living out loud

I got a welcome card in the mail from my new school district. Professional, but thoughtful and kind. As schools should be, I think. (Actually, I got it last week, but I just opened it this morning because it didn’t say who it was from and I thought it was one of those Jehovah’s Witness invitations to right my life and worship the one true God…I’ve gotten them in my mailbox at this apartment complex before and I think they’re ridiculous. If there truly is a one, true God named Jehovah, he/she/it isn’t going to need a human being’s announcement sent to all the other human beings randomly in the mail with a plea-like demand to worship him/her/it or be forever doomed. That’s the kind of crap the IRS pulls.)

I’ve had some issues (obviously, if you’ve been reading here) with a friendship over the last few weeks. I had to reeeeally think about what I wanted and why. How far offtrack I’d gone. And why. Things I’d allowed and said were okay but actually weren’t (and why we’d gone down this road). I’ve read a blog written by this person–two actually–and I think my friend and I need to have a really big talk. But I don’t know that I’ll get the honesty and forthrightness I’m seeking. Maybe this will just turn into one of those arm’s length friendships that eventually die. I hope not.

At any rate, this whole thing actually led me to do a lot of thinking about some ex-friends, people I’ve shut out for very specific reasons and won’t ever let back in (for specific reasons). Because this blog is shutting down – probably over the summer – and moving (and there will be no announcements here–I’ll make them on social media, so if you care enough to keep reading, then you can find out where I am when I announce it on those places)…because this blog is shutting down/moving, I’ll just go ahead and say: the dude who stalked me? He was a much older man who lived in Baltimore and basically wanted me to be his girlfriend down here in Georgia. Meanwhile, he was going to have the marriage and the family life up in Baltimore. He wanted me to live with my daughter down here and meet his needs, while staying alone without any male friends he’d feel were “competition,” and so he’d get his emotional needs met distantly, via me, and occasionally his physical too when he could save enough money and then create an elaborate lie for his wife about why he needed to travel to Atlanta…AGAIN. I was supposed to be fine with this set up, because he loved me. (But what he felt for me wasn’t love–it was control.)

His entire life was being lived on a lie–a lie that he loved his wife, a lie that he loved me, a lie that he was a nice guy. He’d get upset with me if he felt I lied to him. One of his last texts to me went like this: LIAR! LIAR! LIAR! LIAR!

I find it so interesting when liars get upset about…being lied to.

When I’d had enough of his demands and needs and hopes and expectations, I said good-bye. Aaaaand he got so disturbing with me I ended up calling the police. The police in my part of Atlanta now have this man’s name, address, and phone number. And a written report of all that he said and did to me. How much he upset and scared me. How deeply disturbed he turned out to be. How entitled, how angry, how abusive.

The other friendship was with a woman I have very little in common with, other than a mutual admiration for an actor. But her admiration is out of hand. I knew it was, for a long time, and I probably needed to speak up a lot more firmly and loudly and strongly much sooner than I did. She thought they have a spiritual connection and God is going to keep crossing their paths until the actor is willing to finally sit down over dinner with her and hear her out. She’s certain once he does this and listens to her, he’ll see it too. She mixes a form of erotomania with very very conservative religious fervor. (From being stalked now horribly myself, I know: he will not…he SHOULD not…if my stalker came back and wanted me to listen to him, I probably wouldn’t scream at him again, but I’d very calmly and firmly send him a copy of the police report number I still have on file. Do not engage. Do not engage.)

I knew she was kooky went it came to him, and I spent a lot (A LOT) of time behind the scenes going: But how do you know that? Why do you get to have an opinion about that? You can’t possibly know that for sure…and way back in the summer of 2014, I had to end the friendship the first time because she sought him out and what I was being told, in the format it was coming to me, freaked me the F out, y’all. Should have listened to my gut instinct the first time (this has ALWAYS been an issue for me), but I felt bad. I felt guilty. I felt terrible at hurting her. Since then, I’ve learned: we do not go back to everyone. Not everyone is go backable to. Really, really CONSIDER if you go back. Some people have issues that are above and beyond what you can handle.

She hates me now, and that’s fine. As an example of how far out her thinking is–she sent me an email accusing me of tweeting about her and being immature, and she thinks the actor and I are in collusion (I don’t even know this man, but god bless him he’s got a weird life, constantly having to field people like this). And the harasser dude who wanted to have an emotional and physical affair with me? I don’t know how he feels about me, and either way I don’t care. He’s done plenty of damage, and so I hope he’s happy. Maybe he’s found another vulnerable woman to prey on, to fill his voids and meet his needs. As for this one, I’m smarter now. Less trusting. Less open. But stronger and smarter. And out of the void-filling business. Shop’s closed.

But neither of these people are demons, and I don’t hate either of them no matter what they think or feel about me. They aren’t allowed back in, because they’ve proven themselves unsafe humans. They certainly know how to behave like demons, but neither are. Because they are also able to behave like angels. And that’s what I learned from a journey with both of them–people are neither all good or all bad, all sane or all crazy. We’re all made of light and dark, and we all have the ability to go off the deep end when put in the right situation. If your life is really awesome and together and you wake up each morning with problems and stresses but mostly you go through life feeling blessed and pretty okay and generally happy with your choices, then I think you should wake up and go to bed each day and night thanking God or the stars or your great-grandma Ida or George Lucas or whoever/whatever.

