Healing, a foreword

My favorite toy growing up was, hands down, my dollhouse. I loved it. Even sitting here as an adult I find comfort in knowing it’s still in my parent’s attic. ‘Make believe’ truly defined my childhood, with my dollhouse as the centerpiece. I loved that I could approach it every day or hour by hour either extending the narrative I had created earlier or completely starting from scratch. I was never stuck in a story I didn’t want.

Which reminds me of the time I once ran away. I honestly cannot tell you what provoked this rebellion, but I went all the way to the back of the yard (take that mom and dad!) and hid under my favorite pine trees. What did I bring with me? Two beloved old books from a garage sale (that I couldn’t yet read on my own) and a notebook. I sat under the trees and pretended to be a stranded professor. I was smart and a survivor and able to do anything because that’s what smart, stranded professors could do. It’s a cute story, but underneath it (just like the dollhouse) packs a message I’ve feared my entire life: my story as is, is not enough. A self deprecating mantra that stated, “To be worthy you must be more than you are.”

To sit inside the understanding that as a child day dreaming was both an escape and a nightmare is unnerving. I was a creative kid. I loved story. I never realized that part of that obsession was because I felt my own narrative was broken and less than. How could I? The problem now is that I’m starting to see a pattern, a cycle of chasing worthiness from the wrong sources, with the wrong tools, for the wrong reasons. And the problem with seeing is, once you see something you cannot unsee it.

The world as we know it right now is in a forced pause as we navigate through quarantine 2020. I like calling it a forced pause because it is truly how I am experiencing the epidemic. You see whether I wanted to acknowledge it or not, I’ve been running for some time. I don’t mean the healthy kind you do for cardio and extra wine on the weekends. I mean running, as fast I could and as far as I could, from the place that I was. You see, if you run hard enough and fast enough you don’t have time to look back. You don’t have time to pay attention to the signs and red flags. Your history of pivoting when shit hits the fan is like muscle memory and you accept it like you always have. You turn a blind eye because you have to. That’s what competitors do to survive. They don’t’ listen to anyone else on the course, they focus on their goal ahead. Getting to the next finish line. Creating the next story because the one you built your life on just fucking crumbled.

Running isn’t always actual movements by the way, but it is always internal decisions. Sometimes running takes the form of hunkering down, ignoring the things around you because you believe surviving demands it. Sometimes running is giving up, letting go of all your ambitions and hope because it’s getting to be too much work to keep holding them up as the world says no. And yes, sometimes running is actually getting up and escaping. No matter what it looks like physically on the outside, I define running as a defense mechanism response to personal trauma and triggers. Running is rough stuff.

As you can imagine, then, a forced pause is a crippling thing to a well accomplished running plan – if accomplishment means distance created from the thing you can’t or aren’t coping with. It forces you to… pause. To stop. And if you can’t focus on the next thing in your fixer upper, if you can’t keep yourself dizzy with activity, if you can’t run after the displaced blame you put somewhere else, you eventually have to experience all the things you were running from. What’s worse is you eventually can’t help but turn around. To see how far you’ve gone (not come). To realize you’re bulldozing your own path into a place never meant to walked . Into a place never meant to be under construction. Into a place never meant to be… yours. And once you turn around, you cannot unsee what we’ve begun to see.

So with all this on my mind and these wounds still newly opened and nowhere near healed, I found myself in contrasting emotions. I found myself relieved to find a moment of peace. I know that sounds utterly ridiculous, peace when all hell has broken loose internally but it was there nonetheless. Like my heart had been beaten up so much by the running it never had a chance to rest. Peace as if the indescribable pain was better than the numbing mechanisms that had been in practice up until this point. Peace as if just maybe the pain had moved from ‘self sabotaging’ pain to ‘self becoming’ pain. Yet in the contrast I admit there was also a lot of shame. Shame I didn’t pay attention to the signs, shame I didn’t have the strength to stay where I was, shame that I wasn’t brave enough or kind enough or wise enough. Shame. Shame. Shame. On repeat.

That’s where I find myself. In contrast. What I’m learning is that maybe healing is a stage of existence, not a step to check off on the ‘to do’ list. And if healing is an entire stage in the human condition, in my current condition, than maybe healing is defined differently than what we’ve tried to make it in the past. I’ve always looked at healing as a place to get to – a mountain to defeat with a constant climb up of glowing reviews and gold stars along the way. An internal fanfare event if you will, with pats on the back and ‘way to go sluggers’. Like when you were in t-ball back in those early years. You could have missed the tee every time and ran the bases backwards, but by golly you’d get a pat on the back at the end anyway. I guess I’ve looked at healing as a place I wasn’t required to try much. I was doing it, ok? I was there in the grief, what more could you actually need of me?

