This past weekend I attended The Edel Gathering. There were so many reasons why I should not have gone. For one thing, I am one broke mesican. Since we lost Warren last year there has been one thing after another going on with our company and it all has piled up and exploded all at once. Long story short, our accountant was not doing her job and so we weren’t paying taxes for months. Not federal taxes or sales taxes. To top that off, my husband’s ex-wife decided to sue us for child support, actually for medical support, for insurance that she has not been paying for the past four years but somehow thinks we should pay for anyway because in her mind, we are rich. Well, we don’t have fat stacks in the bank but the one thing that I learned this weekend is that we are indeed rich. But the wealth that we have can never been shared with cash.
I have always felt as if I do not fit in anywhere. I didn’t have many friends as a child and it seems like looking back that I always felt that anytime I did get close to groups of people, something would end up happening and I would find myself alone. Time after time. On the one hand that made me very insecure but on the other, it made me able to have experiences with different groups of people. People from all kinds of backgrounds, races and religions. It was not until I started hanging out with black people who I learned what community is. I don’t think that other people don’t have community, it’s just for me, that is where I found it. I learned loyalty, honesty, how to tell it like it is, how to take someone telling me how it is, how not to gossip cuz you will get cut, how to fight and how to dance. I have always loved dancing. The one the thing that I didn’t really learn completely was how to love and how to let myself be vulnerable in order to BE loved. I have been so guarded for so much of my life and this weekend I think that maybe I caught a sense of why.
I have thought about wounds a lot lately. I’ve written a little about talking through our wounds and I can’t get the idea out of my head. It’s one of those things that God is constantly has rumbling in my heart. When the Sunday reading was about St. Thomas the part that caught my heart was when Jesus told Thomas to stick a finger in His Wounds. Isn’t that such a weird command? Jesus didn’t hug him or give him a motivational speech. No, instead He said “Look at my wounds, put your finger in them, they are real and they are what will help you SEE”. I have spent so much time since my conversion hiding my wounds. Sure, I blog about them, but when it comes to being in front of real life human beings I cower and hide them. It’s one thing to write when you think nobody is reading, but to look at another person in the face and open yourself up is a whole other story.
I talked to Jen and Hallie about going to Edel, but I didn’t have any money whatsoever. Jen said she could use some help getting ready and then Hallie said maybe someone would let me room with them. Even if not, I would just drive from Round Rock each night. I was so on the fence about it. But I love Jennifer Fulwiler and she really is one of the funniest people I know so helping her sounded like it might be a good chance to get out of the house. Then I thought that maybe getting to know some bloggers would be good for my writing etc. etc. To be honest though, I did not think that I belonged there. I am not holy, I don’t pray the Rosary every day and frankly I thought that this event would be full of lame white girls who homeschool and don’t know shit about the kind of life that I have led nor would they have any use for me. Do you sense a theme? I was only thinking of myself. And in my fear of being rejected by these ladies, I labeled them and rejected them before I even knew them. I had put them in a comfortable little box and decided there was nothing in that box for me.
I was looking forward to meeting Heather from Mama Knows, Honey Child. When I went to check in she was already at the front desk and I walked right up to her and started talking to her. She was loud and crazy, just my cup of tea. Along with her was my roommate for the weekend, Cari and a few other ladies. They said they were going to get dressed and then go find some food. I wanted to go but there was one small problem ; I had no money.
That morning, all our bank accounts had been frozen and my husband was so stressed. I was not the example of a good Catholic wife who supports her husband when life is hard. Instead I drove myself to an expensive hotel to spend the weekend having fun. I cried for 20 minutes in the parking garage because I hate fighting with my husband, I hate him feeling like crap and I had no clue how the hell I was going to get my car out of that garage come Sunday.
I really wanted to hang out with Heather so I sucked it up and I went to eat with them. I used my last $8 to get a beer and Heather gave me a slice of pizza. We laughed and laughed. I have not laughed that hard in so long. I felt so comfortable and like these women actually understood what my life as a Catholic wife and mother is like. Forget the wife and mother part, just what it’s like to be a Catholic woman in this world today.
