How I Drove My Husband Crazy By Accident

IMG_6285.GIF

Compromise.

I can’t begin to explain how often that advice is given. It fits with just about any issue… in a perfect world. But what about when there is no compromise? Because those situations are the real issues. The small things, yeah, we can find middle ground, one of us will back down because, we’re just too tired. Too tired of fighting. I am too tired.

Last year I committed to a year of “no-poo”. Well that’s what I called it, but in reality shampoo was only one of the many changes I made. I stopped using shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, deodorant, antibacterial hand soaps, body wash, lotion, face wash, acne treatments and sunscreen. I know, now I sound like a dirty hippy. Don’t worry, I’m clean, and not smelly. I started out by making my own hygiene products, and slowly weaned off of many things altogether. Here is what I learned in the last year:

The biggest thing that stands out, to be honest is that I drove my husband bonkers! Seriously. Like I think there was a point where he was ready for one of us to move out. No, not because I smelled bad, but because I didn’t give him the option NOT to jump on my bandwagon. Within a matter of weeks I had thrown out all of the shampoos and soaps in the house. I went DIY crazy and made toothpaste, hand soap,  and shaving cream. He hated it. Not all of it, but most of it. He missed the suds in shampoo, and the wateriness of the body wash. The coconut oil toothpaste was salty, I fixed that, but then it was clogging our sinks. Our showers and sinks were nearly impossible to clean because coconut oil hardens and traps dirt. Still, I stood strong. I felt I was doing my job, I was saving my family from diseases. I still 100% believe in my “cause”… I just may have done it a little differently. I know that I changed everything because I love my family, but I didn’t realize the impact it would have… the negative impact. I had high hopes for the positive! I didn’t expect my husband to be frustrated daily. Missing the simplicity. I didn’t realize it took so much energy for him to try to understand my reasons, and how overwhelming it must be for him. I mean, our first year together I took away all the processed foods, and he started reading food labels. Which annoyed him then, also… now he has to read labels on the hand soap…

I realized that I was insensitive and didn’t truly know my husband. And he didn’t know me. I did not respect him. I didn’t bother to ask him, in my mind I had to save the world. That’s me… I am an activist. I see a problem and have an innate need to fix it. My heart is too big, I inherited this martyr-esque personality from my dad, and seriously I will be uncomfortable and miserable and choose the path of GREAT resistance for the greater good. That’s not my husband. They say opposites attract. Well in this case, it couldn’t be more true. I’ve learned this year that my husband is both a blessing and a lesson. I’ve learned that I am a control freak… and so is he. I’ve learned that compromise is a bitch.

The year mark couldn’t have come soon enough. Not that I wanted to buy regular hand soap, but I was ready to stop fighting. Every day became a fight on some level. Maybe we didn’t actually argue, but he would get frustrated by any number of inconveniences caused by the changes I made. And I took it personally that he hated it. It was those little things that wore on him, and turned into reasons to bicker. He became so frustrated. I felt like he didn’t care about his health, or our kids. It’s not that he doesn’t care, it’s that it was too much. This isn’t what he signed up for. It was all too much. And let’s be honest… Ignorance is bliss. I stripped away his bliss, I dissected it, and magnified the ugly truths, broadcasting them, forcing them to be acknowledged. This was the third time I turned his life upside-down and inside out. The first time it was the food, switching to organic and banning fast food. Next it was parenting, I brought my crunchy attachment parenting ideals into his home, and changed the rules. I took parenting out of his hands, again without compromise (in his eyes). And now I’ve taken away shampoo. In his mind, I’ve been taking. Taking away his comforts, his jobs, his rules, his ideals, his deodorant… In my mind I was enriching, nourishing, helping and teaching. It’s mind blowing how opposite we see the same situation.

It never occurred to me that I might make him feel stupid. I have such strong feelings, often based on extensive research, and because I trust my intuition. It was never my intention to make him feel less than he is. All I ever wanted was to be better for each other, our kids and the planet. I never thought that maybe he was perfectly happy with the way things were. Who do I think I am, that I can just make these decisions without talking with him? I am not his children’s mother, I do that job, he asked me to… And I wanted to. I assumed it meant I could parent the way I saw fit. I didn’t stop to think that because this is a partnership, he should have a say, more than a say… they are his kids. But I thought it was my job, this parenting thing. I have a daughter of my own, and I do my best. I thought his job was to provide, and back me up, while I did all the nitty gritty mom jobs. I didn’t think he wanted to “parent”. He never expressed interest in it, that is until I was doing it full time.

I learned that compromise doesn’t mean admitting defeat. It means I value my marriage. So last week I bought shampoo. I bought antibacterial hand soap, lysol, and toothpaste, too.  (I’ll write a whole blog on what kind and why!) I am picking my battles, and finding ways to keep my household healthy… and also realizing that all of our emotional health is more important than  physical. I would rather be married.

IMG_6286.JPG

I plan to write all the amazing things (and all the not so great things) I learned in the last year! What worked, and what didn’t… I know this post makes it should like it it was a disaster, it wasn’t. My hair is happy and my skin is smoother than ever! I had to get the therapeutic part out of the way first 😉

 

 

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.

Step Monster

IMG_5474.JPG

I am so tired. Emotionally. I do not want to get out of bed because I’m not sure I have the energy to be a step mom today. I feel like every few months I’m at my wits end, sobbing in the bathroom into a glass of wine, resisting the urge to call my own step mother, and best friend to tell her I just can’t do this anymore. I don’t know how she managed, how in the hell she didn’t run away. I think, actually at one point she did run away. I don’t blame her. I can’t say whether it was harder for her to not have her own children, it was definitely a piece that was missing, but maybe it was a blessing for my sister and I? We needed all of her heart.

When I came into this relationship I already had my daughter, and my husband had a daughter and a son. I liked his kids immediately, and they liked me. I was thrilled to become a step mom, having been raised by one, I felt like maybe it was preparation for my future as a step mom. Not everyone is lucky enough to be raised by a step parent that they actually look up to. (It certainly wasn’t always like this, there were times that I think we hated each other, and years that I made her life miserable.) It didn’t occur to me that my life would turn into a fight. A constant fight for the impossible. I had been a stay at home mom, an attachment parenting mom. I was and am deeply connected to my daughter. I had not thought a whole lot about how I would parent her as she grew up, because I was taking it one day at a time. (When she was three I was convinced she was possessed, turns out she was just three… But I spent hours on the phone and the internet trying to figure out what to do.) Suddenly I had a 7 year old and a 5 year old, and my 3 three year old. I figured I would keep doing what I was doing, I tried to fit into their life as best I could, but there really was no place for me. The family was so used to taking care of each other that I was only really needed as a babysitter. Feeling like a fish out of water I began to make small changes in our household, there had to be a way to make us a family. Initially it was health. I threw out all the packaged, boxed and canned food and worked tirelessly on changing their diet. I wasn’t comfortable feeding my child TV dinners, and I thought it was the loving thing to nourish my new family. Well, that backfired. I ended up becoming the enemy of the in-laws and extended family. Instead of backing me up, they decided to lie, and sneak around, teaching my kids that I do not deserve respect.