Tomorrow is Easter Sunday. On the surface, I know it probably looks to my agnostic/atheist friends like I’m having some kind of religious conversion: “Amy, wtf?! Are you radicalizing into a Jesus freak??? What is HAPPENING???

No, I’m not radicalizing into anything. Or at least not anything more than I’ve always been. I’ve always been a feminist. I’ve always been a Jesus fan. I’m just not going to maybe be YOUR kind of feminist or YOUR kind of Jesus fan. Because I’m not here to have an experience for you, I’m here for me. But I’ll support you as you have the experience you need to have here for you. I view God/Jesus/Allah/YHWH/Buddha/Jehovah/The Light/The Universe/Huwa/Ishwar/Krishna/the Sky Spaghetti Monster as all one, all the same–no gender, no agenda, not able or willing to take any sides of anything except the side of Love and the advancement for everyone here on Earth to succeed and get to a place of Okayness. If you’re there already, you are blessed. You are so blessed.

On Thursday, I went to a Tenebrae service–tenebrae comes from the Latin word “darkness.” This is a time of year Christians celebrate the risen Savior, the one who died and sacrificed for them, to forgive their sins. With all due respect, I kind of still feel like a vast majority of my Christian friends are missing the point to what actually Jesus endured. Full disclosure: I read the Bible metaphysically…I WANT to believe in a real, living man who walked the Earth and was called Jesus. I don’t know that I do but my heart wants it so badly that me and my heart just talk about Jesus like he really did walk the streets of Jerusalem 2,000+ years ago. And I celebrate him either way, as a Master Teacher, Someone part of All That Is (and Ever Will Be) to believe in and pray to. Because of his metaphysical representation of who he was, is, and what he showed all of us we can be. We all have the ability to be a Christ, we all have that kind of love inside of us…you just have to be willing and patient and learn how to access it. At any rate, the story of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion is one of death and darkness, with an ending of hope and love. In summary, this was Jesus’ hero’s journey–he answered a call, battled dragons (or, you know…Pharisees and Romans) along the way, met enemies who were friends (prostitutes and lepers and Romans and priests) and friends who were enemies (Judas and priests and Romans)…and in the end he had to make a change, a big drastic change to who he was, to alter his very being in the hardest fight of his life, to live through his worst Dark Night of the Soul and come out on the other end alive, awake, and stronger. Risen. In the end of most Hero’s Journeys, the hero wins, and is welcomed back, forever changed and forever celebrated.

Every culture has these tales. Every tribe tells their own stories and they are all versions of the Hero’s Journey.

So as I’m sitting in the Tenebrae service, having had my hands washed (just a pouring of warm water and someone gently, lovingly drying your hands), having the cross made on my forehead, where my third eye would be located–if you believe in that sort of thing–with anointed spikenard oil brought here from the Holy Land by the kind minister as he said, “You are a Daughter of God, you are one with the Light, God loves you, go in peace,” and then accepting a communion wafer and a thimble of grape juice with blessings, I just sat thinking about all that I’ve been through over the last five years of my life. All that I’ve seen, all the people I’ve welcomed into my life and/or my heart, and the conflicts we’ve had or the good-byes we’ve said. I’ve thought about my blessings and my tragedies, the good things I’ve said and done and the bad.

And then I got to hear the Tenebrae service–the tale of Jesus’ Hero’s Journey, his Dark Night of the Soul. He knows he will be abandoned, he knows a battle with Death is waiting ahead. He knows he will be the loneliest and most afraid he’s ever been. As each portion of this part of Jesus’ journey is told, a candle’s light is snuffed out. At each part of Jesus’ Dark Night of the Soul, his light is diminished as he gets closer and closer to what it was he was put here to do. And Jesus knows this. Every step of the way. And he is deeply afraid.

This is what courage really is–to be afraid, but keeping going anyway. To not give up, to sit with the loneliness and the abandonment and the Dark Night of your Soul, and choose to fight. Choose to change.

There’s the abandonment, the betrayal, the beating and bullying and torturing of Jesus’s physical being–bleeding and suffering, carrying his own method of death on his back. Then there’s his choice–his choice to choose grace and forgiveness and die so others might learn how to live, and live better. Then the waiting. And then The Light. The Rising. There is one candle during a Tenebrae service that isn’t snuffed out, and that’s the Light of God. Because The Light never ever diminishes; it was always within Jesus. As It is always within us.

Last year at this time, I was just drifting along…in many ways, I still am. Right now as I type this it’s 11:00 AM and I have to get Melissa to swimming lessons by 12:00. I have to leave by 11:30 but I’m still in my pajamas, glasses on and unshowered and so now I’ll take her to swimming lessons in thrown on yoga pants, unshowered, no make up, feeling like I CANNOT get it together, no matter what I do. I spent 2 hours on my phone this morning, tweeting/facebooking/internet surfing. Now I’m writing a blog entry about 5 people will read. I’m still unfocused. Still fighting. Still on my journey.

But I know about darkness vs light now. I know what real friendships look, sound, and feel like. I know how important it is to think about other people’s hearts. I know how important my heart is, too. And I know how imperative it is to say good-bye to someone who is so damaged they can’t see their Light. Or they spend a lot of time using The Light to get what they think they want and deserve. (This is not how Light works.)

But mostly I know about Dark Nights of the Soul, the waiting, and the rising.

Happy Easter, happy Rising. Take care of your hearts.