Tuesday, October 14, 2014

It's awfully convenient to have a horse in my backyard...

Biggest lesson from today's therapy session with Wendy and her horses.

It turns out, I AM capable of feeling emotions, expressing them and being relaxed.
It also turns out, all it takes to do all of that is to also sit on a horse.

My assignment for this coming week is to ride Sunny bareback for a few minutes everyday.
(My real assignment is to release some emotional energy everyday, but since riding bareback has been so effective, my plan is to release emotional energy by riding bareback.)

Sunday, October 12, 2014

#OrdainWomen I covenanted to obey my husband, and who I was to judge when I should stop doing that?

The profile I wrote for Ordain Women was published last week. Ordain Women has limited the comments, so anything "victim blaming" has been removed. There were a few comments like that... "It was your lack of testimony," or "It was your insecurities," and a few others that I never read.

I appreciate the Facebook administrators at Ordain Women censoring out comments blaming me for the abuse I experienced. I am a lot better than I once was, but it's hard not to be thrown back into old beliefs about abuse. Or about myself and how I deserved abuse, or it wasn't really abuse, or... other things that are inaccurate but I believed for a long time.

There was one comment made (and left) that has been playing with my head for days. I thought about commenting on Facebook, but decided I would rather write my thoughts here.

First, the comment. It was in response to me saying that the bishop quoted the covenants I made in the temple to obey my husband.
"Have you been to the temple? We covenant to obey our husbands AS THEY OBEY THE LORD. Abuse is not of the Lord. Nor is blind obedience to a man who is clearly not living by the spirit or honoring his covenant to love and care for you as the Lord loves and care for us. Your experience and the experience of many sister is terrible, but not the result of church doctrine. Unfortunately your Bishop's counsel was lacking and left you feeling unprotected. That is really sad, but that is not the fault of the church. We can always question our leaders counsel if it doesn't seem to fit within church guidelines and abuse or coercion are not. Holding the Priesthood would not make you anymore equal or powerful then you already are in the Kingdom of God. The idea that women are unequal or less because they don't hold the Priesthood is false doctrine. Go to the Lord in honest prayer and He will reveal the truth of it to you."
And now my response:
Yes. I have been to the temple. Every week for a three year period, and every month at the time of the conversation with the bishop. I understand what the covenant says - obey your husband as he obeys the Lord. That seems to say that I could be the judge of whether or not my husband is obeying the Lord, and then I can make the choice... but it just isn't that simple.

I had a bishop telling me he was speaking for God as our judge in Israel. He was telling me that Larry (husband at the time) was doing his part and obeying the Lord. I was the one that needed to repent. I was not doing my duty and my responsibility as a wife. I could not have the spirit with me because I was not spending the time at home that I needed. I was working two jobs, going to school, doing public speaking about eating disorder recovery, and trying to spend time with my family of origin. I was also committed to my church callings as choir accompanist and nursery leader. The bishop told me I needed to stop spending so much time away from the home, because all of those things were taking away from my real responsibility of being home and keeping my husband happy.

When I told him I didn't agree with his advice, he took my temple recommend. He told me that I was not worthy to go to the house of the Lord, because I wasn't sustaining my local leaders. I needed to go home and repent and pray. I went home angry, sad, scared. I also went home feeling sick with guilt and fear that he was right. I was sinning. I needed to repent. What he said FELT so wrong, but if he was right and I was sinning and the spirit had left me... how was I to know what was right and wrong?

Also... I had been taught all of my life to trust my priesthood leaders. I believed that priesthood authority came from God, and the bishop spoke for God... I hated what he said, but I believed he was right, because he HAD to be right.

Several months passed... My brother was going through the temple to take out his endowments. I wanted to be there. I wanted to share that with him and with my family. (I also didn't want them to know I was a dirty sinner. I had done so much work and tried so hard to prove that I was worth all of the time and money spent in my recovery - I owed it to everyone to stay good and clean and pure and WORTHY.)

I still didn't believe the bishop was right, but I believed that by humbling myself and telling him he was right, maybe I could show God (and the bishop) that I was repentant. I set up an appointment. He started right into the temple recommend interview questions... When we got to sustaining local leaders, I answered with a yes. He asked me specifically about being willing to follow the counsel of the Lord that came through him.

I told him I didn't know how I could quit one of my jobs. We needed the money. I told him I didn't know how I could quit school. I was hoping that if I worked hard enough and fast enough, eventually I could get a job that paid more, so I wouldn't have to work 60+ hours per week. I told him I would quit doing the public speaking, and asked if that was enough.

He reminded me that my duty and responsibility was to be home and keep my husband happy. If I could say I was doing my best to fulfill my true calling, then he could accept that... and he gave me my recommend.

I went to the temple with Jeff. A few months later, Larry told me he wanted to move away. I did what he said, because he was the husband. I found a way to transfer schools. I found a new job. We found a nice apartment and we went. That also removed me from my family. I no longer COULD spend time with them, so I didn't.

It's hard to describe the mind-fuckery that was the sexual and emotional abuse from Larry combined with the spiritual and emotional abuse that came from church doctrine and church leaders. I'm trying, but if you have never been there, I don't know if you CAN understand how much that combination could affect you.

It's been nearly fifteen years, and of course I no longer believe the bishop spoke for God. I don't believe that he had any knowledge or authority over my life - despite the doctrine teaching that bishops can receive revelation for the people in his ward. But I believed it at the time.

And like I said in my profile... the basic doctrine combined with all of the things that men have said and done to me have combined together to tell the story of my life. It is a sad story. It is full of horrible shit that no one should ever experience, but I did. Any number of little things could have changed to change my story. The doctrine on women and the priesthood is just one thing that could have made a difference. If I didn't believe that men had more authority in my life, and I had a right to authority over my own life, I wouldn't have allowed Larry or the bishop or anyone else to treat me the way I was treated.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

#OrdainWomen: My profile.

I wrote a profile for Ordain Women. I wrote it a few months ago - but they've been swamped with new profiles, so it was just published a few days ago.

You can read it here:

Also, feel free to comment on the Facebook page here:

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

My #IceBucketChallenge without the Ice Bucket

I was challenged to the ice bucket challenge. I was also challenged to donate to my favorite charity, rather than dump ice on my head. That works great for me... Except that I don't have a favorite charity. I have many causes that mean a lot to me.

Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund. I have a friend, who I have known most of my life, but have really only kept in contact with through Facebook. Her daughter, Darci, has Type One Diabetes and has to deal with so much. I would love to find a cure for her and all of the kids that have to deal with this. (Also, my roommate in college had Type One Diabetes. She is now an adult, but I imagine a cure for Type One would help her too.

Glycogen Storage Disease. My cousin has two children with this disease. I know a little of what they have had to deal with, but not enough to really understand. Learn about it here. (I couldn't find a place to donate to... My cousin gave me a link that didn't work. I will update this as soon as I have one that works.

Scleroderma I'd never heard of this auto-immune disease until a few months ago. It's effecting the life of one of my favorite people, and it scares me to think there is nothing that will cure her right now.

ALS Association BJ has a cousin with ALS, and his aunt died from ALS. Also, I watched the video of the young man talking about how seeing people dump ice on their heads made him feel less alone...

Diabetes My brother, my parents, my grandparents, my friend Ron, and many other people I love have (or had, Ron and my Grandfather passed away in 2006) diabetes. Awareness and research to find a cure is pretty important to me.

After Silence, a message board and chat room for rape, sexual assault, and sexual abuse survivors. This message board was a life saver. I found people that understood what I was going through. I found others that were hurting and struggling, and I felt less alone.

