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Boy, bye; How I stopped being so scared of evil

 

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Illustration in my Children’s Bible

The Gospel on the first Sunday of Lent describes Jesus’s temptation in the desert. Jesus is tempted by the devil.  The devil is an instigator. He is manipulative especially as he constantly seeks to gain power. Going after Jesus is evidence of the arrogance, narcissism, egoism that comes with being evil. Jesus is able to resist. He is all powerful. Jesus demonstrates the strength and authority needed to resist temptations that we all experience. We all want to attend to our immediate needs. I’m starving so let’s turn these rocks into bread. We want youth, physical strength, and immortality. I’m going to drink my liver into disease because it feels good. Because I’m young, I’ma be all right. We want wealth and power.  Life owes me these things.  Jesus rises above those desires. He sees the ultimate goal. The 40 days have been a test. They’ve been physically hard but he has stayed faithful and strong. He is preparing for what is going to be more difficult. He is finding the discipline before he begins his ministry. Jesus does not fear the devil and sends him away like the nuisance he is.

I grew up very fearful of the devil (What I learned watching The Exorcist). I was much too young(six!) to learn about possession, that the devil was a real entity that could take over a person. It made me much more fearful than my daughter is at that age.  On the other hand, I grew up as a spiritual child. I was drawn to the Bible. I was reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Gospel of Luke at age 7 because I wanted to do so. One reason I haven’t exposed to her more horror movies or pop culture interpretations of the devil is I find them scary. About 15 years ago, I made a survey and asked my friends when they first saw The Exorcist and what were its long-term effects. I continued to do other readings about exorcism. Those fears stuck with me.

r12mwvNow I’m older and I have had life experiences with different facets of evil. I’m not fearful because I know good prevails. I’ve done a lot of writing about my thoughts as I “exorcised “a “devil.” (My second career as an exorcist) I gained a lot of strength from those experiences. I may laugh when I say “the devil is a lie” and “not today, Satan” but those are true statements. I have been able to look at that evil, at that enemy, to look it in the face and say I’m not afraid of you. That’s powerful.

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Father Tomas is played by Rebelde cutie Alfonso Herrera

On a related note, while dealing with real-life drama, the TV show, The Exorcist, premiered on Fox. While it wasn’t a ratings hit, it was a critical hit and a hit in my household. We watched it every week and analyzed it. I connected it back to what I was living. I found parts of it hilarious. I would argue it is better than the original novel and original film.   Those were good but the TV show’s acting and writing took it to another level. Geena Davis was brilliant. The show explored what is happening in the church regarding the role of lay people, the role of women, and the behind the scenes politics which you may not know about if you haven’t been involved in ministry. I like that the show spoke to the power of family and faith.  As I wait along with other fans to learn if the show will get renewed, I would recommend binge-watching on Hulu or Fox. Don’t be too scared.  Y’all know who wins and who always will.

Watch Season 1 of  The Exorcist

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Jesus saying “Largate!”

 

An epilogue

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Caral, Peru. Photo by J. Calderon, 2014.

“..we found you lying

Choking on the dirt and sand

Your former glories and all the stories

Dragged and washed with eager hands

But, oh, your city lies in dust…” “Cities in Dust” by Siouxsie and The Banshees

A terrible situation I have experienced for many years recently ended. (Year of milagros) Though I claimed I would samba in joy, I didn’t. Nor did I throw confetti, pop bottles or make it rain.  Certain routines feel awkward. Certain places bring back memories.  The reality of victory is simply that, a reality. Life has moved forward quietly.

I do ask if it’s really over. I wonder if my work with this particular situation is done.(My second career as an exorcist)Call it PTSD (though I don’t like to, given my personal experience loving someone with true PTSD) or shock, I have moments when I brace myself for more fighting.  After years of experiencing abuse, it will take time to resolve these reactions.

I wonder about the other party. Has this person reflected on choices made and actions taken? Can this person heal?  I don’t have it in me to truly hate this individual. Deep inside, underneath layers and strata, yes strata, of God only knows what, this person is in so much pain. It is a pain so visceral and so overwhelming that it has terrorized others for decades. That’s some mierda.   I will continue to lift this person up in prayer. Fix this person, Jesus.

Though I say “icant”

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My secretary gave me this paperweight for Christmas. To know me is to love me.

or “I’m unable to can”

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Team Petty. T-shirt collection to prove it.

for a laugh or to keep from cursing on the daily, I know I can. Taking on a malicious individual has taught me that I can stand strong. I can fight back without compromising my better self. I can win.

Revealing relapse

“There is trouble in the air, destruction is everywhere
And men are being trampled beneath the soil
And nations, great and small, have now begun to fall
Oh come let us go back to God, go back to God”  written by Thomas Dorsey, as sung by Donnie McClurkin

When I talk about backsliding, I often mean it negatively.  When I backslide, I’m going to back old, often negative, habits and ways of thinking. Like every normal person, I have times when I’m disciplined, motivated, and therefore feeling and being successful.  If I “relapse” into past behavior, it is usually because I’m exhausted, demoralized, and struggling physically, mentally, and/or emotionally.  Life goes in cycles.  It’s never a journey of point A to point B.  So why do I hold myself to that unrealistic black and white thinking?  What if “going back” has its benefits?

