Tuesday, October 17, 2017

#Metoo and Why We Don't Get to be Surprised

Yesterday, the hashtag #metoo went viral. A rally cry for those who have suffered sexual harassment or abuse, social media flooded with the stark reality of the sheer number of people (mostly women) who have experienced this horrific injustice.

As Dan and I talked about the hashtag while we got ready for bed I made the comment, “Almost every woman can make that claim.” That’s crazy, right? Surely an exaggeration after being swept up in the emotional toll of an online movement.

It’s not.

I would be hard pressed to find a single one of my women friends who hasn’t been the subject of unwanted looks, comments, advances, or touch. Some by strangers, others by people they knew, even trusted and loved. This is staggering but not surprising anymore. #Metoo has been trending in hushed whispers and trusted companionship for ages. It’s not new to women. So why has it taken so long for women to speak up?

First, it hasn’t. It’s just taken this long for people to listen.

Second, the answer to this (offensive, victim blaming) question is easy. 

We as a society have decided that there are a million things more important than the bodily, spiritual, and emotional safety of our people. And in doing so we have decided to protect the abuser and not the abused.

We protect them in our education system because we have decided that game wins and school pride are more important than the human spirit.

We protect them in our churches and cathedrals because we have decided that appearances and reputation are more important than the holiness of a person’s intrinsic worth.

We protect them in our entertainment because we have decided a few hours of amusement and distraction are more important than the shattered lives littered behind the scenes.

We protect them in our government because we have decided that money and party lines are more important than the value of human dignity.

We protect them in our communities, neighborhoods, our homes because confrontation is hard and messy and challenging and why rock the boat when it’s only a very battered, shame filled, broken heart at stake?

We live in a country where a man can PUBLICALLY sexually assault an unconscious woman—he can literally be caught in the act of sexual assault—and he will be sentenced to six months in jail. And only serve three.

We live in a country where a politician can brag about his sexual predatory ways, and remain unapologetic for it, and we will give him more power by electing him to the highest office in the land.

We live in a country where a football coach can abuse countless children for years, and school officials will cover it up for the sake of a solid sports program.  

We live in a country where I don’t even have to name names or post links to the situations above because we all know who they are, and yet it still isn’t enough.

We place both the blame of the incident AND the burden of finding a solution at the feet of those who are in desperate need of help. “Why didn’t you speak up sooner?” We don’t get to be surprised that the abused don’t speak up. We as a nation have given them too many reasons not to do it. But when they get brave, when a movement sparks and safety comes in numbers, then for the sake of everything good and holy, pay attention. Don’t write it off, don’t play dumb, don’t act like it’s someone else’s problem. It’s our collective problem, our burden to share. And we need all hands on deck to create a solution.

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Amazing, Disgusting Miracle of Children.

Let me tell you something about kids.

They are beautiful, smart, miraculous creatures. They're always learning and soaking up information. They give the best, albeit slightly sticky, hugs. Their humor consists mostly of nonsensical knock-knock jokes, but I guarantee you there is nothing funnier on the planet. Their bar for what constitutes as amazing is basement level low. You could put a bow on half an Oreo and they will freak the heck out. They are easy to please and fun to hang around. 

Kids are pretty cool. 

But let me tell you something else about kids. 

They are pretty gross. 

Friday, June 16, 2017

People Pleaser

I have been a people pleaser my whole life. I genuinely want the people around me to be happy, to be content, to have peace. I want to help cultivate that in their lives, even if in small ways. But I also know that I don’t do well with tension and conflict, and the easiest way to avoid these things is to make sure the people around me are happy. I know, it’s super healthy. I don't want people to be disappointed or upset, and I especially don't want them to be disappointed or upset with me. I say yes to requests before I have time to process what is being asked of me, let alone if I actually want to do it (or even should do it). More times than I can count, I've "yes-ed" my way to a too-full plate and an empty cup.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Some People Just Like to Watch the Toys Burn.

In the on going case of Matthew Slater vs. His Mother's Oven, I submit more evidence for the jury's consideration.

(Please note that no names, conversations, or melted utensils/toys have been changed to protect the crazy, as the people involved couldn't make this nonsense up if they tried)

Exhibit A: The mother's desperate plea for the vacation that seems so close, yet so far away.
The jury will note the father's attempt at lightening the mood. Let the record show that the mother is not having it. 

Exhibit B: The mother CAN'T EVEN
The father cries out to the Father.

Close up of Exhibit B
Banana Block Bread

Exhibit C: The mother's face caught in its natural "WHAT ARE YOU DOING" state. 
The jury is asked not to be swayed by the boy's seemingly innocent "Who, me?" expression. 

This conclude's today's portion of the trial. There will be a brief recess in which the mother will work on Exhibit D: A bucket of her own tears. 

But wait! Surprise bonus evidence has just become available: Heat resistant spatulas 
Please note: Evidence given to mother from another mom of boys. Solidarity, man. 

Friday, April 7, 2017

The Hidden Gift of a Hard Year

“I’m going to die someday.”

Dan and I were out to dinner a month back, and he asked me what had been on my heart lately (swoon! Fellas, ask your ladies this often. Then get comfortable for the next two to ten hours). This party starter was my response.

“I’m going to die. You’re going to die. What are we doing with our lives? I’m terrified we’re going to wake up in twenty years and still be wishing instead of doing. We are so busy busy busy all the time, but what are we actually doing?”

(I can be a real indie movie when the mood strikes.)

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Overcoming the Fickle Heart

I usually read the above verse and think of all the ways I need to protect my heart from the world. I need to be mindful of the shows I watch, the books I read, the music I put on in the car. I need to be careful of the people I choose to have in my life and the places where I spend my time.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

I Had a Baby and My Push Present Was Postpartum Depression.