The thing that I’m realizing in this new place, in this place where life is paused and pain is being demanded to be felt, is that healing comes in waves. Sometimes there is peace, sometimes there is shame, and sometimes there is more pain than there was when you started. Healing lives in contrast because it is not stagnant. It’s not something you show up to and get a ‘participating’ trophy for. Healing is a different kind of sport entirely, one that does not happen without surrender to it, without an active willingness to get down into the trenches and dig up the junk you’ve been burying one by one. Healing is a choice.  

I’ve lost a lot of time and gained a lot of bruises viewing healing as something that will just happen along the way. If I say the things and I keep mimicking all the right movements, healing would just occur as a I ran forward into the next chapter. If anything I viewed healing as a distraction, something preventing me from moving forward. It’s excruciating to sit still and become aware that yes you were moving, but forward isn’t exactly what you would call it. Left of center maybe? Backwards possibly? Just not forward.

Forced Pause

With the forced quarantine and isolation, has anyone else realized how devastatingly lost they’ve been?

This has been the question, in one form or another, on my heart and in my mind. Has anyone else ever gotten this far down a road they were never meant to travel? Has anyone else talked themselves into not looking back? Has anyone else been terrified to stand still? Has anyone been here, deep down a rabbit hole of their own design?

What a forced pause does is….. force you to pause. My prayer of ‘I don’t know where to start’ remains a centerpiece in my hour by hour existence. I find moments of peace, where I am able to truly surrender, but my spirit is not what it used to be. Peace is only found in small moments, eventually the test of spirit is lost against all the anxiety and fear that surrounds me. The honest reality is … my spirit is not strong. She became cynical and selfish and tired. She stopped practicing what she preached. She became stagnant and dusty with excuses. And then she became shocked when she realized how diminished and weak she really was. So when the lies of depression clouded the sky and anxiety rained down suffocating the small amount of spirit left, well… she drowned. She let the rain fall, she encouraged it, and when it became too much she gave up. She surrendered to the wrong things.

I reopened my bible. That was one of my responses to ‘I don’t know where to start’. I know it feels pretty self explanatory, but it wasn’t for me. In the move I brought little with me, but it turns out despite all my bad decisions I made a few good ones. I don’t just have one of my bibles with me, I have four. Why does one bring four bibles with limited space especially during a time of ignoring their faith/ running from the center of themselves? I don’t know if I can answer that except to say while I don’t always know why or when God intervenes in our lives… this was defiantly one of those moments.

Reopening your bible after years of letting it collect dust on different shelves is a strange act, but one that came with little output at first. I don’t know if you know this but there are A LOT of books in the Bible. I’ve read the Bible quite a bit in my past life. I used to know my way around it like the back of my hand. It felt hopeful but foreign to me. Similar to when you try sports you were once good at. Some of the skills are still there – you know how to shoot the ball properly towards the basket, doesn’t mean you’ll make it with ease anymore. You know you can sprint fast towards the goal, doesn’t mean you won’t pull a hamstring in your old age and out of practice body. That’s honestly how it felt reopening my bible. I knew the joy I had once found it in, the peace that my faith had brought me, and I knew how much I had once had memorized and organized in my brain. Shame and guilt and fear swarmed me when I realized I couldn’t conjure up any of my favorite verses. I couldn’t even remember where to find them. I held my bible in my hands and I found yet another pause inside all these pauses. Faith, to me, is surrendering to grace. Acts of faith are then an expression of that surrender and eagerness to live inside that grace – such as reading your bible and finding your own nuggets of truth through the stories. ‘Fun’ fact, similar to sports or weight lifting or yoga … if you do not use these muscles they weaken and break down. It takes willpower and a conscious effort to regrow them. I should mention I’m not saying this with any authority, I’m saying this as a person who is now having to be very intentional to regrow muscles she never thought she’d lose.

I don’t know where to start.

It seems to be my life’s prayer right now. It’s the most honest I’ve been with myself in a long time. I feel like I have so much to say, to cry out about, to be outraged by, to ask forgiveness for, to ask for help for… that sometimes or maybe I should say almost all the time it just overwhelms me and I short circuit. When I look at the full picture of the mess, my mind and body shut down. It reminds me of a home I used to live at, more than once I was down in the basement with a flashlight looking at the fuse box and figuring out what fuse needed tending to. That’s how I’ve had to begin looking at my spirit, my life, and my aches – as a fuse box. It’s a weak fuse box, this thing has been through the ringer so it’s not one that will hold up when too many things are causing a stir at once. But, when the inevitable happens and something shorts, I try to get myself to the internal fuse box and see what fuse is the source of the rest of the problems. Sometimes I can see it on my own, sometimes I have no light to guide me and it takes longer as I pray through it.

