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My very sensible Blogher ’14 flat shoes.

This is MY & OUR story.

My story is that I like to write.  That may be the STUPIDEST understatement of the year because I can’t NOT write: even when I don’t want to, my brain writes Facebook status, tweets, blog posts, books, chapters, arguments and ALL MANNER of thing, in ALL MANNER of inconvenient times.

My story is that I’ve rarely -not ever- but rarely cared what the majority of people think of me at any random time.  My husband has always accused me of “personality crafting” online —trying like hell to shape an opinion of myself that I approve of — when truthfully, I’ve told my story with little regard for what folks make of it. (Repeat: little regard, not no regard).  That he and others have misunderstood my intentions to share vulnerably has mattered little to me —obviously because I’ve continued to do it.  Quite honestly, I’ve HATED when folks use their uncomfortability to silence me, their list of “why’s” absurd as the day is long.

My story is that I have very little interest in hiding.  Don’t assume that people who have no interest in hiding are some sort of shallow Kim Kardashian.  Obviously, women like Kimmy K & I share a certain level of “F*ck you world!” to continue to put ALL OUR BUSINESS on ALL OUR PLATFORMS.  It’s redonkulous for anyone tell Kimmy K & I (and e’erybody in between) what our motives are, why we should (or shouldn’t) disclose in the way we do & exactly what they think about our level disclosure.

My story is that is I learned from Malcolm X. I read his book as a young pimple-face. Here was a man who put ALL HIS BUSINESS on ALL HIS PLATFORMS because -I’m assuming- he believed in the power of storytelling.  He wanted folks to know exactly why he continued to fight for justice for his people.  He didn’t let anyone tell him to shut that ‘ish down because he took ownership of his choices and he didn’t want to leave room for someone to catch him off guard, and therefore have power over him.  No one had anything on him.  If I’d been around when Malcolm X was alive I would have been *that* groupie.  You know the one, screaming out at inappropriate times, “OOHHMYYYGAAWWWD, MALCOLM PLEASE MARRY ME, I’LL MAKE YOU SO HAPPY!”

My story is that I’m an adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse. That I’m ‘surviving’ is, I’m sure, up for grabs in the opinions of others who haven’t lived a damn day in my shoes and couldn’t survive a damn month of my traumatic childhood.  I tell this story in particular because it is the story in which the most women connect with me on.  It is the story that the most women profusely thank me for sharing and consequently gives me the most hope because I’ve decided secrets and the dark don’t get to live in me.

My story is that I have a broken relationship to my sexuality.  One doesn’t have a sexual relationship with one’s father beginning at 3 yrs. old, progressing for 8 additional yrs. and escape unscathed.  What is done in the dark comes out.  For YEARS, I’ve been towing the line of a very, very, very, very unhealthy relationship to my sexuality, to a few years of reprieve, to a few years of some awesome married sex, to a few years of very confusing relationship with a man -not my husband- to a few months of an affair, to a few months of PROFOUND GUILT & SHAME (pretty doggone similar to the shame I felt with Dear Old Dad), to a few months of deciding I HAVE TO GET MY SHIT TOGETHER because giving up on myself is not something I do.  I face my demons, again and again. Whatever it takes. That, friends, is the trajectory of my life. I FACE MY DEMONS DAMMIT. Fall. Get up again. Fall. Get up. Be willing.

My story is that my issues with broken sexuality DON’T HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH YOU.  The fact that people CENTER THEMSELVES in my story is THEIR STORY.  When you center yourself in my LIFE LONG ISSUES and then start whining to me, “Grace, you’ve hurt our friendship!” OR “Grace, your choices are destroying my family!” OR “Grace, your social media presence isn’t real because I know your life is falling apart!” OR “Grace, I’m so mad at you I can’t even look at you!” know that you are CENTERING.  Stop it! Figure out how to love me (& others) through my LIFELONG ISSUES issues or walk away.

