No Room for Judgement Here

Sometimes I think I have forgotten my purpose but then I’m reminded to refresh myself and get busy. Lately, I have neglected to fill my spirit with things I love. I have been trying to reignite my big internal flame for years and I may be seeing a spark!

Perhaps I have mentioned before that I am a voracious reader. Well, I was up until 8 or more years ago when I literally woke up and realized that I could no longer focus long enough to read a complete sentence. I was frightened by the fact that I couldn’t speak fluently and would often have stuttering bouts. I couldn’t stay focused long enough to calm myself and I truly believed it was all health related. I was always a speed reader who suddenly had become weakened and couldn’t even see the finish line. Cognitive thoughts and cohesive sentences were falling away and I struggled to find my vocabulary. I seriously thought that I had early onset dementia or something worse; although I can’t imagine much worse. That is one of the symptoms that got me to therapy two years ago. I was so sure that I had something wrong or I was going to find a brain tumor that was the cause. My grandmother and mother have both had it. I was gaslighted for years being told I was nuts, but what I found instead is that I was pretty normal! I was told what I was experiencing was very normal for people with CPTSD. Many trauma patients suffer the same fate because their brains simply can’t handle the amount of stress that is being thrown at them. My therapist reminds me that people in ICU are not asked to read books!! I am a childhood survivor of sexual abuse. I was now on the scariest ride I have ever taken and that was having to verbalize the truth out loud. I had to name it. I had to call it what it is and say their name’s out loud. Thank God, I have reached a place where I am no longer silent! I am in a constant state of healing and though it never leaves and healing takes a lifetime, I am the strongest I have ever been. I had to help myself before I was going to be able to help anyone else and now, I can.

Thursday evening, I was at a showing for C.J. Janovy’s documentary “There’s No Place Like Home, The StruggleAgainst Hate in Kansas.” She and producer, Kevin Willmott, were both in attendance in front of a sold out crowd. I was happily seated on the front row next to one of my dearest friends, Sandra Stenzel, as her guest. I was so honored to be able to share this evening with her to watch as her story unfolded. Then, when I thought it couldn’t get any better, low and behold, in hurricane fashion, rushes in my other dear friend, Barb Shirley, who is also in the book! She sat on my other side and I knew it was going to be soulful refreshing night! I love those visits. The visits where you leave knowing that you’re covered by friendship, love, joy and acceptance for your truth.

As I looked around the audience, I loved that it was filled to the brim with so many wonderful people. I thought it was awesome to see such a turn out! I was not surprised that there were so many, I was surprised by how many people that I knew. There were parents, preachers, allies, brothers and sisters, family members who have lost loved ones to hate, gay, straight, people from all over! People who are written about in the book, people who are grieving, people who are there to learn, like me, people in the book that I went to college with, people who love people who are in the throws of danger, that I couldn’t comprehend, until now. In the end I realized that I was in a room filled with trauma and CPTSD survivors. I completely understand that feeling. That’s a related thing because hyper vigilance reigns supreme in my world, and in theirs. Trauma is trauma. Abuse is abuse. It all feels the same. Silence is deadly. No one spoke up about all of the kids who were being abused at the same time I was and it could have saved many. Me included. We see it today and we still say nothing. Our silence is deafening because of fear. Stand strong. As Sandra says “you will turn around and see thousands behind you.” At our core we are all the same.

There was not a dry eye in the house as I watched this truth unfold. People who live like I do, where I walk around taking my basic human rights for granted and although I have felt incredibly uncomfortable in my being, it generally passes and it’s business as usual. I have always felt like an outlier, I didn’t fit in most “groups”. I was too much for most and not enough for many. I have always felt different than my family, I didn’t belong and while I had a lot of acquaintances, I didn’t fit with most all groups, I fit with many. Different parts of each, bit not wholly with any single group. I fit with Mike. That’s true! I have been bullied for being fat and encroaching on other’s space, and yet, l have never lived in fear of being killed for it. I have had suicidal ideation but I’ve never carried through with it because I felt attacked and completely unsafe in society.

The amount of information that has been shared by C.J. and Kevin was humbling. As I watched Sandra’s story unfold on the screen, in her own words, I could hardly make myself believe that our hometown in Trego County could have ever behaved like this. My heart hurt all over again. Even though I have known her story for the better part of my life I still can’t believe how bigotry ran amuck. It makes me so sad. The story of Steve and Ericka Nicholson from Western Kansas opened my eyes to see what I needed to know; that the truth is, I don’t have to understand why someone is trans, or even try to sort out what makes us tick to see that humans are human. I don’t have to dissect all of the inner workings of the brain to justify a person’s existence. The idea that somehow we need to understand something for it to be real is obtuse. I have never felt that I needed to understand someone to accept them at face value, but many do. I need to let them live the life they are given and give all people a safe place to do so. I don’t have to be gay to love my people who are gay. I have four cousins and half of them are gay! For years I was literally kept away from Diane because they were worried she would “turn me gay”. That’s like saying being around a dog would turn me into a dog!! The ignorance that prevailed then still exists in a more venomous, hate filled world today. The idea that it’s an “abomination to God” argument is lost on me. The man who abused me from the time I was 5 until I was 12 was a Deacon in the Methodist church. Do you think God agreed with his behavior? Or maybe because he would ask for forgiveness before he sinned again meant that he was ok? Another dear friend from church said to me years ago that the God she worships didn’t make junk. I couldn’t agree more. In the end, it’s not my job to do anything except educate myself, love my people and be kind.

I don’t know much but I know this. It takes nothing to be kind. It takes nothing to give space. However it does take something to stop hate. This country won’t stand for long without stopping the war on all humans. It won’t take long and it will come for all of us because tolerance is gone. Love is sitting at the end of the line behind agendas, politics, MONEY, power, greed and so much more. Children are dying in the worst ways and it’s all driven by hate. Hate resides everywhere not just in LGBT rights, but against all. If we are willing to allow hate to exist and spread toward one group, then we accept it for all of us. You may not believe it now, but history tells us it’s coming.

The irony is that this entire night came full circle when I got home. Mike greeted me with the words “I’m no longer an Elder. Pastor sent a letter and said that I am no longer an Elder.” You see, truth tellers aren’t welcomed anymore. People who question authority and stand on the rock of truth will not be allowed to speak. It’s here. As Christians, the God Mike and I serve is the same one who sent His son to bring light, to love, to forgive, to teach and to turn over the money changer’s tables. The truth stands. It stands today, tomorrow and 100 years from now. Everything changes. Even if it’s stood 500 years, it changes because people change. Be the light. Be kind. You don’t have to understand anything to be nice.

Until then,

Just imagine …. It might be you. It’s me.


Read the book


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.