IMG_5726.JPG

That was 3 years ago, since then we have had similar struggles, and they seem to be worse and more frequent. Between encouraging my kids to lie to me and my husband, and actually lying to us, it’s impossible. My husband is so used to his family disrespecting each other that he doesn’t see the problem. Because he doesn’t see it, he thinks I overreact. He feels I should just let it go, because they will never change. I would do that if it didn’t directly effect the way his kids treat me.

You can see, my husband is generally more relaxed, he’s not a rule enforcer. The only time he really pushes it is dependent upon his mood, or what is necessary, like if we have to go and the kids are messing around, THEN the dad voice comes out and everyone scrambles. I prefer that the children are obedient and don’t require “dad voice”. I am aware that as parents, it’s our responsibility to raise our children and teach them to be decent human beings. (The jury for me is still out on The Lord of the Flies, but watching my step son, I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t hesitate to eat his friend.) It seems I worry endlessly about who these kids will be as adults and I am scared. Honestly scared. I see a child with no conscience. And I believe it’s our job (and I mean EVERY adult) to teach children empathy. We are not all born with the gift of empathy, and if you grow up in a household where it’s every man for himself… and that’s kind of the environment I see. The problem is, I seem to be the only immediate family who sees a problem and I go back and forth between just letting it be, and then being horrified and feeling a deep seeded need fix the problem.

I wonder if I didn’t have my own daughter, and actual horse in the race, maybe I would just let it go, be a babysitter, and let their lives be the way they were. The problem is that I have a little girl that I have high hopes for, I see so much promise in her, and I won’t cut comers on parenting. Not with my little girl. I have seen the products of “non parent parenting”, and I am not going to be responsible for that. The problem is, I have a hand in parenting my step children, so I will have responsibility to take. What am I gonna say? I’m sorry I fought with your dad so much and taught you that it’s OK to undermine your partner? I’m sorry I was so inconsistent? I’m sorry you think I favor my daughter– I wasn’t allowed to be your mom. I’m sorry I gave up on you….

IMG_5727.PNG

I don’t want to give up. I love these kids. And I love my husband. I want us to be a family, but I don’t see how we are going to get through this with out royally fucking these kids up. At some point something has got to give. I’m tired of fighting. But I feel a moral obligation to these awesome littles. I feel a deeper obligation to MY little.

I am blessed because my daughter has a wonderful step mom who has become my friend and sometimes my therapist. I have 100% support from my daughter’s father and his wife. It’s refreshingly healthy. I can’t see why I don’t have that from my husband’s family.

I know I’m not an expert parent, but my heart is in it, and I work my ass off trying to do right by my little family. Often times it’s the hardest thing to do. And way too many times it turns into a fight. Where is the balance? What battles do I pick? How can I make this work? I have fantasies that I take my daughter and we just live together, and I spend weekends with my husband and the kids… wouldn’t it be easier if I only saw them all occasionally, and didn’t have a responsibility to parent? I would miss them, but I think I would be much more relaxed. It’s a huge responsibility being a parent. I do not take it lightly… I do not want to abandon them. But I do want to run away sometimes. Like today.

IMG_5472.JPG

 

I can’t help you if you won’t help yourself

I remember very distinctly, about 9 years ago, standing in a car port in the middle of the night smoking a cigarette watching my best friend drive away. He had just essentially broken up with me. (It’s not what you think, he’s gay, so when I say best friend, I do mean a completely platonic friendship.) As his tail lights vanished around a corner I marveled in the realization that someone who I felt was just as fucked up as me… if not MORE fucked up than me, had actually called me out. He had driven 20 miles to tell me that he was worried for me, and it hurt him to see me self destruct.

I took one last puff, dropped my cigarette on the concrete, stepped on it and walked away. I didn’t think much about the conversation, not one red flag shot out at me, I was so deep in a sick and toxic place I couldn’t see love when it looked me in the eyes. I had to hit rock bottom. I didn’t know it yet, but the next 2 years would be the hardest, scariest and darkest days of my life.

Looking back I wish I had really heard what he said to me, I wish it had sunk in and impacted my decisions, but it didn’t. Over the years I have not forgotten his words, so I suppose they were waiting for me to hear them.

Believe it or not, I did learn something from that moment. You cannot help someone who is not willing to help themselves. There is one thing you can do: LOVE. And sometimes love means letting go, particularly if it hurts you when you watch someone you love circle the drain. My friend let go, but he never left. He just refused to be my savior anymore. No more drunken 2am phone calls to pick me up from who-knows-where. No more holding my hair over the toilet while I cried and apologized, promising this would be the last time. He couldn’t do it anymore.

I have this friend whom I love deeply. She’s one of my oldest friends and closest. For the last few years I have watched her destroy every chance of happiness, and every opportunity for love that has crossed her path. It is like she intentionally chose the worst, least compatible, controlling, and twisted man. And god forbid anyone points it out. If you do, be prepared for her to do something to rub it in your face, like, for instance, she secretly married him. Knowing he has anger issues, knowing he’s abusive, knowing he is a terrible parent, knowing he has no respect for women, having heard him call her two best friends c**ts, experiencing him stalk her and harass her… She married him. She didn’t tell anyone, because when you do something so effing stupid why the hell would you tell anyone? The crazy part is she thought she could keep it hidden. The sad part is I am her best friend and she lied for months. Looking back I’m realizing how many times she lied to me. She knew I didn’t approve so she hid her relationship, her pregnancy, her wedding…

And you know what? I was there through EVERYTHING. I never let go, every time a lie came out I let it roll off my back, I forgave her because that’s what you do when you love someone. But the lying never stopped. Another lie came out today. I thought we were done with this, her divorce is almost final, she has a new life, a boyfriend who loves her so completely, who flipped his entire life upside down to accommodate her, and she sabotaged it. And for the last 3 years, her lies have all revolved around this jackass. At some point you have to see that HE is a problem!!!

Just 7 months ago friend’s of mine bent over backwards to help her get into a safe place, get back on her feet, and take control of her life, this is not the first time someone had to save her… and evidently it’s not the last considering recent developments. I’m tired. I’m hurt. But how do I keep making excuses? I have been excusing her behavior for years.