My story is that I am UNWILLING to allow “friends”  to center themselves into MY STORY. My story is that having an affair, a fucked-up marriage and a broken-ass sexuality creates an INSANE amount of consequences all by itself.  The absolute last thing I’m willing to tolerate is YOU not figuring out why the hell you can’t be around me without centering yourself in my story and then HURTING me even more than I ready am.  I have recently lost a few friends on this journey because of centering.

My story is that is that I allow people to say hard words to me when those words are said in love and with a modicum of understanding and compassion. (For reference see: Fred, Phil, Cindy, Jean, Marla, Stefani, Michelle, Tia, Jimmy, Joshua, Ed, Ani, etc.)  Anyone else have vitriol centering garbage to throw my way?  I am done with you.   That is the end of our story.  I have survived A LOT of trauma, I simply have no tolerance for those who cannot communicate with me without heaping shame & pain.  I’d rather face the trauma of losing you than allowing you to re-traumatize me.  I. am. stronger. than. that. ‘ish.

My story is that I am God’s daughter & perhaps God has allowed me to stoop so low so that I could begin to understand the Amazing grace with which I’ve been operating all these years when I was everyone’s Favorite This! & Up and Coming That!  It’s hard to see your need for a Savior when you’re at the top of the heap.  Now, I’m on the bottom of the heap & my story is that I’m more in awe of God than ever before.  That he would save a RATCHET-ASS LIKE ME.

My story is important.  It makes you feel uncomfortable?  Dig deep friends. Find out why.  When I own my words AND my choices & find the bravery to share it, it frees me.  When I write it, I learn from it, when I share it, I offer it.

Your story is important.  Tell it.  Write it. Learn from it.  Share it. Offer it.  Find the bravery to free yourself, to own your choices and to create agency for yourself.  Don’t let folks center on you.

Those of us in the world who call ourselves “storytellers” join in on of the attributes of God himself, the greatest storyteller of all times.  And that, peeps, is grace.  That is Amazing Grace.

This is OUR story to tell.

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In essence, this post is what I’ve learned and ruminated on after one day at Blogher 14

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Comments

  1. Giiirrrlll speak your amazingly graceful truth!

  2. Your honesty is refreshing. Keep on telling your story Grace.

  3. Sharon Smith says:

    Grace, you are loved. Praying for you and your family through this terrible painful journey.

  4. mongupp says:

    Grace, you are a daughter of the King and you are awesome!

  5. Oh Grace, this saddens me. TRUE friends let you know when you are wrong! TRUE friends ARE your family & want what’s best for you & your family. If possible, they want to try & help stop you from the destructive path that you are on. Now is NOT the time to get in your feelings & lose friendship because they are not enabling you. Your TRUE friends will be in your business, even when you feel like the shouldn’t. A TRUE friend will love you no matter what but will still tell you when you are wrong. Wrong is wrong, period. The compassion & understanding, from your TRUE friends, comes when you admit you are wrong & then figure out where to go from there. I pray that your TRUE friends will stick around even though you have “let them go”. I pray that the bitterness & excuses you have go away. I pray that you realize You made these decisions & God did not “allow” this… that’s not how HE works. He does, however, meet you where you’re at, when you are willing & ready. I pray that you get real counseling (professional & spiritual). You don’t just get over sexual abuse, it take years & years, & years of counseling to somewhat feel normal. I pray that whatever you & your husband decide (stay together or divorce), that you two always remember your kids, & that they need BOTH parents in their lives.
    I am not trying to condemn or center you. Just speaking the truth, take it or leave it.

    • Hey Thanks, Shaina for responding. I have a lot of true friends who have let me know when I am wrong. I welcome that!! Some of those have chosen to walk away from me & some of them I have chosen to walk away from because they have been toxic. I agree with you, true friends indeed truth tell & I have a lot of those. I am not looking for ANYONE to enable me, but I am also not willing to endure friendship-abuse in the midst of the hardest time of my life because folks are centering and don’t know how to deal with their fear of my sins. Now is absolutely the time to lose friendships if it means I’m subjecting myself to “friends” who can’t figure out how to love me. (and yes, loving is saying is hard words —in love & without centering).

