Being Lost in the Fog

As I sit in my favorite coffee shop in my little suburb outside of Austin on the Feast of St. Anthony of Padua, I am thinking about my life and everything I’ve been through and every blessing God has bestowed on my life.

Last week was difficult. There were two high profile suicides in the news. Everyone was talking about suicide, suicide prevention and reaching out to one another.

I got several texts and messages from people asking how I was doing and a few of those people asked if I would like to meet for lunch or coffee. I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t. I wanted to stay at home and stare out the window as I ached for Anthony to walk in the front door even though I know that is not going to happen. But I said yes because these people are my favorite people and seeing them makes me happy.

One of them is my mentor Tammy. We disagree on everything political, that’s not an exaggeration either, we literally don’t agree on one single political issue. But we love each other. Not only does she love me, but she listens to me when I talk, she cares about my story. Whatever that story is right now. She has the best advice but it doesn’t come out as advice, it’s more of encouragement that you can use practically. I always leave her company feeling confident in myself and hopeful that things can and will be ok.

When I think about having people like Tammy in my life I can see how desperate God is to let me know I am loved. How He loves me and wants the best for me and the best is what He has created me for if only I pay attention to Him telling me which way to go.

Grief has made me deaf to His voice. I see Him all around me, I sense His prodding for me to do this or that. For instance, He has been prodding me to go to confession for two weeks now and today He has been insisting I go to Adoration. I know it is Him because the desire to encounter Him in those two things come from Him. He always moves first. But in my grief, I can’t really hear Him. I know it is Him and I know what I should do, but I just don’t do it.

This is a lot like depression when people you love “reach out” to you. It is how I felt when people reached out to me and asked me to lunch and coffee. I know they love me, I know they want to see me and I know they want to help. But the weight of grief, stress, constant crisis management at home and business all make me so tired that saying “yes” to those invites is not easy. Even when I know they will make me feel better.

As I think about how great seeing my mentor was, I realize that now I need to say “Yes” to God’s invite to go see Him.

What better day than the Feast of St. Anthony. The saint I named my son after and the Patron Saint of lost things. Boy do I feel lost in this fog of grief and heartache.

Please pray for me.

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Sex, Marriage and Grief

bloom blossom flora flowers
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I have recently started writing again on my own website. I am still over at Patheos and plan to stay there but I also want to just write here as well. I don’t really know why I want to do both but I do.

Yesterday I realized that a lot of my very old and original blog posts are on this website and people are reading them. That is good because I love the traffic but it is bad because so much has happened since I wrote those posts. For one thing, my husband and I have been through a lot of shit.

When I first started blogging after my conversion I was very cheerful, happy and a bit full of myself. I was a new convert and a newlywed. My conversion was amazing. God moved mountains for me and I was feeling the love from everyone because my testimony is really miraculous. Plus I loved the Church, the pro-life movement and I was saying all the right things because I was new at everything.

I still love the Church and I am still in love with Christ to the max. But I have matured in a lot of ways, including how I talk on issues like marriage, sex, and the abortion. My politics have changed now that I realize you don’t have to be a Republican to be Catholic. The election of Donald Trump as President freed me from that lie, thank God for that.

I am still very much obedient to Church teaching on everything. Marriage is a Sacrament between a man and woman but I don’t feel the need to disown all my gay friends or to lecture them constantly on my beliefs. That is a good thing because it gives us a lot more time to love each other. I missed them so much!

I am still against abortion and believe that it is the ending of an innocent human life but instead of sharing all these angry posts on Facebook about it, I do what I can to support women in having their children. I support equal pay, health insurance, assistance for women in low-income situations, housing programs and whatever else I can support that will support women and families to thrive. And sometimes that means standing with pro-choice women in getting those things done. I have become so consistently pro-life that I can see the dignity of the human person, even the one who disagrees with me. I also believe there is so much more to being pro-life than abortion. I believe suicide, mental illness and the current situation with mass shootings are all part of the pro-life stance as well. I have lost a lot of faith in the Pro-Life Movement itself but I am still Catholic which is really the important thing. I have no use for pro-life celebrities to tell me what to think and do. I have a catechism and spiritual director to help me be holy, which is my end goal.

I no longer see sex as the most important thing in the life of a married couple. Most of my life has been centered around sex. That’s just the truth. Sex is a part of my marriage but it is not my marriage itself. I learned this the hard way the day that my husband and I stood over the body of my oldest son. What made that man a husband was him taking care of my son, standing next to me as I made funeral arrangements, and when he got me to eat and sleep for the year after we buried that boy. Marriage is so much deeper than I ever knew and I wish I had not learned it this way, but I did and I am so thankful for my husband. Sex is what we share with each other and nobody else but the real foundation of a marriage is serving each other in ways that you don’t serve anyone else.

Finally, I am not so chipper. That is not to say that I am not happy to be Catholic. I am. I am honored to be the mother of these children and to be a grandmother. My family makes me very happy and I have moments where I can feel the joy of God shining on my face. I can breathe. I can love and I am laughing again. But I also know that grief is real and it is also a part of life. I know terrible things happen in the blink of an eye. I know that there are days, weeks, months and maybe even years when some prayer intention seems to not be making it to God’s ear. None of that changes how good God is or why I am a Christian. If anything, it makes it more clear to me why I am one!

There is probably a lot more that I could clear up, but really, if you read my old posts, just know that I am so different now in so many ways. There is before Anthony died and then after. He died on March 8, 2017, for reference. If you read anything I wrote before then, chances are I have an entirely different view than I did then.