I don’t know where to start.

As for my bible, throughout the Easter weekend I listened and read the Resurrection story (found in the Gospels for those who may not know – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). This morning however, when I understood I needed to keep going – that for me healing will be found in continuing to dive in – I found myself responding to the Psalms. So that’s where I’m going next. The cries and hurt and love and prayers of David. He’s a bit of a mess, but faithful in his cries and I guess I can’t really see myself anywhere else. I’m a mess, but I want to relearn my faithfulness. Because I haven’t been. Faithful to my spirit, to myself, to my person, my being. I got gobbled up by the idea that if I can run away the problems would be left in the dust but the thing about that is…. even if you can outrun them for a time, you may find yourself in a forced pause. Maybe even a pause that the nation hasn’t seen since the Great Depression. And you may feel anxiety and fear and regret and shame and isolation and confusion ….. and then you may wonder to yourself and be in awe at the question…. Does God love us so much that he would nearly pause the world to get our attention? To bring our eyes back to him? To use the loss of everything in order to rework our hearts? To heal us with grace?

That’s pretty radical grace.

I want to believe in radical grace again.

The World in Quarantine

It’s been a while. Years in fact. And I’m not just talking about since the last time I approached a keyboard with the intent to write here, a blog that once brought healing to my own soul. I mean it’s been years since I’ve submitted to the outrageousness of grace. I feel nothing but shame when I state that and yet… my ego wants to defend it and explain away all the reasons that this occurred. As if stating that it was on my list of “Things To Do’ is an adequate argument.

Sitting in quarantine has felt much like a ‘Holy Saturday’ the space of waiting, sitting…. being stuck inside a demanded pause. Life is no longer what it was and at the end of this… I just don’t think life can ever be the same. And that’s where I find myself. In the awareness of how deep this radical pause must go.

On Good Friday I woke up and felt uneven. It had been weeks of quarantine for NYC, something just under 30 days. At first I wanted to blame the long days of required ‘stay at home’ as the reason for the shakiness but the more I dwelled on it across the morning, the more I realized I was stuck inside a critical moment. That Easter had creeped up on me in a different way than it had in years. Without the ability to hide behind the practice of spending time with others or cooking a meal, I was stuck to sit and dwell on the actual reasons… the deeper, more profound purpose of Easter. I’m ashamed to say I tried to push that aside and fight it. Dealing with it, sitting in it, would mean sitting with all the things I’ve been running from. Because if I’m honest, I knew what all the miles and years represented. I knew how hard it would be to be still. I knew it would begin a crack in my ability to just adapt… expose that adapting is not healing. It’s simply begin able to continue until the hurt is muted or quieted down by time. So I sat inside that critical moment and I did something I hadn’t done authentically in years. I prayed a very simple, very honest prayer…

“I don’t know where to start. I don’t know where to start. I don’t know where to start.”

It was my heart’s plea. The most honest and truthful thing I could say. Could feel. Could express. A little while later I reached out to a friend I hadn’t truly spoken with in over 8 years, a friend I knew could dive in where I needed to go – even if I wasn’t quite ready to go there. I also reached out to another friend who allowed me to join her service that day and to connect 1/1 virtually the next week.

These things are not simple to me. This is not a moment unnoticed. I didn’t know where to start and then I was lead on how to start. This is not a miracle moment where I can say everything is fine. It’s not. I am not fine. My faith is not healed. My connection with God is clouded by ego and bruises and empty miles of space between us that I let get there. And I don’t quite know how to truly get back.

But… this may have actually been the bravest, most truthful thing I’ve done in a very long time for myself. To submit to the painful awareness I’m in over my head. I had no idea where to start.

Holy Saturday is a day of waiting. Sitting. Being still. And being still, in this sense, doesn’t mean while staying busy. I often like to purposely confuse those two together. This kind of stillness demands more from us than the busyness of phone calls and social media and tv marathons and the occasional thriller novel. This kind of stillness is to come to a place within ourselves where we are willing to dig in and be intentional with ourselves. This kind of stillness, this kind of waiting is…. uncomfortable.

Though Holy Saturday will soon pass, the symbolism will live on as the days continue here in quarantine. We are in a very scary, unsteady, unnerving time. Could it be, though, that we are also in a space where we are being given a reset? I mean when in our adult lives will this ever happen again? Demanded stillness. Despite all the anxiety and fear and uncertainty it also feels…. sacred. If we let it be.

How? I’m not sure yet. This is just my acknowledgment of what once was and what may be someday.

