are beloved and deserve to be loved as they are right now. However, I’m going to really start to focus on my poetry and using that as my means to spread this message and get my voice out into the world.

As far as this webpage and blog, I’m a little uncertain right now and still trying to make executive decisions as to what I want to use it for and how often. Please, please, please follow me on Instagram for DAILY poetry because I’m not certain I’ll be using this blog space for that purpose. I think right now (of course it’s subject to change) I’m going to use this space more informative to keep you up to date on what I’m doing. I really hope to start doing some local poetry readings and it’s always been my ultimate goal, even in the throes of my struggles with my PTSD, to share my story and fight stigma and inspire others to do the same, so I’m hoping by taking a more direct focus I will be able to find some doors open and get out into the world. Therefore you’ll be able to check in here for where I’ll be and what I’ll be doing.

Now those are the definite changes that will be happening. Just to kind of share where my headspace is thinking as far as beyond that, eventually I want to start growing a team of people to grow Beloved Unlovables (I already have a few helpers, but they’re more advisors vs partners) and get out into the community. I’d like to attend relevant events that share the mission of spreading love or creating change to help “Unlovables” get equal rights. I will fight for love for all people and stand beside other unlovables. I also have a few ideas for charities I want to create or get involved with, but that will take place after I’ve grown a bit. So there’s definitely a long term destination too, but even as liberal as I am I want to stay true to love for ALL people. I definitely fight for the Unlovables like those with mental illness, single parents, the poor and homeless, refugees, different races, different religions, etc, but listen y’all, we are one body. I will seek to love the white conservative with the same gritty, unconditional love as I do my low income, black, single parent friend. I hope people will see this. I’m NOT going to be bashing anyone or judging. Beloved Unlovables has been created to advocate love.

I will try to post weekly here, however, to update and get my thoughts out, but for the poetry focus, again, hop over to Instagram. Let me get comfortable there and then I might join the twitter scene, but y’all — I REALLY don’t like social media. This is WAY outside my comfort zone. Please be patient with me. I really need support and encouragement throughout this process and will love to hear feedback and input.

And as always, remember, YOU are beloved and deserve to be loved no matter what. It doesn’t matter how unlovable you feel or are made to feel, YOU are beloved as you are RIGHT now. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a valley or on the top of the mountain. Who you are is enough. You deserve to be loved because you are beloved.

My new hashtag for this is going to be #youare so follow, like, and share and join me in spreading the love.

Thanks guys!!

Elizabeth

Here’s a preview on the new Instagram vibe from @belovedunlovable

Temporarily Closed for Renovation

Thank you for your patience as I take a break to refocus and reorganize to make Beloved Unlovables as best as it can be. Hopefully in the near future I will be back up and writing more frequently again.

Don’t forget to allow yourself to be loved because you are so beloved!

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Photo by Anamul Rezwan on Pexels.com

Poem: Don’t Want to Be Your Good Deed

I figured this poem would offend people when I posted it so I deleted it so I could add clarification. I’m talking about accepting gifts that are trying to meet needs of mine. We’ve come complacent just giving in the short term without considering the long term. I think doing small acts of kindness is nice but what change could we create if we joined together and fought for something bigger and more satisfying and longer lasting. We have the power to say it is wrong the poor are being oppressed and to do more than give a meal. We can feed someone for a day or we can fight and work hard and make it so these people, me and my people, have the opportunity to fish at the same pool which right now has too many obstacles and locked doors between us. I don’t want people to use me to not see that more needs done and to look for ways to do more. If I need help, I can go to my church. I know I can go to them and I trust they will help me. If you want to get me a gift just because that’s great too. I don’t want gifts trying to meet my needs because so many have it worse and need help. What will help me most is for you to fight with me to help me reach my dream. I am grateful for the generosity around me and believe we can do something incredible if we focus our efforts and do it with purpose. I have a dream but I need help reaching it. Thank you.

I don’t want to be your good deed

I’m not your charity case

A token to assuage your guilt

Whenever you feel like dipping into your purse

To make yourself feel better

As I feel worse

I don’t want to be your good deed

Because you find it easy to give to me

When my brothers and sisters are dying

But you neglect their need.

I don’t want to be your good deed

An item on your list

That you can simply check off

When it’s convenient for you to give.