RAINN This organization does research and has supports for those who were raped and sexually abused. Rape and sexual abuse is a huge problem that needs more attention.

The Wounded Warrior Project I ache at the thought of soldiers coming home who have no resources to deal with the emotional and physical traumas they have been endured.

Project Healing Waters This is a cause I have actively participated in. We take disabled veterans fly fishing, or they have fly tying classes.

So... I donated to Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund
I also donated to RAINN
And to Stop Diabetes
And finally to Scleroderma
I will continue to participate in the boards at After Silence and to volunteer with Project Healing Waters. And, I wanted you all to be aware of the other causes that mean something to me.

#PTSD and Feelings of hostility, guilt and fear

I volunteer for a group called Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing. (They have a local chapter in Utah.) They recently posted an article about how fishing makes you a better person. I paid special attention to this quote:
"A 2009 study shows that fishing can lower PTSD symptoms and increase the mood of those who suffer from the disorder. After three days of fly fishing, participants reported a 32 percent reduction in guilt and a 43 percent decrease in feelings of hostility. The feeling of fear was also reduced by 30 percent, and sadness dropped by 36 percent. A portion of these positive effects remained even a full month after the fishing retreat."
PTSD that they are talking about is the kind that comes after serving in the military. At first, I was thinking about how their symptoms are different than mine... I kind of chuckled at how fly fishing will help PTSD. ("See. I have to go. For my recovery.")

But then... I felt really REALLY sad. I have no feeling of hostility. I experience deep and debilitating guilt and fear. Occasionally, I still feel really sad for (seemingly) no reason. ZERO feelings of hostility.

I read the article last night, and it's gotten inside my head.
It would make sense if I felt hostility. It would make sense if I wanted to lash out. It would make sense that I would be really angry.

So why don't I?

Why do I freeze up at the thought of asking anything of anyone for any reason?
Why do I believe that it is my responsibility to take care of everyone else? Why would I rather hurt myself than to ask anything? Why do I think that asking anything of anyone will hurt them?
WHY am I so afraid of hurting someone that I ignore the facts and think if I speak, move, breath I am somehow causing someone else pain? (I'm not hurting anyone by asking for love, attention, or anything else.)
Why do I feel paralyzed and anxious? 

And why do I feel so sad today?

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Therapy Makes my Muscles Hurt

I had my second session with Green Eyes and her horses today.
By about 45 minutes in, I actually felt calm and relaxed and present. That's when I realized how sore my legs were. My legs were sore for about two days after my last session. I assumed it was from running around the turnout... or maybe from something else... it's not.

About ten minutes into the session, I felt anger. Thirty seconds later, it was gone. I didn't feel angry. I felt happy. I felt fine. I wouldn't even say I felt numb or shut down, but for my emotions to come and go so quickly seems a little... numb or shut down. (It seems most people feel angry, or sad, and it's not easy to just change and be happy all of a sudden. That is just how I operate.)

My legs and stomach muscles were really tight and sore though... I mentioned that to Green Eyes, and she chuckled. (I'd say that was rude, except that is one of the things I love about her. She chuckles when she sees something that will help - even if it sucks right now.)

We talked a little about the idea that going back to therapy is a negative thing. She pointed out that many people go their whole lives and choose not to be aware. I am not in therapy because I am in a bad place. I am in therapy because I want more out of life. Life is good, and I want more. If I have to be a little sore or hurt a little more or work a little harder or go see a therapist, that is worth it. I know there is more to life, and I can have it.

A few things we decided to work on:
  • Getting unblocked - especially since we know exactly where I block my emotions and where I store it.
  • Asking for what I want - it seems I am no longer comfortable not acknowledging that I have needs and wants. I am no longer comfortable waiting for others to tell me what to do. I am also not comfortable asking for what I want; acknowledging that I have wants; or trusting myself to do what I think is best.
  • Getting present in my body - I think a lot, about a lot of things, but there is a definite disconnect between my brain and my body.

I haven't been in therapy for a long time, and I have forgotten how good it can feel to process things and work through things. I haven't experienced getting present in my body much either, and it was nice to get there. Even though I "lost" the feeling within an hour of leaving. I also have hope that I can learn to do it better and for longer.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Equine Assisted Psychotherapy: My first session

I had my first equine assisted psychotherapy session yesterday.
Boy howdy - it was intense. Partially because I get pretty intense in therapy. (I want to get whatever work I need to get done, DONE, and move on to something less painful and more fun.)

As I pulled up to the barn, I saw Green Eyes (human therapist. At least her nickname as of right now on this blog) with a horse. Then I saw the horse, who was tied to the fence, rear back and rip the whole fence out. She took off running around the barn with the boards that used to be the fence catching her and anything in her path as she ran. Green Eyes caught her, calmed her down, and I could see the left front foot was red from her own blood.

I waited at my car until I saw Green Eyes coming back with a different horse. This horse seemed anxious and nearly ran Green Eyes over in between the barn and the turn out.

Strange how chaotic horses made most of my anxiety go away. I was stressed about therapy. Nervous about how it was going to go, and what work it was going to take on my part. Horses being horses - even if it's a wreck - make sense to me, and I feel pretty comfortable in that world. At least I felt comfortable, until Green Eyes came back and asked me what I hoped to accomplish in therapy...

She gave me the speech on horse safety, and joked about horses tearing fences down. Then she told me how with horses, in order to get them to engage with you, you have to be totally present in your body. I KNOW that, but somehow her telling me that, brought up all kinds of emotions.

One thing I have always appreciated about Green Eyes, is her power of observation. Some people would have missed the look of panic in my eyes, but she didn't. I haven't seen her in six years, but she didn't waste a second getting started.

I'd love to give you a play by play of the whole session, but I can't remember it. The thing about being totally present in the moment is that it moves quickly from one thing to the next.

She asked me about any medical issues, and I told her I had none, but then she said something like, "Anything related to why you're here today?"

I have chronic pelvic pain. It never stops hurting. It gets worse every 30 days or so. I've been to doctors, and have been unimpressed with their medical advice. (Not to mention the terror I feel at the idea of exams!) I have just figured it is something I have to live with. I don't think about it much, and I definitely don't think of it as a "medical issue".

But... maybe with a little therapy work... and mind body work... I could find some relief.

I'm pretty tight and rigid in my core and hips. Green Eyes said we'd work on that.

I have been in a lot of therapy. I have sat on couches and talked, and it was all helpful, but this was perfect for where I'm at now.

By moving around, I was constantly feeling something.
Having the horse there, I felt pressure I wouldn't have felt if we were just sitting and talking. The horse also played different roles at different points in the session.
Green Eyes said this horse is sometimes an asshole. Something in me shutdown, but I couldn't have put words to it until Green Eyes made observations about what happened when I approached the horse.

I wanted her to like me. I didn't want to do anything wrong. And I didn't want to touch her, nor (really) have anything to do with her. We had a quick discussion about how interracting with anyone (including a horse) is entirely my choice. (WEIRD! I still forget I have choices like that.) And then it dawned on me:
"You said this horse was an asshole, and why the HELL would I want to engage with an asshole?"
At which point, the horse ran away from me and to the opposite corner - as far away from me as she could get.
Then we talked about learning to judge who will be safe. Trusting my opinion over what others say. She told me to find what I could trust about the horse. That was easy. She showed no signs of aggression whatsoever. I could see she was paying attention to us - even when she was far away from us.

I approached her again, and this time I told her (the horse), I wasn't sure how I felt about her yet, but I wanted to get to know her. She put her head in my chest and we stayed there for a minute. Then she turned and put her head over the fence (away from me).