“Because I Said So” needs an upgrade

The other day my wife and I were arguing over something trivial. If I remember correctly it was what TV show an actress in our current show, had been in previously. Without needing to know who the actress was or what the TV show might have been… I can, with reasonable certainty, tell you she was right. I’m terrible at pop culture. The point, however, is what helped us decide the answer. When we could not agree, I said, “well google it”. An endearing phrase we hold close to our heart. In fact just today a co-worker and I were teasing each other over the random crap we choose to type into the search box. 

We live in a world where the answer is quite literally at your finger tips. Even if the request is something absolutely insane like, “hitler mustaches on cats”. What you seek, you normally can find. 

Armed with this prescription of today’s quick paced question and answer lifestyle, to me it’s no wonder the church continues to take a backseat. Now, to be careful here, I want to clarify a few things before moving forward. While the ‘church’ I reference is one of a Christian origin, based in the ideology of grace through a cross, I believe fundamentally all of us who find ourselves at the center of any faith can agree we are challenged in today’s quick resolutions. 

The agenda at hand is to create a dialogue around an ever growing question the church is faced with… Why are people leaving? Why aren’t people coming? And I don’t mean this just physically – I mean this emotionally as well. 

Personally this question is painful for me to process, it hurts in a way. I don’t mean that to say I’m offended or you’ll find me in Union Square park anytime soon preaching on the corner. It hurts me because it sheds light on the deeper issue – the ever growing gap between a world of innovators and a church of decreed absolute. 

I’m not going to sit here and pretend I know the whole answer. Like most things in life the answer is normally the sum of multiples, but I do believe we can begin to understand a piece of it. To start pulling at the the root of this there is an assumption we need to get our hands around first. This assumption that the more we know, the more technology that advances, the more science that surfaces, and the more innovation that comes to life – the less of God there is. Or at least the less of the church there needs to be. 

I agree with this, but maybe not in the way that you think. 

I think the old, dusty way of “because I said so” needs an upgrade. Some will immediately argue with me, with ruffled feathers, assuming I’m in the business of changing God or defacing biblical messaging for my own use. This is what some have become comfortable with calling “alternative facts”. I have no intention of changing God, because well… I can’t and second because I don’t need to. Hear me out.

One of my life mantras is centered on the belief that we can only give and understand as much GRACE as we’ve been given. The basic principle here is that if life has been easy for you, if your greatest struggle was not getting into your first college choice or favorite wedding venue, or getting a speeding ticket… then you have had a blessed life so far. We celebrate that and are happy for you. In the same breath, your need of grace would be less than someone who has lived a rougher story and therefore your understanding of that need of grace would be less. However, if your life has been difficult… if you have experience the pain of loss, the depths of loneliness, or the darkness of rejection/self hatred/ hurtful decisions… then your need of grace (either now or in the past) is much greater and therefore your understanding of that need much higher. 

You can only understand grace to the depth of which you have received it. I sincerely believe this (and am happy to talk more on this further another time!). If that is true, then we can also take it a step further broadening the topic and ask – what if that is the same about God? What if we can only understand God to the depth we’ve been able to discover him? 

There are so many arguments around not allowing the church to grow as our culture grows – that God should not morph to our ever changing standards (inclusivity, gender issues, etc). I’ve never seen it that way. I believe the more we are able to grow ourselves, see outside ourselves, and inside the heartbeats of those around us – the more we realize God is far more complex than we can or ever will be able to imagine. We are not changing God as we grow, we are simply catching up. 

I believe that pews are collecting dust on Sundays in far too many churches, but I do not fault the ever changing times… I fault the never changing church. We cannot remain grounded in theologies that no longer make sense now that science and generations have shown us otherwise. It’s like arguing that it’s not raining, while it pours down on your “I have to be right” parade. It doesn’t make sense, there is literally profound evidence all around you saying otherwise, and it’s not effective. In fact, it is hurtful. 

I have about a million wounds from the church, which I suppose is a story for another day. What I did learn from the church, however, at a young age that has stuck with me through the times are two things 1) Love one another and 2) remain humble. Over the years how I understood those two things, how I often failed at them, and how I came crawling back to them has brought me here… to this point. If our job as messengers of grace, as walking stories collected through experiences, is to love… then turning people away doesn’t work. If our job is to remain humble and open to those around us… then rejecting the changing norms around us doesn’t work. If our job is to defend the gospels above all else… then preaching fire and brimstone doesn’t work. 

There are so many gorgeous torches of grace around this world right now. Eager pastors and counselors and reverends and just every day folk wanting to share the real light of love. And I want to be careful that I am not saying all churches, everywhere are falling short. I am say too many churches, anywhere are not taking up the calling to grow as God opens our minds to grow. 

