Faith, Mental Health

Find Your Calcutta

The quote above I found some time ago. I’ve always had great affection for Saint Teresa of Calcutta, even when she was alive. Mainly because she was the first person I ever saw giving AIDS patients compassion. You see, my mom passed of AIDS at the height of the epidemic. She was diagnosed in 1987 and passed in 1991. Saint Teresa of Calcutta was compassionate to the dejected. I saw that at an early age, related to it, and loved her for it. When I came across this quote, the compassion in it was just too beautiful to overlook.

I got to thinking…what about MY Calcutta. Where is it? What can I do for it? I decided I have 2.

The first a foremost Calcutta is my classroom. I love on my babies and their families. They need love. That is why I teach. Not for the paycheck. Not for the wisdom. Simply for the Love.

The other Calcutta is this blog. I get to love on people who are hurting, who have been to the darkest night…alone. The people who connect to me through this blog do so because of similar experiences. I am praying that I am able to help fill your soul with love and strength, so you can go out into YOUR Calcutta and do the same.

Peace.

Faith

Mass…twice last weekend!

Last Friday was a Holy Day of Obligation. I decided that last weekend was the day to meet Jesus where He is. I went to Mass Friday night and sat with strangers and saw Jesus. On Sunday morning, I went to the early Mass based on a suggestion from a friend. I will be going to Mass more regularly now.

I am terrified of people. Crowds give me severe, debilitating anxiety. As in…I don’t even grocery shop for myself. I am so stinking proud of myself for getting past the anxiety and moving forward in Love. Jesus met me where I was and I am moving forward with him.

I know that the anxiety will ebb and flow. I realize that just because it was good last weekend doesn’t mean it’ll be good this weekend. I know that some days are easier than others…but here’s the deal: I need Jesus. Desperately. Jesus is my Healer. I trust Him to be there. I trust that I am safe. I trust that all this is just a chemical imbalance in my brain and that I can move past it.

If you struggle with anxiety and you are trying to get back to the routine of life…it can be done. It takes work. It takes effort. It takes support. But it can be done. But Jesus.

Faith

Contentment in Singleness

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Y’all, this post is a challenging one to write. I struggle with contentment in singleness sometimes. Sometimes, I don’t. I do not think I am made to be alone. I am not looking for the perfect man. He, in fact, does not exist. Truth is I am just looking for someone who understands commitment and won’t give up on me when it gets hard.

Marriage is where we get a special grace. Sacramental marriage. I have been married twice. Neither marriage was a sacramental marriage. If I ever get in a serious relationship again, he MUST be a practicing Catholic. He must have lived enough to understand my baggage to the point of not judging me for said baggage. That probably means he will have his own baggage. I welcome that. I welcome the chance to do life with someone who gets the concept of hard and is willing to stick it out for the long haul.

I’m learning in my singleness that there are a ton of men out there. Many of those are Catholic. At the end of the day, we are flawed humans. Just trying to do our best.

Being content in just being me. Alone. With Jesus. That is where I find my strength and I learn to navigate the waters of a relationship again. I am a pretty content person on a day to day basis. I do my best to live in the moment. To put the phone down and be present. That has not come easily. It has taken a lot of experience and practice. And there are still days, I get lonely and would rather not be alone. I am learning to not let those lonely moments determine my value. I, even in my broken state, and a gift for one man. My sacramental husband. And he is a gift to me from Jesus himself. I am praying for him. I am learning to date…at 40. I am learning that I can set boundaries and not give my heart away so easily. I am learning that I have value. I am teaching men how to treat me. I am trying to do a better job at allowing them to treat me with respect and kindness. I’m not used to that. I am used to the pain in relationships. The disrespect. The violence. The manipulation. I am having to relearn my normal. And I hope through these experiences, I will learn how to be a helpmate for one man. My husband.

Faith

All Saints and All Souls Days

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I am obsessed with Dia de los Muertos. I have been since 1994 when I first learned about it sitting in Spanish I with Sra. Gibbs. Dia de Los Muertos makes me feel so flipping close to my loved ones who have passed. Pop actually passed the week of this holiday.

Here’s the deal…I didn’t know it then, but my soul was yearning for the Catholic way back in the mid-nineties. Dia de los Muertos has it’s roots in All Saints and All Souls days. f

The fact that the Catholic Church believes in Tradition and in the past connects to my soul. The fact that those people who have gone on before us are still somehow spiritually connected to us feeds my soul.

I have had experiences that I cannot explain that are on a spiritual realm since my family has passed on. I KNOW my mom is with me. I know she looks out for me. I know I am still…somehow…connected to her.

The Catholic Church honors those connections. Dia de Los Muertos isn’t necessarily a Catholic holiday, but there is overlap in the cultural understandings. So, as you go to celebrate All Saints and All Souls Days, connect to the fact that we are all connected. No one is alone and even after death, there is some sort of spiritual connection to those we love.

Faith

Conversion Story

I am Catholic. I converted Easter of 2013. I have been traveling through my journey of learning how to live my faith since then. For several years, I was not practicing. I would dabble here and there, but actually living my faith day in and day out was…just so far away.

I have been divorced, twice. I have “lived in sin.” I am heavily tattooed. I am not a mother. I am not at all what one would thing of when someone looks at the outside of the person for a possible future Catholic. But, that is just what I am. Jesus found me. He sat with me through my doubts and questions. He was beside me when I would get angry at the American Evangelical sect…not that there’s anything wrong with being that….I just was very angry for a long time about the inconsistencies I found in many friends with that label. Heck, I have a minor in Biblical Studies from an Evangelical College…among other things.

