Something I’ve been reflecting a lot about lately is identity.
Identity is more than just a jig saw puzzle from the box with tiny shapes resembling squares filling in the blanks. Like a game of Tetris, with many shapes and sizes that sometimes feel like they leave gaps in the overall image. There are so many pieces and possibilities and we get to the architect placing each exactly where we want it to go. Except unlike Tetris, once placed the pieces are not static, and we can shift them daily or even moment to moment. There are core pieces of our identity that seem to stay with us wherever we go and other pieces that seem to bounce in and out of frame depending on the day.
Identity is layered. The sum of many parts yet beyond it.
I’ve been reflection on identity a lot lately and how having illness has impacted it more than I once thought. It’s a difficult balance because if you let it, illness can become all consuming and override the other elements of your identity. Yet up until this point I think I tend to at times swing toward the other direction and live in denial of my illness, feeling like I should be capable of doing all the things I once was able to. Fact is, spending too much time on either side of that equation can warp your identity.
Allow me to explain. For those of you who have not yet heard, about 3 years ago now I was diagnosed with Psoriatic Disease. A disease where my immune system attacks my joints and nerve endings throughout my body. In some ways a mish mash of msn and rhumetoid disease (also known as rheumatoid arthritis but the title offers connotations far different from what the disease actually is). Individuals with Psoriatic Disease experience a breaking down of the body that leaves them in pain and some may become wheel chair bound or even bed ridden. The uniqueness of Psoriatic Disease is that it also isn’t constant. Flare ups occur where there is immense pain and immobility, and once gone the pain might diminish even as far as almost not being there. Almost. Today I am struggling to open a bottle of water. A few months ago, I could lift a 30-pound box without a second thought.
The struggle for me has been that many of the activities I once engaged in, hiking, jogging, kayaking, swimming, etc. are now currently near impossible – especially for prolonged periods of time. For many years these were tied to my identity. To deny my disease is to deny that I do still want to be partaking in these things. And perhaps one day I will be able to again; treatments shift and as I mentioned above it is not constant. But right now I simply can’t. Wanting to work towards the possibility of engaging in these things one day again and believing that day can come - that is true positivity. Denying my current state or ignoring it in order to only talk about the good in my life (which there is also of course plenty of good happening too) is not true positivity. It’s ignorance of how much my health concerns are actually impacting my life. Including my identity.
Now of course God will always be at the centre of my identity. I believe I am my soul, not just the activities I do. But the activities that I do have the capability of expressing that soul to the world. And yes there are different ways to express them than the activities listed above, but part of identity is in the style of expression of who we are, not just the fact that we are expression it.
Having this disease does mean I at times cannot engage in the world in the way I fully want to. But it is also far from being the only way I engage in the world. Balancing both sides is how you take a healthy approach to identity. Not just with illness, but with many other things as well. You are not fully any part of your identity, you are the Tetris game of many pieces forming how you want it to look at any given moment, rearranging, shifting and juggling each piece until it fits exactly as you would like it to given the current layout of pieces you have to work with.
So for those of you with illness who have ever had people tell you never to identify with it, graciously choose how, when, and why you are choosing to identify with certain elements of it and understand that unless they have ever been there, it may just never make sense to them. You are allowed to admit the impact it has on you and how your life has shifted. That is your call, not theirs.
At the same time never be afraid to push your self, choosing never to give up and celebrating each victory along the way. I finally got that water bottle open. Today that is my victory. Far different from that 2-hour trek up a mountain, but in this moment just as important. What’s yours?
This blog post will explore why I believe Jada Will and Chris have become scape goat distractions to the much deeper cultural issues of the academy and Hollywood and what it is like for those working in that realm.
Why exactly are we referring to the event that occurred at this years Oscar awards as the slap and the joke and not the fact that either side of the event actually unveils much deeper issues within the culture of the academy and Hollywood, and western culture as a whole?
