#MeToo: Let the Women Speak

Social media has been abuzz with the #metoo hashtag, a hashtag highlighting the personal stories of sexual harassment, assault, and abuse. I could spill words on the hashtag, but instead, I’m opening up space today for my friends.

Below, you’ll find the stories of women I follow on social media. Read their tweets. Listen.

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Today, make space to listen to a #metoo victim in your life.

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Childhood Identity (Politics)

In this month’s Tiny Letter, I used last week’s nostalgic post as a jumping off point to discuss childhood, belonging, and identity politics. In it, I write:

That evening, we gather around the television in my grandfather’s home and watch the presidential debate shape up. President Ronald Reagan—a man whose name I’ve never not known—and Walter Mondale—a man whose name I never can remember—engage in some sort of gentlemen’s fight. I pour a second bowl of cornflakes, spoon on heaps of sugar, and notice my family, sitting in the dark, hanging on President Raegan’s every word. They are the Spanish moss to his  presidential cypress. I am the heron hunting food.

Between spoonfuls of flakes and sugar sludge, I try my best to stay inside the lines of my Return of the Jedi coloring book. My mother turns from the living room, asks whether I’m paying attention, tells me I could stand on a stage like that one day. I look at the television and hear the president’s voice as gentle as a grandfather’s, and I look back down to my Ewoks. Why can’t I color like my childhood best friend, Adam Sills? If I were president, maybe my mother and teachers would hang all their hopes on my Ewok colorings.

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Do you like the content here or in my bi-monthly Tiny Letter? Do you read it over morning coffee? Want to help defray the costs of the veritable coffee plantation that fuels my writing? Then JOIN ME in the lab, the fun factory, the place I try out new things to see if they’ll stick. (Ahem… my Patreon community.) What is Patreon? It’s a way for you, the reader, to become a patron, a person supporting the arts (my art to be precise), and receive behind the scenes content in return. Visit my Patreon page for more information. And, if you enjoy this website and haven’t yet signed up for the bi-monthly Tiny Letter newsletter, feel free to sign up below.

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Where Wonder Lives

I bird-dog my way down to northern Louisiana, following a lead on a story near my grandfather’s old stomping grounds. Four miles from Black Bayou, I roll the windows down, and I smell the humidity, the cypress sap, the sweet mud. There is Bartholomew Lake, just to the east. In the bones of an ancient cypress, anhinga perch. Spanish moss beards the limbs of the living trees. A truck runs too close to the shoulder of the highway, and I hear the duh-dum duh-dum of the “waker-uppers.” I am seven again, riding shotgun in my grandfather’s green chevy, feet dangling from the bench seat. I am holding a box of hot cinnamon rolls while my grandfather passes down his mastery of colorful language and his knowledge of the shape of a woman. My ears and cheeks redden.

This world is a wardrobe to another time and place. Wonder lives there.

I cannot stop my car from careening into the Black Bayou entrance. I am pulled to the mud, to my kin, to the ghosts. On the banks, I stare into the water and see myself again. Now, with unveiled eyes.

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Confessions of a Drug Dealer (A Recovery Room Post)

It’s National Recovery Month, and in celebration, I’ve invited Laura Beth Martin, my favorite drug dealer (a pharmacist to be exact), to bring an offering to the table. I met Laura at a writer’s conference a couple of years ago, found out she was an Arkansas girl who had a penchant for pie and drawling i-s. Enjoy her piece, then head over to her site for more of her writing.

Welcome Laura Beth Martin to the Recovery Room.

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Her voice falters and slips as I ask her how she’s doing. I notice her tired eyes and the purple half-circles underneath them. Her arms are thinner than I’ve ever seen, and I worry what that means. There’s no baby in her belly now either.

I notice that too.

My hand quickly finds her name among the sea of white prescription bags, and I place hers on the counter. I smile and ask her gently how she’s doing. She tells me now about her flat belly.

The baby came last week. Thin and long like her momma. She gives me all the standard details and shares the name she chose. As she speaks she chokes up, tears filling her brown eyes, as the words tumble out.