I don’t want to be your good deed

No more will I accept your gifts

Even in my needing

Your bandaids ain’t stopping my bleeding.

I don’t want to be your good deed

I want to be the human I am

I want my community to rise

No longer condemned.

I don’t want to be your good deed

Under your control

Dependent on you to live

I’ll die before I ever am again

Your good deed.

#iamhuman #poem #iammore #seeme #hearme #someoneplease #iamhuman

What I am Fighting For

People hear me tell my story of being a single, mentally disabled mother raising my daughter near the poverty line. I say I’m living in poverty but TECHNICALLY that’s not true. You see, I’m TECHNICALLY just above the line which is worse because I don’t qualify for many assistances that I used to when I was absolutely below the poverty line. Now that I have a part time job, I’m overqualified for food stamps, daycare assistance, supplemental medical coverage to pay for copays and medicine, and any sort of financial support. I’m barely above a line that’s barely moved for years and years even though food, rent, gas, etc has all gone up. But people don’t care about the poor. They blame us. This is also true of mental illness. Being both just sucks and disabled poor are treated just as bad, if not worse, than non disabled poor but all of us are human.

Fun fact before I continue: Did you know in the Nixon era in the very late 1950’s the institutionalization of mentally disabled persons was demolished. Yay! Okay, so other minorities earned their freedom centuries before but finally in 1958 we earned ours. As great as this sounds, however, do you know where all of those people who had been institutionalized went? Well most of them hadn’t ever successfully lived on their own and either immediately or eventually ended up homeless on the streets where 60 years later they still are because as much as we want to say we’ve made progress with mental illness and have enough support, the truth is there isn’t. I can’t work full time because of my severe disability but I also can’t afford any care because recently my government assistance to supplement my Medicare was terminated because I make too much money from my disability and part time job (which is my first job I’ve been successful holding for more than a year despite working from the time I was 15 until I was 20 when I ended up homeless to the point of not being able to work anymore until I got my job at the library with incredible and rare individuals).

And let me just point out to those who don’t know me or those who do but haven’t thought about this: statistically I should not be in the position I am, a single mother, a high school drop out, no college, on disability, almost poverty, government housing, a victim of police brutality, oppressed and struggling. I am a white girl who grew up with parents who are still married and both with college degrees in middle class. It’s this very point though: that we neglect anomalies, that led to my demise. It’s why no one believed my abuse. I think it’s easy to think abuse only happens in single parent, or poor income, or disadvantaged houses. To think abuse happens in families that appear so normal and happy is very damaging. We live in a culture of victim blaming and shaming so every time I spoke or told of my abuse, I very often was blamed or accused of exaggerating or being overly sensitive or asking for it. I had my abuse invalidated and ignored. Come adulthood, after being kicked out at 17 and advised by my school to drop out, when the abuse continued, I stopped telling. When I got pregnant, my life was in such shambles, no one even cared I might not have wanted it. No one asked. People just told me I wasn’t fit to be a mother.

I started to downplay my abuse too. It was easier for people to think I wanted it than to try to tell people the truth and be told it wasn’t valid or that I should have just said no or that I was lying. It was easier to laugh about the home abuse and the police brutality because I knew no one would support me. Even today, as I try to thrive as a single mother despite what I’ve been through, I still have people not believe me or down play what I went through. I think a lot of this does come from not fitting in the statistics. That’s the worst though because when you’re not quite one thing or the other, that’s the easiest place to fall through the cracks. I call it the in between and that’s a much worse place to be because that’s where no one cares.

So why do I speak? People usually do care when I speak now and the first thing people usually try to do or offer to do is buy me food or give me money. I-do-not-want-this. Period. And I offend people so often by refusing this. “You’re poor, you need it.” No. Do you hear me? No. What I need is change. I need a system that cares about the in between.

I want the assistance income level changed higher so I can have access to healthcare so that I can FINALLY heal from my trauma and abuse that you cannot comprehend. How many times were you raped? By how many men? How many times were you thrown to the hard ground, had your head slammed full force onto tile flooring as a grown male police officer shoved his knee into your back and yanked your arms together behind your back and put cuffs as tight as they could dig into your wrists as he screamed and shouted you were a waste of his time and he should have let you kill yourself and he was going to press charges of destruction of property because in this ordeal when you froze–because of your history of abuse and resulted mental illness–and he took it as insubordination he broke his sunglasses? How many times were you abused silently and laughed at by the abusers and then by the people who believed the abusers as you stood there humiliated and abused for your ENTIRE childhood? How many of you were told to drop out of school by your school? How many of you cut yourself because you desperately needed help and NO ONE would rescue you no matter how many times you begged?