Para los que me conocen, y’all know I’m often goal-driven. I take on reading challenges, savings challenges, and prayer challenges. I train for half-marathons and for street performances of various choreographies.  I do weeklong class hops, novenas of daily masses, 40 day fasts, and multi-week fitness programs. But I don’t always complete these goals to the best of my ability.  Sometimes I don’t complete them at all.  Then I spend some time beating myself up about those failures.  Fortunately, time and life experience has taught me to seek humility.  Life has taught me that failure is a good time to turn back to God.

I said it.  As important as my faith life is to me, God doesn’t always come first. “Well, I guess we won’t go to Mass Carnaval weekend because I’m not about to sit in church in my costume.”  God doesn’t always fit on a busy schedule.  While I thank God when I’m succeeding, I spend less time with Him while I’m busy working towards that success.  I’m going, going, going.  Literally and figuratively running.  A quick grace over a rushed meal. Half a rosary done on the commute from one family activity to another.  I don’t build in time for devotion.

It is in times of struggle and failure that I truly give myself over to God.  When I’ve been diagnosed with illnesses, I have stood with God.  When I’ve struggled with work situations, I have had long, emotional conversations with God.  When I have lost loved ones, I have found comfort from God.  Where human motivation and individual goals waver, God is constant.

I know I have lots of work to do in the next few months. I will make my faith life part of that work.  Going back to God is wonderful.  Staying with Him must be a goal. 2eec7f06e6a3add42dfda620cb60b94d

Scratch test

“This indecision is bugging me…” “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” The Clash
“When something itches…the natural tendency is to scratch.” From The Seven Year Itch
In the last decade, I have worked in three different schools and held three different jobs. Every three to four years, I search for something new. I refer to this as my three and a half year itch. Fortunately for my familia and friends, this pattern seems centered around career.  I served in ministry in my last parish for six years. I have actively volunteered with Girls Inc. of Alameda County for five years.  I have been running half-marathons for nearly nine years (with a few health-related breaks). I don’t lack the ability to commit, especially when I find an activity and/or organization purposeful and positive. But once the itching begins, calamine lotion won’t help.
That three-year mark is a test. I analyze the pros and cons of moving onto something new.  I evaluate my progress and areas for improvement. Mas que nada, I ponder the value of change. I refuse to be complacent for too long. If I’m not learning or I begin to become negative (i.e. resentful, cynical, unmotivated), then it’s time for me to move on. Change is difficult yet it moves me forward.
I don’t worry that I will always be on a quest for the next best thing.
Quintessential seeker Holly Golightly
I have surrounded myself with friends who have fostered my growth for years, if not decades. I pursue my passions. My family is my foundation. The challenge is to find that(job/activity/organization/fill in the blank) which helps me be at my best.

Mindful eating, the first chapter

When I decided I would have my gallbladder removed this summer, I asked about diet changes.  I know four friends/colleagues who had their gallbladder removed and know of countless others. Some folks are back to eating as they did before their surgery; others decided to forever modify their diet. I am part of the second group.  In the month that has passed since my surgery, I am much more mindful of what I eat.
I am an emotional eater. Food has been a painkiller over the years. Recent example: June is a crazy time for educators.  End of year and graduation keeps you busy and stressed. Mix in characters that probably shouldn’t work with other people(especially not children!) and you have a volatile environment. 
One afternoon, after a long day that ended with an unpleasant meeting, I walked into the house, grabbed the can of Pringles my daughter and her older sister had saved after their sleepover, and sat on the couch for a solid ten minutes. No praying, no meditating, no strategies learned in CBT or DBT. Crunch, crunch, crunch.

 As if every chomp could eliminate the foolishness of others. As if my tendency to internalize others’ nonsense could be swallowed like so much salt and grease. I won’t be seeking comfort from binging on chips anymore. 
 My lifestyle change isn’t about solely about giving up processed snacks or fried food or avoiding emotional eating; it’s about an overall change to my cooking and eating habits.  At home, I am making more stews and soups with less chicken. When going out to eat with friends and family, I now choose different meals. Vegetable-based soups like tomato basil paired with salads with honey mustard dressing or vinaigrette make for a satisfying meal. Most Asian restaurants offer plenty of vegetarian options. The Bay Area boasts great vegan restaurants including one of my faves, Souley Vegan, and a new discovery, Gracias Madre.  Even a trip to the ice cream shop with the kiddo hasn’t been torture: fruit sorbets are tasty.

At the moment, my body is letting me know what is best. I still feel queasy if I ate too much animal protein in a meal.  Trying a piece of birthday cake at a party is probably not wise. Dairy is off-limits for now.  For the most part, I am back to my normal routine. I have resumed daily exercise, light morning cardio for now, and have begun taking a Zumba class with my dance mom friends. I look forward to running and dancing with SambaFunk in the next few weeks.  Yes, I am at my lightest weight in twenty years, 125, (lighter than the weight discussed during my last weight loss journey:  http://mujerevolving.blogspot.com/2012/10/three-more-pounds.html )  I am committed to sustaining my health; that is the ultimate goal. 

