Be Kind to Yourself

I have friends, as we all do, but my best friends– the ones who I seem to share a soul with– well, I call them roots.

root: noun \ˈrüt, ˈru̇t\

  • 3a:  something that is an origin or source (as of a condition or quality)
  • 3b:  one or more progenitors of a group of descendants —usually used in plural
  • 3c:  an underlying support :basis
  • 3d:  the essential core :heart —often used in the phrase at root
  • 3e:  close relationship with an environment

My girls are my foundation. They keep me grounded. They remind me that no matter what storms may blow and make me feel like I’ve been cut down to size, I still have roots that have grown deep to hold me firm and to give me something to grow from once again.

I see a lot of my Faith growing through a similar lens. I grew up in an environment many would call conservative, and as I grew up and my opinions and perspective changed, I lost the beliefs that were mine by association and had no sense of self in my own believing.

I spent many years doubting, questioning things I’d been raised to never question, and yet that foundation– those roots– remained.

The Church doesn’t talk enough about doubt, in my opinion. So when it comes upon you, you get this extreme sense of isolation.

I’m the only one who doesn’t believe.

I’m the only one with doubts.

I’m the only one who doesn’t draw the same conclusion as presented by the pastor’s interpretation.

It’s a horrible feeling and I think there are a lot of people who feel that way, thus creating that cycle of churchgoers who attend on holidays or large occasions, more out of a sense of guilt or obligation than any true desire to be there.

Becoming cognizant of this phenomenon, I changed how I approach my beliefs. My Faith. And instead of this obligation to sit down and hear someone else tell me what God’s word means, I decided to treat the Lord as I do any other deep relationship I have.

Conversation. Discussion. Study. Disagreements (yes, even those). Agreeing to disagree (especially this). Dialogue.

I stopped treating God as some unapproachable deity and instead opened myself up to listening and sharing, the good, the bad, and the ugly. The same way you open yourself as you are making a new friend and realize this person could be your best friend.

So I have been trying to be kinder to myself by being more honest with myself.

I struggle with depression. I do not medicate, as a personal choice. I have medicated in the past and respect those who seek out help when nothing else seems to make a difference. It is a difficult and painful process to not only seek out help but to ask for it. Because in my experience, by the time you’re ready to ask for help, you’re actually begging for it, desperate to feel something other than what you’ve been feeling.

In my last post, I talked about hashing out the differences between being proud and being prideful.

When it comes to my depression, I am prideful.

I want to tell myself that I can do it on my own. I don’t let those I love know what’s going on because it’s my problem and I will make something work, find a fix for the problem. I don’t want to admit how I’m feeling because, between the pressure I put on myself and the endless highlight reels in entertainment and social media, admitting how I’m feeling makes me feel weak, in addition to being depressed. And weakness means you can’t hack it. It means you aren’t strong.

And my parents raised a strong girl, dammit!

There’s also that sense of vulnerability. You are at your most raw, your most stripped down and when you ask for help when you are at that point, whether it’s a singular moment or a continual struggle, you run the risk of being ripped to shreds by those you open yourself up to.

Even those we love can have difficulties understanding sicknesses that you can’t see or diagnose with MedMD. Or they can be downright dismissive and aggravate the issue.

I am blessed to have friends who rally around me when I muster up the courage to admit when I’m low, with love and a shared Faith. In turn, they share when they are low. We grow our roots a little deeper and hold each other a little firmer and look for ways to change, to grow, to feel better in lasting and healthy ways.

beyondpain-400

One of my favorite erotic romance authors (written by a tag-team), with very raw characters.

One of my favorite erotic romance authors (written by a tag-team), with very raw characters.

When I read erotic romance (and romance in general), I read about struggles as real as my own. Sex complicates those dynamics even as it can also be very revealing. And just as in my life, with my depression and my Faith and my roots, love is the redeeming force that pulls me back from the edge in the same way it unites my favorite heroes and heroines.

I am a romance and erotic romance reader.

I am a romance and erotic romance writer.

I am a person.

And I continue to practice giving myself room to feel, even when those things aren’t positive. Because with the love of my friends, family, Jesus Christ, and yes– even the love I read about on paper and in digital, I will persevere. And I will fight the darkness that threatens to invade another day.

