“Gaude! Gaude! Emmanuel nascetur pro te Israel!
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to you, O Israel!”

Another Gaudete Sunday, another day where the priest insists his pink vestments are “rose” (artist note: rose is a darker and more magenta shade of pink than that light pastel pink you have on, Father #sorrynotsorry). It’s a bright color for the cold season, reminding us of the coming light Christmas brings like the colors in the east right before the sun rises.

So…a lot of things happened this past week. I started to write some things about it, but none of it seemed up to snuff. For one thing…it really does amaze me how much I learn from this relationship, about him, about myself, and even about God. Some lessons I wish I didn’t have to learn, at least right now, but they do have value, I can see that.

Earlier this week, in light of the things I talked about last entry, I expressed to my friend a want to be more open. My confessor often said how my trauma and whatnot gets me trapped within myself, making me even more miserable and less open to love, so I wanted to let him (my friend) know I want to step out of that…maybe go a step forward.

His response was bittersweet; he told me that he wants to stick to our original plan to keep it safe and casual for now, to protect us both. Things got more complicated on his end, so for now, there’s a need to, instead, step back a bit.

He also expressed a deep concern of “messing [me] up”, as he has almost from the start. I thought that very admirable, and I did thank him for wanting to protect me like that. I also felt very humbled, too, in that he’s being smarter and chaster than I am in this situation. I cried a couple nights this past week, asking God why I had all this desire to be with him. A couple times, I started to repeat that dangerous mistake in comparing myself and my desires with my abusers, who all claimed to have no control over their desires to (ab)use me as they did. I constantly asked God, “Is this normal? If so, what am I supposed to do with it?” Eventually, I would go back to my knitting, calming down, “finding my center” so to speak.

Truly…from all the things I’ve experienced so far, it made me feel ashamed for any and all times I’d ever looked down on someone who made unhealthy decisions out of passion, as understandable as it is that I’d feel that way. Being in love is a very real thing, and it’s just as intense as they all say it is. You really can lose yourself in another person, and very easily at that. I never really got it, not as a teenager and not as an adult, but holy bananas, I sure do now! Happily, God sent me someone who isn’t taking advantage of the situation one bit, instead acting with a mature integrity.*

A/N: He says he’s not religious and never will be, I understand and respect that. However, it’s moments like this that I get this sense that he’s even better at listening to God than I am; he doesn’t seem to let his feelings get in the way of doing the right thing, possessing that calm integrity I can only attribute to one who listens to Him…something I really like about him. This just goes to show how important it is to always, always be humble, though, again, I guess my abuse history makes this harder for me. God really does work in all things and in all people, even those who reject Him (or, maybe better said, reject who they’ve come to understand Him to be).

There’s certainly unhealthy extremes for independence and dependence, of feeling like you can/should do everything alone and thinking you can’t do anything yourself. Another friend told me how, when in love, the waves reach high and dip low at first before calming down for smooth sailing, the storms and waves coming only once in a while. Before she married her husband, she had to do long distance for a while, giving her a lot of good advice to share about dealing with these frustrations or over-eagerness I’m coming across. It was very comforting to have someone say she understands, and that this is all normal.

“Love is patient” though, so therefore, I must be, too. He waited for me, so it’s only fair I wait for him. With this in mind, I asked God, “What ought I do in the meantime? I pray for him, am knitting this scarf for him, but what would You like me to do during this waiting period?

December 7 was three unhappy anniversaries for me: my father’s birthday for one, Pearl Harbor and all my great-grandparents suffered from that event, and it was also the feast day for St. Ambrose, a saint that hurts for me to recall for reasons…maybe better unspoken for now. It was also the day I decided to put into motion something I’d only considered in the past: legally changing my name.

I recalled Matthew 18, how one is called to regard unrepentant abusers as “pagans and tax collectors” (while still working to forgive them). Seeing as it’s looking next to impossible that my parents, my uncle, or any of my other abusers will be facing any sort of legal justice, it seems fitting to not give them any legal claim over me, or anything I might achieve. If I want to write books, share my experiences and healing journey, it doesn’t seem fair to have my father’s name attached to it. My father used the word “divorce” to describe my setting boundaries after all; might as well make it official, right?

This may sound spiteful, and there is a little of that in there, I’ll admit. However, it’s also an act of mercy on my part: if I publicize even more than I already have, my siblings still bearing my father’s name might get undeserved grief, nevermind my abusers. While I doubt anyone would want to pick up any rocks for me, but in case anyone did, I know what Jesus would say: “Let whoever is without sin among you be the first to cast a stone at [them].” (John 8:7) As revictimizing and incredibly disappointing the legal/justice system has been to me for the past 3-4 years, such behavior does little to make things better.

What’s more, if I could have my own name, something that’s mine and not my parents’, that would offer me some more freedom. I already have it picked out, choosing a word/name that recalls St. Jeanne d’Arc, reminding me to have those strong yet humble qualities she has as a knightess. It’s a name I could actually feel proud of, and maybe gain some strength from when I’m beaten down or feeling lost. Maybe it’ll also help me forgive the legal system in all its miserable failings.

…I can imagine what might be said or thought from others around me once I make it known that I changed my name. It’s a pretty big statement, after all, to go to the extreme of changing one’s name, maybe especially for an unmarried woman. I can imagine some may be adamantly against it; it’s too liberal, too individualistic, whatever. They can make their own judgements as they like; it doesn’t shake my resolve.

Their blood will always be in my veins. That won’t ever change, just as traces of my (male) abusers might very well still be in my blood, too. I can learn to live with that. It helps to remember those others whose blood flows through my heart who gives me courage even now, my great-grandparents, my ancestors. Denying my father’s name does not have to mean that I deny them, no more than it means I deny my siblings still bearing his name. I can recall those who actually are family to me in a similar respect, who’s ties with me heal the unseen wounds left by those chains and shackles.

No matter what, I mustn’t lose sight of who I am to God, and who God is to me. Even when all else fails, that lifeline never breaks. I don’t know about you, but that’s definitely something to “rejoice” over. ❤

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