This part of me feels like I owe her. She stuck around while I was living my life in ways she didn’t approve. She’s been there, she’s been my alibi too many times to count, she’s come to the rescue when I’m in over my head… but the difference is that I am honest with her. If I do something stupid, I own it, in fact, chances are I’m telling her about it before I do it! I don’t hide things from her. Because friends are supposed to be honest with each other. Wether we agree with the other person, or not.

So maybe I’m hurt that she doesn’t feel like she can be honest with me. I know… I’m opinionated. Outspoken. I don’t think before I speak… ever. But I don’t care how stupid you are, if I love you I love you.

And I love her. It’s time for her to help herself. Maybe she doesn’t want to be happy? Maybe she can’t see the big picture, the people she’s hurting, the innocent little girl that is tagging along while her mother is too busy messing up their lives. I don’t know, but… if you’re reading this: I can’t help you until you help yourself.

 

F.Y.I

 

Welcome!

I’m  just writing a “welcome” blog now for 2 reasons:

1. A lot of people recently registered to this blog, and since I have no “website building skills”, there is a lot you wouldn’t know about this website unless you’ve been following me for the last year or so.

2. Things have changed recently, and I feel I should address those changes. (Yes, I’m referring to the cult)

HELLO

Hi, My name is Justine and I started blogging because I needed a place to pour out my heart. As a mother, step-mother, wife, health coach and writer, my hands were very full, my time extremely limited, and the ‘vacations” I require in my head to write or read were diminishing. Making a commitment to this blog was a commitment to myself.

You will notice that in the beginning my blogs were centered completely around health and parenting. As I have become more comfortable, I have written more personal and therapeutic posts.

HEALTH and PARENTING

Half of you are here because you are on the road to health, or you’re a parent and *hopefully* felt refreshed by my candor on the struggles with parenting. I have no shame in saying that my pregnancy was a bitch, I hated every minute of it, and think labor is the most disgusting experience of my life. I have no desire to repeat either endeavor, therefore, my tubes are tied. I was blessed with 2 amazing step children, whom, along with my daughter and my husband complete me. They inspired me to get healthy, you see I was “skinny fat”, and over the last few years have made the life style change and commitment to eating whole, real, non-GMO and preferably organic food. This was a huge change for my husband and my step-son and step-daughter (and the in-laws) *See my blog for details: http://healthymama.net/fast-food-fight/ * but it has made a huge difference in our energy, attitudes and certain behavior issues we were having with one of our little rascals.

***I used to be associated with a health company, however it would seem they do not appreciate blogs about their products so I am removing all information pertaining to this company. I apologize, it appears I was not in “compliance” when I posted that my husband and I had no wedding debt thanks to “this company”(…. It’s true, I made $9,000 in a couple months which paid for our wedding.)

THE CULT

The other half of you… actually at this point maybe more than half of you are here because you read one or more of my blogs about the International Church of Christ (ICC)/ International Christian Churches (ICC). I want to start this subject by saying that I never imagined my little blog could cause such a stir. Upon writing the first blog about my past with the ICOC, “Because The Bible Says So” * http://healthymama.net/lets-make-parenting-less-of-a-dictatorship/  * Some feathers were ruffled, but all in all, it was not a big deal, so MONTHS later… maybe a year later, I wrote “So… I Grew Up In A Cult…” * http://healthymama.net/so-i-grew-up-in-a-cult/ * and holy WOW! Facebook blew up (I am friends with a lot of members and former members) I started getting lots of emails and tons of views on this particular post. The emails were (mostly) people saying Thank-You for being the voice of those who were burned so badly by the ICOC. I had no intention or writing another blog on the subject until I was accused of lying, and to back me up, and to gain closure, a few people asked me to share their stories, too.  Although I’m a Pisces (typically a go with the flow kind of person) my moon (emotions) is in Aries, which is code for: I’m a stubborn f*ck. So, being accused of lying only ignited my Aries emotion. The more I was challenged, the more my fire was fueled. After a few weeks of compiling stories and quotes, I posted “Queen of the Damned (Recovering from Cult Life)” *http://healthymama.net/queen-of-the-damned-recovering-from-cult-life/ * and this one has been read over 1,000 times, in less than 5 days. Which is insanity to me, but, I’ll be honest, I get it. Not only was I validating hundreds of people’s pain and suffering, I evidently struck a chord with current members. If someone else had written it, I would have been sharing it all over Facebook and Twitter saying “OMG! Someone gets it! Someone else feels the way I do! See, I’m not crazy!!!”

I want you to know something, I am proud to be the voice of former Kingdom Kids. I wish someone had stepped out a long time ago, because I needed this fellowship to heal. I have decided to take my role a little further. I have started a Facebook page called ICOC Recovery *https://www.facebook.com/icocrecovery * and I encourage you to “like” the page so we can start some healthy dialogue. If you don’t feel comfortable posting publicly, feel free to private message me. I am here for you. I believe it is my calling to be support for people in need (there is that Pisces nature), if you need to tell your story, TELL ME. (I only posted stories that people specifically asked me to publish) If you need help getting out, I will help. If you disagree with me and want to tell me how the ICOC/ICC is the only way to god, go for it. I enjoy a healthy debate.

I have definitely had my character attacked by people in one of these organizations in order to discredit me, and I fully understand. They are scared. Their church is young, made up of young impressionable (sheeple) people, and I know from experience that they don’t want me to shake their young one’s faith with my facts, memories and reasons. It must be scary to see a little fish make such a huge wave, especially when you’re trying to rule the pond.

I want to make it clear here that I don’t believe in god, but I don’t consider myself a soul-less heathen. My heart is good, and I know it can be hard for Christians to see good in someone who doesn’t believe same way, it’s OK. I won’t lose sleep if you condemn me to hell. Just bear in mind, I know The Bible (as my best friend said, “You give her a book, she’ll read it!”) and YOU can’t condemn me to anywhere, Jesus said. If you are curious to know my personal spiritual views, click here * http://healthymama.net/the-god-thing/ * I also want to make it clear that I am an LGBT advocate, and I do not tolerate racism, sexism, bigotry or hate.  I believe in love, and I hope for everyone to find their other half, regardless of race, color or sex. Love is love, and it is beautiful. For more on this, read “Stop! Hating is bad” * http://healthymama.net/stop-hating-is-bad/ *

I hope this has cleared things up, and I am working on making some sort of an archive for all 60-ish blogs, and to make this website easier to navigate. If any of you happen to be tech savvy, I would love some help 😉

****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.

 

Queen of the Damned (Recovering from Cult Life)

