Embrace the Suck

Photo from Pixabay

When I hear the words “suicide prevention” what I hear is “you did not do everything you could to save Anthony, you missed something and now he is dead”.  I do not know what other suicide loss survivors hear when they hear those words but that is my experience, which is all I can write about. I cannot try to write anything else, that is what “my truth” means to me. This is my experience and  it does not diminish anyone’s else’s experience(s). I am free to express my perspective without anyone telling me I need to be more sensitive to everyone around me. Me being more sensitive to everyone around me is at the heart of my codependency, which I have paid a lot of money in therapy and books on the subject to try and break free from.

It is my experience that when it comes to grief and suicide most people want the uncomfortable to be made comfortable. They want the easy, safe and neatly packaged response so they can check off the box that says they “did something” and can go back to their nice lives where nobody has hung themselves in the garage. I do not blame anyone for wanting that, I sure wish I could want that, but it does make me seethe with rage because to me, that means everyone wants to forget that Anthony was alive and now he is dead. Not in “a better place”, not “at peace”, not “released from his suffering” but dead AF. In a grave where his mother has to go to spend time talking into the dirt that covers the coffin that holds his dead body she will never see or hold again in this life and maybe not even in the next if she keeps missing mass and hating God.

There is no comfort for me. I wish that I could find a way to not be me so that I could pretend there is some somewhere, but I am not anyone else. I am who God made me and that is a person who sees absolutely no comfort in pretending things are not the way they are.

I was born in the middle of a Texas Panhandle dust storm. It is one of the few details I know about my birth other than my father had been long gone by the time I made my way into the world. I do not know why being born in a dust storm is one of the things that I held onto my entire life, but I did. I have never asked my mother about my birth in adulthood and I am not even sure when or where she told me the fact that I was born in a dust storm either, or if it was even her who told me. I just know that somewhere along my life someone said that I was born in one and that it was dark and a giant spider was crawling on the window of the hospital. The picture of that was seared into my imagination and that is what I think of when I think of the day I was born. That and my grandfather giving me his last name.

A few days ago there was a dust storm in Big Spring Texas which is in the panhandle close to the tiny town I was born in and the pictures of it were all over my Facebook feed. I sat at my computer completely awed at the beauty of it while the comment section was full of people saying how scary it looked. I told my husband that I was really proud to have been born in one of those beauties and I did not understand why. He said “well, when you are born in darkness and chaos, you can handle anything else in life” and for the first time in our relationship (which goes back to when we were five years old) my husband saw me. Not this version of me that I showed him or the version of me that he had made up to make it easy to deal with life, but me, Leticia. Who I am, where I came from, what I have been through and as I am right now. I felt seen and loved and understood. That is how I feel in therapy because I have a great therapist, but she is still my therapist, this is my husband. It is what I have been seeking and somehow I have found it.

I never would have found it if I had lived my life on the plane where I pretend things are not the way they are so I can be comfortable. If I choose to believe the world is a friendly place. It is not. God is love and we are made to love and be loved and to find our way back to God, but that way is paved with suffering because this world is cruel and full of sin and people who cooperate with evil. That is reality. There is an escape from it but that escape comes with a price. That price is never being seen as we are and to never see the beauty of the survivors of evil. And dear survivors, we are beautiful.

In my experience the only way through the grief of suicide loss is reality. To know it is bullshit, to live in the house my son died in, to refuse to do anything that makes it seem like this was a good thing and to fight for my space to mourn the life of a great human being that died senselessly in a way that blew his family’s lives up. His children and siblings were innocent casualties in the explosion that was his suicide and yet, they are now forced to figure out how to live the rest of their lives piecing themselves back together. That is the reality of suicide.

There is nothing we would not have done to prevent Anthony’s suicide. There is nothing we would not do to have him back. There is nothing in the world that helps us in hearing people talk about prevention. I am sure it helps someone and that is amazing, but for me, what helped me was hearing from people who have suffered this loss and how they managed their way through it. The honest and raw stories of people who were angry and who admitted that it sucks to be here. The people who asked “why” and who listened as I asked “why”. I personally do not get anything from people who have to stay positive or set their heartbreak to the side to move forward. I want to hear from people who move forward carrying that heartbreak. To me, this is the beauty of Mary, she did not act as if everything was fine and she did not think positive, she felt her feelings and she lived with a pierced heart. That is the role model I need in my life and it is the kind of example I want to be for others who need that. Anyone who needs positive affirmations or lists of ways to stay positive have tons and tons of self-help books to dig through to find that. I want my writing to be a blessing to those who mourn and mourning means embracing the suck. I was born into darkness and chaos, I was made for this.

