Birthday Wish

Tomorrow is my 28th birthday. I’ve been sick in bed with this horrible stomach flu… plenty of time to think through the last 27 years, but really I’ve focused on the last year. Usually we take inventory on New Years eve… but I think this is more appropriate for me. I’ve bee thinking about the kind of woman I want to be in the next year.

This year I want to listen more. I will bite my tongue and take a deep breath, because I don’t have to be right. I will be conscious of how I make others feel when I express my opinions. No one should feel small because of something I’ve said. My tongue can be acid, something I am honestly proud of… it’s my best weapon. But I’d rather use it only when there is a worthy fight. Speaking of fighting, I will pick my battles. There is no point in fighting to the death when it’s not THAT important. I don’t want to push people I love away because I have strong feelings. I will be kind to my husband. Why is it that it’s so easy to snap at him when I love him so much? Even when he does idiotic things, chances are, he had no idea how it would effect me. It’s not fair to hold him accountable for not meeting the expectations I never voiced. I will voice my expectations (after thinking them through, deciding if they are reasonable, fair and won’t rock the boat (too much). I will tell my kids that I love them everyday. I will tell my kids I love them when I am mad at them. I will have patience with other humans. I will have patience with myself. Nobody is perfect. I will follow my heart, I will embrace change, I will nurture and nourish myself family. Our health is important, even if it can be inconvenient. I will listen to my intuition. I will have humility when I mess up. I will not point out other’s faults. I will be kind. I will burn the good candles, eat sushi for no reason, drink champagne any time, and call my grandma “just because”.

I’m promising myself, because everything I do effects the universe. I want to make the world better, not bitter.

Mommy Issues

So this morning as I scrolled through my facebook newsfeed, sipping my coffee, I come across a new single written by Pink. You all know I am a Pink fan, so I was excited, I click the link and read the article, turns out, this song was written for Pink’s mom… My initial reaction to this news was conflicting. I have serious mommy issues (You’ve heard about my daddy issues already.) and I have hesitated to blog about them because… Well for one it fucking hurts. As I type tears burn my eyes and and my throat is tight, also, this stuff is personal. I know I have been open about a lot, but this is the most sensitive subject for me, I’ve told you about the time I was attacked, and I don’t even cry anymore when I talk about that. I have told you about my history with the cult, and I have even publicly apologized to a friend (<—- I even mentioned some mommy issues.) But this mom stuff is really hard to choke out.

My sisters and my mama at my wedding
My sisters and my mama at my wedding

“No one ever held you, no single moment of truth, but if you were mine I would have looked into those eyes and said, tell me the words you long to hear and I’ll sing them loud and clear, let me heal the wounds you’ve held onto for all these years. Break the cycle break the chain, cause love is louder than all your pain.”

It’s like she took the words from my heart, words I have never been able to even think. “But if you were mine….” right there, that’s when I broke, that’s when the tears came. When I was pregnant and didn’t want a baby, I promised this baby that I would be the mother that my mom couldn’t be. I was so afraid to continue the cycle. Every day since Jo was born has been therapy for me, I have spent the last 5 years cleaning up the mess my mom left, I have loved Jo, and hugged her, and connected with her in all the ways I SHOULD have been loved, all the ways I DESERVED to be loved. I don’t have memories of not being wanted, but it became clear while I was in CFD, you may remember the Justine Doll Incident:

“When I was in treatment for my eating disorder I was given an assignment, to make a doll that represented me, a baby Justine doll, and nurture her for a day. It was supposed to be me when I was 2, around the time my mom left us. After making the doll, I promptly threw it over my shoulder, and did not touch it for a week. The next time we had group with all of our therapists, mine asked me if I had completed the task. I said I made the doll, and no I did not nurture it, it’s not even real, after all. I should have known better because my next assignment was to nurture that damn thing for the next WEEK! My therapist asked me to go get the doll. I got it and put her down in front of me.

She asked me to hold her…
I picked it up by it’s hair.
She asked me to hold her like a baby.
I did.
She asked me to look at her.
I couldn’t.
“Why won’t you look at her?”
Me: “I can’t.”
“Why not?”
Me: “I don’t know, I hate it.”
“Why?”
Me: “I don’t know.”
“Look at her.”
Me: (I looked at her, and started to cry) “She is ugly, and fat, and I hate her.”
“She is only a baby, how can you hate a baby?”
Me: “I don’t know… I hate her.”
“Hug her, tell her you love her.”
Me: (Hugging her) I can’t, I don’t love her.

At this point I broke down. It was crazy to me that I could HATE a doll so much. I had never realized how worthless I felt, how ugly, and disgusting I thought I was. Those are the voices in my head when I look in the mirror sometimes. When I got out of treatment I threw that doll away.

I can’t imagine my beautiful, perfect, smart baby girl feeling the way I felt towards that doll… I mean myself.”

I’m not saying it’s ALL my mom’s fault that I literally hated myself and did not think I deserved to be nurtured or loved, there were a lot of factors, but I’m pretty sure being essentially abandoned is a huge contributing factor. Thinking back on that doll I have such a sick feeling, who can leave their little girl? I look at my daughter and I have a hard time imagining a day without her, I cry every time she goes to her dad’s house. Jo changed me, she changed my perspective on life. I could’t help but wonder… why didn’t I do that for my mom? Why didn’t I change her? Why didn’t she look at me, and fall in love? It’s not very fair is it? I can’t imagine walking away from my baby girl, but my mom felt that I would be better off without her. She may have been right, but that’s not really the point is it?

Break the cycle break the chain, cause love is louder than all your pain.”

I have spent the last 5 years breaking the chain. I could have been my mom, I could have left when it was hard, I could have given up at any point, but I promised Joliene while she was in my belly that even if I didn’t love her, I would ALWAYS do everything in my power to make her feel loved, and I would never EVER leave her. I promised to show that her she is perfect and beautiful, that she is essential and loved. I vowed to be better and to give her everything I should have had. I broke the cycle.

Me and my Jojo <3
Me and my Jojo <3

“If you were mine…”

I have spent the last 5 years wishing I had been my own mom. Wondering what it would have been like if my mom had been like me, would I have been more confident? Would I have still starved myself? More importantly, would I be the mother I am today? What I never thought until hearing those words was, what if she was mine? What if I could go back and nurture my mother? What if I was HER mother? Would she have stayed?