      I welcome your prayer for my bitterness. I am pissed at some of these friends, I am angry about the awfulness of marriage & abuse & prolly a few other things too…I welcome those prayers. I all ready have professional and spiritual counseling & I am well aware of how many years it takes to work through counseling…I’ve been in counseling on and off since 1998. No need to pray for excuses, I don’t have any. Only my story. And my truths.

      As for my husband and I, we are done, but I agree we need to continue to parent our boys in ways that love them.

      I don’t think you are condemning or centering me, I think you’ve made quite a few assumptions & are speaking strongly to things you simply don’t know about me.

      All that said, I appreciate you taking the time to comment & to care enough about me to truth tell. I very much value that.

      xoxo

  6. All this from day 1 at BlogHer?! Wow… You’ll have a new memoir written by the time the conference is over, girl!

    I admire your willingness to be so open with your life. While it is risky, it does give you transparency. I always feel like I’m getting honesty whenever I read your words. By sharing your story, you’re choosing to give a real face to real problems. Life is hard! Trauma is not resolved by a simple pat on the hand and a ‘there, there’. This post serves as a reminder to just love people. Be like Jesus and love. He spoke the always spoke the truth, but with lovingly graceful eloquence. Truth can be unpretty and rough, but it is oh so liberating.

    Keep trusting. I’ll keep praying for you as you look to balance all aspects of life. As your claim your amazing grace from God, remember that you are also amazing yourself, Grace!

    ((hugs))

  7. Thank you for sharing-it’s a profound insight about centering. I once was so hurt/enraged by a friend’s actions and had to sit my behind down and figure out why something she wasn’t doing to me pissed me off so profoundly and I realized (though wouldn’t have said it as eloquently) that I allowed her choices to stir up stuff about my own shit – while her (or anyone’s actions) didn’t affect me negatively when they stayed away from my own issues, when they started reminding me of my own trauma I immediately put myself in her story. I think sometimes we (especially house of faith-ers) do that we’d like to pass it off as compassion or a righteous hurt, but it’s not. At least, for me, it was my own narcissism and projection. Love the “centering” insight. Sorry to hear about everything going on with you and the fam. I’ve been praying for the legal outcome (I’m a lawyer, so I’m also aware of the profound injustices that can happen in courts on the daily) you’re facing and am hopeful for you!

  8. Centering…I really like that term!! Grace…praying for you. I have to tell you I have been trying so hard to read between your lines the last few months, and I hate that you are in pain and recovering and hurting, and I am also grateful to now understand the truth and depth and extent of the (struggling for the right word: issues, recovery, problem, hell…you pick). Sister…you know the truth sets you free, and you are so good at truth. Jesus is looking at you and saying something loud and clear: Grace, I am so proud of you!!! He is whispering it in your ear, and I hope you can hear it!!
    Jesus already gave His blood for all this sin and mess…and you KNOW He sees you as righteous (because He imputed it to you!!) All i ask is you keep running the race so you can win, because He has crowns for you if you don’t give up. I know you know that, but I just wanted to remind you!!
    Standing with you in the gap that feels larger and more treacherous than it is because Jesus is standing in it even better…with great love, Tracy

  9. Grace, your bravery and honesty inspire my to be more open with my writing. So thank you, thank you, thank you. Oh, and eff the haters and naysayers. :-)

