I think I’m losing my mind this time, this time…

Dear Friends,

I feel like I’m losing my mind because the world is terrible, and specifically because yesterday Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed into law extremely restrictive legislation about abortion and women’s health care. There are sixteen other states currently with proposed laws to ban abortions, and I don’t understand why apparently Roe v. Wade is the one Supreme Court decision no one can leave the fuck alone. I feel like this is a dystopian nightmare. There are men in power who seek to strip away the rights of women using the Bible as their weapon, and while I don’t think they will win in the long run, I don’t think there are enough people enraged about abuses and violence against women to fully stop them, either. The degree to which they are intent on eroding our rights is horrifying. Women are not cattle. Women are not breeding animals here for your empire-building purposes. But my feelings on the topic seem to be irrelevant to the conversation. First of all, no one is proposing these laws in Maryland … yet. But I’m certain the same people who supported the anti-choice resolution in Anne Arundel County last year (which was narrowly rejected) will be paying attention for their opportunities here.

I don’t want to believe the world is horrible, but that’s where I am with it right now. I messaged my therapist about it the other day after I realized I don’t feel like I have anything to look forward to. I feel general dread about the state of the world. I don’t want any part of it lately. I don’t trust our political system at all. I have no idea how I will cope with reality if Donald Trump gets reelected. The damage that could be done in another 4 years is enough to make me consider suicide because I don’t believe our country could recover from it in my lifetime. And I feel angry because I — we, the female citizens of this country — haven’t done anything to deserve this.

I wish people would rise up in protest … but in a more serious way, in a way that actually scares people like Trump. I’m certain Donald Trump doesn’t give a damn about abortion rights, but his presence in the Oval Office holds open the door for the far right to enact all kinds of shady legislation. If anything, I think he’s just glad people are angry at someone other than him and talking about something other than the Mueller report. And this, too, is disgusting and cheap politics. This is what it’s like to be governed by a bully and a rapist.

Women are not political pawns whose healthcare and bodily autonomy can be thrown under the bus to distract from the very real threats our country faces from within our own White House. I want the people in power to understand how much they are hurting women and to stop. But they don’t understand, or they will themselves not to. They insist on applying their cold, pesudo-moral math to our lives and leaving empathy out of the equation. I’m scared of them because I’m certain they have no concern for me or others like me. They are practically trying to criminalize being a woman. Some people want to end not just abortion but the use of birth control? That’s completely insane. Even Pat Robertson thinks the Alabama law goes too far.

Surely this won’t work, right? But this is also a known tactic — attacking in an extreme way that you know won’t succeed when your actual aim is something still quite objectionable but less than the initial stated goal. And that’s my best case scenario — that while they won’t succeed in some of their more extreme aims, everyone will kinda shrug and give up when they do make abortions illegal. And they will leave the definition of abortion slightly open so they can blame women for anything that happens to a fetus. They’ll say, “well, you might call it a miscarriage, but you were driving a car and got into an accident, and you shouldn’t have been driving at all because it’s a danger to your baby.” If you think that sounds insane, it is, but it happens anyway. People who hate women (and there are more than you think) find ways to blame women for anything. They are the authors of these bills but also a big enough chunk of the population that we have to feel threatened by this kind of thinking.

The crazy thing is that those of us who are on the side of equality and choice are truly seeking to make everyone happier, safer, and healthier, but the far right makes us out to be enemies of God, tradition, and family values. They know nothing about family values. They think family values are heterosexuality, monogamy, and having babies. They don’t even care what happens after the babies are born — more than a quarter of children in Alabama were living in poverty according to 2016 statistics. To me, health care is a family value because I want my family to be healthy and I believe everyone’s family deserves at least a chance at the same. Parental leave is a family value. Kindness is a family value. Accepting your loved ones no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation is a family value. Supporting people when they are in need is a family value. The party of family values knows nothing about family values. They are just selling us an outdated, pre-packaged plastic idea of a family, like a Polly Pocket. Like we’re supposed to open up this little plastic life and move in with all our humanness. Not only are we too big for the bed, but our dreams won’t fit. We are too complicated.

Come to think of it, interviews with many politicians (but mostly in the GOP) look just how I imagine dinner with Polly Pocket’s family would go. The blankly smiling plastic faces, so glossy and pert, say nothing of substance no matter how we ply them with interesting questions. How can we trust them? I can’t. I know for certain they do not have my wellbeing at heart.

I have no grand conclusion to reach, no great plan of action. I used to be the kind of person who was ready to protest at the drop of a hat — always wanting to organize, mobilize, speak truth to power, and change my own life in an attempt to change the world. But I don’t know what more to do now. I feel surrounded not only by enemies but by allies who, like myself, have become exhausted almost to the point of indifference. But I choose to keep living because the alternative is shit. And if I’m going to keep living, keep playing this game, well, I didn’t come here to get trampled on. So I am going to stand the fuck up and keep living even though I don’t know what the strategy is and I’m scared to find out how it ends. I feel like Arya Stark, standing in King’s Landing as it burns, refusing to give up, but unsure where to turn.