(For a real-time feel for this piece, please go pace around the room you’re in, text GIFS about your emotional state to your significant other, and scour the internet for the idiot who came up with the term “Baby Blues,” who you know has to be a dude because no woman who has ever experienced the reeling post-partum months would describe them as something as patronizing as “Baby Blues.” For added good measure, day dream about kicking that person in the shins repeatedly.)

I haven’t even begun to write this post yet, and I already feel awkward and uncomfortable. That’s usually a healthy indicator that I probably should be talking about the thing that is making me feel so awkward and uncomfortable, but also who the heck cares about healthy indicators when I feel so AWKWARD AND UNCOMFORTABLE.

So far, I have managed to write 141 words without any of those words being the actual thing I’m supposed to be writing about.



This is so much easier. I can count words all day. All day, son! (I’ve also been watching a lot of New Girl reruns to avoid writing this post)

Okay, I’m done. Let’s get to it. The fun and exciting world of postpartum depression (PPD)! Or how I’ve been referring to it in my head for the past 3 months: “WHAT IS THIS ACTUAL LIVING HELL?”

While I was still pregnant with Teddy, I had really high hopes for what the days and weeks after his birth would look like. Dan and I have had serious discussions about this pregnancy being the final one, and I really wanted to soak in all that new baby goodness one last time. The transition from two to three kids had been as easy as it gets, so while I was slightly worried about taking care of four, I wasn’t expecting it to be so completely opposite of when Matty had been born. For one thing, Matty immediately began trying to destroy his replacement as baby of the family. Teddy had scratches on his face from Matty for two solid months. One scratch would heal, and Matty would replace it with another. It was like Toddler Hunger Games. And that slight worry I had while pregnant about taking care of four kids, turned into full blown anxiety as soon as we came home from the hospital.

Our first day home, I told Dan that it felt like we went from three kids to one hundred kids. Everything was louder and crazier and harder. So much harder. We kept saying, “This will get better. Everyone is adjusting now, but soon it will get better.” I was experiencing all the normal roller coaster feelings birth brings (the ones that make you sob uncontrollably when someone leaves a pen in their pocket and it ruins a few shirts in the laundry. A totally random and hypothetical example…). Weeks went by but instead of things getting better, or even just leveling out, I was feeling worse. I was overwhelmed all the time. I had serious doubts about my mothering abilities (the fact that I couldn’t stop one son from trying to beat up the other one did not help curb this feeling). I worried constantly. I cried a lot. When I wasn't feeling a crushing sense of self hate, I felt numb. I started having panic attacks. Like, actual chest tightening, can’t breathe properly, curl into the fetal position panic attacks. I didn’t even know that’s what was going on at first, I just thought I was losing my mind.

I felt so alone. I didn’t know how to talk about or describe what I was going through. People would ask how life was going and I’d say vague things like, “Oh, it’s a little bit crazy right now. But overall it’s fine.” I used humor to deflect how paralyzed with guilt and shame I felt (healthy coping mechanisms, y'all). The longer I went without verbalizing my brokenness, the more isolated I felt. I began to dread going to family get-togethers. There was more than one Saturday night spent trying to calm myself down because the thought of going to church the next morning sent waves of anxiety crashing against my heart. There, I was surrounded by some of the people I love most in the world, but because of my inability and unwillingness to speak about the state of my life, I felt completely unknown. It filled me with a deep, heavy grief.

I couldn’t describe the depths of what I was experiencing to my own husband. Before we had even put a name to it, postpartum depression stripped away the ease and confidence normally shared between us. I felt like a shell of myself, and was convinced that admitting how much a broken mess I was would change how he viewed me, how attractive he found me. One morning, Dan put his arms around me and said, “I love you. You are strong. You will get through this.” Instead of being comforted like he had intended, I lashed out. “I am not strong and OBVIOUSLY I am not getting through this!” He was confused and helpless. I was furious and heartbroken. PPD took the short hand talk of our marriage, and replaced it with two entirely new languages. We couldn’t understand each other.

That particular moment was a tipping point. It was now painfully obvious that what I was experiencing was more than adjustments to our new life, or the “Baby Blues” (again, mentally shin kicking the person who coined that term). The day after Dan and I fought about the strength of my spirit, I made an appointment to see a counselor. Three days after that, during our church picnic, I blurted out to two close friends that I thought I had PPD. It was one of the most uncomfortable and awkward conversations I’ve ever had, mainly because I have wonderful friends who don’t just let me off the hook when things are hard (even when I beg not to talk about it anymore, because I definitely did that). My village stepped in. I wasn’t immediately better, but I also wasn’t alone.

I would like to tell you that everything is back to normal; that I feel completely restored to my former glory (that was a joke. My “former glory” is just me, covered in baby drool and talking to Dan in Hamilton raps). I’m not. I’m part way there. I feel more like myself than I have since Teddy was born (and even before he was born, to be honest. I don’t know if postpartum depression can start before you’re actually postpartum, but looking back I can see whispers of it all over my last month of pregnancy). There are more good days than bad, and the really bad days are further and further apart. I see a counselor every other week and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. And even though it all makes me feel so awkward and uncomfortable, I am trying to commit to speaking PPD’s name, because it loses a little bit more of its scariness each time I do it. 

(If you are experiencing postpartum depression, please seek help. A doctor, a counselor, a pastor, a friend. Don't convince yourself it's not a big deal, don't force yourself to deal with it on your own. Let's be committed together to speaking out and disarming PPD of its power.)

Edited May 2017: If you'd like to hear more about my experience with postpartum depression and anxiety,
 I've included links to a 2 part series Dan and I did last year on our podcast,