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The Internet is on Fire

picture from Pixabay

Or at least I want to set it on fire every time I log into any of my social media accounts. Even Instagram which really pisses me off because I really thought the social contract of being on Instagram was solid as in I we all agreed that no politics would go on there. But this week it all went to shit.

Here’s my thing: I do not have it in me to argue with strangers online anymore. I spent a lot of time doing that before Anthony died and it got me nowhere except regretting it when I buried him. I do not think anyone wins an argument on morality and politics on social media. In fact, I have lost a lot of friends because of my political freak outs. It is not that they did not agree with me, although I would say that most did not agree with me, but it was that I was hysterical. Nobody will ever listen to the arguments of a person calling them a moron. This is hard for me, especially when it comes to politics. Because I am a bit of an elitist and a Platonist. Plato was known to say that not everyone was smart enough to vote. I tend to agree with him because I am a horrible person. Which is why seething about political issues online does nothing to help me bring anyone to know Jesus and actually is probably a good way for me to walk my ass right into the pit of hell.

So! I have been staying out of the dumpster fire that is the internet. What have I been doing you ask? Well, get this! I have been doing my homework. GASP And I read a book, watched a movie and an entire series on Amazon Prime. But because I am not on social media to tell anyone and my husband is still in the desert, I haven’t talked to anyone about any of these things! Which is why I’m here on my blog because I also need to write and without Facebook, I came back to write about them on the blog.

1. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel – I had been avoiding watching this show even though a lot of people told me it was great. I don’t know why I avoided it really, just that I did and that was a mistake. I watched the first episode and was hooked. This show is so cute and funny. The main character’s outfits are beautiful. It is about women’s creativity and the high cost of it sometimes. Also, the family is a real family who has issues and heartache but sticks together. I normally would not watch a show about someone who is from the upper class because I do not relate to that kind of life at all, but this show really hit home how we all have so much in common in the human experience. I love it and can’t wait to see the next season!

2. I read a whole book. Maid by Stephanie Land. Stephanie is a great writer and really does such an amazing job of capturing what life is like when you are trying to make ends meet with a shitty job as a single mother. I have been there. What this book taught me is that I am so lucky. While I do not think that it’s lucky that I come from generations of poor people, I am lucky that I never wondered how to get on foodstamps or get medicaid when I was pregnant. I always knew what milk qualified for WIC and I never had anyone be rude to me at the grocery store for using foodstamps. Because when you live among other poor people, everyone gets it. But the struggle of working when you have a sick kid or finding daycare that is safe is one that I know well. Crawling out of poverty and having one tiny thing kick you right back in is part of the life of being poor too. But the love that mothers have for their children is what fuels us to keep going and keep trying. Land writes about that love honestly and with amazing talent.

3. Wine Country on Netflix – It is just funny. Do not watch it and then come to me telling me that it’s inappropriate. Because I know, that is why it is funny.

4. Game of Thrones – I am not linking this. Ya’ll know where to find it. I am also not going to debate people about the morality of watching it. There is a reason that I am not on social media and that is because I do not want to argue with anyone. Part of that inspiration came from last Sunday’s episode of GOT. SPOILER ALERT. Stop reading if you do not want to read spoilers.

So in that episode Daenerys burnt down the entire city with her dragon because she was sick with grief and rage. Ummmm…. Where do I even begin. First of all, since I started watching this show I have asked for a dragon and God keeps silent. Literally, I ask God the creator of the Universe why I can’t have a dragon. I took His silence as a way of Him saying that I am crazy and He refuses to entertain me. But then as I watched that dragon burn everything to the ground I realized that I do have a dragon. My anger. And when I lost Anthony, I let it burn everything to the ground. I did not care who was in the path of destruction, it all burned. My relationships, my marriage, my friendships, my life, my writing, my faith.. all of it. And watching that episode made me reevaluate my life which meant getting of the internet for a bit.


So there you go, that is what I have been doing. If things keep up this way, I will end up actually going to the gym this next week. Ha!