To begin, Chris’ joke is being treated as wrong because of Jada’s health challenges. As someone who also faces an autoimmune disorder, I strongly understand that this adds a layer of inappropriateness to the joke, however I think we are missing the deeper narrative here. Over the past while so many horror stories have come out of Hollywood regarding sexual assaults and abuse made by men against women and their bodies. Even if Jada did not have alopecia, these kinds of jokes are the foundational building blocks that lead to this primarily male-embodied violence against women occurring. Women are also judged by their outward appearances and bodies in extremely hurtful ways within the industry – sometimes being denied roles and often treated as lesser than. There are so many reasons why this joke is inappropriate when the academy has so many toxic layers when it comes to women’s bodies and their autonomy. Especially with all that has come to light in recent years. I am curious if Jada’s hurt and fallen face in response to the joke was deeper than just the pain of her health issues and cut beyond that to any role she has ever been denied based on appearance or any negative experiences of lack of respect towards her body that have occurred over the years within the industry. Jada’s health struggles represent only one of many MANY reasons why these approaches and standards in the industry are wrong, unhelpful, and unrepresentative of the full range of the human experience.
I have heard so many people say that Will resorting to physical violence is not okay because the joke was not a form of physical violence and was only emotionally hurtful. Is that truly the case though? To be clear I do wish Will’s response had been different and he had walked on stage looked Chris dead in the eye and demanded he apologize rather than slap him. But so many people are talking about how physical violence is only ok in response to physical violence without any acknowledgement that these kinds of joke are exactly what leads to physical assaults against women and physical sexual abuse and many other forms of physical gender-based violence. Jokes about women’s bodies are exactly what starts to erode and remove autonomy from women over their own bodies and feed the mindset that men have a right to act towards these bodies however they may please. This kind of joke is the first step in the journey of physical violence against women. To be perfectly clear, I do NOT assume Chris to be a danger to women himself. It seems to me to be more like oversight and lack of understanding of what women face. But the joke is feeding another man’s mindset that these actions are ok and that that other man has the right to say of or do to women’s bodies as he pleases.
I think Chris owes more than just Jada an apology. I think he owes an apology to every woman in Hollywood who has ever been assaulted (sexually or in any other physical way), inappropriately hit on, denied a role based on physical appearance, encouraged to change something about their physical appearance in order to get a role etc. And men and non-binary individuals too for that matter! Because yes ALL of these things also happen to men and non-binary individuals too.
The slap was not okay, but the joke was equally as violent.
I also don’t understand why Will is no longer with the academy. Either both of them should be removed from the academy (which to be clear I do NOT think is what should happen), or better yet both stay in the academy and we start to acknowledge the deeper issues of what is going on and work towards change in the industry. I would love it if they were to have a discussion around Jada’s big red table about how both their actions negatively contributed to the problems that run rampant in the academy and start to discuss solutions towards forward movement and change that needs to take place in the culture of the academy. There are several layers to what needs to shift in Hollywood that came to light in that moment. And instead of Hollywood taking the time for everyone to do their inward reflection and work and acknowledging that large scale change needs to occur, both of these individuals, Will and Chris (and Jada too), have become scape goats to put the blame on and talk as though they are the only two and make the event about them and their sides of the story (and about Jada’s health struggles) rather than what each element represented and how their actions (or lived experience with alopecia) were simply arrows pointing to much deeper complex issues within the academy that need to change.
I actually think that Jada, Will, and Chris are all victims to the toxic culture of Hollywood that they have been doing their best to navigate and fit in, and that that is really what was coming to a head and led to that moment on stage where one individual felt it necessary to use an inappropriate joke and another had finally had enough and choose to stand up against injustice in any way he could think of in the moment in what realistically may have not been the best or most effective approach. Working for years in a toxic environment leads to toxic actions that match with the energy of the environment you are in. It’s the basic psychology of the human experience. The issue here is neither Chris nor Will (though both could certainly grow and act differently in the future), but rather the toxicity of the environment that they both embodied in different ways that day.