Disclaimer: “Too many missing pieces, that’s always been your reason to justify how you feel inside” To be honest, I know my mom can’t help who she was. She has more than enough reasons. She was dealt a pretty shitty hand in life. It just sucks that I had to suffer because of HER past. But I love her, and have come a really long way. I think this song really reminded me to be compassionate.

 

 

Regrets

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Regrets. You know that feeling, that knot in your throat, the queasiness in the pit of your stomach, the ache in your heart. You fucked up. I am incredibly familiar with this feeling. I envy the people who say they will never regret anything. OK if you have no regrets, you must be an amazing person, teach me your ways! How can you live your life without doing something you wish you hadn’t? I feel like I have so many, maybe they are not huge life altering events, but there are decisions I have made that to this day haunt me.

I had a dream recently that I was waiting at a table in a restaurant for someone, I didn’t know who, when 3 people from my past walked in. They were shocked to see me, my heart started racing, having no idea how to react. Almost immediately one of them acted happy to see me, I knew she wasn’t, so I said, “It’s OK, you don’t have to bullshit…” Which probably made the situation worse. You know how it is, it’s easier to to be fake in an awkward situation. Especially when you know they way you really want to behave is like a jackass. My dream goes on with me alone at my table, and this small group sits at another, I got up to use the bathroom, and so did the girl who pretended to be happy to see me. Since we were alone, I asked her if she’d read any of my emails. You see, in real life I have written to her multiple times to apologize for the things I said to her, and she never acknowledged the emails. Since my subconscious mind seems to be aching for the opportunity to make things right, I apologized right there.

I woke up with that knot in my throat… that disgusting nauseating feeling. And I can’t fix this one. I want more than anything to tell her that I am so sorry I unleashed on her they way I did, that she didn’t deserve it. That I had been holding in hurt feelings for too long and had been fed a lot of negativity by someone close to us. I felt like a fish out of water, no- like an animal in captivity, with no control, and I lashed out at the easiest target. I’m sorry. No one deserves to be spoken to the way I ripped her apart. And I understand why she won’t accept my apology. I don’t deserve the validation.

This is the understanding I came to late last night. Just because we truly are sorry, and we want to fix something, just because our hearts are in the right place, does not give us the right to be forgiven. Not every mistake can be rectified. Sometimes people need to be bitter, they need someone to be upset with, not everyone is ready to forgive, when we are ready to own up to our mistakes. And that’s OK. Does it fit into my plan? No, I desperately need to deal with this situation. Whether she hates me and bitches me out, or accepts my apology and we never speak again… there are limitless outcomes, but it’s ME that needs this, and in this situation, I have no right to “need” anything. I should have thought of that before I lost my shit.

I should clarify, personally, I know a lot more was going on at this time, I know that I was feeling uncomfortable in my own skin because I was on birth control (from other blogs you know that birth control has had terrible effects on me, one of which is temporary insanity. Hormones are no joke.) which made me irritable and anxious, among other things. I also was going through a custody battle. For the first time in my daughter’s life, there was a possibility that I would have to split custody of my daughter, and I was flipping out. For months I couldn’t eat, in fact the day that I flipped out, I had not eaten anything, and we had made sangria. (Not brilliant.) As you know, I practiced attachment parenting, and the thought of being away from my baby was, and is heart wrenching. I cry every Friday when she goes to her dad’s and I spent all of last weekend in tears because she went to Sea World, and that was the first time she has ever gone far from me. You can imagine the fear in me during this time, and the discomfort, I did not know who I could trust, this girl is friends with my ex, which is not a problem, but it was a conflict of interest, and I did not know how to deal with it. I had never been in a situation like this, and for some dumb reason, when I am uncomfortable, I tend to react strongly, in an effort to find a safe or comfortable place. In this case, I alienated someone I loved dearly.

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I feel the need to explain all of this because it is weighing so heavily on my heart. I now can imagine how my mother feels, I have so much bitterness for my mother, and I love her insanely, but in June 2012, the same month I unleashed on my friend, I (verbally) attacked my mom. I was in Indiana visiting some family, and my mom offered to babysit my then three year old (need I remind you thatI was preparing for a custody battle?) and my mom of all people offered to babysit. My mom was the LAST person I was going to trust with my daughter. Not because I don’t think she had good intentions, but because she walked out on me and my little sister when I was Jo’s age. I did not think any of that through when she offered, I just knew that the answer was “No.” She did not understand why, so I had to figure out why this made me so uncomfortable. Jo doesn’t know my mom. We live in California and my mom had met Jo maybe 3 or 4 times her whole life. I was not about to leave my kid with a stranger, I meant, I wasn’t even comfortable leaving Jo with her own father! My mom insisted that she’s not a stranger, she’s Jo’s grandma, and I became more uncomfortable, I ended up screaming at her that she left me when I was Jo’s age, and I will NEVER abandon my baby, I will NEVER give my baby reason to think I had left her, I can’t trust her with the one person I love more than anything. I yelled at my own mother that she had no business having children, and what was she thinking? If she couldn’t stick around for 2 of us, how irresponsible was she to have more children? Clearly at this point I had lost my mind, a lot of baggage had been triggered, and I did not think before I said these terrible things. I said– screamed these things (and worse) in front of my younger sisters and brothers. You may have imagined that this is another one of those situations where I get that nasty knot in my throat. If I could go back, I would have held my tongue. Actually I would not have gone to Indiana that summer. I knew it was going to be too much for me, but I went anyway, and now I live with regret. I hurt my mom, and my little brother’s and sister’s.

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Luckily, my brother’s, sitter’s and mom all still love me, they were in my wedding about 5 months ago. I guess that’s a perk with family, eventually you’re more likely to be forgiven? Here is the thing, though, my mom has asked over and over for me to talk to her, and I never wanted to talk about all of the passed things, the abandonment, and painful memories. I could never understand why she just stood there and took it while I screamed at her. I get it now, when you fuck up, and you have regret, you stand there and take it when someone calls you on it, no matter how nasty they are, you don’t have a leg to stand on, you have no excused. It’s not your turn to talk. It’s your turn to listen, and let the person you hurt heal. With that, I am resolving to be patient, to understand that I am not owed any type of validation from anyone I have hurt, the ball is in their court, and if they are not ready for my apology, it’s OK, the apology is not about me, even though it would make me feel better, why do I deserve to be forgiven? I should hope that whomever I have hurt is happy now, and if it’s easier to never talk about it, I must respect that. I also need to keep these things in mind before I open my mouth, as to not have more regrets.