Think about it this way… Science, culture, technology allowing us to have any known answer right in front of us at any moment, actually allows us to know God more. We have the opportunity to know God more than any generation before us. To understand how other cultures and communities worldwide praise God, see God, and respond to him. To learn, in detail, the reasoning behind different denominations who agree with us or disagree with how we, ourselves, respond to God. 

Opportunity, however, is a choice. A choice on which lens you use to view the world, technology, God, and grace. Pews fill when hearts feel safe. Hearts feel safe when the message of acceptance is circulated. The message of acceptance is circulated when people are able to more openly hear and learn from each other. And the list continues… 

In a generation of innovators and pace changers, overly educated millennials have a responsibility to motivate the church back to its center. To create grace space. 

Romans 14:1 “As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.”

Grace calls us to seek understanding in one another – not through judgement, but through a sincere desire to let each story to be heard and celebrated.

Let us keep seeking – to learn who God is and the glory he can create through his creation. Through the people around us, the stories they are writing, and the challenges they are overcoming. 

Let us keep hoping – to learn more through all the channels we are now so freely given. 

Let us keep growing – to never believe we’ve come to the end of God… but merely continued to learn yet another beginning. 

Wounds are like shadows on our spirits

“You know, your hands can tell people if you are gay or straight”

It was a conversation started at the lunch table. I tucked my hands tightly under my legs pretending I was a bit chilled. I had no idea what she was going to say next, but I did not want my hands to be on display while she said it. Some of the girls didn’t believe her, some asked what she was going to say, and as a person always desiring to be the center of attention, she continued with or without the interest of the whole table.

“Let me show you,” she said.

She asked one of our friends to simply look at her own nails. Apparently, it was decided based on how you look at your nails; whether you turned your hand inward and curled your fingers OR you turned your hand outward and flat, determined your sexuality. The logic of fourteen year olds…

Regardless of how painfully silly such a comment and thought could be, it was just another reason I felt myself confused in an environment unwilling to be anything but small town, conservative USA. I was so grateful I wasn’t asked because I would have failed. I never cared about nails and furthermore, I shamefully chew them (even now) when I am nervous or thinking. So had I been asked, I would have curled my fingers toward me and looked at them.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe my sexuality was determined by this irrational “logic” of how I looked at my nails as a fourteen year old. But it walked with me. I actually went home and began practicing looking at my nails the so-called “correct” way. I’d never do it wrong again in public. Despite how irrational it was, it was my reality. It was my world. It was my new wound.

I think a lot of us look at thoughts or emotions and believe they don’t matter because they are as irrational as my fear of looking at my nails incorrectly. But if they are how you feel, regardless if it’s rational or not, they do matter. You can be utterly understanding of the irrationality you are feeling and still be fully loved inside that irrationality. Having feelings to process is never the problem. Never. Do you hear me? Your emotions are never a problem. The problem is when we take that irrationality out on those that care for us, or project them onto someone like they are guilty of a crime they never committed. That’s when it gets out of hand.

Never believe your emotions aren’t ok.

Never let someone say your value is less because your vision is unclear.

Part of finding ourselves and coming into our own is going through all emotions – the good, the bad, and yes, maybe even the crazy. I truly believe part of the reason my journey has been emotionally hard is because I felt like I was not allowed to feel. I felt like I had to be perfectly put together and empty of emotions. When I experienced jealously over my friends so easily falling for guys or when it was physically taxing for me to pretend, I had convinced myself I wasn’t allowed to hurt. I told myself I was being irrational. I believed feeling those things was acknowledging I was weak and that I was incapable of taking care of myself.  I punished myself by creating a void inside me. I called myself strong, but really I was just barren.

There are a hundred different ways people do this to themselves (and others) every day. Some people carry a wound so deeply everywhere they go, it affects every word that comes from inside their mouth. I believe, more than I can express in words, that we often carry wounds far longer than we should because we never allowed ourselves to actually feel them. We say the hurt, or the mistake, or the break up, or the abuse, or the cruelty, or the bad joke, or the shitty comment towards us was our fault, our bad karma, or something we had coming to us.

That is so not the case.

And even if there was a small chance you helped create the hurt that took a swing at your heart, it never ever means you aren’t allowed to feel it.  In fact, in many ways, you are feeding that evil or hurt by allowing it to fester. Wounds are like shadows on our spirits. If you don’t pour light on them, if you don’t expose them, and feel them, and allow them to heal they will remain…lurking… always threatening to invade beautiful moments.

Today’s confession is:I used to be a walking example of festering wounds and broken promises. I used to believe I could fix myself by voiding myself of real emotion and dodging the ability to get hurt. In many ways, this is a participant in what created the commit-a-phobia that lurks around the outskirts of my heart. I used to believe the absence of feelings was rational, but I realize it is arrogant. I was arrogant to believe I was bigger and better than that. Eventually it caught up to me. I broke. And that break was the best thing that could have happened to me. That break saved me.