We also cannot avoid the fact that African-American actors are under certain added pressures when doing their best to fit the environment that the white patriarchy found within Hollywood (and western culture as a whole) creates. As a white individual it would be inappropriate for me to offer an opinion or speculate on what these pressures might be or what the possible impacts of this intersectionality are, but I am certain this has added another layer of difficulty for each of these individuals as they attempt to navigate the work environment and toxic culture of Hollywood. And I would love to hear from voices who do have lived experience that could offer insight and opinions on this topic.
I have the utmost respect for all three of these individuals and the work they have done over the years and will continue to do in the future. They are all doing amazing things and I hope this experience does not deter any of them from continuing to move forward and bless the world with their gifts.
I would love to see these beautiful folks come together around Jada’s red table and unpack their learnings and experiences in the toxic environment that is Hollywood. I would love to see them use this as an opportunity to come together in unity and identify the real problems and deeper issues that this event just scratched the surface of. To me that would be an extremely powerful thing to see moving forward and I think it would help shed light on the toxic elements of the academy in a way that truly could start to lead towards some very positive changes. There is opportunity here – a sapling ready to sprout from the ashes in order for new growth to take root.
Hi blog readers, Meeting House Family, and general church family,
This post is some thoughts I have had as we grapple through the refining process that God is currently at work doing within my church. In particular, I want to explore the elements of grief that are present in these kinds of situations. (For those unaware Bruxy Cavey has had his pastoral credentials revoked for what the report has claimed to be abuse of power and sexual harassment – in my opinion a soft choice of language for what actually occurred; see footnote at end for further details.)
Everyone is having different emotions about the news that has come out. I stand with the victim and hear her heart in all of this. This was sexual abuse and should be labelled as such (please see explanation at the bottom of the blog post; especially if you disagree or want to know why I choose this term and how choosing different terms may reveal where an individual is in their own process of grief). I myself have faced sexual abuse from 5 different individuals over the years in addition to facing other forms of emotional mental and physical abuse from additional individuals. It is extremely hard to speak out and use your voice to break the chains of violence. This is especially true for so many of us women who have grown up in an evangelical subculture that continually reinforces silence as “being a good Christian woman” – which to be clear is quite anti-gospel whatever spin you may choose to take on it.
Having faced so many instances of abuse it has become clear to me that each and every circumstance is unique in addition to the fact that every survivor of abuse themselves respond to it differently. It is also clear to me that in most cases of abuse it is the secondary wounding that often does more harm than the abuse itself. Secondary wounding is a term used to refer to when how others respond to the abuse causes further revictimization, blame, feelings of being misunderstood or any of the other yucky things that may occur. In every circumstance of abuse the best practice is to ask victims/survivors what they prefer the approach to be and do everything in your power to walk alongside them in that exact approach.
It saddens me that our board chose to take the route of legally safe language and use the exact terms from the report, against the victims wishes. The moment we start to put protection of a legal entity over love of a human soul we have missed our mission as the church. Do we really believe that our God is so small that we need to protect the legal entity of the church ourselves? We should make the loving choice and choose the most loving language and leave protection of the legal entity of the church up to God.
This sadness has been mixed with anger tied to my own experiences with abuse and processing some of my own past pains of secondary wounding. And of course within the swirl of emotions is also great grief. It is this grief that I want to address now.
I have had a lot of experience with grief over the years on this planet. But I want to draw some comparisons to one instance in particular that brought a lot of confusion as to the different elements of grief that were present and teasing them apart. I think there are some clear parallels for the lessons learned that can be applied here.
When I was 20 years old my brother was arrested for first degree murder. I had faced years of physical abuse at his hands prior to this, but had often been told by social workers that he was not at that level of dangerous. That his anger was in the moment, was never premeditated, and would never get to a place a violence where my life was truly at risk. That I was never really in that deep of danger, despite my silenced voice continually trying to scream to the world otherwise.