I decided at that point that I was going to be me. I was either going to be myself around Catholic people or I was going to be myself, Catholic and a hermit for the rest of my life. But I was no longer going to try and be someone I’m not just to hang out with people. It makes me tired trying to “act right” just for the sake of fitting in.
The cocktail party was so much fun that night and then the next morning Heather and Cari and I went to find breakfast. We sat and talked for hours and it was so clear to me that I have held myself hostage. I have felt like I do not belong in this Church or that I shouldn’t be writing, talking, or trying to be anything that even resembles a “good” Catholic woman. I have tried so hard to “fit in” some idea of what a Catholic woman should be that I became someone I am not and all of it was killing who I really am. When we got back to the hotel the event began and we listened to a talk given by Marian and she was talking about the exact same thing that we had talked about at breakfast. I sat there and cried. I’m talking an ugly cry that would make Kim Kardashian’s ugly cry look like nothing! God has tried so hard to get me to understand that He made me just like He wants me. I do not have to become anything but who HE made me. Detaching from my sins does not make me someone else; it makes me even MORE of who I am supposed to be.
I knew what message God was trying to get across to me but that night something happened on the dance floor that made me really see just how much my wounds affect me in this new life of mine. They are still there, still so open, still so fresh and old all at the same time. All the ladies were dancing and having a blast when someone came up to me and was trying to get me to get on the dance floor to a song that I didn’t really like. She went to pull me on the dance floor like a sister would do jokingly to get me on the dance floor. I could feel the 13-year-old insecure and wounded girl boil up in my chest and then I just went into complete defense mode. My therapist calls them triggers and I was as triggered as I could get. I realized it and did not know how to calm down. Luckily the DJ finally played some hip-hop and I just got on the dance floor and went to my happy place. I didn’t mean to lash out at anyone, it was one of those things that I felt like I was outside myself watching and trying to tell myself that it would be ok, but I just couldn’t get my heart to stop racing. I guess I am making progress because I didn’t punch anyone even though every alarm in my body was going off because someone touched me without permission. It’s those wounds that make it so hard for me to be around Catholic “circles”. I don’t want anyone to see them and tell me that I don’t belong here. The thing is, I recognized what happened. I didn’t punch anyone, or cuss them out, or put them on my shit list. It was what it was, I knew that I had been triggered, that she meant nothing by it, it was an innocent thing and that I needed to calm down. Miracle. I calmed myself down.
I was sound asleep when the sound of the door closing behind my roommate woke me up. I lay there listening to her suitcase roll down the hallway as she headed to the airport and I started crying. “What the eff are you crying for? You JUST met her!” went through my mind. As I lay there I had this revelation: instead of allowing my wounds to bring me into an encounter with other people as Jesus did, I was allowing them to keep me holed up in my room eating my feelings. in Lil Debbies. For the first time in a really long time, I was myself in a group of Catholic women and it was great. These women are all so awesome. They are moms, wives and Catholic. They can dance, rap (in a vintage dress!), drink, laugh, and are the opposite of lame. I am so blessed to call them my sisters. I have never felt so welcomed in my life. So accepted and so loved. Absolutely loved. It felt good to let people in.
As Jennifer said in her talk “The doors to the Cathedral have been busted open!” Yes, they have. May God give us all the Grace to look around us and let people in. The culture of encounter has been started with a weekend full of encounters that brought tears to my eyes as I sit here and write this long post about it. I cannot fit all the blessed moments I had this weekend into a blog post. If I talked to you, if you told me you read my blog, if you are reading it now, if you sat and listened to my crazy rambling, if you smoked a cigarette with me, if you saw me and didn’t talk to me, know that I am your sister. I am here for you. I am gonna help you with your Cathedral anyway that I can. And I love you. Not some lame “I love you” but LOVE that is rooted in Love Himself.
Please pray for me and my family. I am offering up every hard time, every tear and every moment of stress of each of your intentions.