You don’t have to walk through this alone; you don’t have to pretend you don’t feel. Write poetry, find a journal, grab a friend, or seek a counselor. Do whatever you need to do, but please don’t create a void that will take years to heal. I promise it’s not worth it.


Book Post Confession #17 – Order your copy today! http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/DesiraeSchneider

“How can you justify being a lesbian to God?”

Book Confession #5


When I realized I was attracted to another female for the first time, I was scared out of my mind. I was also young enough to be intrigued and somehow even gutsy enough to make a move, but in the light of day and in the movements of my daily existence, the “natural” response I had was to lie; to put on a mask and pretend that intense feeling in the gut of my stomach didn’t exist.

And this “natural” response grew and matured as life aged me. My ability to play make believe only excelled as I grew older. While others grew out of it and grew into the life they were meant to live, my fantasy world was “real” life. My expressions and emotions became as plastic as they were practiced. I was numb on the outside because I told myself I wasn’t allowed to feel on the inside.

I have this question plaguing my thoughts,

“Why was it easier to lie?”

It was easier to lie because the family consequences were great. It was easier to lie because frankly that’s how I was going to survive. Even in the mid-90’s when I hit puberty and found myself to be another casualty of the middle-school awkward phase, I knew that the secret planted deep inside me could not take root and flourish. I had to continue to keep it in check by trimming away feelings and expression in order to remain as barren as possible. It would be the only way I would blend in and survive.

This is the message of my childhood and adolescence years that I’ve carried into adulthood… that life is about surviving. No wonder I’ve gone through deep waves of depression in adulthood. No wonder I have times where I have no idea who I am, or what I’m doing, or where I’m going. I’ve been living as a shell of a human being, depriving myself of real emotion and connection.

I got a DM on twitter the other day wondering (very kindly I might add) how I could justify being a lesbian to God. And I’d love to answer that here today. There are hundreds of misconceptions about Christians – some created outside the faith, but most created inside. There is this blind assumption that once we are Christians struggle and hardship deplete – that’s just not the case. But what is the case for me and hundreds out there like me, is that in the midst of my struggle I had a rock to hold onto.

God pours His grace on me hourly every day and calls me loved regardless of anything and everything. It is in that understanding of love and grace (that I have not earned, yet am loved without limit anyway) that has allowed me to be more open with who I am. And that’s how I justify being a lesbian to God…. I simply don’t have to justify it at all. God doesn’t call me to be perfect, straight, plastic, and without free will. God calls me to be me and He calls me His, regardless of my criteria.

I think it was easier for me to lie, and it’s easier for so many of us to lie, because that’s what we believe we have to do to belong. We want to be included. We want to have worth. We want to be seen. And if whatever we say could damage that, could take away our belonging, or value, or whatever it is, it terrifies us. And we protect this “belonging” no matter how broken it may be.

What I’ve come to realize (and my faith has deeply helped me in this) is that I want to belong in a real way. I want to have real worth and real value, and I want to be seen and heard for who I really am. I don’t want to be a half person and I don’t want to belong by the standards of other people. That’s why I’m here, that’s why I’m growing a voice.

Today’s confession is: my entire life I’ve merely just survived and called it “belonging”. I’ve fought my whole life to be accepted as a half person. I’ve worked myself into depression, exhaustion, and heartache in order to belong to something that rejects most of my secrets. I want my life message to change. I want my worth to come from who I am fully, not what part I can play well. I no longer want to survive a plastic belonging, but I want to find and even help create a belonging that is whole and real. Everyone deserves to belong…

Order the book today! http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/DesiraeSchneider

Please like my author Facebook page. Each like helps get the message out. That everyone matters – and their story essential. No one is alone. http://www.facebook.com/mysilenthalfproject

The Confession that started it all (Repost of Confession #1)

I haven’t done this before.

Not the writing, I’m a writer. What I mean is I haven’t been honest before. I’ve lived in a web of lies, suffocation, and fear.   Fear of exposure and mostly fear of self.

My first crush was when I was twelve years old. I remember feeling overwhelmed and silly yet crazed. Rumors swarmed our school that I was… gay. I remember feeling mad, how could they think that? Now later in life I have come to understand anger is never a first emotion rather one that protects whatever we were really feeling and I was feeling fear.

Fear that I was actually… well… gay. Fear my mom would find out. Fear I would be hated in my random Midwest town. Fear of the church.  So I did everything I could to create the opposite exterior. I talked about boys as if I felt the way my friends did (and I so desperately wanted to) and I acted grossed out by the prospect of girls liking girls. This got me through high school. And though some of the rumors remained lurking in the halls (or at least in the halls of my mind) I was able to convince myself, and those around me, I was straight as an arrow.