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Mean Girls

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Let’s talk about judgments.

Women are known for being judgmental. In fact women are known for being ruthless. It’s sad really, that women attack each other. Not just women, girls do it, too. Middle school was ridiculous, girls would steal boyfriends, back stab, gossip, play tricks, start rumors… you name it. The funny thing is that I was never warned about females. I was warned about boys. In fact, I was protected from boys. I was not allowed to date, and my time with the opposite sex was limited extremely. Meanwhile, I was coming home from elementary school in tears every few days because this little girl was mean to me. By middle school I was on a first name basis with our school councilor. (Not to mention, I was seeing my own therapist weekly.) They called it mediation. Left to our own devices, I imagine “Lord of the Flies” would have become a reality in our middle school.

Someone told me once that when you boil female lobsters you do not need to put a lid on the pot.  But you MUST put a lid on a pot with male lobsters. Why? Male lobsters will make a ladder so that they can escape, they help each other, while female lobsters will down each other. I have never boiled lobsters, but it sounds about right!

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It’s sad to see they way women attack each other. I have been totally guilty of this, and have made a conscious effort to stop. Women should build each other up, we should be able to trust each other, and be a team. We all know we can’t. We all know that once we get to a certain place, the women around us will feel threatened, and suddenly you have an enemy. You may not even know you are enemies. That’s the thing about women, we act like we love each other to pieces, and then  talk shit behind each other’s backs.

How do we stop this when we cannot ever trust each other? That’s what stops me. I would like to say I always give everyone the benefit of the doubt. Generally upon meeting someone I will give them a chance, but if I have heard about you… well… I keep that in the back of my mind. There is a girl code, and if you’re my best friend’s enemy, I am expected to hate you. It’s unfair, and ridiculous, really. One of my closest friend’s is actually someone that another friend had a falling out with, and had nothing nice to say about… It just goes to show, we never know about a person until we give them a chance!

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I saw a lot of this “female rivalry” during my wedding planning, you see I have this general rule, I don’t bring 2 or more groups of friends together. I have seen this backfire over and over again, usually because women just can’t handle it, hell, I can’t always handle it. I have had some pretty mortifying moments by mixing friends (and sometimes adding alcohol). You know those moments you just wish NEVER happened, and it’s much more comfortable to pretend it didn’t? Like the time I got mad at my ex for being mad at me… (Girl Math, if you’re new to my blog, “Girl Math” is a way that women rationalize a decision, like eating a carrot, doing sit ups, or taking a laxative to counteract that piece of chocolate, so, I admit, it tends to be pointless, and sometimes harmful (in the case of the laxative) but women are the queens of rationalizing… I’m sorry we are the kings, men just can’t rationalize the way we do, or maybe they can, but they certainly cannot articulate it fast enough.) after having most of a bottle of Moscato (you know this was ages ago since I was drinking Moscato!) at a party, and I ran off down the street, got lost and ended up in tears, and my tears I mean I was sobbing uncontrollably and my friends had to search for me because I didn’t know where I was. (Yeah that happened, and I try to forget, but for the sake of my story, I am reliving it.) Well this was a result of “friend mixing”, and too much alcohol. I would like to say this was the last time I mixed friends, it wasn’t, but I’m not telling you what happened the next time, however, it’s safe to say that I learned my lesson. And then I got engaged. It was an awkward position for me, knowing that my friends and family, and James’ friends and family now had to in the very least spend one day together, and trust me, I tried for the minimum. I did not know what to expect, but it’s these occasions where you just hope that everyone will behave themselves for… well in this case for me. Last year my ex and I were both invited to a wedding, we both attended, I went with my fiance (at the time) and we were polite, we didn’t sit together, (no need to make things uncomfortable) but we both had a great time. Are we friends, no, but we chose to be bigger people for our friends. So I really was hoping the same thing could happen for my wedding. I have to admit that a lot of things could have gone wrong, but didn’t. There was still a lot of awkwardness, and only one uninvited guest ( a great story for another time, perhaps). But my bridesmaids did not all like each other, they still behaved, banded together, and sucked it p to make my day special. I know it was hard for some of them, and I am well aware that most of them were very thankful that I had a falling out with the one girl that was close to me, but treated them all like crap, maybe it was the fact that she wasn’t there that they all proved themselves. I would never undermine the willpower of a woman who is proving she is better than her best friend’s (ex) best friend. In fact a lot of them don’t like each other, but they still behaved. Why does it have to take a special occasion for everyone to be on their best behavior? I have heard, and been a part of gossiping and shit talking, and it’s not OK, I have made a conscious effort to stop being petty. It does no good… Ok at the time, when you’re pissed, it seems like it’s a great idea, and you might even feel better, not better than you did, better than her. But that just makes us bullies and mean girls. Not to be biblical, but how would YOU feel. Maybe you wouldn’t care, and if you don’t, maybe you are just more mature than the rest of us, maybe you’re Madonna who said, ” It’s none of my business what people say about me.” I have to admit it’s true… Usually hearing what others think of you is painful. Maybe we can work on ourselves, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” This is easier said than done… I know, but neither is eating clean, but it’s so worth it to have more energy and love your body! I am making an effort to cleanse my soul, no more shit talking, bad mouthing or gossiping. I’m going to do yoga, and meditate, no more festering and dwelling on negativity. I want to be a better person. Life is too short to be a petty bitch.

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No One’s The Bitch

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My daughter was playing with a friend a few weeks ago in our garage/converted play room and she says, “My other mom’s favorite color is green.” I almost dropped the broom that was in my hand. I heard that wrong… I had to have heard that wrong!

“Baby? Why did you call her your other mom? She is your step-mom.” (By the way, she has only carried this title for a few days at this point.)

Jo answered, “Because I have two moms now.”

My heart raced, inside I screamed “NO!!! You do not have two moms! I am your mama, you grew inside MY belly, I felt your first kicks, I kissed you first! I am your mama, I got up every night with you and sacrificed my body for 9 months to bring you to this world, and for another almost two years breast feeding. I am your mama, I slept on the floor next to your bed every night, every shower I took for 3 years was a shower slash bath so you could play and stay close to me because all you ever wanted was your mama. I am your mama, I fell in love with you, you were my first love, and I was yours.”