What Jesus did was send me Catholic friends. Catholic friends who walked with me through life. Through doubt. Through inaction. Through all of it. They stuck beside me. They pray for me. They LOVE me. That love….good old fashioned True Love…is what is revolutionizing my life. Novel idea, huh? Meeting people in the mire, in their muck, and helping them find grace there. How great is the beauty of Love. That in it’s essence is my conversion story.

When all those who said they would Love me walked out. When I was alone in my muck, I found a Love that is beyond anything I can explain or compare.

The rosary is where my faith started. It is where my faith returns. Mary always leads us to Jesus. And to quote some saint…I can’t recall which one right now…but we can never love Jesus more than Mary did. Mary is the model of who I want to be like. I want to love Jesus with that kind of fervor, with that kind of passion. I want to say yes to God’s plan…whatever that may be when I’m sitting at 40 in my brokenness. Somehow, all this mess will be used to glorify the Father in the long run. Parts of my story will repulse some and connect to others. Those who get it will see that Jesus loves me in my mess and see that Jesus loves them in their mess too. That is my conversion story. Messy life with Jesus. One yes at a time.

Mental Health

Protecting Stability

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Hi. For those of you who are new here, let me catch you up. I live with mental illness and I am a voice for those who are finding theirs. I am in no way a doctor. In no way am I giving out medical advice. I am sharing my story and what works for me. I live with Bipolar Type 2, PTSD, and generalized anxiety disorder. I daily fight the demons in my own head. Finding my strength, I hope will help others find theirs.

So, here’s the truth. I’m not the healthiest person sometimes. At times I can be involved in toxic relationships. I try really hard to stay on the healthy end of the spectrum more often that not. Part of staying on the healthy end of things is setting up parameters to stay healthy. Protecting my stability at any cost.

I’ve learned what my body needs over the last 20+ years of having a diagnosis. I’ve learned that rest…good sleep…is a huge need. That means I can’t stay up at night. If I get off schedule with my sleep, the wheels fall apart at the spokes. 8 solid hours of sleep is crucial for me to maintain stability.

Taking my medication as prescribed is another huge thing. Y’all, I aint going to lie. I hate taking medication. I hate it. It is a royal pain in the ass. Especially when the medication stops working, which happens every few years. Why take medication if it isn’t working?! So here’s the deal. It is vital that if you have a mental health issue you stay in touch with your doctor. Your doctor is your lifeline and they will at some point save your life. If they don’t listen to you, get a new doctor. AND TAKE YOUR MEDS AS PRESCRIBED. I know. It sucks. Just do it. And don’t listen to those who say getting off medication is a good idea. You know your body. You know your meds keep you stable. It’s not a matter of bootstraps. It’s a matter of if your doctor has ruled there is a chemical imbalance, YOU LISTEN TO YOUR DOCTOR. Your doctor will save your life. Trust me.

Another behavior that is vital for my health is developing healthy relationships and interactions with people. When relationships are toxic, they no longer grow. Those relationships just make you feel crazy and like you are the one losing your mind. Yes, we all have things we can work on. Yes, you and I have defects. In healthy relationships, you are able to work on improving yourself and your defects. In toxic ones, no growth happens. At all. Build up the healthy relationships around you. You will need them. Let the toxic ones go. Learn how to interact and trust. Learn how to lean on others. Go to therapy if you need insight. Your therapist will help you clarify which relationships to move forward with and which ones to let go.

Most of all, be your own advocate. Know your body. Know your mood shifts. Know your vital needs. Speak up for yourself. If you don’t, no one will. And know that when you take care of you and do the work, things WILL get better. Even your darkest day will be a stepping stone to a better life. It’s about learning how to navigate the waters of mental illness. I hope this tidbit of love and advice helped you. If it did, leave a comment below.

Faith

Marriage…and Divorce


“I have known many happy marriages, but never a compatible one. The whole aim of marriage is to fight through and survive the instant when incompatibility becomes unquestionable. For a man and a woman, as such, are incompatible.”

– G.K. Chesterton “What is Wrong with the World”

This quote rings as true with me on so many levels. Here I am. I’m a twice annulled Catholic sitting at 40 on the number line. There are no compatible marriages. It is about sticking it out and survival.

I regret my first divorce so much. I was young and dumb. I was brought up in dysfunction and brought that dysfunction into our marriage. I hurt on the daily because I’ve made my first family hurt on so many levels. I grieve the loss of that relationship frequently. It was his third marriage. My first. He was my first experience as being a grown up. I became a parent, a wife, a homeowner. All of that. At 24 years old. I didn’t know what I was doing. Apparently, he didn’t either. I pray for him. I hope he finds his peace.

My second marriage was just because I was trying to move forward through the pain of my first divorce. I married some guy I met online. I found out (after we were married) that he was a raging atheistic alcoholic. He left my house in handcuffs. There is a restraining order written into the divorce. And I carry on the daily.

Between the demise of the two marriages, I ended up with PTSD. I would have nightmares every single night for years. I struggled for years to put one foot in front of the other. But here I am, trying to repair my broken heart and heal it for good. Only Jesus can do that.

I’ve learned through all my experiences that I cannot depend on people to fix me. Whether that is a therapist, a doctor, or a friend. Only Jesus heals. And through my daily fiat, I am letting him do just that.

Grace is not in a pretty package. All neat and orderly. Grace is thrown on us in our dirtiness. It is given to us in our messes. Grace is given as we make small yeses to God.

You will never be clean enough to earn grace. You will never be dirty enough to have grace reject you. Love finds us in the mire. Pulls us out. And gives us the strength to move forward as we are. Embrace grace.