Green Eyes pointed out that her (the horse's) body language was not that dissimilar from my own when I first came in. I was aware of the horse, but I was standoffish and wouldn't let her get close. Green Eyes pointed out how this horse will always make you work for a connection. She doesn't want you half way.

I'm kind of like that horse. I don't let just anybody in, and I wait to know I am 100% safe before I let you all the way in.

I also kept flinching. Green Eyes asked if I had ever had to defend or protect myself from my left side. Nothing that I recall, but since my session yesterday, I realized that I pull my left shoulder up when I feel afraid. And if I'm really afraid, I pull my hand up. It's not something I think about, it's an automatic reaction that I just do. I imagine my chronic pelvic pain could also be related to some automatic reaction.

There was more, but I can't remember it all now. All of that in one session. And yet, I didn't leave feeling drained or overwhelmed.
I left feeling excited.

I've been in pain for a long time. I've felt sort of stuck for a little while.
Life is so much better than it once was, so I hadn't thought much about trying to make it even better. Since I wasn't dying, and I wasn't thinking about dying, and life is really good and full of wonderful things, I hadn't thought much about the possibility that there could be more. Life could be even better.

In this first session, I can see that life can be even better. I can feel even better.
That's really exciting to think about.

Monday, August 25, 2014

#Horses and #Therapy: Starting over again

I have a therapy session scheduled for tomorrow. I haven't been in therapy since I "graduated" in 2011. When I started therapy in 2007, I was in a horrible place. Pretty much, I was going to therapy as a last ditch effort to stay alive. It worked. I lived, and life is mostly good now. Life is really good now. It feels weird to be going to therapy when I'm pretty happy, but I recently came to the realization that life could be even better if I learned some more things and did a little bit more work.

A big reason I was able to graduate from therapy was the work I was able to do with Sunny. Somehow he showed me what I needed to work on, and then helped me do the work. My therapy sessions had turned in to just telling my therapist all of the things I had learned while riding Sunny.

A few weeks ago, I signed up for a Horsemanship Clinic. I was nervous because I had never really done anything like that, but I was excited to become a better horseman. I have a lot of experience riding, but I have never taken lessons or spent time learning anywhere but on the horse.

We got to the clinic... and the first thing he said to me was, "You have to let him know who is boss, or else he'll walk all over you and take advantage of you."
I fell apart. I don't want to be the boss. I don't want to force him to do anything he doesn't want to do. If my choices are to be the boss or to let him walk all over me, I know which one I'd rather have... and it isn't to be the boss!

I was out of sorts for the next two days. I couldn't bring myself to even look at Sunny. I felt afraid and sick and angry and sad. I came to the realization that I wasn't going to be able to work through this one without help. The Horsemanship guy was willing to push me, but the more he pushed, the more angry and scared and sad and sick I felt.

I didn't think talk therapy would help me through this...whatever "this" is, so I went looking for equine therapy. The first name to come up on my search was Wendy. She was a therapist when I was at CFC, but had since left and started her own practice. AND she also does equine therapy.

I called her. I told her about my Horsemanship Clinic experience. She got excited and told me she had the perfect horse to help me. And tomorrow, I have my first session.

I'm nervous and excited.
I know how much therapy can suck. It HURTS. And I'm so excited knowing that I can do work and feel better. I will be able to enjoy riding Sunny even more than I did before. I will learn about me and about relationships. I am excited to have something to work on again.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

#RIPRobinWilliams and some thoughts of mine

Like most people in this country, I was deeply effected by the death of Robin Williams.

I couldn't bring myself to write about it before now. There was just one thing nagging me and bothering me, so I'm writing about it now.

Robin Williams committed suicide.
I know what it's like to feel so sad, desperate, in pain, lonely, bothersome and burdensome to those I love (and who love me), etc., that suicide seems like the best option. Some people think it is a selfish act, but I'm not one to think that. Some people say it is a "temporary solution to a permanent problem", but I don't think that's always accurate either. Lots of people have had lots to say. Some have really bothered me, but the thing that has been the hardest for me to hear was said to be comforting...

"At least he's free from suffering."
"He's in a better place."
"You're free Genie."

There was a time in my life where I envied every person that died. It didn't matter how they died, I felt envious that they got to be done suffering through this life, and I had to keep living it. I dreamed of the day that I could die, and be free. I hoped I would get cancer or die in a car accident, so my family wouldn't have to deal with the stigma and pain of my suicide, but I still would get to be done.

I wanted to go "Home". I'd been taught that after death would be happier, better, and heaven was home to me. Maybe there I would find all of the peace that I couldn't find on Earth.

When you are in that kind of darkness, hearing that someone who took their own life is free... and hearing people comfort themselves with the thoughts that at least he didn't have to suffer anymore... you have no idea what it feels like to those here fighting to live every single day.

I stayed alive because I didn't want my sister or my brothers to have to face my death, but if I thought they would feel peace and relief at my death, I would have been gone. I stayed alive because I didn't want my parents to ever question if there was more they could have done, but if I had thought they could comfort themselves by saying I was in a better place, I would have gone to that better place.

I wanted to stay and live to show my friends that they could work through their stuff too. If I found a way to be happy and to live, then anyone could.

So, while I understand the desire to comfort ourselves now that we have lost a great man, I just think it's dangerous to speak of suicide in such peaceful terms. Let those that are fighting to live every day, that the fight is worth it. Hang on just a little bit longer, and you'll find freedom HERE.

Monday, August 11, 2014

#stillnevermissedashow (Funerals, plays, and brothers)

We just got back from two trips.
The trip to Portland was unplanned until a few days before we left. BJ's older brother passed away suddenly, and we went to his funeral.
The trip to Yellowstone had been in the plans from the day I found out my brother was going to be in the cast at the Playmill Theater in West Yellowstone, MT.

It was strange having the two trips so close to each other. One where we were saying good-bye forever to BJ's brother, and one where I got to see and hang out with my brother.

I had been SO excited to go see Justin. He loves acting, and to spend his whole summer doing what he loves with other very talented people doing what they love... I was just so excited and happy to get to go see him in that environment. Not to mention how much I had missed him since he left for college, and then went straight to Yellowstone, and is headed straight back to college as soon as he is done there. I may get to see him as he drives through... but he'll be in a rush since school will have started before he gets done at the Playmill.

At Matt's funeral, I cried when BJ cried. I cried when his wife was crying. I cried when his little granddaughter asked why she couldn't open the box and see her Papa inside. I cried when I saw the sign that said, "All fresh vegetables are from Matt's garden, Enjoy!" He loved his garden, and he loved sharing his garden with the people he loved.

All of those tears were empathy for the pain everyone else was experiencing.

There were two moments where I cried for me.

After the funeral, we decided to go to Matt's house to hang out with his wife and everyone all together. I didn't want to go to his house when he wasn't there. I couldn't pull it together enough to walk in. I didn't feel like I had a right to cry over BJ's brother... He needed me to be strong and comfort HIM. I didn't want to be in a party at Matt's house, and have him not there to enjoy it. He would have LOVED having all of his siblings, his kids, his nieces and nephews, and so many friends there to share his house with. Eventually, since I couldn't seem to stop myself, I just let myself cry and feel sad that he wasn't there.