  10. Mining4Diamonds says:

    Hi, Grace…I don’t comment much but I’ve been sort of following your posts off and on, and watching and praying, and trying to learn…first of all, my heart truly goes out to you…I can’t imagine what it is like to be in your shoes, and the trauma you’ve been through. I get that. But I just want to share that, on the flip side, those of us who are in relationships with trauma survivors are in a tough place too. I have a very difficult relationship with someone I genuinely love, but who has been through extreme childhood trauma that has affected them deeply and had done deep psychological damage. It has been among the most difficult relationships I’ve ever had with anyone…often times I feel like the things that go “wrong” in our relationship get turned back on ME and I end up being the bad guy, because of my lack of understanding of what it’s like to be in their shoes. I’ve been reminded many times of how much I don’t understand, will never understand, I don’t know of what I speak, etc. It is as if they are angry with me for not understanding, so how dare I even try to offer any kind of comfort, help, advice, etc…I’ve felt like it’s almost as if they wish I could experience even just a fraction of the abuse they have, just so I can “get” from where they’re coming. I’ve said things to them, not in any kind of malice or in any way meaning to hurt them, and have been accused of being cruel, insensitive, of betraying them, re-traumatizing them, being unloving, etc. I find those statements actually divisive and hurtful, and just makes me want to stay away altogether than to constantly feel like I’m walking on eggshells with what I say, how I love, etc. It’s exhausting. :( ..I finally decided that it’s best to just love this person from a distance, pray, and let them lead the relationship as they grow in their own healing and wholeness. I would venture to say that, as this person grows in their own healing, our relationship will heal too. It breaks my heart, because I know that this person is so deeply, deeply hurt, and my instinct is to want to be there and embrace them in their brokenness, and that’s what they long for…to be embraced, understood, loved. I DO love them, fiercely…but it’s hard because I feel like I can’t get close to them because I end up getting sliced on the shards of their broken places. It has to feel like a continuous cycle of rejection for them…I can only imagine! :( Only Jesus can love them without getting cut…so I’ve decided to step aside and let Him do it.

    I say all that to say that, for those of us who love survivors of abuse, especially extreme trauma, or who are married to survivors of abuse, (hello!) it’s not an easy road. It’s not the survivor’s fault, it’s the nature of the evil that led to them being survivors in the first place. It’s hard for all involved. I would imagine your husband, and the friends you lost, have stories of their own. Not taking sides, I don’t know the situation…I’m just saying that from the “non-survivor’s” POV, there’s no manual or training in how to love a trauma survivor in a way that is helpful to them rather than hurtful. I’ve been to counseling just to learn how to deal with this situation. It has helped, but ultimately I don’t know what the answers are, except Jesus…only He can heal and make whole, only He can love fully and completely. It can be a very messy journey, with many casualties along the way. In the meantime, I keep my dealings with this person to a minimum, keep my counsel, love them through my prayers, and trust the Lord to love them in the ways I can’t, to work in them, in our relationship, and especially in ME, to give me the wisdom and sensitivity to know how to NOT be one of those people who retraumatize.

    Anyway, sorry to ramble, but I felt like I wanted to share from the perspective of someone who loves a person who, in some ways, you remind me of…so I learn from you, more than you know. Prayers to you, for healing, wholeness, restoration, for your children, for your family, and for you to receive all that the Lord has for you.

    • thankyou, K. I REALLY REALLY value your perspective & it’s VERY helpful for me to consider. I will think about what you are saying here. Love you, Sis. xoxo

  11. Moni Washington Padula says:

    All I can say because there aren’t enough words, is that I can feel this for real. I understand where you’re coming from, for real. I understand how other people don’t understand, for real. I don’t know how you remain so MENTALLY strong dealing with so much heartache from everything and still manage to squeeze out heartfelt posts that share your truths. Because of my own story, I have learned that what I want I need to give to others. I have learned that I canNOT judge a single soul but my own, because that is unfair and that is unkind. I have sat back, waited, held my tongue, held my breath, and LISTENED to what you had to say even when it made me feel some kind of way, because this is YOUR story and I’m not BETTER than you because I don’t have “those” issues or because I have *healed* more quickly because my wounds weren’t as deeply seated. This is your life, and when all is said and done, I feel proud to be able to say “I KNEW Grace, through her writing. I KNEW her story, maybe not all facets but I knew enough to understand the gist of what her life entailed.” I want you to be free, and I want to learn to be a better listener and to hang in there when my friends need to ride their waves. I want that for ME, so I need to be that for THEM. I can’t fathom how or why you get that bravery but I’m drawing compassion and strength from it for ME, for when I need to simply state what IS, to state my TRUTH, and just use a period and let it be. All this to say…I am listening.

