Adventure in Self-Righteous Unhelpfulnes

April was sexual assault awareness month. With that came a lot of personal boldness. I’m always pretty talky about things, but I decided it was time to be just a little louder. I did something brave, even for me. I tweeted just the first names (that I knew) of those who have assaulted me. It came with little response. I didn’t do it for anyone else. I did it for me. I did it to bravely say aloud. For me.

A couple of weeks later I got an email from someone I hadn’t heard of in a couple of years. The same person who upon hearing of my first rape laughed at the situational irony and said, “He got what he always wanted.” A couple of years ago when we met up, we talked about that night. We talked about that conversation. I extended forgiveness. I extended grace. We had a conversation in which I believed we’d reached an understanding.

Remember last month when I said “if you don’t know what to say, it’s really okay to just shut up?” (I probably said it nicer than that). She should have just shut up.

This same person came across this tweet and decided that she knew people with those first names, and before checking with me, contacted those she knew with those first names and told them “Hayley is telling people you raped her.” I received threats. I received insults. From people it shouldn’t have impacted at all.

I received what felt like an unending email thread from this person. Even though I repeatedly asked that she never contact me again. Someone who stakes her reputation on being a voice for women made sure to shut mine down, because in her mind it affected someone she once knew, regardless of concern for how it affected the woman she knew. She didn’t stop emailing me until she heard from my boyfriend.

Why am I telling you this?

It takes an awful lot for me to get to a point where I cut someone out of my life. In fact, I should be better at it, based on how many toxic people I’ve let run my life.

Throughout all of the emails she cites her god, the Enemy. Let me tell you something. I believe in God. I believe we’re all in this together. I believe that this world is awful. I believe that the only way it’s going to get better is if we take care of each other. I believe that people who think more about even the potential accused over the victim are the Enemy. I believe that Christians who spout their self-righteousness as faith are a greater detriment than anyone else to faith in general.

If you cannot hear a victim and let them tell their story the way they need to, then you need to take your seat.

It shook me. It knocked me out for a while. It made me terrified again. It made me shake with anger. It rekindled nightmares. It rekindled distrust. It elevated her superiority.

What we share that isn’t ours is affecting. How we share it matters. It’s so, so easy to see some information and draw our own conclusions.

All of that to say this. Bad things are going to happen. Bad people are going to show themselves. Everyone you know and care about isn’t going to support your survival. They won’t like that you’re getting better. Maybe they don’t wish you ill, but they don’t understand how you can get out from under something when they can’t. You aren’t doing it for them. You are doing it for you. It’s your survival, and it’s beautiful.

A year ago I met up with someone from tinder. A year ago guns were brought out in my presence, and I instantly felt trapped. A year ago I was beaten. A year ago I was raped. A year ago I felt so isolated. A year ago one of my best friends met me at the Sexual Assault Treatment Center. A year ago she sat in that lobby for hours, while I did all of the things you’re “supposed” to do. A year ago I made phone calls. A year ago I hid at the Let’s office. A year ago I felt like it was all over, again. A year ago I wanted to be dead. A year ago people I love rallied around me and wouldn’t let me go.

A year later I am stronger. A year later I am different. A year later I have healed and grown. A year later I’ve walked away from a lot of things and a lot of people. A year later I am medicated. A year later I am in consistent therapy. A year later I am still here.

Ya know what? I’m glad I’m here. Thank you to everyone who has helped make that possible.

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Affirmation 4/6/18

You’ve done it again, friend. You’ve come into a new day. Yesterday is over, and you have a whole new day to try again. That’s all I ask, that you try. You can do that. Give yourself some grace today.

I’m glad you’re here.

Affirmation 2/5/18

Friend, it’s okay to have a bad day, even a bunch of them. It doesn’t mean you’ve failed. You can’t demand consistency for yourself. Humanity is inconsistent. Be gracious with yourself. You’re so gracious with others. Remember that you too have value. Remember that you too are worthy of grace. Be patient with yourself. Healing takes time.

I’m glad you’re here.

Affirmation 9/11/17

Deep breath. Slow, even breaths. All that you need is already inside you. Focus on the good and powerful things that live in you. Breathe into your strength. Breathe into your grace. Everything you need is already there. You don’t need to seek it out anywhere else. Focus on what you already have and work from there. I love you.

I’m glad you’re here.