At Dawn, Look to the East

A weekend with friends gave me some perspective.

I don’t give myself enough credit for the things that I’ve accomplished, instead getting down on myself about all the things I’ve yet to accomplish. Not only is that not fair but it’s unhealthy.

Growing up in a household with conservative views and Christian values, it sort of became a practice to never talk about my accomplishments because that was prideful and pride is considered sort of the gateway to other sins. So, yeah, it’s something I still struggle with. Obvs.

But there’s got to be some sort of middleground where we can be proud of hurdles we’ve made it over without being prideful. I just don’t know where that is.

Over the weekend, while speaking with friends I haven’t spent much time with on the regular, it was nice when they acknowledged my accomplishments when I had only mentioned them in passing conversation. So maybe I was looking for validation. I’m not sure.

Is seeking validation where we find ourselves falling into pridefulness? Or is that somewhere else, in the hazy gray ether of self-love/appreciation? I’ll have to crack open my Bible and study it better to know where the dividing line is and report back on my findings.

In the meantime, I thought I’d share some of the authors who write romance, erotic romance, and/or erotica who (outwardly seem to) balance their respective Faiths alongside their writing and who, unbeknownst to them, I look to as mentors in my own journey.

They aren’t banging drums trying to convert others to their beliefs or way of thinking but neither are they hiding. And there’s something very beautiful in that, to me. Of course I want to be fair to them, knowing that the personal struggles they all go through aren’t being put on blast for others to dissect and gawk at. Still, knowing that all of them are successful authors who appear to balance Faith and writing what some would call ‘questionable content’ is reassuring to one such as I.

I have a long way to go. But as I come across other authors who write and who Believe, I am reminded that I am not alone. I will continue to look to the East, even as I keep my fingers on the keyboard.

A Journey of Underhill Proportions

There are some who would advise me that writing romances with explicit/erotic content doesn’t go hand-in-hand with having a Christian Faith. I don’t agree with that. But my beliefs are always expanding and contracting with new information, new studies, new perspectives.

So on this inauspicious Day 2 of blogging, I think I’ve decided to journal about said Faith and writing dirty books. And how it makes me a whole person to have both in my life.

I do not anticipate always agreeing with myself. But after getting into a discussion on Twitter about a period in my childhood where my house was cleansed of Disney films for having magical/non-Christian elements, I do feel good about making this the place for those observations. Hobbit-Desolation-of-Smaug-4-Thorin-Oakenshield

I will let myself be emotional. I will allow myself to be angry and confused about why things had to be the way they were. But I will also be thankful that those experiences serve as a dramatic contrast to what I understand now and how I study to determine a wholly personal, contemporary response.

Now all I need are a wizard and a baker’s dozen of dwarves to keep me company. Will someone let Richard Armitage know where I am?

Girl Got Flu

A little more than a week after coming down with the flu, I’m still draggin’ ass. I want to crawl beneath my desk and fashion a pillow from my hoodie and wait out the end of the shift.

But adulting calls. So I cough into my elbow and the sleeve of my sweater and wash my hands at every opportunity and wish I’d downed my Emergen-C this morning.

Hoping for a little accountability with the renewal of this blog, which is why I’ll tell you that I packed my tennis shoes and walking clothes for after work. Can’t use the “but I have to go home and change” excuse, like I usually do. And since I’m supposed to be training for a 10K in early May, I’d better get on it.

Have to beat 16-minute/mile pace and my 10K buddy is around the 14-minute/mile mark already.

Back to a stack of data entry almost two inches deep. No writing until later.

Oh. I’m also going to start restricting my television watching to weekends only. That should increase writing output and studying for Japanese class. Or I’ll end up reading a metric ton of books. Either possibility is acceptable.

Sorry about the stream of consciousness nonsense. I’ve forgotten how to blog. But seeing as how today is March 1st, how ’bout we make this a 30 days of blogging challenge? Yeah, March has 31 days but one of those is my birthday so maybe I’ll take it off. Maybe I’ll get on a roll and not want to.

Gawd. I quit.

Tomorrow I’ll blog better.