A big bear hug

I did not samba in the parking lot when I left the hospital yesterday afternoon. In my mind, I pictured myself joining the roda. That celebration will come in time; perhaps after these first two weeks of being Vac-free.  But my good news wasn’t real until I saw my daughter. The look on her face was one of genuine joy, hope, and gratitude.  Our hug was one of homecoming. 
After 44 days, I’m no longer attached to Mr. Backpack. I will be slowly resuming my normal routine.  I will return to work Monday. I’m still restricted from exercise: half-marathon training and SambaFunk classes are on hold until the doctor sees more progress in my healing. My wound is not closed but is 1.5 centimeters close. The surrounding skin, sore and blistered from weeks of adhesive tape and air-tight sealants, will need to heal.  As for the cosmetic healing, that will be a longer process, six months or more and one I choose not to ponder for now. 
Strangely enough,  after the Wound-Vac was turned off, I felt exhausted and experienced a level of pain I hadn’t felt in weeks.  I didn’t let it intimidate me. It is my body’s turn to take over the healing process. I will continue to take my recovery one day and one moment at a time.  Lots of bear hugs won’t hurt. 

Three more pounds

“The pound of flesh which I demand of him
Is dearly bought.”  William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice
A few months ago, I wrote about my successful weight loss.  I hit my heaviest weight outside of pregnancy and quickly worked back to the weight I have been for approximately ten years.  Then I hit a plateau.  Whether it was not being actively engaged in a half-marathon training schedule or abandoning my food diary, my weight seemed to have stabilized.  Imagine my surprise when I returned from my family vacation in Rome only a pound heavier.  Surely all that walking made up for the sumptuous meals and afternoon siestas I told myself.  Having gotten back to a familiar weight I decided I needed to take on my next challenge: to get back to healthy weight range for my height. 
I went back to work and found myself too busy to resume my food diary but I also began preparing for my tenth half-marathon.  Without too much effort, I have continued to lose weight.  I now weigh approximately 128 pounds for the first time since my 20s.  I can now wear shirts I had relegated to bottom of drawers. I am wearing belts to hold up some of my favorite care-worn jeans.  I’m not hiding in baggy clothes or behind layers.  I put more effort into what I wear. In fact, I worked with a stylist, the wonderful Vanessa from One Girl, One DayOne Girl, One Day, to revamp my wardrobe for Back to School season.  Perhaps this is why I feel younger than ever lately.
So what is next? When I lose 4.5 more pounds, I will be within healthy weight range for my petite height of 4’11”. I’ll be running my 11th half-marathon in January and am hoping to achieve my personal record, having never made speed a priority but now feeling confident I can meet the challenge. That has been one of the greatest gifts of renewed health, an overall boost to my confidence and motivation.   The other gift has been knowing that my daughter and I will be running alongside one another  in January and in the future and that I am modeling good habits for her.  

And I feel fine!

For the last two days, I have been up around four in the morning. I put the covers back on my toddler(she wriggles free of blankets, just like her dad does), pop in a workout DVD, wash the sinkful of dishes, feed the dog, shower, do some work-related tasks. I am being more productive than I’ve been in months. What has prompted this sudden resurgence of Type A morning person zeal? Hmm…could it be…the Rapture?

M and I make it to Mass at least two Sundays out of the month. We say the Prayer of Jabez on the drive to Grandma’s. I recite the blessing over meals when I remember. M always says Amen. And loudly, too. She sings along with the children’s gospel CD her Nana loaned us. But we’re not exactly counting down the hours to the alleged Judgment Day happening tomorrow. Or am I?

I went from minister to unwed mommy. I don’t quite fit the criteria of the saved as preached by evangelists. No, those billboards on the 880 remind me that, if the Rapture is a reality, this particular liberal Catholic fag hag who’s lived in sin with her babydaddy for four years will likely be left behind. As I’ve joked with some of my students, I’ll be right here for the six months of end of the world madness.

I’ve always believed that I should live my life as if it could end at any moment. Sleep deprivation and work frustration often drains me of that strength of character. I may not be ready to say goodbye tomorrow. But I think I’m living again.

Note to readers

In recent weeks, I haven’t blogged. I have kept a tape recorder at my bedside or carried it with me and used that to record dream recollections and other thoughts. Transcriptions of recordings will now be posted and include dates.

I’ll be back soon.
I’m regaining my strength.

I am truly humbled

By all my new readers, from all over the US and the world. You are visiting to find out more about BPD, Catholicism, being a strong woman, even how to deal with skin problems, LOL. I am moved. First and foremost, I am a writer and I am happy that my words are starting to reach many.
I will be back later this week. I’m busy with a new type/round of therapy, all-new team at work, and a growing sense of peace.
Special shout to my Swedish Chicano bro for being my first comment in months! Gracias.