“They took them. They took both my children.”

And the realization of what her world looks like slams me hard in the face and I lean forward my hand gripping that counter, knuckles turning white.

“I’m sorry.” I tell her. “I’m so sorry.”

“You don’t have to be sorry, she says. It’s my fault. I did this.”

“Does CPS have them in foster care now?” I ask.

She nods, taking the sack from my hand. “But the baby is still in the hospital. They didn’t even let me tell my little boy good-bye.”

“That’s hard. Do you know what you need to do to get them back?”

“Yes,” she says, “and I’m doing it. I’m keeping my visitation and I’m following my steps.”

She is crying now.

“I can’t breathe without them,” she whispers.

And there, in that moment, I can see her the way Jesus sees her, scared, alone, vulnerable, hurting and confused. And I’m ashamed of my heart when I compare it to his. So many times, as a pharmacist I stand on one side of that counter and see people for who they appear to be, or who I want them to be.

The addict. The dealer. The user. The manipulator. The liar. The sinner.
I get so frustrated, so tired of being on the receiving end of attempts to use the medical system for drugs.

I’m hard hearted. A cynic.

And this is an easy thing to do when my own sin isn’t an addiction that everyone can see. When it doesn’t publicly cost me my children, or my job, or my church membership. When I can tuck that sin away and ask God for forgiveness and no one is the wiser. It allows me to create levels of separation for sin, a caste system of religious hierarchy where I can justify my own while judging everyone else for theirs. And the mask of the perfect Christian can remain firmly cemented in place.

But what if my sin were apparent? What if everyone knew I had an anger problem? Or had adulterous thoughts? Or cursed like a sailor? What if the worst thing I’ve ever thought or done was displayed for everyone to see?
My shame would undo me.

As Christians, we often want to believe that those with addictions have the power to stop whenever they want, as if there’s a light switch you turn on or off to quit craving your drug of choice. We want to believe that they have complete power over their sin.

No one has that.

Even the ones who keep the front row pews warm three times a week cannot claim to have themselves under control. We cannot white-knuckle our way through the depths of our humanness. It simply isn’t possible.

There is no one righteous, not even one.

And Jesus knows this.

He knows we are forever recovering from ourselves, thus he continually offers his grace cupped and overflowing from palms scarred. He whispers to the addict in us all,

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28)

[Enjoy Laura Beth Martin’s writing? Visit her website.]

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Want to read a recovery narrative that’s about so much more than recovery? Grab a copy (or 10) of Coming Clean: A Story of Faith. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. 

***YO! THIS IS YOUR GOLDEN TICKET***

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Four Years Sober

It’s the fourth anniversary. What a sentence to write.

The first year of sobriety snuck up on me. It was September 21, 2014, a day that grabbed me from behind, reached up and wrapped its hands around my throat. It’d been the hardest year of my life, and the thought of running dry for another sixty-or-whatever years threatened to choke the life out of me.

As it went, though, I kept on living, and in that living, I added a few days to that year. Then a few months. The second year passed with less violence. Then the third. Today, the fourth year snuck up on me, but it’s not threatening to choke me. It’s a sweeter day, somehow gentler. Four years without approaching even tipsy, and I’m most grateful. I might even say I’m at peace.

From that well of gratitude, I’ve decided to give away 10 copies of Coming Clean: A Story of Faith to one person. Winner-winner-chicken-dinner, use them however you wish. Use them in a group study. Give copies to friends in AA or NA or SA or any other twelve step program. Gift them to your business or church. Whatever. It’s up to you.

If you want to be entered into the drawing do any of the following (you’ll receive an entry for each):

1. Drop me a line in the comments below, letting me know you’d like your name entered;
2. Sign up to receive my bi-monthly TinyLetter;
3. Become a patron of my work (any level).

All the entries will be sorted in a virtual hat and the winner will be drawn at random.

Thanks again for reading along, for following me in this journey. You’re good folks.

 

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