When Your Nightmare is Over

The house

Luke 4:18
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,

because he has anointed me

to bring glad tidings to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives

and recovery of sight to the blind,

to let the oppressed go free

Every Spring growing up I would spend my days walking around a field full of Texas wild flowers, new bunnies and beautiful Texas sunsets. I would sit on a painter’s scaffold with piles of books and notebooks around me as I listened to the soundtrack to Dirty Dancing. I would dream of the day that a handsome man would come and take me away from this place. No matter how beautiful the scene around me was or how great the wild flowers smelled in the air, I wanted out of there. I never really understood why, I just knew that I needed to be saved.

Yesterday I went to visit my sick Tia in the hospital and it occurred to me just why I love her as much as I do. My Tia is an amazing woman who always has sought to help whoever she could. And when my uncle found me on the side of the highway when I was 14- and had run away for the fifth time since I turned 13- he took me to his house without even asking her. I wasn’t her niece, I wasn’t her problem, he could have taken me to my house and told me he had to discuss it with her and she could have said no. None of those things happened; he took me home with him, she fed me and made a bed for me. Just like that. Yesterday I told her that I loved her for that and was so thankful for her taking me in and for teaching me how to pray when I was little. She didn’t sit me down and tell me the words to any prayers, but what she did do was sit in front of a picture of Our Lady and pray. She set the example, not by lecturing but by doing.

The reason they took me in was because I had finally had enough of secrets and I told my uncle exactly what had happened to me as a child. As I passed the KFC where my abuser, my mom and I would go every other Saturday while I was growing up, so many memories flooded my brain. I wondered if a lot of people know what it’s like to have some of their greatest childhood memories be laced with the face of the person who raped them for years when they were little kids or if that was something that I only understood. As much as I wanted to hate him, I couldn’t because so many of my memories of him are of us having fun or him buying me things, like two ponies. Because that is what abusers do, it’s called grooming and the guilt from it lingers way after the abuse is over.

On the drive down to see my Tia I read a story of three Catholic Churches in Australia being set on fire and some actress saying that she was “elated” that those places of torment were destroyed. While I love my faith and I know Who lives inside Catholic Churches and what they are, I knew exactly how she felt. I would be elated if I saw the garage where my abuser both fixed cars and raped 5 year olds burn to the ground. I get it, even though it grieves me to know that 3 beautiful Catholic Churches are now gone when it wasn’t the Churches but the evil that takes over men that was the cause of so much pain.

For years I have dreamt of the moment that I would walk up to my abuser and tell him just how much my life was ruined by what he did to me. I imagined what his face would look like when I told him how much of a perverted fuck he was and how I wished him to burn in hell. As my husband and I turned down the road towards the house that I grew up in I knew that it was time to take a walk in that field full of wild flowers. I knew somehow that Jesus was asking me if I wanted to be healed and I was saying yes and the answer to me healing was me walking up to that door. A part of me was sure that he was dead. He wasn’t in the greatest of health when I left, so I kept telling myself it was no big deal. Surely he was dead, someone else lived there and they would let me look around when I told them I had grown up there.

I knocked twice and there was no answer. All the signs around me made it clear that he was still alive and he was in there. My heart was racing and the sirens in my head were all screaming at me to leave. Then my husband knocked and I heard his voice “Who is it?”…. silence. “Do I just say who I am?”, I asked my husband who looked like he was trying his best to not freak out too. He shrugged and I said “My name is Leticia, I grew up here and I would like to walk around with my husband”. Then the door slowly opened. This was the door to the room where my abuse began. I knew exactly what that room looked like when I was little and would go running in and out that door as a happy child who just wanted to chase butterflies and feed my rabbits. Who was that little girl? I had not been innocent in so long and I just wanted to catch one of those memories so I could see what she looked like. Then he spoke and my brain could not even grasp what was happening. Finally I asked “Are you Manuel?” and he said he was and opened the door even more where I could see him standing there in a white tank top and no pants on. Suddenly the picture of him over me flashed before my eyes and I started to cry. I told him that I knew what he had done to me and that I forgave him. I have no idea why none of the things that I wanted to say to him had come out and why they were replaced by the words “I forgive you”, but they were. I knew that I didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of knowing the damage he had done to me. I wanted to be brave, but instead I was just a little girl asking if I could go for a walk in my field. For 12 years it had been my field. Where I played and read books. Now, in order to share it with my husband, I had to ask this man for permission.

He didn’t deny what I had accused him of nor did he say he was sorry. He just chuckled and said that I was free to walk around as much as I wanted. So that’s what I did. I walked among my favorite flowers, in my favorite place, hand in hand with my favorite person. When we were done my husband opened the door of his silver Dodge truck, put me in it and drove me away from that nightmare once and for all. That was a moment that I had dreamt of from the first time that Stacey kissed me when I was 13 and it had finally come true.

I put that man in the hands of God Himself to deal with. I can’t even bring myself to pray for him anymore. He will not take anything else from me.No more tears, no more sleep, no more room in my head, no more. Enough is enough. I have lost relationships because of how hard I am to handle from the wounds he left me with, I have drank myself blind and missed out on so many parts of my kids’ lives, I have given man after man pieces of my dignity out of the false sense of what love is and I have lost so much sleep from nightmares about what he did to me. It was time to put an end to it. To hand it to Christ and nail it to His cross and leave it there. Christ walked with me up to that door and every person and every stuggle I have had in the last two years gave me the guts to go with Him.

My husband was the hero that God Himself chose to take me away from there and I am so lucky to have him.

Revelation 21:5

The one who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.”Then he said, “Write these words down, for they are trustworthy and true.”