Business As Usual

I am really just rambling today so please stick with me, I’m hoping it all comes together in the end. My blog used to be called “Ramblings of a Crazy Face” and that’s why. It is how I write.

At the beginning of March I went and spoke at the FemCatholic Conference in Chicago. (You can buy the talks here. Honestly, I think that they are all worth the money and mine was not bad even though I almost fell apart in the middle of it.) At the end of my talk a woman who was the victim of sexual abuse as a child asked me how I felt about the current scandal in the Church. I guess from the look of most of my feeds on social media we might wanna start calling it the “last scandal” because nobody seems to remember that we are mad about it still and that nothing has been done at all. My I am bitter so maybe it is just me.

Here’s my answer: I am pissed. In my opinion, this is more than just about the sex abuse scandal though. It is about the way that we as Catholics accept lies when we think they are worth whatever end we are trying to achieve. It is easy to look at the sex abuse cover up and want our Bishops to face the fire for their part or their culture in those cover ups but then we all turn the other way when it is a lie that helps some narrative that we are trying to push, whatever that might be. And we all do it.

Catholicism is a great mask for psychos. People who take jabs at other people and mask it all with “I pray the Lord gives you peace” or other such piety speak that makes you look crazy when you tell other people that it was a jab at you. People with agendas and fakery fit right in when it comes to Catholic media. People who seethe with rage in real life but post pretty Instagram pictures of their rosaries and flowers telling us all how their morning prayer time was so fruitful. In the last nine years I have seen the under belly of our Church and it is ugly. Even in Parish council meetings where people say racist things about Hispanics without batting an eye.

The last time that I was this mad about the PR machine in the Catholic Church I lost a speaking job and was removed from the list of approved speakers for my Diocese. They were “concerned” about me. Then I set all of my social media accounts on fire and burned my platform to the ground. I have 0 desire to be made into someone I am not to do the work God has called me to do. I will not do it.

I have had a hard time articulating what exactly it is about all of this that makes me so ragey. But now I think I have finally figured it out.

After Anthony’s suicide I was on Instagram just scrolling out of habit when I saw so many of my friends just living their lives while I was sitting in a funeral home waiting to start planning my son’s funeral. His body was in a morgue somewhere and I was sitting in a funeral home and my friends were posting videos and pictures of them having fun. At that moment, I wanted to take a hammer to my phone. I hated that little device that showed me how little everyone cared about my dead kid. How they could just go on with business as usual without having their world stop because their son was dead.

In hindsight, I am not mad at anyone in particular about that at all, I’ve been and still am the person who goes on with my life when tragedy strikes another family. We all have our turn in that chair at the funeral home when our world has crumbled and everyone else is going to the movies or eating at Applebee’s or having a birthday party you aren’t invited to because you are dealing with dead bodies and funerals. It is part of life. But we haven’t always been able to see life go on when ours is at a standstill in a funeral home. Now we can.

Now we are all branded and have things to promote even in the middle of someone else’s tragedy, including the Catholic Church. And to me, that seems so wrong. I do not think that Jesus died on the Cross because it was a good content for His brand. I don’t think that His Passion was a marketing move. Or that He died at 3 pm because that is when the most people are online. In the modern world we have allowed the tools to become our masters. And with that comes dehumanizing ourselves into brands and dehumanizing others as brands and mostly we dehumanize Jesus into content for our feeds. That is not how God intended us to grow His following. That is how the Kardashians grow a following.

When I see the USCCB’s social media devoid of any talk about the sex abuse crisis I feel like my pain does not matter. I was sexually abused as a child by a mechanic and those things, those happy social media posts selling some kind of Catholic stuff, still hurt me. I cannot imagine what it is like for people who were victims of clergy. Each one of those “business as usual” social media posts might as well say “we do not care about your pain”. It is a signal that The Catholic Brand means more than the Gospel. A signal that I hear loud and clear. And it makes me angry. There is something more important than all our branding. There has to be, otherwise we are all just fooling ourselves and each other.

At some point I will have to find a place for this anger. I will have to process it and figure out where to put it because I am not going to allow it to stop me from doing what God has called me to do. But for today, I am just going to allow myself to be angry. There just has to be another way to be witnesses of Christ without the PR spin and without being fake and without accepting lies for the greater good. The Truth matters. The Truth has a name and a face. The Truth is Jesus and if we do not believe that then we should all just stop spending so much time pretending we are Catholics who believe in God.