It is a Great Uncle's responsibility to teach his Great Niece to sneak frosting off cakes. She kept calling BJ and his brother "Papa", because all three sons look alike. She broke my heart, because her Papa was her favorite friend.
 The next day, as we were hugging his wife and kids goodbye, his wife told me how glad she was that BJ and I had found each other. She loved seeing how happy he was, because she loved him and he was a special man. Then she told me to take care of him. Matt and Dawna had only been married for eleven years. Like BJ and I, it had taken them a while to find each other... And now Matt's gone... and the thought of losing BJ suddenly one night while I was sleeping hurt. I felt for Dawna - there's so much she has to do now that Matt is gone, and he's just not there to talk to, to cuddle with, to watch tv with, or to eat dinner, or to text and say, "Hi!" My insides ached for her, and at the thought of someday having to say goodbye to BJ.

We came home, unpacked, and then packed up to leave again two days later.
I cried uncontrollably as we drove to see my brother. I felt guilty - as if somehow me getting to see Justin was hurting BJ. I felt bad somehow that my brother was alive, and his wasn't.

They say that losing someone makes you appreciate the people you have left - that may be true, but for me, I had a hard time (at first) enjoying seeing my brother because I felt so bad for BJ.

But then... I got to spend time listening to Justin's plans for his future. We went hiking, and I took lots of pictures. I got to meet the rest of the casts of the shows he is in. I got to watch him play two of his dream rolls.
I told them to smile... I don't think they even looked at each other to know that they were giving me the same non-smile smile...


I don't know exactly what was happening in this picture, but it's classic. I'm glad BJ got this picture.
 After Les Mis, he asked me if I cried during the show. I did, but not in the parts that most people would cry... The story is a tear jerker - there are a lot of emotions that show can bring out, but this time... I cried when Thenardier (Justin) was waltzing with Madame Thenardier. He was doing what he loved. And he is damn good at it. And, as his big sister, I was so proud of him, and so happy for him, I cried.
When Thenardier is selling fudge, you buy it!

Thenardier after the show. I think this is the night that the rest of the cast almost had everything cleaned up before I let him go back and do his job to help. Sorry to all of the Playmill cast.

LeFou singing... except this isn't LeFou, it's Justin dressed as LeFou singing "Friend Like Me" before the show.

It made me SUPER happy to see how much he was loved. After the show, he had a whole group hanging on his every word.

They love him.
 After four days, it was time to go home, and I cried again. I miss him. I'm so happy that he is finding his place in the world, and I miss hearing him sing regularly. I miss his laugh. I miss seeing him grow and learn and talking about it.

Thinking about how much I miss him, I felt really sad for BJ again. I think how much I miss seeing Justin, and the thought of never seeing him... it hurts almost more than I can bare.

Life is short, and unpredictable, and I'm glad we got to be there for Matt's funeral and to spend time with everyone together. I'm really glad I got to see Justin perform.

Though, I'm pretty committed to my hashtag (#stillnevermissedashow), so I'll be seeing all of his shows at least once.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Saying Goodbye. "Love you bro"

It's strange - How quickly everything can change while nothing changes all at the same time.

Sunday, BJ and I went fishing. We found a small lake about an hour away. It's not as good as my favorite spot, but it's a lot closer. A day trip is much more doable without two hours on dirt roads.

We had a great time. BJ caught two fish on his fly rod at the same time. That doesn't happen very often, and has never happened to either one of us before. We talked about stopping to get a picture of the Nudist Camp that is at the mouth of the canyon. It is always "Closed for Mosquitoes", and I felt all of my friends on Facebook needed to see it.

We also talked about stopping for a chocolate malt at the little shop in town.

We didn't do any of that. And we completely forgot about all of the fish we caught.

Just before we got to the nudist camp, both of our phones started going nuts. I had six text messages, two voicemails, and a Facebook message. BJ's brother, two of his sisters, his nephew, his niece, and all of them said to call them as soon as we could. It was an emergency.

BJ called his younger brother. We thought for sure something had gone wrong with his parents... his mom had fallen. His dad had hurt himself and had to go back in for surgery... maybe even something had happened to his nephew's little boy. X was born very premature, and even though he is two now, he is still barely ten pounds and has a lot of complications...

The real emergency didn't cross either of our minds.

I read it on Facebook... just as his brother told him... Their oldest brother had passed away in his sleep. His wife woke up this morning, and he wouldn't move or wake up. She called the ambulance, but he was already dead when they got there.

He is only thirteen months older than BJ. As kids, they were both very close and fought all the time. For the past few years, they've been really good friends. Matt was a huge support to BJ as he was leaving the church. (Matt left years ago.) Matt was a huge support as BJ was going through trying to work things out with his ex (before he left her), and then to support him through divorce. We've been out to visit Matt a couple times, and he's been here and stayed with us a few times. With Matt's support, BJ felt less alone. BJ felt abandoned by a lot of his family because he no longer believed in the LDS church and stopped going. Matt was a lifeline for him.

(Things are much better with all of his family now. It just took time for them to adjust.)

Matt was just here a few weeks ago. When he heard his dad was going in for heart surgery, he jumped on a plane. He didn't tell anyone except BJ he was coming. We picked him up at the airport, went to the hospital to visit their dad, and then he stayed with us for a few days before he went home.

As we were all leaving the hospital to take him back to the airport, he asked me to take a picture: all of the boys. (Three brothers and their dad.) If I had known that was the last time I would see him, I would have taken so many more pictures.

We talked about when BJ and I would come out again. We talked about his garden. We talked about his grand kids. He adored those kids, and those kids adore him. They were the world to him. He was proud to tell us how his four year old granddaughter woke up crying and made her mom call "Papa". He loved being Papa. He had just built a swingset in the backyard for all of them to play on - himself included (of course).

When Matt came to visit for their dad's surgery a few weeks ago, none of us would have ever thought it would be the last time any of us in Utah would get to see him.
We didn't know it, but it was one last time to swap stories about Todd. One last time to talk about his gardens and his grand kids. One last time to talk about the trip to Portland Todd and I would make, so we could play more "combat croquet" with Matt and his family. If we had known - I would have taken so many more pictures. I'm glad he came. I'm glad he wanted a picture with all the boys before he left, so at least I had this one.
I don't have the words to express the sadness I feel for Matt's wife, kids, grand kids, (Those little grand kids were the world to him.), siblings, parents, nieces and nephews, and friends.
He gave us a hug goodbye - told each of us he loved us, and thanked me for being so kind to his brother. He said he was glad to see (BJ) finally had a friend and companion. I smiled. Now when I think about it, I cry.

BJ and I have very few pictures of Matt. Almost every one came about because he said, "We need a picture before we go." I'm glad he was thinking about it.

"We need a picture of the four of us before we go." Almost every picture we have of Matt, came because he told us we needed one. I'm sure glad he was thinking of it as much as he was


BJ's kids came up Sunday evening to spend time with him. We had been planning to babysit the grand kids Sunday night and Monday, because their mom was being induced Monday morning. They stayed with us. They were super sweet.

J is eight, and he is a "mini me" of BJ. He told BJ it was okay to cry, and just hugged him while he cried. Then he said, "I know you miss your brother, but there are still a lot of people here that really love you."

Ke is nine, and he came and told me that J needs some time alone to comfort grandpa, but in a minute we could all go hug him.

Ka is 7, and she asked Grandpa to dance with her, and just kept trying to make him laugh.

I am glad they were there. When we finally got them to bad at midnight, and went to bed ourselves, we both just cried.

Next week we are going to visit Matt's family. Matt won't be there, and that feels surreal. How can we go there without seeing him? All of the siblings will be there. It's pretty rare to get all of them together at the same time, but one will be missing.

This is the first death I have had to process since leaving the church. This is also the first death BJ has had to process without an LDS belief system. He says in some ways it's easier... just being grateful for everything they shared. Feeling sad. And angry. And scared. And sad. Without trying to convince yourself that it isn't a really sad thing.

