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.

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Sorry I’ve been MIA!!

Hi y’all! I’m still alive. I’m sorry I have been neglecting my blog and pretty much everything else writing related!

At the end of February I flew to Southern Illinois for a week of talks in Mt. Carmel. That community is so special to me since it was the first one to hire me to come speak at their parishes. This year was just as special to me. I had so many amazing conversations and what I love most about southern Illinois is how much it’s like Texas. I love small farming communities so much, they just remind me of where I grew up in South Texas. Boots and cows. It’s where I feel the most comfortable.

From there I flew to Chicago for the FemCatholic conference. This conference was so amazing that I will need a few blog posts to really write about it. Speaking about Anthony and what God has done for me is really where I feel like I am living out my purpose in life. I will write more about this experience later this week or early next week with links and details! It was AMAZING.

When I landed back in Austin Texas, my husband Stacey was home for Iraq. To catch everyone up: my husband and I separated last September and were on the way to getting civilly divorced (not an annulment) when he left to Iraq. Then in December both of us talked things out, the biggest conflict being he no longer wants to keep our house where my son Anthony took his own life and I can’t bring myself to leave it yet, and we dismissed the divorce and agreed to talk about the house once our debt is paid and he comes home from Iraq. So when I got home at the beginning of March he was home and it was the first time I had seen him in 6 months. Needless to say, I fell off the grid.

We had so much fun together and with our family. We honored Anthony’s life on the anniversary of his suicide and we took our grandchildren to Chuck EE Cheese (ps they sell beer now so it’s not as hellish as in the past!) it was fun all around.

Now he’s back there and I’m home trying to catch up on things that were put aside while I was traveling and while he was home. And it’s a lot.

So that’s what I’ve been up to! I fully intend to be back to a regular writing schedule next week, but I’m not promising anything because there are still a few fires we have burning with issues with kids and my mom is having surgery. But I will at least write a few posts in the next week!

Hope y’all are having a blessed Lent. ❤️

Getting My Shit Together 2019

One reason that I have been avoiding writing this blog post is that I already know what is going to happen. I am going to write it all out and people will be so proud of me and offer encouragement or say something like “I wish I could do that” and then my life will fall apart. This has happened over and over as a blogger. I think it is because God likes to entertain Himself by torturing bloggers/writers/authors/speakers.

But here I go anyway.

Part of this need to get my shit together comes from the fact that I have been living in the black hole known as Grief for the last two years and the fog is finally lifting. Several things happened to snap me out of it. The biggest one was probably when my husband moved out in September. That is very complicated and involves things that are not mine to speak on, but I can say that when I no longer had such a close target for my anger or someone taking care of my every need, I had to really come back to being some kind of presence in my life again instead of just being on autopilot.

I got a job and being out in the world reminded me that I love people. I love talking to people and hearing their stories. I love seeing people grow. I also remembered how many people have no clue what the purpose of their lives are and that God loves them so much He thought the world needed them in it to make it better. I also remembered how much I hate waiting tables and how much I love writing. So I quit because I could once my husband and I reconciled.

Step 1 of Getting my Shit Together:

is to write full time. To focus on it and to begin freelance writing and pitching agents for my memoir. I was waiting tables out of the need to pay my bills and also fear. Fear was honestly the biggest factor. When the need to pay my bills was gone, fear was all that was left. I had to make the choice to jump even if I was scared to death. I still am, but now is the time.

Step 2 of #GMST2019 (we are just gonna go modern now and go with this hashtag)

This might actually be #1 depending on how you look at it. Or it might be the pre-requisite. Anyway, it is going back to therapy. Going to therapy and dealing with hard things. You would think that the trauma of losing a son to suicide is the hard thing but the truth is that I had given up on therapy because I blamed myself for his suicide. Somewhere in my mind, I had already failed the most I could fail so there was no reason to even keep healing from anything that happened before Anthony died. Also, I had taken on the punishment of life without therapy as a punishment for Anthony’s suicide. Going back has helped me see that and get my emotional life in order. I do not want to keep on letting anger lead me by the hand. I also am not about to be fake or let people walk all over me so I need therapy to help me balance those two things out.

Step 3 #GMST2019 (see how I keep making this shorter?)

A budget. You guys. There are just somethings that I do not understand the concept of when people say them. Like “dress in layers” or “surrender to God’s plan for your life” or “just budget your money”. First of all, I hardly have ever had money and second I do not know what those words even mean. But I have a friend who does know what a budget is and how to make one so I asked her for help. She explained.things to me over coffee and we talked about other things so it was also time with a friend. I left that coffee date with a new understanding of how to manage money. I have been using the YNAB (You Need a Budget) app and it has changed my life. I have all my bills and expenses covered and my choices on what to spend my money on are more intentional. I am also so grateful that I understand how to manage money instead of feeling like money is in control of my life. No, I still do not have endless amounts of money so I have to make choices, but I am making them, they are not just happening to me.

Step 4 #GMST2019

A daily schedule. Time is like money. It has to be managed. We only have so much of it and the things we have to do take time. I took the things I learned about a budget and applied them to time. I busted out my Blessed is She planner and started budgeting my time. Putting it all down helped me to see what my priorities are and make them happen and also to see what I can and can’t say yes to during the week and why. This daily schedule helped me to see goals in their context rather than just being things on a random list somewhere that I expect to just happen. That is not how things materialize in our lives. If we want something, we have to work towards it. A daily schedule telling me what space in my day is going to be to focus on this specific goal is how I will get there.

Step 5 #GMST 2019

My priorities. Prayer, myself, family, school, gym time and daily Mass. I had to sit down and set my priorities and put them in my life. For so long these things are just concepts that either get attention or they don’t. Sometimes they even compete for attention. Using my budget and daily schedule I can put them in their place in my daily life rather than just think about them. I had to stop feeling bad that self-care comes right after God for me because I am codependent and have no boundaries so that is what works in my life to make me the best version of myself. Then I had to put myself on my schedule. That meant putting “bubble bath” on my weekly schedule. Or putting “gym” time in my daily schedule. Once I set my priorities and put them in my weekly schedule I could see how it was possible and could stop feeling guilty about taking care of myself. I can also see how taking care of myself helps me to care for everyone else. I can also see how much time somethings are taking out of my day and out of my other priorities. Like social media. And I can adjust or adapt accordingly. This means taking Saturdays to write and schedule blog posts, learning how to schedule social media posts and limiting myself to an hour a day on social media.

All of these things have helped me gain some control over my life over the things I can control. I know there is plenty that I cannot control, but that does not mean just letting life punch you in the face all the time. That will happen anyway, even if you have a budget and schedule and goals. But having my shit together might make them easier to handle when they come along. I don’t know, I might end up saying this is all too much and going back to binge-watching Netflix and eating McDonald’s for dinner. I will let you know.

What are some things in your Get Your Shit Together Plan?