I didn’t say that. I walked away and cried. This new woman has been in my daughters life for about 5 months, and as far as I am concerned the title, “Mom” is earned. Not to say you have to birth children to become a mother, I have a step mom and she is one of my closest friends. I also had a somewhat absent mother. While I saw my mom on occasional weekends, she never really exhibited the “mom” role in my life. Nevertheless, she is still my mama. I refer to my step mom by her name, although I do consider her a parent. And coincidentally I am even closer to her than either of my biological mother.

I myself am a step mother, as well. My step children call me “Mom”… So you might think that I have a double standard? It took my stepchildren (my kids) about a year to start referring to me as their mom. It wasn’t something I asked or told them to do, it was organic. My husband and I are their primary care givers. Their biological mom passed away a few years before I came into the picture. For all intents and purposes, I am mom. I stay home, I help with homework, I clean, prepare dinner, read books, wipe away tears, ice boo-boos, bandage scrapes… you name it. they asked me if it was OK for them to call me mom. My biological daughter, Jo was excited to share her mama. Granted it took her about the same amount of time to become comfortable with me performing all of the maternal duties for children other than her. I know it was a hard thing for the grandparents to hear, and to get used to, but we all decided that we wanted the kids to know that we are a family, and and even though their biological mother can’t be here, I will be here. (We also do not refer to my husband as Jo’s dad, he is her step dad and she has nicknames for him.)

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Sometimes you have to do very uncomfortable things for the greater good. Hearing my daughter call her step mom her “other mom” put a few things into perspective for me. I had a lot of bitterness, and a part of me didn’t want to let go of it. Because if I let go of my bitterness, I couldn’t be angry anymore. Sometimes we hold onto our bitterness because it justifies the real feelings, the ones we don’t want to talk about. It took a long time for me to get to a healing place within myself in regards to my ex. (For an example check out my truce with daddies http://healthymama.net/?p=22) And most dads for that matter. Granted my ex and I are not BFFs, but at least I have worked through and owned MY shit. I honestly didn’t realize how threatened I would be by “The Other Woman”. My insecurities came flooding out, and I knew I had a BIG problem. My husband said, “It’s OK if you’re jealous…” Aaaannnddd I verbally ripped his head off. “Me? Jealous? I don’t get jealous! I’m not one of THOSE girls. I don’t want HER life, in fact she’s living my old life, the life I fled, wrote off, the life that scarred me.” (OK maybe it wasn’t THAT bad… in reality it just wasn’t right for me. And let’s face it… I have been through MUCH worse than an unhappy relationship. (See  http://healthymama.net/?p=38 for my cult back round and http://healthymama.net/?p=306 for physical and emotional physical trauma) I can think of a million reasons I am pissed not “jealous”.

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Luckily for me, a friend offered me a book called “No One’s The Bitch” (http://www.noonesthebitch.com/) and at this point I am desperate. I couldn’t live with these insecurities any more. I had to find some peace. It was really hard for me because I didn’t dislike Jo’s step mom… I honestly didn’t know her, I was just… Ok I’ll say it: I was jealous. Jealous that my daughter referred to her as a mom, and she seemed comfortable with it, jealous that she is living my old life, has my old friends, and probably has heard about all of my dirty laundry (and then some, knowing the vicious rumors I have heard about myself). Jealous that my baby is spending so much time with a stranger, and that my ex still wouldn’t communicate with me the way I needed. My insecurities were festering. Everyone told me not to bother with the book, that I should just “hate” the step mom because she will inevitably hate me. That she shouldn’t step on MY toes, and I have every right to be angry. I am the mom.

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But I was looking at this from a different point of view. I went to a place where I was happy and relieved that my ex found someone, that he seemed happy. My daughter obviously liked her, too. Jo has been through enough, and the last thing we need is for me to make everyone’s life miserable because I can’t handle my insecurities. I have always been very… judgmental of parents who do not put their kids first. Not to be mean, and I know judging is not OK, but I cannot respect a parent who puts their children in a dangerous situation out of selfishness or convenience. So how can I put my daughter in the middle of a territorial fight? How is that fair? It’s not like we can cut her in half! (Yes, that was a biblical reference) I had to find a way to share, a way that wasn’t going to break my heart.

So over the last few weeks I have been working through my shit, and it’s not an easy thing to admit where I need to change. I feel vulnerable. But I also feel lucky. Lucky that I found help so quickly, that the other woman is very respectful towards me, and we have found we have more in common than either of us expected. That we both have Joliene’s best interest at heart. We found that we communicate better with each other than I do with my ex!

I still don’t want to hear her referred to as Jo’s “other mom”, I am still protective of my title, and my relationship with my daughter. I am, however, working through these feelings, and learning to deal with them in a healthy way. No one has to be the villain. No One’s The Bitch. Except me, I was kind of being a bitch.

 

 

 

Reliving a Nightmare

About 6 years ago I was viciously attacked by 2 men… I never imagined I would be compelled to write this blog, yet here I sit on the verge of tears trying to work through my pain and fear.

Six years is a long time, so long in fact that I thought I was over “it”. I remember a time that not a day would go by that I didn’t think about them, what they had done to me, and what they might do if they ever saw me again. I would freeze if I saw a car even remotely similar to one they drove and I refused to go anywhere they might be. I would shake if I even thought I saw one of them. I left a shopping cart full of groceries and ran out of the store one day after turning a corner and seeing one of them in the freezer section.

I moved to Las Vegas a few years after, and I breathed a sigh of relief, knowing I was long gone. I only lasted a year in Vegas, but it was a therapeutic year. It was the first time in a long time that I was not in fear. I had not even realized the terror I had felt daily. It was so freeing to not worry or think of them. When I moved back to beautiful California, I didn’t worry. I thought I was not afraid anymore, actually, to be honest, I didn’t “think” about “it”, it didn’t occur to me that I had been scared. That darkness seemed to be gone. Now I know it was just hidden, unused for so long.