Affirmation 3/28/17

Live your life. People won’t like it. Do it anyway. Pursue the things that further your strength and power and grace and happiness. Pursue the things that make you feel alive. Push yourself. People won’t like it. Do it anyway.

I’m glad you’re here.

Adventure in Lists, Day 3

This will face some contention. This will not be well-received.

My top ten favorite episodes of Buffy.

10. Selfless (season 7 episode 5)

“I don’t talk to people much. I mean, I talk to them, but they don’t talk to me, except to say that, ‘your questions are irksome,’ and, ‘perhaps you should take your furs and your literal interpretations to the other side of the river.'”

(There’s going to be a staggering number of episodes rep seasons 6 and 7. It surprised me too.)

I love this episode because it gives us so many pieces of Anya. It fills in holes, but doesn’t answer every question. If anything, it makes me hurt more for Anya than it does make me love her more. (Though it does that too)

9. Halloween (season 2 episode 6)

“They don’t know who they are, everyone’s turned into a monster, it’s a whole big thing. How are you?”

Halloween is important because it’s the turning point. Halloween is the episode that I have to urge people to get to. It’s the game-changer. Halloween is when the show becomes good and not nearly as campy.

8. Conversations with Dead People (season 7 episode 7)

“Of course I’m scared. Last time we were here, 33.3 bar percent of us were flayed alive.”

For some reason episodes where people talk to dead people really touch my soul. It happens in an episode of Scrubs too, and I just overlook the fact that it’s Brendan Frasier. I think it speaks to something in us that still pines for those we’ve lost, even if we aren’t talking to someone we knew.

7. The Gift (season 5 episode 22)

“Blood is life, lack-brain. Why do you think we eat it? It’s what keeps you going. Makes you warm. Makes you hard. Makes you other than dead.”

The intended finality. The sacrifice. The brokenness across the board. Obviously this episode is powerful, but I think this moment is one of the most.
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6. A New Man (season 4 episode 12)

“You know what gets me? This is what gets me. Twenty years I’ve been fighting demons. Maggie Walsh and her nancy ninja boys come in; six months later, the demons are pissing themselves with fear. They never even noticed me.”

Honestly, there just might not be enough Giles-centric stories. In the wake of losing his job and his slayer going away to college he also gets turned into a demon by that dumb Ethan Rayne. Giles’ reliance on Spike is a huge draw for this episode, and him goofily terrorizing Professor Walsh. More that, please.

5. Normal Again (season 6 episode 17)

Buffy: I was only there a couple of weeks. I stopped talking about it so they let me go. And eventually, my parents just…forgot.
Willow: God. That’s horrible.
Buffy: What if I never left? What if I’m still in that clinic?

Some times brains break. Some times brains are forced into breaking. No matter how it happens, it’s always horrifying, even if you are the slayer.

4. Grave (season 6 episode 22)

“Is this the master plan? You’re gonna stop me by telling me you love me?”

Sue me. I love a good, overwhelming story of pure friendship. Sure, Will and Xander have had their moments, but ultimately they remain best friends. Even when Willow goes completely wiggy and seemingly over the line.

3. Band Candy (season 3 episode 6)

“Screw you. I want candy.”

Because teenage Giles. Because for some reason Ethan Rayne is in three of these episodes. Guess I like his monsters of the week.

2. Hush (season 4 episode 10)

“Can’t even shout, can’t even cry
The gentlemen are coming by
Looking in windows, knocking on doors
They need to take seven and they might take yours
Can’t call to mom, Can’t say a word
You’re gonna die screaming but you won’t be heard.”

Outside of Doug Jones being amazing and the Gentlemen being horrifying. (Out horrifying the Silence, Doctor Who) the genius of a silent episode.

1. The Body (season 5 episode 16)

“I don’t understand how this all happens. How we go through this. I mean, I knew her, and then she’s- There’s just a body, and I don’t understand why she just can’t get back in it and not be dead anymore. It’s stupid. It’s mortal and stupid. And-and Xander’s crying and not talking, and-and I was having fruit punch, and I thought, well, Joyce will never have any more fruit punch ever, and she’ll never have eggs, or yawn or brush her hair, not ever, and no one will explain to me why.”

Mostly. That quote is why, but then look at the fact that all underscoring is gone. You’re stuck, YOU, with your own thoughts and ambient noise, just like the cast. It’s brutal and hard and perfect.