When I posted my last two blogs about my experience in the ICOC (http://healthymama.net/?p=356 and http://healthymama.net/?p=38), I did not expect the backlash… although it amused me… Nor did I expect to have so many emails from former Kingdom Kids and ex ICOC members saying “THANK YOU!” To be honest I didn’t expect this particular blog to be read 133 times in one day, or 100 + times every following day for a week or so. That has never happened before, and I wrote them for my own benefit, I felt like I needed to. As I read through the stories and emails my mom called me “Queen of the Damned” I am a huge Anne Rice fan, so I was flattered, but upon considering what she meant, the title rang true. We are the damned, at least according to “The Church” and as far as I am concerned, they damned us. Some people who are members of at least one of the churches have forbidden their members from reading these blogs, they called them lies. I’m afraid I have news for you: First, I don’t have any reason to lie, secondly, if you continue reading you will see that this has not only been MY pain, so many others where hurt like me, WORSE than me. Saying I am lying is only giving me more incentive to keep writing. If you REALLY thought I was lying, you wouldn’t be afraid of your congregation reading this. You would not be worried that what I say may ring true… Maybe instead you would see my pain and you would take a good hard look at your church and make damn sure that you do not do it again. Look at me and see YOUR children. See every Kingdom Kid that turned their back on these churches, NOT because we were “godless sinners”, but because we were broken, over and over again. Remember when you split apart my family because I had a voice, because I didn’t conform. I am not the only one. Dozens of people have shared their stories with me, and a few have asked me to share their stories here. To be their voice.

Something so empowering happened as I read the messages, former Kingdom Kids telling me how they thought they were the only ones who felt the way I do, that they couldn’t talk to anyone because no one else understands. Here are just a few responses I have had so far:

***I am keeping these relatively anonymous, even the current and former ICOC/ICC leaders and regions will be kept private in this post, some of the things you will read are still happening***

“So I just read your blog and it kinda really touched home for me. … and honestly I want to thank you for you voice because I was in the early stages of being completely sober and I was starting to find myself when I was found by this new church ICC (Kip’s) and I was actually happy before I started going and now I just feel like everything I do is wrong. I can’t say no again, they make me feel guilty when I do. My clothes are “bad” all this bullshit. I cant speak up and its honestly the same shit like when was in the teens all over again….. I’ve been trying to fall away and its so crazy because apart of me still believes its black and white, heaven or hel …. and I don’t even know if I believe or if I just feel the guilt… I feel obligated to be there because they tell me that’s what God says. They want me to get a divorce, they told me to fast and pray about it. I thought the Bible says divorce is wrong? Our leader gave me a curfew. If I miss “one meeting of the body” they say I am in sin, and I’m in sin if I can’t tithe and they want to know everything I do with my money. When I noticed some shady shit I talked about it and they told me I was in sin! But they look the other way! They prey on college students, they want them to quit school or their jobs if it interferes with 3-4 church meetings a week, but we still have to tithe. And they don’t want me to spend time with my friends who are not in the church! If I had not read your blog, I don’t know what I would do, but now I see that it is wrong, and I felt it in my stomach that this place is bad.”

“Growing up a Kingdom kid was hell for Me Just like most of us. .. In my experience not only did I not have a voice I was going through my own battle … not knowing it I was suffering from bipolar disorder … Always being told everything I was doing was wrong, that my feelings condemned me to hell and feeling ashamed for the way I felt. It drove me crazy, I mean really crazy …. I am choosing not to go in to detail about my childhood due to the fact I dont want to re-live it at this time. Being a kingdom kid drove me to a life of doubt confusion, I couldn’t trust anyone. Now as an adult, found myself lost and still holding on to my teachings from when I belonged to the ICOC still living with the fear of going to hell because of the life I live so when I ran in to an old friend I wanted to believe that this new found church (Kips church ICC) was different… It’s not different, Teen, it’s worse. They are obsessed with tithe and have a double standard. When I confronted my leaders on sin that I saw, I was told that it’s not my place to say anything. I eventually went directly to Kip Mc Kean, and do you know what he said? That my leader is Mexican, and has a different style of teaching, and etiquette, and because he is my leader I need to respect and submit to him. He knows there are problems in the (*blank*), Region but he’s choosing not to do shit about it! I felt like I was back in a nightmare. No one will listen to me, it’s like I’m the only one that sees people sleeping around, dressing inappropriately, and being two-faced hypocrites. The same people that I have seen living double lives are the same people who told me that I was in sin for liking the link you posted of your blog, which speaks the truth, that I better take it down because I am going to hell and I am making these poor kids who are dropping out of college because they are being brainwashed, struggle. They are struggling because they know it’s true, too!”

Reading these words my heart sank. It confirmed rumors I had heard about the new church, and poured salt on my already very open wounds. Everything she said rang so true to me, because it’s nothing I had not heard before. If I wasn’t the victim, then someone else I knew had been through it. As a teen when I would bring up inconsistencies between The Bible and the church’s rules, or at least the Teen Ministry’s rules, I was told that I was in sin, that I was causing dissention. I was told not to ask questions. Looking back I see that these “leaders” did not have the answers, so they preferred that we didn’t think.

“I just read your blog…I FUCKIN LOVE IT!!! No truer words have ever been spoken. I have to put it all down too! As the acid from those years still eats away at my soul. Thank you Justine…everyone should know the truth and you are, if not the best one of the best people to speak on it. Speak on it…forever! They fucked me up good too! Anyways, thanks for opening up those old wounds, I guess I need to mend em up a little better this time, lol.”

A common theme, I “opened old wounds”. I know. As I wrote I cried. Just because it’s easy to say, doesn’t mean it doesn’t pour salt on my own wounds. I have established in previous blogs that I process out loud… does this count? I think it has taken this long for me to realize that SOMEONE has to talk about it, and who better than me? Let’s heal together.

“Thanks for sharing, Justine! I’ve suppressed so much of it- if not all of it. Reading your posts brings back so many (bad) memories! It was so suffocating, forced and controlling. I’ve made it my goal to never feel that way again, or subject my children to anything that would make them feel that way.”

Over the years as I have run into ex members of ICOC and grown up Kingdom Kids, and many have since become parents, most of them have expressed concern over raising their own children the way Kingdom Kids were raised. A lot of the teen leaders at the time didn’t have kids, so they didn’t think twice about what they were telling us, but when they began having children of their own, they realized that it wasn’t OK. As a parent myself, and a former Kingdom Kid, I have to say it does help me, even the slightest bit to hear these apologies, to be validated.