Do you know how many times I have begged people with helpless tears in my eyes and helplessness in my soul to please, please help me only to be denied or worse yet blamed?

And now because no one believed me, I entered a system of poverty, of being government dependent where once again I am blamed, humiliated, and shamed for my misfortune. I am STILL dependent on others for my needs and cannot object to mistreatment because they have what I need. I have to endure abuse STILL because what I need is beyond my reach and I am STILL blamed for it.

I want help. I want access to help so I can heal and cope with my horrible flashbacks, my anxiety, my nightmares all from my complex ptsd.

I also want education. I want my pastors and church members, teachers and students, bosses and coworkers, police and service workers, everyone to be educated about mental illness and poverty and how especially trauma victims might respond. How we think. What we endure. I want people to be able to help me through my flashbacks and panic attacks when they are happening without needing my help because in those moments I should not be expected to educate and am not capable of doing so. I want people to know what my scars mean and not judge me or have assumptions that take away my identity of a human like I can’t feel pain. I want people to see the schizophrenic off their meds and see more than a raving, crazy lunatic. I want no more people, especially black men, shot to death during a mental health crisis like happened less than a year ago here in my city. No more of the mentally ill being victims of police brutality. No more of any oppressed minority being victims. No more fear because there is understanding. There is education. I want education.

I want a higher poverty line for government assistance so that people who start to work again disabled or not disabled aren’t penalized for it. I want more people to be able to re-enter the work world because they have access to daycare assistance. I want no more hungry children OR adults to have access to food programs because like my child said when I took her to a snack program just for kids, “adults need to eat too.”

I want more and better quality assistance programs to get those addicted clean and the homeless off the streets. America is one of the worst countries for this and we are one of the richest. This is wrong and I think it comes largely from our lack of empathy towards these groups: the beggars and the addicts. It’s easy to blame them but don’t forget you first threw them on the street 60 years ago and then made it so difficult for them to do any better.

I want programs that allow college students to just be students and not have to work so that they can focus on school and getting an education. I want more support for students with disabilities and not just longer test times. I want students to be educated about the programs and if one is struggling, to have the school work with them to find a program to help them succeed. I want free daycare for single parents trying to attend school on school premise so they can earn a degree as well as financial support because college is hard enough without raising a family and working to support them.

I want empathy. I want love. I want people treated as people whether they wear a uniform or hold a cardboard sign. When speaking or interacting with government agencies, I want kindness and empathy. So many times I’ve been spoken to horribly and left in tears. I’ve been put down and spoken down to when asking questions. And I want the system easier to navigate. Someone should not have to go to so many different places and fill out so many papers and then be penalized when something is lost or forgotten or missed. We are human in the system. When decisions are made that effect a group, I don’t want it made solely by authority. I want those effected to be included and given the opportunity to speak and then have their voice heard. I want more opportunities for oppressed people to have their voice heard and be included in decision making.

Have you ever spoken to a homeless person before? Have you ever sat next to the homeless man holding his cardboard sign asking for money? Have you ever asked his name? I have and he said his name was John but everyone just called him cowboy because no one knew his name. He asked me why I cared because he was just an old alcoholic who was going to die soon. I held out my scarred arms and said we all make mistakes. I haven’t seen John for a really long time and I don’t know if he’s okay. I don’t know if he’s alive. I don’t know if the abused boy I used to love talking about God to who had to be asked to leave for bedbugs is okay. I don’t know if the two different patrons, one who used to be a volunteer, whose houses were both condemned in the last six months, the latter just a few weeks ago are warm and safe whose biggest fault was being poor. They are GOOD people but what matters most is they are all people. I want people to stop being treated as less than and judged and blamed. I want them forgiven and helped instead of punished and judged. I want people to care just as much as I do. We are all human and beloved and deserve to be loved whether we are illegal immigrants, refugees, addicts, homeless, black, Hispanic, criminals, mentally ill, poor, rich, white, middle class, farmers, police, students, children, etc. We are all human and all persons are beloved and deserve to be loved. We deserve to have our pain and struggles validated and believed.