Honorable mentions:
Gingerbread (season 3 episode 11) this one almost made the cut, because of the power of persuasion.

Once More with Feeling (season 6 episode 7) mostly, I feel like I have to have it on my list, and while I love it I hate social obligation more.

Restless (season 4 episode 22) seasons 4 is sort of a wash of worth it gets too heavy in places it shouldn’t. But I love this episode for just being silly. Not entirely, but it’s not a real threat and the cheese.

Adventure in Redemption Tales

They’re remarkable. They’re the most beautiful stories that exist to tell. Stories that take completely hideous, shattered pieces and put them back together even better than before. It’s beautiful. More over, they’re important. No. They’re essential.

I have a few favorite redemption stories.

Severus Snape: Harry Potter.

snape

We go on a journey with Snape for 7 books. Arguably, Snape’s story in the series is just as important, if not more. The thing that saves Harry in the first place is love, and the thing that gets him through every year is love. Snape makes some pretty horrible life decisions, following the Dark Lord being a key one. And honestly, Snape is redeemed the moment he turns to Dumbledore for help, but we don’t see that until the end of his life. We see the actions of a man so ravaged by heartache he won’t or can’t let us see beyond that. And in a few tears we learn the truth about Snape. That his redemption came with great pain, as all redemptions do. A lot of Snape’s was self-inflicted. Most of it. Grace is a terribly hard thing to accept. Dumbledore offered it to him, but Snape chose to hide his true intentions. I won’t get into why that too is selfishness, but to some degree that choice took away the pride of it. I can’t say this enough. Grace is a terrible hard thing to accept. Wizard or not.

Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader: Star Wars

vader

Regardless of your opinions on episodes 1 through 3, what you’re looking at is a six movie series about one story. One. Story. The fall and redemption of one man. Innocent kid. Noble ambitions, and then. Guys, darkness is so tempting. It’s so, so tempting to just give in. To want power. To crave accolades. I get it. I really do, and then once you’re in that mess it’s even harder to get out of it. An addiction, to anything, is always with you, and it rested with little Anakin until the end of his life. Until he made one final push in his last moments and sought redemption. Darkness is so tempting.

William the Bloody/Spike: Buffy the Vampire Slayer

spike

Spike is a monster. I mean that literally. Spike is a vampire, who spends centuries killing people. And like Anakin he started out a sweet guy. Just taking care of his mom, writing horrible poems, being the butt of all of the jokes. He kills not one, but two slayers. He spends the better part of 7 seasons trying to kill Buffy too. At the end of season 6 Spike snaps. He tries to rape Buffy, and when he realizes what he’s done he leaves. Seemingly forever. He goes through a series of trials, cleansings, for one purpose. Vamps don’t have souls. Well, now two do. Angel and Spike. And Spike paid for his. When it was back, it ate him from the inside. Because knowing the truth makes the whole world a lot harder to take. Ultimately, Spike’s soul saved us all. Knowing the truth makes the whole world a lot harder to take.

Edmund Pevensie: The Chronicles of Narnia

edmund

This one is my favorite. Edmund did not start out a sweet kid. At all. He was a brat and a bully. He deliberately betrayed his family. Not like “hm, ok this is fine.” No. Edmund was all “yeah. they’re dumb. I can be king. I’m outtie, and they’re done.” (Pretty sure that’s a direct quote). Ya know what’s worse about Edmund? He knows. Even as things get worse, he knows. AND he knows how he could get out of it. BUT HE DOESN’T DO IT!! He just keeps on saying “yeah, no thanks. Ol’ Pete’s a know-it-all and Susan is a snot and Lucy is funny looking. I’m not gonna deal with them anymore.” And Edmund is STILL welcomed back into the fold, AND his king says “yeah, you’re supposed to die. I’ll take care of it.” Which Edmund assumes means negotiate. Oh Aslan negotiated. He negotiated himself right onto that stone table for ONE kid. One punk-ass kid. One punk-ass kid who grew up to be a kind king and a grateful and wise man.

