Dear Church, What you did was NOT ok but I forgive you.

Church Hurt – Faithful Love Journey

I think it took until THIS week to finally acknowledge that I too have been brutally hurt by the church. The last time I attended was in 2018 or early ’19. I decided that I no longer wanted to be in a place where I was seen as less than and bad.

Church was my life. From the time I became pregnant with Mason in 2014, I was there. Mostly every Sunday and Wednesday trying to get my spiritual life together. Hoping for a community of people who would love and support me. What I got was many days filled with feelings of shame and invisibility and wanting to be as small as possible. Not understanding at the age of 23 that my very outward appearing sin was no different than the ones I couldn’t see of others in the congregation. That I really was no different than everyone else but yet you led me to feel like it.

You proudly showcased (i.e. used) the married couples and the singles without children. You had no resources or support available for mothers having children out of wedlock (even though in the black community many kids are born to single mothers). When out of church and home after having the baby, no one even called. People didn’t tell you that your yet to be born child was a blessing when you weren’t married. All the babies come from Him so I didn’t get that.

As I was going through another phase of figuring out why I was attracted to the same sex and sitting with that and realizing that I really was born that way, my eyes were opened and saw that there was also no support for this part of me either. I had sat through many sermons hating myself for the inner turmoil that I experienced as I was told how I was innately wired wrong. That something that I could not help was somehow my fault.

I worked and sat in the pews as a person of 2 marginalized communities in the church. Hurting the whole time and praying that you’d see me as one of you. You never did and one day, I said enough was enough. I vowed to never go back yet here I am missing it.

I miss worshipping and working and singing. I miss being apart of something that is greater than me so I now ask God to heal me so that I can come back to where I rightfully belong and for a place of worship that embraces single parents and people attracted to the same sex. That is the only way I will ever step foot in another church.

All is forgiven. I’m guessing that you didn’t know any better or you really didn’t care. I release all the hurt, pain, and anger that the church has caused because I have carried it long enough. I have hated and been mad long enough and it is time for me to heal. There really is purpose in our pain. My mission now is to make sure that no one ever feels like I did and that I never sit back and witness the mistreatment of the marginalized… urge you to do the same.

2020: The year of love and loss

If I had the foresight that 2020 was going to be such a sick twisted joke of a year – a year full of disappointment and heartbreak – I would have braced myself for the mental and physical impact that it would have on me.

Let me preface this post to say that I am Pro-choice (for you) and Pro-Life (for me) until life backed me into a wall. I did what I thought would keep me from ever having to make this choice. I chose to get the 12 year Paragard IUD which had a fail rate of 0.8%. Not even 1%! There was no way I would have to deal with another unplanned pregnancy or so I thought until my period was almost 2 weeks late and I began to experience pregnancy symptoms.

Probably should’ve gambled a bit more this year because boy, was I on a freakin’ roll. I was the “less than 1 in 100 people” to get pregnant with an IUD. It’s been in place for 6 years and in November unbeknownst to me, it shifted up further into my uterus rendering it useless for protection. It was nothing that I did to make it move.

After yet another prompt from my period tracker to enter the beginning of my period, I made a doctor’s appointment for a pregnancy test and my symptoms were confirmed after I asked them to “check that mess again because ain’t no way.”

For a few hours (almost a day), I thought about keeping her but between my therapy appointment and talking to the father, I quickly changed my mind. I couldn’t bear the thought of having another child whose father wouldn’t give them the love or the family that I think children need to not be left with a void only to be fixed with years of therapy. And this is the part that cut the deepest knowing that if I did have this child, I would be failing yet another one.

I’m a firm believer in that you make your bed, you lie in it but the dad isn’t. Rather than have his life fall apart and own up to the part he played in conceiving a child, it was easier to encourage me to kill the child. I knew condoms were missing from the equation (just like he did) but I relied heavily on the fact that I wasn’t that special enough to be that one who birth control would actually fail and chile was I wrong.

My therapist reminded me of how much being a single parent took a toll on my mental health and how even 6 years later, I still hadn’t come to grips with it. I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle another round of parenting by myself. There was no way.

5 days after confirming I was pregnant, I was scheduled to abort. I didn’t see any reason to prolong the predicament. Alone on the ride home, I silently wished that I had died right along with my fetus.

I’ve got Jesus and also shame…

For years, due to my perspective of Christianity (and also those closest to me), I’ve carried this shame around for my life choices. 