College came and I fell for a guy. Excellent. The curse I had inside me was broken -I had prayed it away. The problem was I still wanted to kiss girls. I still felt a deeper connection with my closest friends then with the men I dated. When my serious boyfriend and I broke up I began a series of serial dating that would last for years. Searching for a feeling. Hoping to find a connection. However every relationship would eventually end. There was no sexual connection for me – no craving that so many spoke of. I cringed when I was touched and I cried when I would go to sleep wishing this next nice guy would fix me.

The problem was… it never happened.

And now more than a decade later I’m going to use this blog to process and begin peeling back everything I’ve never said. I’m going to work on becoming a whole person. This is the process I need to begin.

Welcome to my journey –

Order your copy of the book today! http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/DesiraeSchneider

(Confessions that are published in the book are no longer available on the blog unless reposted)

Confession #15

I recently started watching The Real L Word… I know, I know some of you are rolling your eyes like I’m way behind.

Anyway at the end of the last episode of Season One Tracy is struggling with her mom understanding and accepting her sexuality and lifestyle. She shares her struggle the entire season and then ends with this note…

It’s not about choosing Stamie or mom.

It’s choosing me.

That was the moment I realized it’s about choosing me.”

That hit me hard, deep inside my soul. This journey forward isn’t just about my relationship or relationships or even about my mom or the public’s reaction or whomever…. It’s about me. It’s about finally choosing myself and saying I need to find my whole self, my voice, and my strength.

You can say that’s what you are doing all you want, but until you wrap your heartbeat around the words you really don’t feel the impact of it. All night last night I was rolling that around in my head… “It’s choosing me. That was the moment I realized it’s about choosing me.” And that doesn’t mean the rest of it doesn’t matter, because it does. There is so much value in all of the wonderful things and people and relationships and the love in my life. But this journey is about me first. Because when I’m whole I can give to those around me fully.

This morning when searching for where I somehow left all my watches (who normally sit in the same place on my dresser) I found a mini eight ball from a party several years back. I kept it believing it was too cute to throw away but this morning it posed a different reality for me. I brought it to work and have been staring at it ever since.

This process, finding my voice and my footing in this new world, is me taking a chance on myself. I’m shaking the eight ball and I won’t stop until I get the right answer. I may hit a few answers that come up “no” along the way and maybe some “ask again when I’m ready” type of answers, but I can’t stop. I have to keep asking, keep shaking, and keep searching.

I don’t take enough chances. I settle down where I’m comfortable and lock myself there. But the funny thing about walls and locked doors is that you are captive of your own creation. You paralyze yourself from growing, from becoming more. I always settle for less by settling for what’s comfortable. It’s why I’m where I am, slowing chiseling down the walls that are surrounded by bigger walls, that are locked in by concrete. I’ve built a mansion of protection for myself but I’ve let few to no visitors inside. The loneliness echo’s through the emptiness I have created over the years of settling, suppressing, and fearing the outside world.

But I can’t stand being alive only inside my own mansion of fake comfort. It’s a mirage I’ve allowed others to fall for… I’ve let myself fall for. I’m not happy, I’m not satisfied, and frankly I’m not even content. I’m merely surviving. And I can’t call others to be more while I settle to be less.

Today’s confession is: I’m taking a chance on myself and with every confession I feel another wall coming down. It may take time to get through this barren house but I’ll bring a wrecking ball if I have to. I am more than the emptiness I have created. I don’t have to settle with only filling others. I’m choosing me and no matter where I go from here with that heartbeat in mind I cannot fail. Through choosing me my relationships will get stronger, my voice will hold more volume, and my heart will be healthier. I’m choosing me today…  I hope you choose you too.

Confession #14

There’s this moment that happens… these days it happens more and more.

I can be standing in a room full of people, fully focused on something completely different and my hands will start to sweat. I’ll feel this moment creeping into my veins, pressing itself into my thoughts, and will ultimate block out any other moment happening around me. My heart pounds so loud that it echo’s in my ears, often times I look around hoping no one can hear the clamoring.

This moment, the one that happens without warning, is what a lot of people call panic. For me I know it as the moment I feel claustrophobic inside the well-designed closet I’ve found myself accustom to. It happens when people ask me when I’ll settle down which is both because A) I know they are asking me about settling down with a man which sounds like death wrapped up in a migraine served with a side of prison time. And B) because I am terrified of talking about the future. I don’t know why, it’s not my most flattering feature but I think it has to do with the fact I’ve never seen a relationship function properly long term… I’ve seen them blow up, I’ve seen them fake it, and I’ve seen them get by… but I don’t call any of that functioning. Plus I’m a closest romantic stuck with commit-a-phobic tendencies. I’m a ticking bomb waiting to happen. I run and I hide and very rarely play fair.