Matt was not religious. His wife and children were not religious. His parents and most of his siblings were very religious. His wife has decided to have a "Celebration of Life" party instead of a funeral. That seems much more fitting.

And just for the record:
I don't want the LDS style funeral. When I die, celebrate that I lived. I don't want it to be used as a chance to preach or proselyte. Don't make my death a "missionary opportunity". I understand funerals are for the living, and I doubt I will care when I am dead... but just in case I do care, tell funny stories about me. Talk about the things I did that drove you crazy. Talk about the things that I did that made you love me. And please have really good food. Salmon tacos from Rubio's with extra lime juice.

Friday, July 11, 2014

#secretfavoritefishingspot - Just what I needed

A few weeks ago, I wrote about helping with BJ's parents care. We all felt a little helpless about what to do. They need help, but they live far away. It takes a lot of time to care for them. They need it. Care costs money. (Whether it's us doing it, or we hire someone, and we were all feeling drained of resources.)

Good news. We found a couple sisters who live in the same (very small) town that BJ's parents live in. For a small wage - they will come in and take care of the things BJ's parents need. Since they are close, they can come in for an hour in the morning, leave, then come in for an hour each in the afternoon and evening. They also are willing to be "on call" and come in to help if there is an emergency.

The three siblings will still come in for a couple of a days a week, but that means that no one has to stay at the house and a few days a month is much better to manage than a few days a week.

So... all of that... just to say.... we didn't have to cancel our camping trip!
We have a secret favorite fishing spot that we love. For the past two years, we have gone camping at least once every summer. The season to get in is really short. (There is still snow there in July, and we got closed out in October last year.)

We also invited my sister and her husband to come up for a couple of days as well.

I was SO looking forward to the trip and feeling really depressed that it might not work out.
(How do you say, "I'm sorry. I can't help out so you can go to your son's wrestling tournaments and you can go to your one year cancer follow up appointment, because I need to go camping and fishing."? Also... by the way... BJ's sister one year cancer follow up gave her the ALL CLEAR. A year and a half ago she was making plans to just live out the rest of her short life as best she could. Modern medicine is amazing.)

Setting up Camp
We got there Sunday. Set up camp.

Fished. Ate dinner. Fished.

Drove down the canyon to find my sister and her husband. Helped them set up camp. Slept. Woke up. Ate. Fished. Hiked. Fished. Mellen (my sister) caught her first fish ever! And even on a fly rod! Hiked. Ate. Fished. Hung out. Ate. Fished. Elliot (BIL) made dinner and he did a great job. They went home the next morning, and BJ and I spent the next day fishing.

Mellen and Elliot setting up their tent at 11 pm.

We hiked in to a smaller lake (about a mile in). BJ taught Mel and Elliot to fish a little bit.

She caught her first fish!
Playing in the lake with the dogs.

We wore Sadie (the dog) out. She was very ready to go home.

The four of us at the end of the trip.

Hot shower while camping. Brilliant.
I took a hot shower - in the heated shower that BJ had given me. (It was a birthday present in February, but this is the first time I've used it. EXCELLENT!)

We spent some time just hanging out and relaxing.

Once the dogs left, the chipmunks were out (stealing our food).

I wore out my magic fly. 100 fish (on the same fly) would do that.
We fished until well after dark. We both caught a lot of fish. (I was trying to keep track, but I kept losing count. I do know that from the time I said, "I can't hold it anymore. I'm going in to pee." until when I actually got off the lake to go pee, I caught sixteen fish. (That was thirty minutes max.)

The fish aren't big, but they are fun and beautiful. And a variety of trout.
Brook. Tiger. Rainbow. Cut Throat. Cut Bow

It was wonderful.

With all of the worries about work and BJ's parents and my family and his kids and life... I have felt pulled in many directions for the past few months. While camping, I was very present. The farthest my mind would wander was from the lake to the outhouse - 500 ft away.

It was just what I needed.

This weekend, we are back with BJ's parents, and then any day - BJ should be a grandpa again. His daughter is expecting her third child: a baby boy.

Next trip planned is to Yellowstone. My brother is in three plays there, and I CANNOT WAIT to see him.

Monday, July 7, 2014

#ObamaCare It actually helped me.

Several years ago, I wrote about the Affordal Healthcare Act. It had just passed, I didn't know how it would affect me. I was aware that I was the target market - the person that was middle class, without employer insurance, and couldn't afford to pay for it myself.

Some insurance companies have considered me uninsurable. Four years ago, I looked at buying insurance privately and found one company willing to cover me for catastrophic only: $800/month. That was just me, and that didn't cover any basic medical care. I decided if I was diagnosed with cancer or in a car accident, I would just have to accept I might not get care. And I definitely couldn't afford basic healthcare, so I just didn't go to doctors.

Life happened. I got insurance by being BJ's domestic partner through his work. (I should have written about the panic of signing that paper, but I didn't. Maybe I'll do an entry on it soon.) That helped a ton. I went to the dentist, got work done, had oral surgery, and even thought about getting a physical done. (Never happened. Not worth the emotional stress it caused.)

Then in April, he decided to leave his job. He wanted the time to work on his own business, and the only reason he stayed was because they offered him health insurance. They fired their CEO, and the new CEO decided that cutting insurance to part time employees would save them money. So, we went looking for new insurance.

"Obama Care" was in effect, and there was a public market place to find insurance.
Going through Utah, we couldn't get insured together, because we are not legally married. Utah doesn't have domestic partner laws, but the federal government does. Through healthcare.gov, we were able to get on a plan together.

Because pre-existing conditions no longer exist, and no medical exam needed to happen to get insurance, I found insurance for just me, fairly good coverage for $180/month. (MUCH cheaper than $800/month, and it covers well-check visits and has a deductible of $2000. I will probably never hit that, but if I did... $2000 is a doable amount for me to pay in a year.)

Based on my 2013 income, I qualified for some subsidies. Based on my projected 2014 income, I would have had to pay it all back, so I didn't use it. 

Our plan together is $350/month. Same coverage as the plan I found on my own, but a family deductible of $4000.

I don't know what will happen in the future. In the present, I have health insurance, and I am again considering getting a physical done. I've even looked up doctors covered by my insurance and called a few to "interview" them. (Ain't nobody sticking their hand up there if I don't feel VERY comfortable before hand.)

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Feeling helpless - feeling triggered

A couple months ago my life and my summer plans took an interesting turn.
We had big plans for camping trips, fishing trips, horseback riding, etc. We weren't going anywhere extravagent - I just bought a new car. BJ just bought a new truck. We were planning on doing a lot of grand adventures, just close to home adventures.

Then BJ's dad had to have open heart surgery. (A quintuple bypass!) BJ's dad has been the full-time caregiver to BJ's mom. She can't walk and can't do anything for herself. BJD (BJ's Dad) was beside himself with worry about what would happen to BJM (BJ's Mom). The three kids in the area decided we would take shifts and stay with the parents to make sure they were taken care of.

Because BJ and I have to get work done during the week, our shift is the weekend. Basically, for two months, I have either been working or at BJ's parents. We took the horses out a couple of times, but they've had to be fast evening rides. We went fishing for an hour. We had his grandkids come to the house to play for a couple hours, and then had to go back to work after they left at 8pm.

It's been hard to have life plans changed, and not be able to go on our riding, camping and fishing trips. (And to know that we are going to have to cancel all of our plans for the rest of the summer too.) It sucks a bit, but also... not a big deal. I'd like to write about how this has triggered old thoughts and patterns in me.