To be attracted to the same sex and for having a child out of wedlock. 

I didn’t even get to celebrate or rejoice in carrying new life as from the beginning, I tried to forget the fact that I was pregnant. That shame was never mine to carry. I didn’t deserve to carry that. I didn’t deserve the years of therapy to come to grips with those portions of my life either. 

This has me in a weird place. Yes, I believe in God but I have had to relearn God and correct my view of God so that I can actually be close to Them. If I had never found the space The Unfit Christian, I never would have had this chance to know without a shadow of a doubt that God loves me as I am because They in fact made me this way. It was never my choice. 

I also did what I could do to forego pregnancy but that didn’t work and I didn’t believe in abortion for myself at the time. So here comes another unwed mom. 

Until I find a church where I am not shamed but am affirmed, I won’t be stepping foot in one. I miss congregating and the politics of church but this is the South so a space like that may be hard to come by and that’s tragic.

Toxic Childhood Memories

Some of my earliest memories are riddled with domestic violence between my parents. In either kindergarten, 1st, or 2nd grade, I remember my mom and dad getting into a physical fight or hearing them argue about one another possibly being unfaithful. Or their other favorite subject; my dad using thing car to go get high. It was so toxic.

This particular day, they had got into it at my aunt’s house. As my mom and I left, I rode in the front seat and had my arm out of the window. My dad was outside, chasing the car on my side, yelling at my mom to stop I’d imagine. Next thing that I know, my arm is being yanked backwards. He knew if nothing else would get my mom to stop dead in her tracks, he knew it was messing with her children.

It was official. In that moment, he’d sacrificed the well-being of his child for his own selfish need to have control over someone. And I was soon to learn that this would be a regular occurrence throughout my childhood. I don’t know if I ever got an apology for that situation but I’m sure that it was the beginning of my daddy issues and trust issue too.

If you’ve read this far, THANK YOU! I believe this will a page in my book “The Road to Self-Love”

WHY NOT YOU?!

Image result for coach carter quotes
In this week’s therapy session, I expressed how often I hear that I’m an inspiration to people of all ages and from different walks of life. How people confide in me, are always reaching out for advice, and looking up to me. I told her I often ask God, “Why me?” and I finished with, “But I’m a hot mess. I think if people saw how much of a mess I am, they wouldn’t be inspired. I try to show them.”
 
She responded with, “Instead of asking why me? How about seeing it as why not you? People like others that they can relate to and with you being so transparent, it tends to draw people in.”
Self-doubt and impostor syndrome has no place in my life. I am where I am and who I am for a reason. Nope, I don’t have it all together but that doesn’t mean that my heart is not pure full of love & passion for helping.
If you get nothing else from this random blog, remember that no one (not even you) can benefit from you dimming your light so shine bright baby!

Love letters to yourself is self-care

I recently saw an article on XONecole about how it is refreshing and therapeutic to write a love letter to yourself. It’ll hold you accountable to what love means to you, help you make decision centered around self-love, and document those feelings of love that you have for yourself.

I wanted to share my letter with you in hopes that it’ll inspire you to write one to yourself.

To: My one and only special love

From: Your forever

Song: “Differences” – Ginuwine

Baby girl,

I can’t imagine doing life without you. I don’t know what I did to deserve you but I pray that it never changes. In the past, I didn’t fight for you, live on you, or care much for you but that’s gonna change. Just watching you this year has been amazing. I appreciate you allowing me to take this wild ride with you.

No one compares to you. When you put your mind to something, there is no stopping you. Have you seen how resilient you are? I’m not sure if you ever received so many no’s as this year but you know what you did with them? You balled out still. Stayed 10 toes down and kept it moving. Flawlessly. Gracefully.

I admire your heart baby girl because it is absolutely stunning. The passion that you have to do what is right, true, fair is extraordinary! Everyday you find room in your heat for one more thing that will make a difference in the lives of others.

Yes, I know you’re thinking of all the work that you still have to do. The coping with emotions, glowing, and growing but it’s coming. Everything will work itself out in due season.

Relax and get some rest tonight. You deserve it baby girl.

Love you always,

Jelissa

Leave a comment on this post if you accept that challenge of sitting down and writing one to yourself!

My inner voice: Worst critic or best friend?

I am ok. I am ok. I am ok. I am ok. I am ok. I am ok. I am ok. I am ok. I am ok. I am ok. I am ok. I am ok. I am ok. I am ok. I am ok. I am ok.