Don’t buy me groceries. I’ll ask you if I want your financial help. You can feed me, but you’ll never satisfy my hunger because I am hungry for change and an end of oppression. I am hungry for love–for ALL people. See me. HEAR me. Validate my pain and show me you care not just by this, but by your actions and not just toward me but toward others as well. I notice. I hear. I see what you post on social media. I hear how you speak about people behind your back. I notice what you don’t say. The enemy of oppression is not people. The enemy is hate and ignorance. Only love will end this. We must open our hearts to love so that this oppression can end.

Please. I am here again with helpless tears begging for a more lasting help. Please help me with love. I need help. I need love.

Inspiring Innocence

I took my five year old daughter to the library because they were serving a free snack this evening. We are struggling so badly and I was desperate to even supplement a little. I had been looking for free dinners but Thursday’s seem sadly unaccounted for. I guess there’s not a lot of need on Thursday nights. Any place that seemed slightly hopeful would have cost more in gas than it’s worth. As it was this wasn’t the closest library to where we live. There’s not a big enough need.

I had fucked up bad as a parent yesterday. I wouldn’t blame her for hating me forever. I stopped by the church to pray with my pastor on the way when my mailbox brought more bad news on the way out of our neighborhood. I seriously cannot take anymore.

Then as we arrived and my daughter started to eat her snack, she asks, “Mommy, you want to share?” Offering me a goldfish cracker from her small bag.

“No baby,” I said. “Them snacks are just for the kiddos.”

“But grown ups need to eat too,” she said empathetically.

Y’all, children can teach us so much. I lied and told her I wasn’t hungry and the truth is just because my stomach might be, my heart couldn’t be any more full.

Through Hungry Eyes

The world looks so much different when you’re hungry. Of course this is true if you just are getting close to meal time but it’s so much worse when you don’t know where your next meal is coming from or how you’re going to feed your child. You see food and have so many emotions. Do I eat it and feel worse hunger later when its nutrients wear off? Do I not eat it and continue to feel like shit mentally and physically? Do I hoard it and bring it home to my child? Do I feed her first or do I feed myself so I can mentally handle parenting demands?

I fucked up so badly yesterday as I lost it and picked her up and spanked her several times. I want to literally die. I cussed at her as she and I both screamed. She was throwing a tantrum because I wouldn’t let her eat what she wanted to eat because she doesn’t understand what’s at stake. She can’t comprehend the hunger I’m feeling so she can eat. She doesn’t get it and she was having a bad day yesterday. I made it worse. She made a point of telling me over and over. Can I quit now?

Jokes about food like the term “hangry” no longer feels funny. I want to scream and cuss everyone out because of this word “hangry” because yeah I’m fucking pissed at the world because of my hunger but it’s not funny when you don’t know when it’s going to end.

And I’m angry at people who don’t understand and want to buy us groceries or feed us a meal. It won’t sustain us. Do you understand?! It feels like you’re playing with us. One, you are in control as you dictated what and how much you give us. I’m powerless to you as you hold what I need. Also, you can’t sustain feeding us every week and so your one time generosity is cruel as you give and take away. This part of getting used to eating is HELL. So you’ll excuse me when I won’t let you buy us food.

And I can’t focus on anything but eating. I can barely answer yes or no questions. There might be a solution I haven’t thought of, but I can’t think. I’m starving. I’m trying to feed my child. We’ve had so much of our assistance cut all because I’m WORKING. Do you understand how horrible that injustice is? I’m starving worse now that I’m working than when I wasn’t. But don’t expect me to be able to have complex conversations right now. Don’t ask me how I am. I’m starving. I’m fucking miserable. I’m hungry and scared and fighting on empty. I’m familiar with this. I have been through these famines in the past but it’s so much worse not having self injury as escape and having a child dependent on me.

If you try to push me or ask me complex questions, I will snap at you. I’m NOT trying to be mean or rude. I am HUNGRY. All I can think about is food. The only conversation I could have at length is about food. About eating. But even now that is too painful to pretend so I sit with headphones on consumed by my hunger and try to make something out of it. I try to hold the tears and anger in but I just feel too weak.