A few months ago I was picking up an item for my wedding, and I saw one of them in the same parking lot as the bridal store. I didn’t even think… I ducked. My husband, fiance at the time, looked at me in utter confusion. My heart was pounding, my hands were shaking, and I knew I was not over “it”. I was brought back to a time before kids, before love, a time where I was reckless and irresponsible. My best friend and I were dating brothers, and it was so convenient at first. We were able to spend time together… I guess this was our excuse. I was never sure about the situation, but she had fallen quickly. They were alcoholic, felons, on probation for a violent crime who were raised by a woman hating, old fashioned “wanna be” Italian who had changed his name when he moved to America for his safety. There were rumors that he was a mercenary in Europe. He taught his boys that women were gold diggers, and deserved punishment for “misbehavior”. The boys treated women, us, like were were possessions. Not valuable ones, more like child’s toys, they were free to mistreat us, but we were theirs to mistreat. The only exception to this rule was each other. They didn’t bat an eye when one would hit the other’s girl friend. I don’t think my boyfriend at they time ever hit my friend, or me, for that matter. Thinking back, this is why I stayed so long. He may not have hit me, but he laughed when one of his brothers hit me in the head with a carton of orange juice. He hit me so hard I saw stars, but they just laughed. He didn’t defend me when his other brother slapped me across the face for no reason. He wasn’t there the night his brother took a book out of my hand, ripped it in pieces and then choked me against the refrigerator, and the roommate had to pull him off of me.

Those were just a few of the countless times these men physically hurt me. They also called me names, threw things at me and did the same to my friend. They fought all of the time, every holiday someone ended up in the hospital for stitches. And somehow all of this was normal to them. I knew it was fucked up, but I let myself get sucked in. I didn’t get along with the brothers from the beginning, they hated me for being opinionated and outspoken. They initially liked my friend better because she cooked and cleaned and responded to “Bitch where’s my beer?” whereas I responded, “Fuck you, get your own.”

I tried to leave once, my ex begged me to stay, when I refused he came with me. I think a part of him didn’t want to live that way anymore, but within weeks one of his brother’s followed, and a few months later we were all living on the same street. Welcome to my personal Hell. I was so done with him and his family, but I did not see a way out. My family and I were not close at the time, and I didn’t have a friend I could stay with. I fell into a depression, and in those days I remember the only time I actually enjoyed myself was at work. At home I avoided them. I stayed in my bed and read books while they got drunk every night with the neighbors. One night my ex convinced me to go with him to the neighbors to be “social”. I went reluctantly, only to be cornered in the house by the neighbor, he said he had seen what an ass the brothers were and that I didn’t deserve to be treated that way, then the idiot kissed me. I pulled away and went to the bathroom (where I was headed in the first place) and thanked my lucky stars no one had seen… they would have killed him, and me. I excused myself, saying I was not feeling well and went home alone. The neighbor had gotten my phone number and began calling and texting me. I honestly had no interest in him, and I was afraid at what the brothers might do if they ever knew. It didn’t take long for my ex to snoop through my phone and find out that the neighbor had called me, he and the brothers confronted the neighbor, had him on his knees swearing nothing had happened. They never believed him. So one day while my boyfriend was asleep, they came over and started talking shit to me, calling me a whore, and one brother started touching me, saying that “I wanted it”. I pushed him off over and over and finally my fist swung, I hit him as hard as could in the face. His eyes rolled back in his head, he shook it off and hit me so hard I flew off the stool into a wall, hitting my head on both the wall and the stove. That’s when everything went really fast, my ex woke up and stepped in between his brother and myself, only for his other brother to attack me. The two of them traded off, as my ex could only keep one away from me at a time. This is when one of their wives came in, she cheered for her husband as he threw me into another wall, she took over and kicked me repeatedly. This is when my ex broke away and grabbed a phone and dialed 911. His 2 brothers and sister in law ran out the door…

Writing it out almost seems to trivialize it. Rereading this words I am so far away reliving it, blow by blow. I thought they were going to kill me, I thought they would never stop. I begged and cried and wished someone would hear me scream. If my ex hadn’t been there, I can’t imagine what else they would have done to me.

I suppose it’s no surprise that I hid that day in the parking lot of the bridal store. Did I think he would attack me right there? No… but I didn’t think they would attack me that day, either.

I left after what they had done, my friend stayed. And is now going through a custody battle with the very same brother who hit me first. I read her declaration, as she asked me to testify if needed. I don’t want to. I don’t want to think about them, I certainly don’t want to be in the same room as them. My entire life has turned around, I have 3 amazing kids, a fantastic husband who has shown me true love, a job I adore and a life I couldn’t have dreamed up in a million years. The girl who lived on Ventura Avenue in a ghetto studio apartment that used to be a carport, who smoked a pack a day and never stood up for herself doesn’t exist anymore. My ex threatened that if I pressed charges they would come after me, and judging from the stories they used to scare us with, I was not willing to take that chance, so now I’m afraid again, and torn. And then I think about them, and how they got away with all of it, for 6 years now, they have not had to take responsibility for what they did to me, or what they have done to her. Maybe I should speak up. Maybe this can be a lesson for someone who is being treated badly, it’s never too early to leave, but it can be too late.

The God Thing

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For such a small person, I seem to have an overload of “issues”. I am so tired of caring so much! I am in a constant struggle to find the middle ground, but my ego is fighting for black or white. I have always been neutral about religion, it doesn’t sound like it sometimes, but in reality, believe what you want. Who am I to say what is what? No, personally I do not believe in the Christian god, but I have friends and family who do. I love and respect them, and am thankful for their hearts, and convictions. Besides certain literal inconsistencies, my real aversion to Christianity is people. I grew up saturated in hypocrisy. Not everyone involved was as harmful, but for a child to grow up in such a huge group of liars, you can imagine my discomfort with Christians. It was embedded in my brain for my entire childhood, 2 years old to 16 years old, that this “church” was the ONE AND ONLY way to God. A god I had no real concept of. God is a very difficult concept if you think about it. Actually for some, it is a very simple concept… God is a security blanket, a reason for everything. Humans are constantly wondering “Why?” and if the answer is “God.”… there is no further reason to search. For some reason The God Thing never fit right. I know people who are so comforted by the thought of God, but here I am, here I have always been, feeling uncomfortable, confused and alone. I know all of the arguments, I studied The Bible, I went to church, I was even baptized, which is shocking, I’m sure to those of you who know me (I can even walk into a church without bursting into flames!).