Feeling rejected.

Being ignored or not prioritized properly.

Feeling unappreciated.

My 3 biggest triggers. Triggers that I don’t yet have a handle on and frankly idek where to start. Well yes I do. It starts with a pause. It starts with a hold. It starts with taking ownership and acknowledgment. No, it actually starts back further. It starts with the inner voice. That harsh critic who lives inside of you. Telling you that you are your mistakes and everything is your fault.

The voice speaks before you even have a chance to process the situation or take a step back to breathe and gather yourself.

Today my voice told me that I was stupid and I always mess stuff up. It told me that I wasn’t worthy of love or anything going right in my personal life.

It didn’t say, “Jelissa, that was an honest mistake.” It told me that I had ruined two new business relationships before I even got started. It said that they would bad mouth me and no one would use the drop in center.

It said that I should have it all together and as much as I hate for my time to be wasted, I should do everything in my power to not waste someone else’s even if that meant doing the impossible.

That voice said that it’s my fault that I don’t have help. It’s my fault that I have to do everything for mason bc I should’ve never got pregnant and made that mistake. It told me that I was a bad mom for making mason have to come and sit at the center for hours and watch me clean.

That voice told me that my past would always define me and that I wasn’t worthy of another chance at love. It told me that I wasn’t good enough for that person and that’s why he wanted to leave. That voice also rewrote his messages too. It never even mentioned leaving.

Today that inner critic was way too loud and debilitating. It screamed all day that I was failing and I listened. I believed that voice too.

Let me stop right there though. What the voice is saying even louder is that there’s still work to be done. I have to continue on this journey of healing and self-love. I still have to become my biggest cheerleader and encourager.

If the voice is screaming then it means that I’m stretched thin and haven’t given myself grace. It says that I haven’t paused to process what’s going on.

I have to heal. I have to forgive (myself first). I have to learn how to balance and make time for myself or else when the days come where everything that could happen, happens, I will buckle once again.

I’m not weak. You aren’t either and if you also deal with a mean, harsh inner voice, we have work to do.

Start with figuring out who’s voice is speaking to you. Get a good night’s rest. Eat a salad and drink some water. Find a therapist. Journal. Google some positive affirmations and repeat them to yourself. Tell yourself that you love you because at the end of the day, YOU ARE ALL THAT YOU GOT AND YOU HAVE TO TREAT YOURSELF LIKE THE KING OR QUEEN THAT YOU ARE.

Who were you?

can-you-remember-who-you-were-before-the-world-tol

Ever wonder who you were before the world told you who you should be?

Perhaps I was the loud, outgoing, kid like my son before I realized that it was best to be quiet and stay out of the way of my parents and their loud, physical fights.

Did I really love to read or was it a way to escape the woes of my daily life?

Maybe I didn’t look at my body with shame or give it a second, third, AND fourth thought until someone decided to tell me that I was too heavy or that I shouldn’t eat that if I didn’t want to be fat.

My grades probably would’ve been average if I didn’t see that high marks and over achieving kept the belt around his waist and his voice not too loud and scary.

I would have an easier time standing up for myself if the times when I did in the past, it wasn’t viewed as insignificant. Young people and their feelings matter too. Always remember that.

Somewhere along the years, the need for perfection was ingrained in my psyche. I still cannot peel its sticky fingers off of me and the repercussions of it are soul-crushing some days. I’m left feeling unworthy simply because I think what I’m doing could be better.

Always feeling the need to level up professionally just so that I can receive praise and recognition as that’s the only way I remember receiving “love”.

Maybe in another life, I didn’t feel the need to perform in order to earn my worth and to receive love. Maybe in another life, I was simply enough. As I am. Nothing more. Nothing less.

People-pleasers can be drawn to toxic relationships. It’s important to know why.

Let's Queer Things Up!

I’ve learned in life that when you observe a pattern about yourself, it might be worth examining (okay, this is an understatement — I can pretty much guarantee you that you’ll come out wiser).

One of my big “aha” moments this year was around a relationship pattern that I hadn’t noticed before. I realized that I’m a people-pleaser.

Being liked by others, especially in my personal life, came at the expense of voicing my true feelings and needs. It was more important to be liked than it was to have relationships that felt honest and nourishing.

And it’s a lonely place to be — it can feel like no one knows your true feelings or self, and that you are secondary in relationships that should feel equal. Unsurprisingly, this can lead to a hell of a lot of resentment.