BJ's mom is diabetic and very obese. Her dietary needs are very restrictive: Low calorie, low carb, and we have to count and keep track of everything she eats.
My dietary needs are very different. Higher calorie, high protein, and a really bad idea for me to keep track of everything I eat.
How do you match both of those at the same time? I can't keep track of what she eats without also keeping track of what I eat. If I eat when she is not eating, it's hard on her. (Probably in the same way it is hard for me to eat when she isn't eating. We are opposite ends of the same disorder. I feel bad for needing food. She feels unloved when she doesn't get food.)

I knew that would be hard for me. I compared it to an alcoholic having to poor drinks for everyone else in the room: totally doable, but difficult.

I also knew that without a compelling reason to do old behaviors, the triggers wouldn't be enough... I needed an eating disorder in the past, because my thoughts, my life, my existence were all incredibly painful. I needed an escape, and took the only way I knew "out" - at least until I didn't need it anymore and I found other ways to get my needs met.

I have to be here. I can't leave. My body is needed to lift and move and help. They also need me to appear emotionally and mentally strong. No matter what I am feeling - I need to get the work done. AND this is hard. I haven't wanted to be here. I've wanted an out - or some sort of emotional release.

Eating disorders are a way to get an emotional release. An out.

As I've talked to friends who have struggled with their own eating disorder, they have been compassionate and also said, "Remember you have to take care of yourself or you will be of no use to them."

That is when I realized, part of the trigger is that if I don't take care of myself, I don't have to take care of anyone else. I feel sad and selfish knowing that THAT is one of the reasons I feel triggered. I also understand it makes sense... I'm not so good at establishing boundaries for myself. I struggle to say what is too much, and I feel like I should give until I am dead. With that underlying belief, it makes sense to hurt myself so that I won't have to give as much.

One of the big pieces of eating disorder (and probably most addiction) recovery is recognizing the needs it fulfills, and then find a new way to have those needs met. I'm tired and I can't give as much as I have been asked to give (and be healthy).

BJ and I sat down and talked to his sister a few days ago. (Incidentally, she is the same place. She can't keep going like this without damaging her health.) BJ's dad has been doing this for years... no wonder his heart has finally said, "NO MORE!"

Sadly, there are not many resources for people who don't have money. I know what it's like to need more help, but have no resources to get that help. BJ's mom needs a lot of care.

Will she have to go to a rest home?

How will we pay for a rest home?

What happens now?

Do all of us sacrifice our health to help her? How long?

Sunday, June 22, 2014

#OrdainWomen It Feels Personal

On the topic of Ordain Women. I'm angry and hurting, and trying to figure out where the emotions are coming from and why.
It feels personal. Every attack on Kate Kelly and to some extent John Dehlin feels personal: like I am the one they are talking about. 

Up until a couple weeks ago, I had followed Ordain Women, but didn't really care to add much to the conversation. Be compassionate. Understand what they are saying and don't jump to your conclusions about what they want or who they are. I didn't feel the need to share my own feelings or even have my own feelings. 

Today, I am so angry and upset, I hurt. I feel sad for Kate. She will probably be excommunicated tonight. The process seems unfair for a woman who loves the church and wants to be a part of it as much as she does. I feel like I must mention her, even though my pain really has nothing to do with Kate any more. 
Like I said. It's personal.

I understand that not every Mormon woman is oppressed and voiceless. There are many women who are very happy with the way things are. AND the current system is definitely a breeding place for a voiceless and oppressed woman to get her start. It's where I learned to be voiceless. It's where and how I learned that it was okay to abuse and use me, and there was nothing I could do about it. And I can't help wondering how different my life would have been if the system was different. 

If women had the priesthood and were taught they were equal in authority... The night with Johnny, the Elder's Quorum president, would have gone differently. I did nothing that night, because I believed I had no right. 

If women had the priesthood and were taught they were equal in authority, my marriage to Larry would have been so different. 

Recently, on a Facebook page someone posted a picture of black men in the fifties and compared Ordain Women to civil rights. There was some backlash saying, "They aren't even close to the same thing. A few women wish they could bless their child compared to men and women that were beaten and raped."

Maybe for some, it is just a desire to bless a child, but the inequality runs much, much deeper than that. For me. If I had had the priesthood and been told I was equal to my husband, rather than being reminded of my temple covenants to obey my husband... I can't even finish the thought. If there had been women leaders. If there had been more than the bishops that gave me fucked up advice. If I had had a voice and authority. If I hadn't believed all of the stupid shit about men and women and their roles. 
The story of inequality for ME included being beaten and raped. It included being voiceless, powerless, and feeling "less than". The inequality nearly killed me. 

I don't know for sure how different it would have been, but I know it would have been different. I have had to completely deconstruct my entire belief system, and that changed me. I am different. (I'm still deconstructing old beliefs and changing myself, but I can imagine how different it could have been.) If I had been taught and believed women had just as much authority and right to their own authority, I would have protected myself. 

So, everyone that talks about why Kate Kelly should shut up.... It feels personal. It feels like they want ME to shut up and take whatever the men in my life had to offer. All in the name of God.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

I really appreciate that he asks

BJ and I have lived in the same house for a while. We are "in a relationship". (It's official. It's on Facebook.) In my mind, being in a relationship was difficult to get to for many reasons, but one BIG reason was the loss of myself.

Basically, deep down I hold the belief that I have no right to my body, my wants, my desires, my possessions, because I have to give them up and sacrifice for my significant other.

Of course BJ doesn't want that for me, and since he generally holds the same belief for himself (HE has to sacrifice everything in order to make his significant other happy, or else he isn't a good man.) We're pretty funny together.

Today, we were both at work. I had driven my car. He had to go home to meet the farrier. (Horses are getting new shoes... as we speak!) I decided to stay at work and get some things done. I assumed he'd take my car, but as he was leaving, he asked if it was okay.

I felt confused... OF COURSE it is okay. How else was he going to get home?

But the truth is, I'm really glad he asks. I'm really glad he doesn't assume he has a right to my stuff. I can't picture myself ever saying no to him. (He says I should test this out sometime, but I can't see it happening any time soon. Not even as a test to see how he handles me telling him he can't use something of mine, but... anyway...)

Even if I still don't believe I have a right to tell him "no", I appreciate that he acts as if it might be an option.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Far Between: Me!

I can't remember when exactly I did the interview with Kendall at Far Between. More than a year ago... It felt cathartic to tell my story, and to see how people responded in the moment to my heartbreaks and sadness and to the hope and peace I'd found.

Today, they have the edited interview up to view.
Here it is:

You can also visit their page here: http://farbetweenmovie.com/jennifer/

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Fishing Part II: The adventure

I just got back from a week long camping/fishing excursion with BJ, Brad, and Ben. I wrote about my desire to go, and the excitement of going last month.

Unfortunately, I was silly and didn't check the batteries in my camera so the only camera I had was my cell phone - and I didn't have a charger for that, so I turned it off most of the trip. Which (bummer!) means I don't have very many pictures.

We had a special guest on our flight to Seattle. In 1969, a pilot was declared MIA. Last year his remains were found in Laos, and they were sending his remains back to his family.
There was a water cannon salute as we landed in Seattle. (Fire hoses spraying over the top of the plane. I'm glad I knew beforehand what was going to happen - otherwise the firetrucks, police cars, and water spraying at the plane would have been unnerving.)
We stayed in our seats while the Air Force officers got off the plane and then accompanied the body out to the waiting family. I can only imagine how it must have felt to get that phone call. "Your son (husband, brother, dad, friend) has been missing for 45 years, but we found him. We can tell you a little bit about what happened to him."