So, if my question is “Why?” and the answer is “God.”, then my real question is “HOW?”

I think I know what God is. And the answer is simple, the journey to achieving “God”… not so simple.

God is inner peace.

You might hate that I over simplified the master of the universe, and there is no need to get offended. I’m not saying you’re wrong. In fact, I’m saying you’re right! If you’re thoughts on your god comfort you, if you are able to give your problems to your god, if you are able to “let go and let God”, then your god is inner peace. I know religion tells us there is ONE GOD and ONE WAY and ONE CHURCH, and there are rules and guidelines. In that case, what I’m saying can’t possibly be true, right? OK, well, I want you to know that you are probably right. Which one of you? Which religion? Which god? I don’t know, but someone has to be right, right?

Or we can just say the truth, we don’t know, which is true, and we may never know. But for the sake of my health, I’m going with inner peace. I’ve tried the traditional god, and then I gave up. I gave up on all of it, I spent years being lost, angry and lonely. I’m ready to find Peace now.

For as long as I can remember I have been attracted to yoga. I love breathing through the discomfort, and stretching every muscle. I love that you have to focus on breathing only, (even though I have horrible balance and have to sometimes focus on balancing). I love how quiet and peaceful yoga is. Lately I have found a lot of comfort in yoga, and thanks to beginning to read Eat Pray Love, I have been inspired to learn more about it, which, honestly is what sent me on this mission to find Peace.

The first interesting thing about yoga is that yogis use/used it to help them meditate. When you meditate, you are supposed to sit still and focus on nothing, clear your mind… this is not an easy task, I have tried and failed many times. However if you are sitting for hours in one position your back is bound to get sore, and it’s hard to clear your mind when you are in pain. So, if you practice yoga, you strengthen your muscles, and massage them, you stretch them out, and you feel great. Then you can sit for a few hours in one position and focus on nothing. And by nothing I mean God and by God I mean Peace.

This is where prayer comes in. I have a serious unnatural fear of prayer. I mean I am flat out distrubed by prayer. I feel anxious simply thinking about praying. My heart is racing right now as I type because prayer freaks me out! You’d think I’m writing about spiders! The funny thing is that I believe in the power of prayer. I have read studies and witnessed miraculous recoveries, I believe in prayer, but I cannot bring myself to do it. For a log time my reason was that I don’t believe in god. Obviously I was not about to pray to something that I don’t believe exists. So that should really be the end of my prayer debacle.It’s not… because prayer works. I believe prayer works because people put so much positive energy into the universe, and energy is powerful, even more powerful with solid faith behind it. So many people pray, to so many different things, and everyone seems to think that whoever/whatever they are praying to is “the one” because they all seem to work. This makes me think that everyone is praying to the same “thing”.

But why can’t I pray???

It must be my ego, my shattered ego that can’t stand the thought of being burned by faith again. There was one other time in my life that my ego wouldn’t allow me to do something… My ego would not let me fall in love. For years I would not let go, I would not let my walls be broken, or even cracked. I kept my relationships on the surface. I could not be intimate, or honest. My ego was protecting my heart because we had been shattered to pieces , and the healing process took years. I had been so naive, and I paid the price. I guess The God Thing is similar, I was just as heart broken by my church as I was by a boy. I learned my lesson. I am so glad that I found my fiance, and that I finally did break down my walls with him. But it was scary, and a long process. It was humbling. My ego didn’t like it. So it makes sense that my ego is fighting longer and harder for my faith.

I want to pray to the universe, I want to feel a connection to the world, I want to put my faith out there, and believe in affirmations. I want to let go! To let go of negativity, to stop fighting the world, to stop fighting myself. These things are scary for me, it’s scary to type, it’s scary to say. I know I should ask the universe for inner peace… but I can’t yet. For some reason I’m not there. I’m scared of the answer.

OH PS: We got married in August 2013!

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Bridesmaidzilla!

Last night as I was skimming through my Facebook news feed I came across an adorable picture, It was a box with herbal soap, a face mask, nail polish, and a few other things, and there was a card that said, “I can’t say “I do” without you”, and in the lid it said, “Will you be my bridesmaid?” I thought it was the cutest way to ask your friends to be a part of one of the biggest days of your life.

I’m getting married, so of course I thought, who will I build my boxes for, and what will they look like? I was very immediately crushed when I realized that I don’t have my friends anymore. I’m not saying I don’t have friends, I’m just saying, things have changed. When I got engaged I immediately planned about 6 bridesmaids, there was no question in my head, these women have been supportive, and have stuck by me, they love me, they love my daughter… who better to share these awesome experiences with?

Unfortunately, my little fairy tale wedding plans went down the drain very quickly. Within weeks the thought of my wedding gave me anxiety, and conversations about it often ended in tears. I couldn’t understand, I was so happy, I was finally going to marry the man of my dreams, I had the fairy tale engagement! Things were supposed to be happy! But they were terrible. My friends all had their own ideas, and were not willing to work together, one friend all but hated 4 of my bridesmaid choices, one of them lives out of town and felt left out and bitter because she really couldn’t be involved in the plans as much as she wanted to, and she didn’t like 3 of my bridesmaid choices. Me and most of my potential bridesmaids dislike (to say the least) one of my bridesmaid’s husbands, so much, in fact that I have no intention of even inviting him to the wedding, which will cause problems, and the last thing I want to do is force her to choose between us… but he no doubt will give her an ultimatum, one that I won’t be competing with. In the past I have lost, and I can’t take that kind of heart break, especially over my wedding.

Fast forward to today… I’m not even on speaking terms with my potential maid of honor, I’m only superficial friends with one of them. The one with the husband doesn’t feel like she can be honest with me, although she tries… and thanks to this new development, who knows if she will even be able to attend my wedding. I don’t even know what’s going on with my out of town friend, but if my dreams are any indication… I don’t have high hopes. Another one has pulled away because she owes me money (that I don’t care that much about, but the fact that she is blowing me off over it… that’s just wrong.)

If you had seen me with any one of these women a few months ago, you’d think nothing could separate us. Now I’m afraid to pick up my phone to call them. I have responsibility to take. The past few months have been so busy! I recently became a step mom, and a work at home mom. I did not have a decent phone for months, so I could not even talk to my friends on the phone. I don’t have a car so I had to end my usual Saturday happy hour/shopping girl time plans, plus I started working weekends to save up for the wedding. Not to mention, I had a few melt downs that effected my friendships negatively. Looking back I see it clearly, my wedding was basically a battle field, and I felt like I was caught between 6 people. I started lashing out, I must have been subconsciously trying to make them hate me so I wouldn’t have to keep up with so many high maintenance relationships.