And thus… a pattern emerged.

My favorite kind of person to…

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A letter to my 17-year-old self.

Hey girl, hey. The first thing that I want to say is that you are beautiful. You matter. Your feelings matter. Loosen up. Feel free to be yourself.

Forgive me for looking in the mirror and wishing that I could have a nose job as soon as I was an adult. Forgive me for not seeing the beauty in your eyes and your body. You will struggle with your weight everyday but guess what? The number on the scale doesn’t define you.

You are not a failure because you have not been very successful long enough in your weight loss journey. Everything will not be easy and this is a battle that you have to wake up everyday and decide to win. You have to fight. You can’t give up. Trust me, you are going to long to be more active in your son’s life so just start now.

Baby girl, you never deserved to be ashamed of what you decided to eat. You should have been taught how to have a healthy lifestyle and make exercise fun so that later on you won’t see it as something you despise. I regret deeply that you didn’t get the support you needed in this area because it becomes the biggest thorn in your side as you get older.

Your emotions will be all over the place but that is ok as well. You’ll get help and it will get better. Right now, just focus on accepting that you feel everything so so deeply. What you feel is valid and nope. You aren’t too sensitive. Your emotional intelligence will be one of your greatest strengths. The empathy and passion that you have inside you is just waiting to burst out.

Your heart is pure gold. Whoever gets it will be blessed bc they won’t know what it feels like to not have love.

Forgive me for trying to fix things that were none of your business being the age that you are. You had to grow up faster because your conscious allowed you to feel your mom’s pain and want to take it away from her. This led you to trying to perform the best so that your parents would be distracted. You hoped to fix everything so that your environment wouldn’t be so toxic. So that so much fighting and fussing wouldn’t go on but baby girl, it was nothing that you could do to fix that.

Forgive me for allowing you to think that you weren’t good enough or smart enough or pretty enough. You were always all of those things. I led you to mold yourself into whoever you needed to be. I helped you create many masks that hid the real you.

If I could tell you anything that you would definitely listen to is to be yourself and don’t worry. Everything works out as it should. You will succeed. Oh my gosh, you should see you now. Living in your dream home and working your dream job. Girl, you will do it!

Be more grateful Jelissa. Appreciate every little thing. Nothing is too small to be grateful for and proud of. Stop hiding and let your light shine. There are people who are waiting on you to be your authentic self so that they in turn can live in their truth too.

Nothing is odd about you. And if it is, oh well. Trust, everyone has their quirks and that’s what’s makes you unique. You don’t have to be mean for people to take you serious. You aren’t mean so don’t use it to keep yourself from getting hurt. You’re gonna get hurt anyway. Learn now to feel the hurt, figure out what the hurt taught you, and keep it moving.

I really wish you could have had a better relationship with your parents. They did the best they could with what they knew/had at the time. I’m sorry that your dad didn’t do a great job at showing you how a man should treat you. I’m sorry that your mom taught you to settle and not prioritize yourself by staying with your dad when that marriage should have been over.

Til this day you don’t have a great relationship with them especially your dad. He will teach you what being guilt-tripped will feel like so no one else can make you feel guilty for the decisions that YOU make.

Let NO be a complete sentence. You don’t owe anyone an explanation. No one at all!

When 2012 comes, reach out for help then instead of waiting 4 more years. It is then that you’ll realize that you were depressed. Oh yeah, it was no need for you to try to cut away the pain that you felt a few years ago. Just hold on until you’re in college and it won’t hurt so bad anymore.

You deserve to live and not die! There will be nothing in your life that bad which would make you want to commit suicide.

Forgive me for making you think that in order for you to feel validated, you had to have the approval of others. They don’t really matter like that. Just examine how you see yourself and go from there.

Stop being so hard and self-critical. It will literally make you sick! Nothing good comes from negative self-talk and thoughts. You have to trap those thoughts as soon as you think them and replace them with a positive thought then repeat hag to yourself. You’re gonna want to do this everyday so that it becomes automatic. This is very very important to ensure your growth.

Trouble doesn’t last always baby girl. I can promise you that. Focus on you and finding out what makes you happy. What brings you joy Jelissa? What are your hobbies? What are your goals? These are all very good things to focus on and figure out. The earlier, the better.

I’m sorry that I didn’t write you sooner. I had to get my thoughts together. Anyway, I love you.

Be easy,

Jelissa