Dating in the church was a very strange situation, I’ll let my friend tell her experience:

“There is so much I can say about my experiences with that “church”, but I’m going to talk about my horrible “love” story. Let’s see I must of been 13, not baptized yet when I met this boy at a pre-teen/teen event, I fell for him instantly. It would be a few years before we both went through the intense process of the study of “kip’s notebook” and then getting baptized, but after we were both disciples, we were allowed, and encouraged to go on “dates”. I didn’t just go on dates with him of course, I had to say yes to any “brother” that wanted to go on a date with me whether I wanted to or not. Finally, he works on becoming my boyfriend, which means he proved that he was godly enough to date, and lead spiritually. He asked me out on New Years Eve in a room full of friends and teen leaders. Once we are officially boyfriend and girlfriend it was like a dream come true, a dream that would turn into a nightmare. I cannot express how happy I was. I was so in-love with this kid, I can’t even think of the right words to explain how in love I was, everyone that was around knows how I felt about him. The two of us became lab rats that were put on pedestals in a bazaar cult universe. Not much changed in our relationship once we were official, except I no longer had to go on dates with other brothers, (woo hoo!), and we held hands. We never even kissed! I didn’t care at the time, I was just happy and in love. But when I say we were lab rats, this is what I mean: We were each told, separately of course, to wait to kiss until the other kissed first, completely eliminating kissing all together. In fact once at a wedding he kissed my cheek (my effin cheek!) while saying goodbye, then was rebuked by a leader waiting outside. Example of being on a pedestal: once we were dating, we became like teen royalty. We lead prayers together. I had to start speaking at teen events more, which I hated, and I’m not a public speaker! It was like they were turning us into the example they wanted everyone else to follow, but we just had to do what we were told. If we deviated at all, we were rebuked. Even so, I was happy, I was the only one in our region with a boyfriend, and I really thought this was forever… then the “church” rips out my hearts and puts it in a blender and makes me flick the on switch! Long story short they made me break up with a kid I had been in love with for years just to hide the real story… We still are unaware of the true story, I know he had gotten himself in some sort of trouble with the police…. I didn’t find out till a few years later that he hadn’t cheating on me, however, they told me that he had been cheating and then acted like I had a choice on whether to break up with him, or not. Obviously, I had to… they didn’t actually give us real choices. We either obey, or we get rebuked.

I made the decision to “fall away” shortly after, not because of my broken heart, but because I got a job and was so excited to give a tithe and when I gave my hard earned money I was asked for my pay-stub… Because of course god wants to make sure I calculated my 10% right, before taxes! Leaving was so eye opening and heart breaking at the same time. My dad acted like he respected my decision then later came into my room, threw a bible at me and told me “I’m a dog who eats his own vomit!”  Even my discipler (whom I loved) turned her back on me, I remember her asking me if I had been having sex. Like, I must be having sex if I don’t want to be a part of this madness anymore. Here I am alone, my family is shunning me, I just ended it with a boy who I loved so much, I hadn’t seen any of my friends in a couple months (I was not allowed to have friendships outside the church, so once I left I had no friends) and the person I look up to, now thinks I’m all of a sudden sexually active (with the boy I was just told was cheating on me and had to break up with) just because I fell away.  To say the least that was a lot for my sixteen year old self to deal with.”

I remember this happening, I was friends with them, close friends with both of them, and I remember how confusing and eventually painful it was for both of them. After she was forced to break up with him, she was forbidden to speak with him. She wasn’t able to ask him what happened, she was left to wonder, and be hurt, for years. Luckily they did reconnect years later, they were finally able to dissect what they had been through, and recover.

“This is freakin amazing! There were so many things I didn’t know how to put into words because I was so young! And the fact that when I tried to speak no one would listen because there was so much secrecy I don’t think anyone knew how to REALLY deal with issues. I know from the “brainwashing” it took me years to be able to communicate with my mom and family about the sexual abuse I encountered there as well as many other things. The worst part about it is that when I was at pierce college I ran into a “church club” that I thought would be fun to join and it was icoc run! Like wth? I ran out as soon as I could. It was like the freakin twilight zone.”

This particular message requires an explanation, while I knew some of the things that went on in the ICOC were bad, some of us were molested:

“My mom started attending the LACC after a guy saw her attempting to read The Bible and invited her to a bible study. She seemed super excited to go since she was looking for God. I was about 3 years old. That’s when I pretty much started going to the LACC, enrolled in all the children’s activities, camps and classes my mom could get me and my siblings in. Now, when I was a little girl I had extreme nightmares and would see creatures. I suffered extreme paranoia and anxiety. Whenever I would tell my class leaders at LACC they looked at me like I was crazy! They tried to hush me from “influencing the other kids” as well as talking to my mom about the things I would say as it if were a behavioral problem. From that point on I learned to keep things to myself. It always seemed as if you weren’t supposed to talk about your problems. When you tried to get help you were shunned or rebuked. This became a problem when I was 12 years old. I went through puberty quickly and my mom thought it was a good idea to move me up to the “teen ministry”. A family came over for bible study one night with a 14 year old boy who was interested in me. From this point on I was pushed to go out and spend time with him and whenever he called I was told to answer, be nice, and tell him that I loved him! It was ridiculous. After about 6 months of us being together he verbally and emotionally abused me, cheated on me with multiple others girls and I was still told I was treating him disrespectfully. We dated on and off for 2 years. I tried to speak about it, but no one wanted to hear. After that ended multiple guys in the teen ministry tried to “talk to me” while making it seem (to the leaders) as if they were trying to be brothers to me and watch out for me. Two of these guys were 18 years old and I was still in Jr High. One of them sexually abused me for months and then disappeared out of nowhere. I was so used to being quiet I never even told any of the leaders. They didn’t seem to want to know; I was just another number in the congregation. The numbers only mattered to them when you were quiet and didn’t make waves. I never did, but they pretty much excommunicated my sister and my dad. They had questions, they lived life how they wanted to. I remember the teen ministry having teen bible studies at my families house and whispering to my mom that I was allowed to participate but my sister could not and that my dad couldn’t come downstairs. That was nonsensical! How can you ask to use our home for a bible study and request half my family to not be present? LACC divided my family, they forced me into relationships of abuse that make it difficult for me now to communicate properly in a loving relationship. I’ve read the bible more than once and large part of their actions and teachings are not supported in there at all. I did not feel love there, community, peace, or comfort. They made up rules as they saw fit and destroyed my life along the way. If it wasn’t for the loving people I have in my life now that actually try to be Christ like I would have killed myself, because the majority of my life up to 2 years after I left that church I was severely suicidal with no self esteem.”