If nothing else, we have to keep talking about this. We all have to keep talking about the battles that are most dear to our hearts and do our best to amplify each other’s voices and efforts. And for the love of God, we have to keep being kind to one another. Because if we are cruel and we devolve amidst infighting, we have lost. The surest way to lose is to alienate your team till the win is no longer worth fighting for. So we have to stay connected and stay supportive to the best of our ability.

The time when you most wish you could quit is always the time when its most essential to keep fighting. I’m going to do my best to play with my whole heart in this terrifying game. I hope you are, too.

Mary

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An Ex Catholic Goes to Confession

 

This poem may still be in the midst of the editorial process. I don’t really know for sure. I like this version, and I think it’s fun to read out loud. I’ve been struggling a little bit lately because I feel that poetry is really best shared out loud more than on a page, or at least that there needs to be some greater dimension of interaction between the writer, the material, and the reader. So, I’ve been using social media such as Instagram and Snapchat to share. The trouble this time is that those platforms are designed for shorter messages than this. Hmm… always experimenting. Always learning.

In case you’d rather read the poem yourself, here’s the full text.

Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. 
I haven't been to confession since
the fifth grade. 
I came here to confess that I have
left behind every scrap 
of faith I ever had
and I wish to account for it. 
I want you to know that I prayed to your god
and I told him what I was going to do
and he did not stop me.
I knelt twice a week at the feet of that poor man
and sculpted his ribs with my eyes
and untied in my mind
the shred of cloth at his hips. 
I had his blood on my lips
and he did not ask me to stay. 
Sweet child of a man, he rolled his eyes
to God and prayed himself away
so you could take his name in vain -- but
he did not ask me to stay. 
I want you to know that I don’t miss
the Sunday morning fashion show or your
admonitions or the hypnotic repetition
of unthinking prayers in our
monotone drone -- worker bees stoned 
on incense and wine, 
keeping an empty ritual just to fill the time
repeating the spell of our own binding
I believe I believe I believe
we loved our endless litany
of saints and sins all taken in 
the legato of suburban life. 
I want you to know that in the desert outside your home
where you said I’d be alone, I found
an ocean of love like you’ve never known
and I dove right the fuck in and it was good. 
And out here, none of us are who you said we were. 
We are so much more. 
I want you to know I’m going away, 
and I’m not coming back. 

I probably will do a bit of editing, and I’ll maybe change the first line since it doesn’t create quite the tone I want to start with. I don’t actually seek forgiveness, as the poet or as the speaker of this poem, so I find that line misleading and a little cliched. The reason I’ve kept it this way so far is that I don’t know exactly what I want to change it to and that I was trained with great emphasis as a child that all confessions were supposed to start that way. I’ll let it rest for now and see what comes up with a little time.

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Women are Cool and Interesting – Episode 7

In this episode, Tashima Ricks shares some of her life’s journey. Tashima is cool for more reasons than I can count. What I first loved about her was how she stepped right out of her comfort zone and on to the skating rink after nearly 30 years off skates, but as I got to hear more of her story I got a glimpse of what a deeply compassionate person Tashima really is. She told me about her career as a nurse, providing health care for inmates in the correctional system, her family, her crazy adorable dog, her volunteer work … Lets just say I’m just super thankful to have met her and to have the chance to share some of her light with you. Enjoy!

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Women are Cool and Interesting – Episode 6


I took a break from podcast work because October is the beginning of my busy season, with friends visiting all month, a huge annual Halloween party, and this year, a very special wedding of two beloved friends in November. Then life took off running, and I had to catch up, so it’s been a long time since I posted an episode — sorry about that!

The good news is that I’m back today with a new episode in which I chat with my friend Stephanie Rhodes. Stephanie is a Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy practitioner like myself. One of the things I love about Stephanie is that she embraces spirituality while having a pretty low tolerance for bullshit. I think you’ll love what she has to say about her personal journey, and I hope you’ll find her as refreshingly open and honest as I do.

Here’s where you can reach Stephanie and learn more about her work:

Stephanie Rhodes

Facebook

Instagram

 

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Women are Cool and Interesting: Episode 5

In Episode 5, I get to reconnect with one of my favorite creative partners of all time, Ellie Di Julio. Ellie and I were very close in the years that we were both work-from-home writers, but eventually life moved on, she had a baby and I started playing roller derby. It’s crazy how much our lives have changed as we’ve been pursuing our own paths, yet the inspiration I found in this friendship is still there.

Ellie and I have an honest chat about friendships, relationships, balancing work and family, and where faith figures into it all. Ellie shares about finding purpose for her work through her spiritual journey and how that journey continues to shape her. We explore that weird territory of talking faith with a friend who doesn’t share your beliefs, and so much more.

You can find Ellie’s writing and learn how to connect with her at ElliDi.com.

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