The fire cannon salute followed by the firemen and other officers saluting as the hearse came to pick up the soldier's remains.
We got off the plane, got on a train, and rode into downtown Seattle. We met Brad at the train station. We walked through downtown Seattle, carrying our fly rods, on May Day. (Apparently May Day is a big deal and there have been riots in Seattle there every year for a long time. We found out when we got back that the police presence seemed to quell the desire to riot enough that nothing happened this year.)

We met Ben at his office, jumped in his truck and drove to "The Ford".
It was a rather bleak looking place at first. Dry, sagebrush and rock covered ground. The campsite was a parking lot with an outhouse. Just over the hill was a huge spring fed stream with BIG rainbow trout in it.

Besides the fish, I saw a rattle snake (coiled and rattling at me - about two feet from my leg. And I stood there trying to turn my phone on in the hopes that I could get his picture. He turned and slithered away before it came on... Dangit.)
Muskrat. They're funny little critters.
Turtles. Swimming in the water. I thought they were rocks at first, but they were swimming. Then one came to the surface about five feet away from me.
Frogs, Toads, Bullfrogs. Mostly I heard these more than saw them.
Pelicans - both brown and white ones.
Many other birds, bugs, and small critters.

We fished for about four hours that night. I might have gotten a couple hits. (Fish nibbling on the fly), but I didn't see them. Everyone else kept fishing long after the sun had gone down, but I don't know how. I couldn't see a dang thing!
Sunset was spectacular. Brad's "super tent" is in the corner.
We camped for two days, and spent the time fishing, talking, eating, laughing, and just being. Both Ben and Brad are smart funny. It has been a long time since I have laughed that hard for that long.

In the two days at the Ford, BJ caught one. I caught one. Brad caught four. Ben caught two. Brad and Ben are used to the fishing having much more catching involved. Lucky for me, there are lots of things I enjoy about fishing, catching is only one of them.

We also did a guided float trip down the Yakima River. (Two people per raft, two rafts, two guides. The guides do all the work: rowing, tying flies on, keeping line straight, and telling us where to put our flies in the water.) BJ out fished everyone by a lot, but everybody caught some, and it was a great day.

The four of us on our lunch break. (For the record, Ben reminds me of David Spade. They look a little bit similar, but the way he tells stories... if he wasn't a brilliant engineer, he could totally be a comedian.)
The scenery was beautiful. The company was great. We switched around boats, so part of the time Ben and I were in a boat together, part of the time BJ and I were together, and for a very short time Brad and I were in a boat together. I loved that BJ and I weren't expected to be together the whole time. I liked being able to just go wherever and do whatever.

BJ had caught six or seven before this one, but this is the first one I saw him land.

This was a screenshot of a video I was taking. I LOVE this face... and the bend in his rod, and you can see the strike indicator hovering above the river. Unfortunately, the fish got off. (The guide couldn't find a place to pull over and accidentally put BJ into a tree...)

 After the trip, we went to "Praise the Lard" which is what Ben and Brad call their favorite restaurant. (I think it's real name is Cottage Cafe.) The hash browns are to die for. The french toast and strawberry jam were pretty darn good too.

We had planned on camping one more night, but we ended up going back to Brad's house and staying there instead. That gave us a chance to visit with Brad's wife.

After an amazing breakfast cooked by Brad, we went to the MOHAI (Museum of History and Industry) in Seattle. The museum has several exhibits, and we saw only a few of them.

We spent most of our time in the Timeline: a history of people in Seattle, which is really the history of people in the US. I love history. I read a lot of books about history, and it was cool to see all of the "stuff" they had displayed: old diaries and journals, games and toys, propaganda pictures, (a copy of) the treaty of 1855 between several of the Native tribes and the US Government, etc.

There was a Revealing Queer exhibit... which left much to be desired. I know you can't put everything in to a small exhibit, but they left out a lot. (If you're going to define Queer as anyone that doesn't fit normal sexual identity, you should probably mention (at least) pansexual, asexual, etc... but the pictures were cool, and it was interesting to see the timeline of change.)

My favorite part of the exhibit was a wooden plaque where they asked people to use post-it notes to share the issues they are dealing with. They had another one that asked people to use a word to describe their identity, but that one was less powerful for me.

After the museum, Brad dropped us off at the airport, and we flew home.

Walking through the airport with fly rods is a different experience. People stop and talk to you about fishing - even people who don't fish asked us about where we were going, what we were fishing for, and that somehow went into conversations about work or family or horses.

Sitting in the Seattle Airport - the end of another grand adventure.

It feels good to be home and to be back to work, AND I can't wait for our next adventure: Camping in Moab with BJ's sister and her husband. And then we are going to Yellowstone to see my brother in plays (and to fish and explore of course). And we're going fishing, camping, hiking, riding, all over the place this summer. AND BJ's daughter is expecting a baby boy, so BJ will have another grandson (his third). And... probably a whole bunch of other things I have forgotten.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Fishing with the guys. Part I. To feel included

I just got back from a week long camping/fishing excursion with BJ, Brad, and Ben. I wrote about my desire to go, and the excitement of going last month.

I was going to tell you all about the fishing and the grand adventure, but I'm going to start with the therapeutic part of the trip.

Our first night, we set up camp and then went fishing. We were on the river until 9, then Brad made dinner, and we (eventually) went to bed. We'd arranged the cots so that BJ was next to me and between me and Ben and Brad. I was in the corner, because that's where I felt safest.

Everyone else went to sleep. I did not. I heard them breathing deeply, snoring slightly. I heard them all get up to pee. I listened to the frogs. I listened to the other critters scampering around the campsite. About the time the frogs stopped and the birds started, I fell asleep. About an hour after that, the sun came up. I stayed and tried to sleep a bit longer, but it didn't work out as well as I would have liked...

We spent all day fishing, and the next night tried sleeping again with no luck.
(I wasn't sleeping, because every time one of them moved or breathed, my entire body would tense up. Every time I started to fall asleep, my brain would say, "WE'RE NOT SAFE! WAKE UP!" and I would be wide awake again.)

We got up and spent the morning fishing, but the sun was intense, and I was tired. I tried to rest, but the hyper-vigilance that kept me up at night wouldn't let me rest during the day either.

Something else started going screwy with my brain too. I was sure they didn't want me there. I was taking all the good fishing spots, and I was in the way. I'm aware that lack of sleep makes me emotionally vulnerable, but it is REALLY hard to enjoy fishing when you believe you don't deserve to be on the water, taking up space, and nobody wants you. I was doing everything I could to fight the crazy thoughts, but I was losing.

In the tentative plans for the trip, we had talked about going to a play in town that evening, and maybe staying in a hotel that night. None of us were super excited about going to the play. (There were fish down there, and no one had caught enough yet!) BJ suggested we still break camp and go into town to get a hotel room.  His reason being that he wanted me to get sleep before the next day of adventures.

I was uncomfortable. I had made grand plans to take care of myself, but when it came right down to it... I didn't want to inconvenience anyone. I didn't want to talk about me. I didn't want them to do things for me or to help me.

We sat and talked for forty-five minutes. There was only one room available at the only hotel in town. While I think being in a bed would have helped - being in a bed in a room with two men seemed to be causing as much anxiety as being in the tent.  Ben and Brad were trying to be helpful to me, but I wasn't expressing myself well... I told them that I wasn't comfortable with all of the sounds, and although I knew I was safe, I was having a hard time feeling safe around them because they were men, but I didn't want them to feel bad...

Finally, BJ just said, "Jen was violently raped in her sleep. She has a hard time feeling safe when she's starting to fall asleep because it takes her right back to what happened back then."