It hurts me because this young lady is like a sister to me, and I am so sad to know these things were happening, and that she didn’t feel like she could be honest, because from the time she was little, she was shushed when she spoke her truths. I do find it interesting that Christian churches tend to blow off the idea of seeing spirits or demons, even though these things supposedly happened often in The Bible. It is so important to bring children up in a loving and safe environment, and when you are a part of these churches, they do become your family, they say “It takes a village to raise a child”, well this village fucked up quite a few children. I know as a fact that this girl’s mother knew her children saw “things” ghosts of some sort, I know because she herself suffered from the same thing when she was younger, one of the reasons she is so spiritual now, to protect herself and her family from this curse. I also know that her older sister saw them too. How wrong that she wasn’t validated from such a young age, what does that teach children? That adults are not to be trusted. That no one cares. Who cares if these Kid’s Kingdom teachers didn’t believe in spirits? Just because you don’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not happening. Speaking of which, let’s address the molestation, you didn’t see it? Well no kidding, these things happen behind closed doors, in whispers. Who’s job was it to protect her? Well, her parents thought that YOU were, her parents TRUSTED YOU.

She was not the only child who was molested while our families devoted their lives to the ICOC:

“All I had ever known was ICOC. Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. Bible studies at my house, bibles on the bedside tables; this was my life and I trusted it fully. I had no reason not too. I loved being a kingdom kid… until I started to think for myself. Keep in mind I left the church when drugs became more important. (Age 12) Before that I was protected from a lot of what was going on behind the scenes. There are two examples that come to the forefront of my mind when I think about past pain. I was a kingdom kid that had the will to be the best for God. I prayed all the time. I was taught not to make a wish on shooting stars but say a prayer instead. I was pure at this point and the only prayer I had was for my mom to repent and come back to the church. I did not what her to die and go to Hell. I would lay awake at night wondering if I was going to hell. I knew my mom would if we all died today but would I also? I started lying at a very young age. I had too. My babysitter’s daughter on a daily basis was molesting me. I was 5. She was 7 or 8. She was a kingdom kid too. At age 7 I was again molested by a babysitter while in the care of ICOC members. I couldn’t tell a soul. I was 7. I had no idea what was being done to me. Trust that I know now and no longer shame myself for it (no thanks to the church.)

By age 11 I wanted to study the bible. All of my friends were going into the teen ministry and I was in the pre-teens. I did not care how old I was, I knew the difference between right and wrong and I wanted to do the right thing. That was enough for me. Apparently it was not enough for ICOC. I was 12 when the church assigned me a discipleship partner. I couldn’t wait to get started on the studies! I wanted to be baptized so bad! The night of my first study I couldn’t wait. I paced the floor waiting for my disciple to pick me up. We were going to go to Starbucks. I had my bible and my notebook ready to go. We sat down and I began to open my journal to write down my first set of directions when she stopped me. She spent the next hour telling me that I was not in any condition to be a disciple. She suggested that I work very hard on loosing weight because God does not save the gluttonous. I was to fat to be a disciple in ICOC. With every word she spoke a crack formed around my spirituality. I was the first time that I stopped believing. I stayed in the church for another year but never attempted to become a part of it. In 2000 the church put on a Christmas performance put on by the kingdom kids. I had no interest in performing but we were all encouraged to try out for vocals. I sat in the back with my feet up doodling in a notebook when my name was called. Up to this point, you only sang in front of the church if you were a leaders kid or a professional. My name was called so I put down my notebook and made my way to the front of the auditorium. I took a deep breath and began with the first stanza of Silent Night. The room went silent. As I finished I looked up and saw a room full of wide eyes and jaws on the floor. It felt good to be recognized for doing something well not doing something wrong. The coordinators huddled in a circle and began assigning kids to each roll. As they read off the lead vocals I hardly paid attention until my name was called to be the lead vocalist for the angels. I would sing an entire song solo in front of our congregation as well as the Santa Barbara ministry. I was ecstatic! This sounds like a success story right? Well, there is no happy ending to this tale. Minutes later I was pulled aside and told that I would not be allowed to perform in front of the congregation because (get this) I was not baptized. Seriously? Seriously. They gave the roll to another girl that was about my age. She was baptized… and… wait for it, at least 100 lbs heavier that I was. Oh the irony. Needless to say I was done. I haven’t held onto this pain… I just covered it up with alcohol and drugs for years. I am now 25 years old and 4 years sober. I haven’t been a part of ICOC for 13 years. My life is pretty fucking great. Turns out I can be a good person and not go to hell even if I am not a skinny bitch disciple. Cheers!”

This is yet another example of molestation, bullying, and disrespect. Where Jesus teaches to be like the children, ICOC treated children as second class citizens, and pawns in a numbers game. Worse, still, being baptized was the carrot they dangled over our heads so that we could do things we otherwise were not allowed, be it dating, a “disciples only slumber party”, a part in the holiday play, or even the ability to move up to the “Teen” group with your friends. An example of children having no choice but to trust the church because it was all we knew, and as you can see some of us were put in very unsafe situations. I myself have blocked out some of the horrors, and have been reminded throughout the years, I have heard stories of abuse my sister and I suffered, but I don’t remember. I supposed it’s the only way for me to maintain my sanity. As you can see, some were bullied more than others, but I think we were all victims of power-hungry self-righteous  zealous sinners.

When I was in the teen ministry I went on a date with a boy, and he touched me inappropriately, I told my discipler, and she talked to the leaders (great job on her part) although, I was taken in the back after church with the boy, and he denied it, so they called me a liar. Actually, worse, they said that it must have been an accident, and he obviously would never do that. So either I was a liar or I was crazy, but whatever the case HE did nothing wrong. I felt pressured to agree, because I knew where they stood already. I also knew better than to talk about those things ever again. As I grew up, I knew better than to tell someone when I was uncomfortable, I was taught from these things (and many other similar situations) that I shouldn’t rock the boat, and that MY feelings are invalid. I mean, I felt like I couldn’t say “no” because I had already been taught that my personality, and my body ask for this kind of attention. So if I were to say no to a drunk guy at a party, and he gets offended because something I had done had led him on, I am the one at fault. What is this? Some kind of Republican idea of deserved rape? I end up looking like a slut because either, I’m a slut if I sleep with this guy, or I’ve led him on and risk getting raped, which I clearly deserved for having a “flirtatious” (I call it friendly) personality.

One of my friends, a former Kingdom Kid, told me that one of the (current!) leader’s son’s has been sleeping his way through the Teen Ministry, in case you’re wondering, he is an adult (divorced), and these girls are under age. And, yes the leaders know… and they actively fix the problem by removing the girls. Because, obviously the leader’s son is not the problem…. What is going on here? Why are these things happening in a supposedly safe place? Are you rethinking sending your kids to the Friday Night Event? Or Summer Camp? Knowing these things I would not feel comfortable allowing my daughters to be in a situation like this. I don’t know how to fix problems like sexual abuse, but I do know, if these girls felt like they could say something, they would have. As it happens, they don’t feel like they can.