The claustrophobic head spins happen in less controlled situations as well. Like when I’m in the middle of teaching and while I’m physically saying a sentence with my voice, a different voice inside my head haunts me with a question of, “will they still listen when they know all of me?”  It plagues my very core. Sometimes it takes several moments to know where I am in a message and to get back on track. Every time I’m scared someone notices, but no one has ever said anything to me.

Sometimes I can be in the middle of hearing about my sister’s relationship successes and I’ll start to feel the air leave the room. I’ll chock wondering if anyone else feels the oxygen draining around us but I realize it’s my chest that has tightened not hers. I think this happens because she is brave and I’m a coward. In everything she does, regardless of the responses or repercussions or even feelings of others she plows forward and gives everything she has.  I care too much… I care about the hearts of others, I care about their needs from me, I care about how they will feel, I care if I hurt them. She isn’t vulgar and she isn’t cruel… she’s just brave and I am a much weaker animal.

A shrink would tell me it’s panic; I just call it my daytime nightmare. It’s my inability to be fully me and I’m terrified everyone knows I’m only partially present. I’m not fake I’m just absent of full emotional participation. My compassion, my aspirations, my joys, and my heartbeat for people is real. Vibrantly real. It is the most important part of me; it is my livelihood and my greatest need… to love others… to let them know they are needed and wanted and cared for. But while I ask them to invest fully I keep parts of me back; the part of me that deeply and passionately love women and the one that has known since I was thirteen that the reality of marrying a man wasn’t one… it was a mirage of pretending I could pull it off. I can only partially invest, but I hypocritically ask them to fully engage.

Today’s confession is my wholeness is what I desire more than anything and what I fear even more than that. I’ve lived partially for so long that I keep wondering who am I really as a whole person? If I become whole will that cause people in relationships with me to have to be less… because I have been less in the past? How will my wholeness affect our oneness? I am scared of finding my wholeness, but I am incapable of stopping the search now. Today’s confession is it scares me how little control I have over my need to seek this out….

Confession #13

I kissed two girls in middle school.

I know… bad ass right? Just kidding…

The first one I’ve talked about, it was that four year running affair that wasn’t spoken about. But there was another night where I again out of the blue decided why not just kiss a straight girl when I’m already struggling to keep my identity a secret.

I just kissed her. Out of nowhere. We never talked about it again. Two years later she moved.

There was only one person in my life who actually knew about it, knew about everything. And I knew she knew but her and I never talked about it. Not once. And we never can again.

You see I lucked out….one of my sisters was very close in age to me and we shared the same friends. She knew about my affair even only in part and she knew about that kiss… how do I know that? Because girls talk and I kissed her best friend. But she never said anything to me and I never asked just in case that 0.01% chance actually happened and her best friend stayed mute.

These days all I want to do is talk to her, it’d be so much easier just to bring it to light. But I can’t. I talk to the air and to my memories but that’s all I get now… memories and wishes that I’d of spoken sooner. You see the sad reality I live in every day is that my sister died… a few years ago now and it’s been horrifying to walk through. I don’t really think the missing of a sibling gets better or less painful… I think the gap of time just allows it to be more manageable, but never better. And the more I share my secrets the more I wish I had shared them with her…with the person who always, already knew.

I’ve been avoiding talking about my sister, I’m just not sure why. I think it’s because it adds a heart load of pain to a lot of questions. I think it’s also because deep inside me I always knew she knew and she constantly loved me regardless. Why didn’t I just say it? One word, one hand reach outward…anything.

This is another reason, among so many that keep piling up, of why I need to grow my voice. I understand in the most painful of ways the fragility of life. I know that in just a split second you get a phone call that changes your whole world. I understand that I can’t promise I’ll be here tomorrow to anyone but I can promise to give everything I have today. And I wasn’t doing that before, I was giving what I had the courage to give and nothing more. I was hiding like a coward but I don’t want to do that anymore. I want to continue to grow strength in my legs as I shakily stand up for the first time.

Today’s confession is life is very short and very fragile. And I’m scared if I don’t start speaking and start growing I’ll die a mute…that my sister’s death will somehow stand for nothing more than pain and not a reality check. Her life was far too much for her death to mean so little to me. I need to live my life as fully and as richly as I possibly can. I need to start taking chances and start making changes. I need to thrive to be successful in things I love and not in the things that continue to increase my paycheck and my numbness to life. Today’s confession is… I’m going to really need to continue these confessions… I have so much more to say and so much more to give.