If you see me, know I can’t see you. The only thing I am thinking about is eating and how to make this hell end and make it end for others too. Go vegan if you want to help like I do because it could end world hunger 16 times. Volunteer at food pantries, don’t just donate food and money. Actually go there and help out and listen to the stories of the people there. Educate yourself. Rally to change the poverty line and assistance line. Quit hoarding your money and blaming us for not being able to get out. The person making $50,000 pays about $50/YEAR in taxes for food and welfare programs. Surely you can spare a bit more so that my daughter and I can eat. I pay taxes too. I work. I work disabled. I work hungry. I work exhausted. Fight with me and hear my story. Quit acting like hunger happens far away. See my face. See my hunger and look at me. I am here. Do you even care?

Stupid sheep.

Silent Hunger

As the hunger starts to sink in, first I get incredibly emotional. I can barely function and things like small talk which I find draining cause me to go running to the bathroom to cry it out. When I know we are going to struggle to eat, fear penetrates every aspect of my life and I’m consumed with food. Every time I open the fridge or a cabinet, I take a mental note of how much food is left and right now, I’m terrified. Every time my daughter takes a snack, I sometimes have to stop her because I need food for her lunches. Whenever our weekly fellowship dinner is canceled at church (like it was for two weeks for the holiday) I want to cry because I think “that’s one more meal I have to provide.” Whenever I have to pay for gas or the copay for the therapy appointment I had, my thought was “$20 less for food.” My thoughts and thinking morph into thoughts all about food and eating.

Thinking in general is the next to go along with physical weakness. This is a HUGE problem for my job. I shelve books at a library. I start to feel dizzy every time I stand from putting a book on the lower shelves. I look at titles, authors, and call numbers and in a slow haze, they blur and I make frequent shelving mistakes. Sometimes the words seem to move on the cover. The whole world feels numb and all I want to do is lay down and sleep. I can’t. Working is my only hope to get food I am so in need of.

I get angry too. I know it’s irrational, but I find myself getting angry at everything and wanting to yell at anyone who is irrationally the source of my annoyance, “at least you and your family have food!” I want to scream. I’m hungry. It’s not fair I’m hungry. I want food!

I get scared to eat available food. What if it runs out. What if I’m more hungry tomorrow and should save it for then. I won’t eat anything my daughter might eat.

As I was in the stacks today, I also started getting hot flashes. It came with bouts of weakness. I fight with everything in me to do my physical job. I haven’t been talking to my coworkers. I have to consume energy and talking would take too much. Plus I’m worried I’ll snap at them and if I say, “I’m sorry, I’m hungry,” what does that mean?

And people want to help and sometimes bring food, but people don’t get that sometimes make things worse. You see, eventually my body will get used to this hunger again and I’ll find strength in it. My stomach won’t hurt so badly. I won’t crave food and I’ll be able to adjust. This part, though, the having to get used to the crumbs is the hardest.

I just wish people knew how hard it is. Don’t feed me if you want to help. That’s a temporary fix. Fight with me to change the system. I know I’m lucky because as hungry as I am, I’ll never starve to death from my hunger nor will my daughter. I might cry, but I won’t die. And the little energy I have left I will use to fight. If I can find energy to fight despite my pain, you can too.

Please help me. I’m starving. So many people are starving and losing jobs and hope because the only thing they can think about is food.

I’m so hungry.

Fourth Recovery Anniversary

He asked me if the pain bothered me at all. I felt so ashamed. I’m used to this question. As I used to cringe while having self inflicted wounds stitched at the emergency room, it always surprised the workers at my intolerance to the pain.

“I’m human!” I want to scream, “of course the pain bothers me!”

Someone went as far to think because I used to self injure, childbirth pain wouldn’t bother me. “You don’t mind pain,” she had said per sumptuously, “so that part of childbirth won’t bother you.”

I’m human. Of course the pain bothers me.

“For pleasure or for pain?” Someone at a park casually asked as a conversation starter one summer. It was the summer right before I ended up homeless. I used cutting to convince the hospital I needed help. No one would listen any other way. I was all alone. Cutting disconnected me from the horrid emotional pain temporarily.