I miss my friends. Thanks to all of this, there may not be any bridesmaid boxes. In fact, we have decided to have a destination wedding. It’s simpler this way, and it won’t hurt as bad when 6 of the women that I love so much are not there. But it hurts now, it hurts whenever I get a chance to actually pick up my phone, when I want to share my life, ask advice, laugh. I don’t have anyone to call anymore. I mean, yes, there are people I’m sure I could call, but a few months ago I had 6 people on speed dial, they were my life lines. Granted I am not in need of as much venting time anymore, I’m a lot happier than I was. I also don’t have as much time, but I would gladly make some time to catch up with my friends.

To the 6 of you, I want you to know that I am sorry I did not appreciate you when I had you, and I love you.

***DISCLAIMER: I am super excited about our wedding plans!!! I’ll write a whole blog about the beautiful tropical location we chose!***

***ALSO, I did not include my sisters in the 6 because neither of them caused drama, and they go without saying***

Body Image

My mood and my body image go hand in hand. When I am in a bad mood, I NEED to avoid the mirror. That might sound funny to some, but I swear I gain 10 pounds when I am sad, angry or irritated. If I look in the mirror, I might have a full blown panic attack because I can’t figure out where the extra weight came from. I will talk myself down by telling myself that I am feeling negative, so my eyes only see negative. Having recovered from an eating disorder does not mean my body image has improved, in fact, sometimes I am convinced it is worse than it has ever been.

While I was pregnant I was so miserable, I could not look at myself. I was eating extremely unhealthy, I was nauseous constantly and gained 65 pounds… maybe 70, I stopped looking at the scale. I was already depressed as it was, and every time anyone saw me they wanted to look at my stomach, or worse, touch it. I watched my body fill out, saw stretch marks emerge, bought clothes that were bigger than I had ever worn, I had acne… it was a teenagers nightmare. I was disgusted with myself, I felt so ugly that I could not imagine anyone else thinking any different. I pushed everyone away.

Birth probably made things worse because then I did not have the “I’m pregnant” excuse. However I did have the “I just had a baby” excuse, and I have seen that one used for years, if not for the rest of the mothers life. I admit, it was fun going from an A cup to a DD, while breastfeeding, but now I’m back to my barely A cup with stretch marks, and loose skin. (Desperate Housewives was one of my favorite shows, and I love the scene where Lynette tells the young pregnant girl that her boobs look like the balloons you find behind the couch 2 weeks after the party, and her stomach looks like spanish stucco. I can relate to the boob part!!! That entire scene is awesome! Here, just watch it:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2eKGsHge9NU ) It took me a year to fit comfortably back in my clothes, thanks to breast feeding, because I did not do any exercise besides taking some walks.

Yesterday I posted about how I can’t eat when I am upset, some of that has to do with my body image. In my negative mood I will dissect my body, and tell myself I should not have eaten so much, even if I hadn’t eaten a lot. I will focus on things that I really can’t change, and in reality in these moments, there is nothing I can do… I am already doing what I need to, I eat clean, I work out… I need to focus on being positive. Loving myself. You know that feeling when you think of being intimate with someone who disgusts you? You feel gross inside and out. That is how I feel about myself when I am challenged to show myself love.

When I was in treatment for my eating disorder I was given an assignment, to make a doll that represented me, a baby Justine doll, and nurture her for a day. It was supposed to be me when I was 2, around the time my mom left us. After making the doll, I promptly threw it over my shoulder, and did not touch it for a week. The next time we had group with all of our therapists, mine asked me if I had completed the task. I said I made the doll, and no I did not nurture it, it’s not even real, after all. I should have known better because my next assignment was to nurture that damn thing for the next WEEK! My therapist asked me to go get the doll. I got it and put her down in front of me.

She asked me to hold her…
I picked it up by it’s hair.
She asked me to hold her like a baby.
I did.
She asked me to look at her.
I couldn’t.
“Why won’t you look at her?”
Me: “I can’t.”
“Why not?”
Me: “I don’t know, I hate it.”
“Why?”
Me: “I don’t know.”
“Look at her.”
Me: (I looked at her, and started to cry) “She is ugly, and fat, and I hate her.”
“She is only a baby, how can you hate a baby?”
Me: “I don’t know… I hate her.”
“Hug her, tell her you love her.”
Me: (Hugging her) I can’t, I don’t love her.

At this point I broke down. It was crazy to me that I could HATE a doll so much. I had never realized how worthless I felt, how ugly, and disgusting I thought I was. Those are the voices in my head when I look in the mirror sometimes. When I got out of treatment I threw that doll away.

I can’t imagine my beautiful, perfect, smart baby girl feeling the way I felt towards that doll… I mean myself.

Because The Bible says so

I have PTSD, from the church I grew up in. To some of you that sounds ridiculous, others might relate. It is not as uncommon as you might think. As far back as I can remember my family was a part of this “church”. It was Bible based, nondenominational, and originally a very loving environment. By the time I was a teenager, I was fighting deep depression, an eating disorder, and more than anything I was fighting myself. I had been on the shit end of bad leadership over and over. I can’t speak for what the adults went through, but this is what I experienced:

When I was 11 and 12 I was not a leaders daughter, and even though I had literally grown up with these kids, I was cast aside, uninvited to sleep-overs, family events, and finally, when it was time to change from the “Pre-Teen” group to the “Teen” group, I was asked to stay behind, even though a leader’s daughter, younger than me was placed in the teen group. My parents fought  for fairness, and would eventually be asked to leave, they were “marked” by the church for sticking up for what was right. Unfortunately for me, and my little sister, this did not happen soon enough.
As a teen I questioned my leaders. I did not take the round about “because the bible says so” answers. Nobody could explain to me why god was so angry and destructive in the Old Testament, only to suddenly be so humble, sacrificing his son for our sins in the New Testament. Supposedly, we are all god’s children, yet here is god’s REAL kid. Why he had to die? Because Old Testament god did not think things through and wanted all of these sacrifices, which did no good so now god decides, HE will sacrifice something. It’s a mess! I could go on, but I won’t… this time. It was branded in our brains that all of our friends were going to Hell, and we might, too if we were not careful. This made it difficult to have friendships outside of the church.
Eventually I was silenced. I was told not to ask these questions because I had no faith. I was used as a doormat, I was told to be the greeter, because I was so friendly, they used me to draw people in and then they pushed me away. My closest friends, one of which I have literally known since I was in diapers, and the other I had known in elementary school, were instructed not to spend time with me. I caused too much confusion… they did not want me poisoning the flock. Once I was told to stop flirting, when I had not even spoken to a boy the entire evening. The teen leader who confronted me said, “You don’t have to talk to any of them, it was just the way you are.” Gee thanks…
I tried to believe. I studied The Bible, and found no comfort, only inconsistencies, confusion, and my faith in EVERYONE fell apart. I even went as far as to go through the church assigned studies, one of which is called, The Church Study, where they tell you this is the one true church, and anyone not in it will go to Hell. In another study, The Cross, I believe, after reading you a disturbing story of what EXACTLY happened when one was crucified, an account of what Jesus went through, you were asked to confess your sins. At 14 I don’t believe I had true “sins” to confess to, but I humiliated myself anyway recounting everything I had ever done wrong… I was made to feel overwhelmingly ashamed of things that are completely natural. This is when it was convinced that I am not OK. The person I am, my personalty, my body, no part of me was OK, no part of me was deserving, no part of me was worth anything. I was broken, officially. While I could not imagine a god that would create someone so worthless, I submitted, and was baptized, with the promise that when I came out of that water I would be free from my “sin”, and I would finally be “good”.
When I rose from the freezing Pacific Ocean, I understood that it had all been a lie. Everyone here was fake and had been sold the same bull shit, and instead of being honest, they turned around and started selling the bullshit. I knew from experience that I had to pretend, too. If I wanted to keep my friends, if I wanted my parents to have any faith in me, I had to lie. I kept up the facade for over a year, I think. A year of torture, I got Mono, and if you don’t know, Mono causes depression, so on top of being depressed, and being medicated (by Zoloft which causes worse depression in teens), I was… depressed-ER. I don’t really think I can describe my misery that year. I was so alone, and I had nobody to be honest with. During all of this, my little sister was told by a teen leader that she was “too fat to study the bible and get baptized”. That’s a really loving thing to say to an insecure 13 year old. Comments like that drove my sister to use and sell drugs, and eventually rehab… many times. I can’t blame it all on the church, addiction runs in our family, and she caught the bug, so to speak. She is sober and doing awesome now, I am so proud of her. She has come a very long way.
By the time I was 16, I was through with pretending and “fell away” from the church. My eating disorder became obvious. Anorexia with Bulimia. I would restrict, and when I did eat I would purge. I was sent to a treatment center for eating disorders for three months, a few weeks into my Junior year of high school. During this time my parents were marked and asked to leave the church they had been a part of for, I don’t know, 14 years. Coincidentally the church had a huge falling out right around this time, so many people left.
Why on Earth did I tell you this story??? Oh yeah, I wanted you to understand where I am coming from when I explain why I believe it is important to let children, and young adults make their own decisions. I will not send my children to church. Personally, I do not believe in the Christian god, and I certainly do not want my children to be taught to hate, that they are not worth love, that they are not good enough or that they will burn in the fiery pits of hell. You might be thinking, “But Christians follow Christ, and Jesus was so good!” Yeah, JESUS was good, he was loving, accepting, forgiving, he spent time with the sinners and he did not judge. I don’t know many Christians who do ANY of those things. If my kids want to go to church, can they? Absolutely. I will also spend time reinforcing their greatness, because we have no idea what they take from these biblical stories.
You now understand why I will not be raising my children Christian, now let me tell you why I am not raising them vegetarian. Personally, I choose not to eat meat, or dairy and only occasional fish because morally I can’t justify it. Thousands of animals are mass murdered after torture, and disgusting living conditions so you can go to your nearest Mc Donalds and get a double cheese burger for 99 cents at the drop of a hat. It is not natural. Humans are genetically hunter-gatherers. So your body tells you to eat as much as you can at each meal, because historically, you didn’t know when you would get your next one. Since food is readily available, you would think you could slow down and listen to your body, chew. You don’t, and unless you make the conscious effort, you won’t. The factories, and the cows are causing pollution. The animals are given growth hormones, which everyone is ingesting, and we wonder why the obesity rates are so high. CHILDREN are being diagnosed with diabetes. It is disgusting to me. Yet, here I am, allowing my kids to eat meat. Do I buy organic meat? Yes. But if I am so against even eating animals, why do I let them eat animals? Because I want them to make their own decision, when they are old enough. I do not want to my kids to be guilted into doing what I believe is right, I want them to choose what they believe is right.
For more on the ICOC and my fucked up religious backround check out: “So… I grew up in a cult” http://healthymama.net/?p=356

****If you are reading this because you have had a similar experience, have history with the ICOC/ICC, or you need help leaving, I am going to post some resources here for you. Free to email me at isahealthymama@yahoo.com or find my “recovery page” on facebook www.facebook.com/icocrecovery Here are a few blogs and websites from people who have left the ICOC/ICC and have shared their experiences and knowledge:

http://www.reveal.org/ <— This page has the truth about the ICOC.
http://www.spiritualpornography.com/ <— Don’t worry, it’s totally appropriate, she named it Spiritual Pornography because that’s what Kip McKean called it when you read anything negative about the church. They post information it might be harder to find, such as Kip’s (supposed) resignation, and letters written to the church.

http://henrykriete.com/ <— Here you can read what REALLY happened with Henry Kriete and his family.
http://ministeriolatino.blogspot.com/ <—- Here you can read a blog from a former member of Kip’s current church (City of Angels International Church of Christ). He has written actually experiences between himself and Kip, AND other “leaders”. A very interesting read. He came across my blog and actually recognized someone I had written about (I kept it confidential).
http://www.tolc.org/ <—- Here you can read Henry Kriete’s letter and other letters written to the church. You can also click “debate” and you will be transferred to http://forums.delphiforums.com/n/main.asp?webtag=ICCdiscussion&nav=start&prettyurl=%2FICCdiscussion%2Fstart where you can interact with current and former members.