  12. Hi Grace. Just a few comments that I hope will feel like a hug . . . the intent behind all of them is, “I FEEL YOU.?

    This weekend as various online friends posted photos from BlogHer, I was all I WANT TO GO TO THERE because you kept showing up in pictures! Pictures with people who are my (online) friends! And I wanted to be there, having fun and dancing with all of you! Of them all, I interact with you the least (or, to put it accurately, never, but hey, I’ve been creeping on your blog for a long time now) and I have no real idea who you socialize with, so it was fun to see that (once again) people I like, like each other. Basically you need to know that if I’m ever in the same room as you and Kelly W . . . you’re gonna have a new short little White girl BFF.

    It’s funny because what you said about centering is something I think about a lot, but I’ve never thought about it in this context – personal relationships. It’s only ever been a part of social justice discussions where someone in a position of privilege centers themselves and draws focus from someone who’s been marginalized. Of course, I’ve personally experienced people centering themselves in MY life even though they don’t hold a central role in my life . . . a friend of mine who left her husband has experienced some of what you’ve described. “How can you do this to me?!? I experienced the same thing a couple years ago when I announced to my close-knit circle of friends that I was leaving the Christian faith. Along with concern for my soul and all that (which was expected and understood), there was also some really hurtful lashing out of people who were upset about how this would change our friendship. One of my friends took them to task and asked, “Do you realize how vulnerable she had to be to even tell us about this? How much pain and confusion she’s just told us about and to which she sees no end? And you’re grilling her about how this choice – which may or may not have eternal significance for her – affects YOU?!?

    Incidentally, the friend who was concerned about how our relationship would be affected (and who got way over that, so did I, and we’re cool) is a great example to me about not wanting/needing to hide who she is. I don’t know that I am as far along as she or perhaps you are in this regard, but I’m working on it. I write a lot on social media about certain justice issues which are important to me (#1 being anti-racism) and though it can be so scary to put myself out there for people to bash, I find that people connect with me most when I get vulnerable. When I veer from the academic examination of a topic and tell how I feel and how it affects me and the day-to-day ways I see it playing out in my life. I want to encourage you because I know there is a price to pay when you allow everyone to see you – even if you don’t put every single morsel of your life out there for others. Whatever you put out is open game and people WILL take advantage, even when they don’t realize they are. They think that they know you and have the room to insert their opinion of your life into your headspace.

    Science needs to hurry up because we’re supposed to have jet packs, teleportation and time travel by now! I would be right behind you in line to fangirl over Malcolm X. It hadn’t occurred to me, what you noted about him putting all of his business on ALL HIS PLATFORMS (and why) but that makes a lot of sense. He inspires me to be honest about where I’m at, to not be afraid to question the status quo and to make radical changes in my life even if it’s unpopular and others doubt me.

    Storytelling has been a theme in my life over the last year. It now stands out to me as the obvious way we’ve all been relating since, oh, forever . . . it is a critical piece to generating engagement in social issues and it an opportunity for us all to tell the true stories of our lives – because we know someone else will
    be more than happy to tell our stories for us while centering themselves in that story!

    I love what you put out here for all of us to experience, I appreciate the courage it takes and I hope that as you move through these next difficult seasons of your life, that you find a circle of people who listen intently to your story and who encourage, affirm and love you all the more for it.

    (Also, I am @SewSoDef on Twitter). :) Hi!

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