In 1999 on the floor of a huge room of a lodge on a winter retreat, curled up in a ball next to Katelyn Knuth, Hayley Johnson was also redeemed. She continued to make horrible mistakes. She continues to make horrible mistakes. And every day she struggles to look at the world and live in it knowing the truth. Why even bother staying knowing it’s only going to get darker here and there’s light she can live in? Darkness is so tempting. Every day darkness is tempting. And some times she gives into it. Every day, every hour is a struggle to accept grace. But without it she’d be lost. Without it she’d be dead. Without I am lost. Without I’d be dead.

Adventure in Misery or Sadness Takes a Holiday

Disclaimer: Some day I may have the strength or presence of mind to fully explain the back story for this, but for now embrace a big dose of vague. You’re welcome, I know how specificity irks you so.

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Lately, things have been strange. Downright odd.

This particular week is, generally speaking, a very hard week for me. This week every year. Among other very painful things, the father of a dear old friend of mine died this week when we were but freshmen in high school. This week is riddled with similar painful reminders.

In previous years I’ve let the pain of the week just wash over me. I’ve allowed myself to wallow and suffer and drown. To barely keep my head above water. To take in whatever I needed to stay alive, if I must, but otherwise sink. And sink hard.

A recent conversation, or series of conversations, has left me admitting one very powerful thing about myself to myself. I love misery. It’s disgusting how comfortable I find it. I thrive in misery. I also love to be the martyr. Try not to be surprised. I bet you are. I put misery on like a baggy sweatshirt and yoga pants in front of the TV for an entire week. I curl up inside it like I’m Luke Skywalker, and it is my toasty, dead tauntaun. Like…no, enough similes. that’s a hard thing to shake though. It’s hard letting go of something that’s been such an enormous part of my identity for so long. If I’m terribly honest with you, I’ve let it be my identity for a very long time. And that’s messed up. That’s gross. That’s disgusting. It genuinely disgusts me.

What troubles me is now I find myself in a healthy place, and still I try to find that misery. Peace is weirdly uncomfortable for me. Still. It shouldn’t be. It should be my comfort in these trying times. It, by nature, is comfort, and I can’t seem content in that. It makes me so uneasy. While it is true that there is no need for hope or grace, if we aren’t broken and torn and hopeless, that doesn’t mean we should ignore hope and grace when it’s there. And it’s there. It’s here. It’s everywhere.

Instead of dwelling in my own self-produced disasters, I should be reveling in grace. I should be overcome with joy from the moment I wake up, because I’m being constantly repaired and constantly renewed. When I go to sleep, when I am asleep, I am renewed. We are renewed.

Any claim I hold on misery, is my head and heart screaming, “no thanks, Jesus. I got this one. I can save me.” Joke’s on me. I cannot.

“You can’t just sit there and put everyone’s lives ahead of yours and think that counts as love. You just can’t. You have to do things.” Stephen Chbosky Perks of Being a Wallflower

These songs have been pouring through my head and heart the last month or so.

Adventure in Sufficiency

BBCGumpasI don’t know if it’s a common title for a foreign governor, but I do know that once in the BBC’s Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader that Prince Caspian calls Governor Gumpas “your sufficiency,” which always makes me laugh. “Your perfectly adequate, I suppose, ness.” “Your we’ll take what we can get ity.” “Your the best we can come up with cy.”

It’s always been funny to me, because Gumpas isn’t sufficient. He’s a horrible governor. He’s actually a pretty terrible human.

Today though I was talking to a friend, and I said something that made me cry as it left me. So perhaps I needed to hear, and definitely acknowledge it, more than she did. “His grace is SUFFICIENT,” I said. I said it in all caps like that. And I think that’s what hit me.

I talk myself out of the grace I’ve been given a lot. How my mistakes are just going to tear that apart. As if God’s got sheets and sheets of us that as soon as we screw up he just tears it in two. And he’s God so those halves are pretty exact. That’s not how it works though. If I had the capability to screw up grace, then I’d have the capability of redeeming myself too. I very much do not. Woof, if I did. Yikes. Like mega yikes.

Real talk: I’m a pretty big ol’ sinner. I know. Calm down. It’s true though. And try as I might there’s not a lot I can do to fix that. I dare say, there’s nothing I can do. And I tried. I tried a bunch. I still try. All of the time. If I just get rid of this thing or stop this then ta-da! Salvation. Cue sad trumpet noise. Because I’ve already got there. In spades. And I just forget. Like a bunch I forget. All the time I forget.

I can’t save me. You can’t save me. And I can’t save you.

His grace is sufficient. Sufficient.