Instantly... they said, "You guys will go into town and sleep in the hotel. We'll stay here and camp. We'll come pick you up in the morning. No big deal."

I cried. Brad gave me a hug and apologized for not being more sensitive. I tried to explain to him that wasn't what I was feeling. They were all great, but I didn't want to even be worrying about it. I felt like a failure that I wasn't sticking it out. I wasn't strong enough, and I couldn't handle camping. I also felt sad, because I was enjoying being there... and it sucks that something that happened fifteen years ago is still fucking with my life.

We got back to fishing. I finally caught one fish. Brad thanked me for taking care of myself. Ben said he was sorry that I had ever been through such fucky shit. (And I got to use my favorite joke, "Or just really shitty fucking.") He laughed, and then said he felt bad for laughing. We ate dinner after dark, and cleaned up what we could before we left Brad to do the dishes and Ben drove us into town.

I took a shower, and I slept.

They came and picked us up and we went fishing. Nobody treated me with kid gloves. They didn't treat me any different at all. I still felt like I belonged, and I was part of the group. I REALLY appreciated that Ben was already planning next year's adventure, and maybe the year after that. 

As we said goodbye, Ben gave me a hug and told me he was really glad I had come... and that he was looking forward to our next grand adventure. Brad said he was really glad I was there, and we'd get together again soon.

I cried again. I had honestly thought they wouldn't want me to come back, because it was such a burden to have to deal with me and all my problems.
The four of us on the Yakima River.

It was really nice to spend time with guys that were just nice, normal guys. And to feel included, even though I'm a girl. Even though I have issues. Even though I was once raped, and I still have to deal with side effects of that. Words just can't quite describe how loved I feel, and how much safer the world feels today.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

what do you Really want?

Ordaining Women has been all over my Facebook, the news, blogs, etc. My family and friends all have opinions, and very few of them agree completely on the issue.

Last week, I wrote about how I left the church because it was an abusive relationship for me. I could stay and try to change the church to be better for me, but it's not my responsibility... and the trouble with trying to change someone (or something) that I have no control over - it just doesn't go well. They don't want to be changed, they feel resentful that I am trying to change them, and who am I to decide who they should be anyway?

On a completely different note, I have had a temporary tattoo on my right arm for a year. It wears off and I replace it. Not many people have seen it, because even though it reminds me of a goal I am working on, (Still. After a year.) I am embarrassed that I am working on it.

You might think I am embarrassed, because this is a goal I have been working on for a year, and I haven't made much progress, but you'd be wrong. This is how much of a struggle this is for me. I am embarrassed to be asking myself that question. A "good" person doesn't worry about what they want. A "good" person only thinks about what everyone else wants and needs, so I don't want anyone to know that I am constantly reminding myself to think about my own wants.

Six months ago, I watched the videos of the women asking for what they wanted - to be let into a meeting. A few days ago, I watched as they gathered and asked again. There weren't as many cameras there this time, but a few still caught the conversations. They asked for what they wanted. They still didn't get in, but they asked.

I've believed that even wanting something... anything... was bad. Asking is annoying and wrong and selfish. A good person doesn't do that. A good person doesn't HAVE wants, let alone ASKS... But these women belong to a church that is entirely based on asking questions. Over and over and over the church has changed because someone asked a question. Why shouldn't they be asking?

And whether they ever get what they want doesn't feel like the point today. Today, I think it must be an incredibly powerful feeling for them to ask; to hear the words spoken in their own voices. To feel supported by other women and men who care. To feel connected, even in a small way, to the woman that turned them down and asked them to listen online.

Watching them has motivated me. If I do nothing else, at least I am writing here and showing off my tattoo. I'm telling you all how hard it has been, and continues to be. I'm sharing with anyone who reads this that I am reminding myself everyday to think about my wants. Maybe one day I'll get around to asking for more too.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Finally driving a Subaru or "How is that like your life?"

I bought a new car.
It's pretty.

The roof doesn't leak. It isn't held together by duct tape. The windows stay up when I want them up, and go down when I want them down. It has a radio, and I can listen to it. There's even a CD player that doesn't have a CD stuck in it permanently. It has a cigarette lighter that I could plug something into if I wanted. It goes uphill with very little effort, and gets up to 60 MPH faster than 60 seconds. It also has cool features like all wheel drive, it connects to my phone through blue tooth, it has paint on the outside, and it fits more than just me comfortably.

I've wanted an SUV type car since I was 16 - something I could take to go on adventures in the mountains, but would also work around town. I have been looking at Subaru's and specifically Foresters for a year and a half, but my little duct-tape-Nissan kept passing safety inspection, so I kept driving it. I paid cash for that car fifteen years ago. I admit I didn't take very good care of it. I rarely washed it. I changed the oil every 6000 miles (maybe). It was held together by duct tape. I put more than 180,000 miles on that car. I had several friends pushing me to get something nicer, newer, safer, etc., but I felt like as long as it drove, I didn't NEED anything else.

About six months ago, I realized I WANTED something else. I checked out Subaru's everywhere I went. I read the specs on gas mileage and other functions of the car. I researched how often they broke down, what broke down, and how expensive they were to fix. I knew what colors they came in, and what year the body style changed.

In December, there were several good snow storms that made it impossible for me to get my Nissan out of the driveway. With the slippery roads, I missed a few orchestra rehearsals because I didn't feel like driving down the mountain.

My uncle has a dealer's license and goes to auctions to buy cars. I told him what I might be looking for a year ago, but in January I told him I was serious. Only two Foresters came to the auction in the next two months, and they both went above what he thought they were worth.

BJ's sister bought a Forester. I drove it from Montana to Utah for her when they moved back here, and I loved it.
My sister-in-law bought a Forester, and that just made me want one more.

On Pi(e) Day (March 14), I went with BJ to look at a new truck for him. We were supposed to go to my brother's house for pie that evening, and we had an hour to kill. So... BJ suggested we go "just to see what was available" at the Subaru dealership.

They had three used Foresters. A 2011, a 2012, and a 2014.
The 2011 and the 2012 were really nice, but out of my price range... but the one with only 2000 miles on it... was really close to what I wanted to spend. I fell in love with it.

I walked away. We got in BJ's truck and drove away.
As we were leaving the parking lot, I said, "I really like it. I want it."
"Then why are we leaving?"
"Because... I don't NEED a new car. I don't need one that is that nice. I have a car and it works. What if people think I'm greedy and entitled and selfish? Or what if they think I'm stupid for even trying to qualify for a loan on a car that nice? Or... I guess you could say I'm scared out of my mind, but I want it."

The old (in front) and the new (in the back) and BJ (in between).
And so... he turned around... and I bought a car.
I entirely missed Pi(e) Night.

And then I had two days of mental break down. TWO DAYS where I felt so guilty for spending money on a car that I didn't need. TWO DAYS where I almost couldn't function because I didn't deserve it and it wasn't okay. TWO DAYS where I kept considering taking it back, because I was comfortable in my old Nissan that was held together by duct tape.

Then a funny thing happened, I was driving somewhere.... Down the canyon that I live in. There's a hill. It's not super steep, but it is long enough that my old car really struggled to get up it. By the end, I was always at least ten miles under the speed limit, and that was if I hit it speeding. This time, it had no problem, my new car just breezed right up the hill.

I started to cry. Only this time, it wasn't out of guilt or shame for buying the car, I felt happy. I never knew it could be that easy, so I lived with less for a long time. I had no idea how good it could be.

That's when I heard the voice of a past therapist whispering inside my head, "And how is THAT like your life?"

I put up with a lot, because I never knew anything better was even possible.
And now, I am enjoying having a really nice car that is perfect for me.