I’m human. Of course the pain bothers me.

Sometimes it makes me so angry when people more often than not make this assumption; the assumption I don’t mind pain. “Are you a fucking idiot!?” I imagine at times screaming at them. “I’m human! Of course the pain bothers me.”

I didn’t write a blog post Tuesday like I was going to. I barely made it through without a relapse that day. It wasn’t the pain I missed; it was the ESCAPE from a MUCH WORSE pain on the inside.

I think people see my scars and hear they are self inflicted and see how horrible and deep the wounds once were. Never experiencing what I have or having survived my traumas, it seems people can only surmise that I enjoy pain. Let me make this clear: I don’t. I HATE pain. I almost pass out with needles. If I am not disconnected from my body, the physical pain is awful and I’m a baby with it. I am human. Of course the pain bothers me.

Self injury isn’t an enjoyment of pain. It’s not a love of attention. It’s a signal of the most unbearable emotional pain and a desperate plea for help. I cut because of that, and even the most horrible, deep, and gaping wounds were scratches compared to the wounds that were inside. Scientifically proven, you are unable to feel intense emotional pain and intense physical pain at the same time. This is what people don’t understand. If they did, then maybe instead of asking if I am bothered by pain, they would already know and say instead, “Damn, you must have survived hell.”

Some people get this. I’m always slightly stunned when perfect strangers congratulate and thank me. I cherish the letter from an anonymous teenage girl, the time an equal stranger bought mine and my daughter’s lunch after high fiving me when she asked and I told her I was succeeding with my recovery, and all the inspiring, vulnerable, and intimate conversations I’ve had. I am honored and they claim I inspire and motivate them, but they are the ones who seem to find me on my weakest days when I’m ready to quit and they are my strength and reason I keep fighting.

I am human and yes, pain bothers me. It always has and always will. You can’t imagine cutting your skin like I have because you can’t imagine the hell inside I have endured. Now recovery means no escape and some days that means all I can do is lay in a ball on the floor and sob. Some days it means sleeping on my floor instead of my bed. Some days it means coping poorly and getting drunk. Some days it means going to bed at 7:30 and letting my daughter watch cartoons. Some days it means not sleeping at all. Some days it means sitting in an empty sanctuary and sobbing desperately to God, barely holding on. Every day it means I’m doing it, though. I am fighting and I am living. I am facing that pain and even on the days I do it a mess, I rise the next morning alive and without new cuts and I know: I am getting stronger. I am doing this. I am human and I endured the pain.

Thank you for all those who see me and treat me as human and continually cheer me on and allow me to be human and bring light into my darkness. Thank you.

Poem. Yesterday.

I walked in the gutter

Where all the trash is thrown

No side walk to walk on

My ankles cut by twigs and grass.

Cars sped by

Part of me cared what they thought of me

The other part thought

Fuck you.

I pondered where they were going

As music from my headphones flooded my soul

And was expelled through each frozen fog of my breath

Wherever they were headed

I knew they couldn’t be farther from where I was

Than when they passed me by

In the gutter that I trod.

My toes and fingers hurt

Tortured by the frigid air

My cheeks stung with the slapping harsh wind

My legs cramped

I couldn’t take another step

So I took one hundred more.

When I arrived

Shivering and weak

Hungry for lack of food

I looked for the unlocked door.

No one saw me slip in.

The warmth

I wanted to curl up on the floor and sleep right where I stood

Instead I walked up steps

Pulled open heavy doors

And slipped inside the cold, dark room.

I sat

I sat in a pew

And shivered violently

Releasing so many helpless tears

I sobbed alone as my body shook

Such a perfect, pretty place I thought

But unapologetically cold

The perfect metaphor for what the church has become.

The stained glass cross

Full of colorful broken pieces

Let in the only light

It reflected upon the broken pieces I brought in

Hands empty

Nothing to give

It gave me its light.

That

I thought

Was what the church should be synonymous to

Not a cold dark room

But colorful broken pieces

That bring light to other broken pieces

Not unapologetically

Unconditionally.

This place was too perfect for the king I know

This room wasn’t made to make him happy

It was made with money to make us pretty

Jesus was not that kind of king.

I stood under the cross and said with quiet tone

God I need you

Then I walked back home

In the gutter

Where all the trash is thrown.