One of the my friend’s and current members of the ICOC has reminded me that it’s not “The Church” that is at fault, it’s people who made mistakes. Yes, I agree, but I also feel that the church should take responsibility for putting inappropriate people in leadership. A few years ago I ran into a former teen leader who supposedly had a crush on me while I was a teen (this is bothersome, considering he was in his thirties, and I was in the teens until I was 16.) At the time, I was 18 or 19, and he came on to me… We hooked up, I think in my brain it was an “eff you” to ICOC, but about a year later, I come to find out he has been restored into Kip’s church , and in the same text message thread, he asked for a picture of my boobs. He obviously repented. It was understandable for a former member to treat me like a piece of ass, but a current “disciple”??? I can’t even get over it. He has friend requested me on Facebook, multiple times, and I just can’t say yes, he is a hypocrite, and what’s worse is he is a current leader. Again, I know this isn’t the churches “fault” but still, if you claim a title in this church, you represent it. So is it fair for either church to be upset with me fo telling my story, or anyone else’s? Nope, think of this as insight, take a look at your members, pay attention to your children. On that note, I would like to share a poem my little sister wrote when she was a teen, who, by the way was told she was “too fat” to study the bible, in my opinion she dodged a bullet.

“I lose

When I say, “No”

My heart can’t go

To watch you see

What isn’t even me

To know I’m lost

And think you’re not

To play this game

But know the end

While I descend

I cheat and lie

But don’t know why

I contradict

To love myself

So take your pick

I’m lost and know it

But can’t control it

I’m right and show it

So don’t blow it

I lose

Whenever I turn around

I lose

Whenever I see a frown

I lose

To know that I’m not “it”

I lose

To know the truth I live

We don’t deserve the life we get

So enjoy it ’cause it’ll be gone before ya know it

It’s not worth it to me

To try and be somthin’ I’m not

I want to see. but God has a plot

To seek and save the lost

Well, guess what… I’m not!

I know the truth will set me free

So leave me alone and let me be

I’ll come around if it’s his plan

It might take a while

So just hold my hand

I live by feeling

Emotion is ruling

The tears are flowing

To see what I’m missing

To hate how I’m feeling

So I will try

To love the One that always loves me

I lose now,but not at my peak

You will see that I will win

Happiness is my goal

So don’t be a fool

Help me please…”

As children we were expected to be perfect, we were trained, guilted and pruned to become what the church thought we should be. Instead of being nurtured and encouraged. If my sister at age 11 felt like she just couldn’t win, imagine how every other kid felt. It’s no wonder that we all rebelled. And it’s amazing to see that we have each come into our own, and became amazing resilient adults, who stand up for our children the way the church never did.

****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.

 

 

Regrets

391780_10200174961475949_318844110_n

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.

1477381_10202762940533808_924339994_n

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.

1470163_10202763113898142_1408968871_n

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.

1484204_10202762359839291_16019727_n

 

Stop! Hating is bad.

gene-wilder-minority

OK let’s be honest, how hard is it to press one for English? Personally, it’s not an inconvenience. As much as automated systems make me want to throw my phone out a window, I have never been frustrated that I have to press a number for the language I speak. I have to press a number for “technical support” and “billing” as well. It’s logical for companies to give a language option. Especially in The United States. This country, as it is today was founded on immigrants. Unless you are American Indian, your ancestors immigrated to the US, at some point. Parts of the US used to be Mexico, even, so explain to me, what’s the problem with people speaking Spanish? I have heard people rant about immigration over and over, and while I see there is a problem, I certainly do not blame immigrants for wanting to come here.  People from all over the world have immigrated here since the Americas were discovered. We even have a plaque at The Statue of Liberty that reads: “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”. If that is not inviting immigration, than I don’t know what is!

Next time you bite into a delicious strawberry, why don’t you think of the immigrant that picked it for you. Next time you order a bucket of fried chicken remember the immigrant that has the job Americans don’t want, the immigrant who has the dirty job you don’t want to do. It’s easy for you to eat the dollar cheese burger when you don’t have to get your hands dirty. Did you know that you’re supporting illegal immigrants? Big chicken and beef companies purposely hire illegal immigrants because they can pay them next to nothing, work them to the bone, then call immigration when they are done with them. Produce companies even hire children, and work them until late at night. Orchards are dangerous places for anyone, let alone a child because of the pesticides that are used on the fruits, pesticides that are not supposed to be breathed, but for some reason are “safe” to eat.

“Why is there Black History Month, but not White History Month?” This one baffles me to no end. For starters, RACISM. We need to remember the horrors that happened before us, to put these things into perspective, to give us empathy. Black History Month is not “feel sorry for black people month”. It’s education. We have all been told the importance of learning history, so it does not repeat itself. Slavery was a dark time in American history, a shameful time. A time when we were not all considered equal. Not to mention, initially African Americans were kidnapped, taken from their families and brought to America as slaves, so it wasn’t even their choice to come here. Slavery isn’t the only severe injustice, for decades even our government treated minorities as if they were “less than” white people. Humans are human, and we all deserve respect. It is embarrassing when I look through my Facebook news feed and see hatred, bigotry and ignorance. I think ignorance is the best word to describe the people who feel so entitled to be Americans, but choose to forget that a huge part of American history is the African Americans who served in our military, raised our ancestor’s children and put food on our great grandparents tables. Slaves used to do the tough, dirty jobs that we now use Mexican immigrants for.

AntiRacism-1

 

Thanksgiving is this month, who remembers the Native Americans? If ANYONE should feel entitled, I would say the American Indians have first dibs. Yet their populations have dwindled, they are on reservations, they have been through genocide over and over. During World War II American doctors  sterilized Indians/Gypsies  because they didn’t fit into a “normal” mold., therefore they were not allowed to procreate. When brain washing, and hospitalizing didn’t work, they used electro-shock therapy, and lobotomies. But this was their land, and yet, they are a minority.

 

We are privileged to live in a time where humans are becoming more aware, and more accepting of differences. In 2008 we elected a black president. Regardless of your political (or religious) affiliation, this was a huge step toward equality. Just a few months ago the Supreme court overturned Prop 8 and legalized same sex marriage in California. As of right now, 14 states have legalized same sex marriage! There should be no shame in loving someone, and personally I think it’s ridiculous that same sex marriage had to be legalized in the first place. Marriage should be a human right. I know a lot of people feel that marriage is Christian, I hate to break it to you, marriage has been happening LONG before Christianity, and was not always religious. Marriage is a spiritual bond. If marriage is simply a “religious right” then 1. You shouldn’t recognize any marriage that was not ordained in your religion, and 2. atheists shouldn’t be allowed to marry, Oh! and 3. The government shouldn’t have anything to do with marriage, as there is a separation of church and state. I know a lot of heterosexual couples that have abused marriage, and if heterosexual couples can marry and divorce and cheat, then marriage must not be all that sacred. So the best bet is for each of us to focus on our own lives, our own marriages, and create our own sanctity. I for one do not model my marriage after Biblical marriages. From my memory, marriage in The Bible was not always pleasant, it was arranged, it was for the purpose of making babies, men were allowed many wives, a man who raped a woman would have to marry her (how horrific!) women were expected to put out, regardless of them being “in the mood” or not. None of this strikes me as a happy marriage. Not to say marriage is always happy, it takes work, but in the very least marrying the person you love gives you a shot at a happier life because it’s easier to put effort in, forgive and apologize for someone you love.

427938_3985820046672_1315913981_3735737_383432840_n

My point isn’t that you have to learn Spanish, or change your opinions (although racism is disgusting and you should be ashamed of yourself for hating someone for no other reason than the color of their skin, or the language they speak.) or even “agree” with homosexuality. My point is that we are all humans, and as humans we can simply respect each other. Not everyone has the “luxury” of being born in America, and for those of you with families, you know that you would do just about anything for your family, no mater what. I am also not saying that breaking the law, is OK, it’s not, but I am saying that until we have walked in someone else’s shoes, we have no place to judge. Try a little empathy.

***DISCLAIMER*** This is all my opinion, based on my personal feelings from personal experiences and research. I am very well aware that we are all entitled to our own opinions, as this is MY blog, it’s my space to say my piece. I could have said a lot more on each of these subjects but I chose to highlight a few points.

Mean Girls

562124_514106961965038_1764169413_n

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!

1390740_10200721415573200_293567634_n

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!

1176410_10201900346809504_651863435_n

 

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.

936505_10201881994070697_2130180494_n

 

Labor Of Love

peace_bag_2_large

Sometimes I forget about the beauty in humanity, we are fed negativity, everywhere we look. I can get pulled into that deep dark place, where all I see is the ugliness people are capable of. It can be daunting, wondering, never knowing who to trust. Betrayal is a constant. Keeping my guard up is so exhausting, and there is nothing more comforting than finding true friends.

Last week two of my friends, Aimee and Alexis, took it upon themselves to give me a break. They knew I am emotionally run down, that I have too much on my plate and more responsibility than ever before. I was under the impression that our life would slow down, and the stress ease after the wedding was finally over. Well, it didn’t. We were thrown into the new responsibilities of school and homework (seriously, homework is a 3 hour event, that often involves tears, frustration and tantrums). So they decided to take me out to lunch (sushi, duh). Unfortunately Alexis was having “one of THOSE days”, her baby is teething, and they had no sleep, nap time just wasn’t happening and she has a home business, is a breast feeding mama, and needed to get some work done. Aimee and I were already at the restaurant when we found out that Alexis was not going to be able to make it. So we ordered her a golf pro hand roll, and took it back to the house, poured her (and us) a glass of wine, and Aimee immediately called dibs on the baby, so I was able to sit down with Alexis and help her get some work done. As we sat their chatting, I was blown away by the love and support friends so willingly give to each other. The simplicity, and and really the perfect circle this made, I needed time off from my stresses, my kiddos, and all of the baggage that I have adopted for my loved ones. (I have an inability to look at a friends difficulties and not somehow own some of it. I am empathetic to a fault, and I need to work on it). Aimee is also a fixer, and she had seen my frustrations, (and I think she also missed me, we used to see each other 3+ times a week!) and, let’s be honest, she LOVES BABIES! So Aimee was able to get her cuddly baby fix. Alexis needed a break, and to not feel so overwhelmed by everything she needed to do. It really was the perfect, almost therapeutic situation. And to top it off, I was able to be a part of Alexis’ dream job. I feel like it is something that every woman can relate to, whether you are a mother, pregnant, or simply have friends that may need a little encouragement. I was so inspired as I sat there and really grasped the beauty of her work, and felt compelled to share it.

fp_image_3

This is directly from her website http://www.laboroflovebeads.com/

“My name is Alexis Baxley and I am a new mom and creative jewelry maker located by the beaches in Oxnard, CA. I believe that childbirth is a rite of passage and that each birth is a unique experience for each mother…the path to motherhood is a highly personal journey. As I started to go to more and more friends’ baby showers, I realized that there was something missing. The baby gifts and games were fun but I always left wishing I could leave the mom-to-be with something to remind her of the love and support that her friends and family want to ‘shower’ her with. As much as the parties are about baby gifts, I feel that they should also be about connection and support.

When the time came for my own baby shower, I wanted to have a ‘blessingway’, something special to empower me for my labor. So I went to a few craft stores and put together my own bracelet making kit. It took some doing and quite a lot of measuring and testing to ensure that everyone would have enough beads, any skill level could participate, and each could be done in under 15 minutes or so. This is when it dawned on me that I was meant to produce a ready-made kit for others who want to create an empowering experience for their labor and the birth of their baby!

What better way to show support of a mom’s journey than by coming together to create a personalized gift through beading. When Mom wears her bracelets, she is reminded of those who created them and their loving support.

I had 16 bracelets from 16 different friends that I wore during my labor. After over 40 hours of hard work, I needed all of the strength that I could find. When I was slumped over my couch during contractions thinking “this is so hard! I don’t think I can do it”, I looked down at my wrists and saw my bracelets. That reminder of support that “I can do this” was what I needed to keep going. My baby girl, Harper Reese was born soon after and is to this day the greatest gift I have ever received! We believe in the power of giving back. Ten percent of each purchase is donated to the Bumi Sehat Foundation, a non-profit, village-based organization that runs two by-donation community health centers in Bali and Aceh, Indonesia. ”

fp_image_1

While I sat with these two amazing women, we each made one for ourselves, and as I type I keep glancing at this beautiful bracelet made of blessings. It is MY constant reminder that not only is there good out there, but I have the honor of knowing some of the most beautiful, women, with even more beautiful hearts. Women who make an effort for each other for no other reason than, we may not understand exactly what the others are going through, but we can ease the burden.

Having had a particularly difficult few weeks, I can’t help but think of my loved ones who need such a simple, yet powerful reminder, that they are not alone.

fp_image_2

 

*All of these photos are directly from www.laboroflovebeads.com*

**Feel free to check out Alexis on facebook https://www.facebook.com/LaborOfLoveBeads

and her amazing website http://www.laboroflovebeads.com/ **