I was in shock when it happened. In total disbelief. I did not think first degree murder was possible. I was fearful of anger but truly thought inflicted pain was uncontrollable. And yet despite shock and disbelief I also relieved to finally be safe. And angry that no one had believed me. And I felt like my perception was finally validated and that I was not crazy after all or over anxious in how unsafe I had felt after all. But over riding all of this I was grieved. Grieved that someone could cause so much pain. Grieved that this could be possible. Grieved that someone was no longer on this earth. Grieved that it could have been prevented if only someone would have listened and taken things seriously. Grieved that we had kicked him out of the house and that it wasn’t me and someone else had had it directed at them. Grief is a complicated emotion and there are several layers to it. I could go on for a long time exploring endless elements.
What I want to address is how despite all my anger towards my brother, despite feeling it the right decision for him to be behind bars for what he did, despite the relief of finally being safe, I also grieved his loss too. Who I had thought him to be was not who he was (part of me always wanted to believe the social workers were right). I grieved that the person I thought I knew, the one I grew up with and was friends with, wasn’t who I expected him to be. Grief involves morning the marred past and recognizing how shattered our perception of what we thought was and how incorrect we had been.
But it also involves morning the future that we expected to have with an individual. Despite anger and hurt at my brothers actions and being relieved he was behind bars where he could no longer hurt anyone further, I was also terribly grieved that there would be no more family gatherings with him present. No more birthdays, or Christmases, no more Easter dinners or board game nights. Those things had come to a close. I agree wholeheartedly with the decision of my brothers arrest and the justice that led to that. Yet there was also a part of me pained by the realities that come along side that right good and just decision.
We are human. We are dynamic and complex with conflicting emotions. And that’s okay. To feel whatever you need to feel is normal and valid. To be brokenhearted about the future you expected there to be, that has now completely vanished from view, is okay and does not necessarily mean you were idolizing an individual. It could be a factor, for sure. But do not assume that your pain that the future will not be as you desired it to be is a sin. It is a normal part of life and a normal part of grief. It does not mean that you think what happened was ok or that you are disagreeing with the victim’s reality or are wishing another decision had been made by the board. It simply means that this is one layer that you wish didn’t come with the package of consequences that deep down you know are the right true just consequences for such actions.
As we head into Easter we morn the loss of our first holiday season without Bruxy. Yes I’m aware he was gone at Christmas, but back then there was hope and we did not truly know what had happened. This is the first holiday where we know for certain there is earned absence and deep grief. It’s okay to agree with the repercussions of the actions and still be grieved at the loss and betrayal of those sacred family bonds.
My brother killed someone’s body, but sexual abuse often kills a piece of the victims soul. Praise God we serve a Lord who is in the business of resurrecting! May this resurrecting and rebirthing be in the works for all involved.
As we head into Easter I am also very aware of the reality that from our darkest moments comes the greatest light. The cross, among the most horrific acts in all of human history, was also the moment of greatest love and led to the moment of greatest hope when Christ rose again.
The dark times we are in are heavy no doubt, but as a survivor of several circumstances of sexual abuse over the years I am also aware that this darkness has led to a new collective consciousness of what it means to face abuse. So often in my life there has been this sense that only those who have been victims or survivors understand what I have been through. But because of Bruxy’s position of leadership it was a betrayal not only to those directly involved, but to the congregation as a whole. For the first time ever people who never understood get it, at least in part. They know what it means to be betrayed and lied to and think reality is one thing only to discover that it was something entirely different. And this gives me great hope, because something that was so foreign to many of you that could only be met with compassion, can now be met with empathy and a level of deeper understanding. You have been given a small taste. Please, steward that well.
We grieve not just what was being gone, but what could have been floating away like vapour as it drifts out of our plans for the future. It’s okay to be grieved and it does not mean you are against the decisions that have been made or do not stand with the victim in all of this. I have grieved the loss of connection with abusers in my own life but am completely against the abuse they committed. Be your full dynamic range of human emotions. It’s part of the process.
Praise God that although we now identify with the disciples in the bleakness that followed Good Friday we also look forward to the hope brought by the resurrection. For we serve a God who makes all things new – even the horrors of what we now face.
A Quick Explanation of Why I Use The Term Sexual Abuse
It has been said that there are different perspectives on what transpired and why Bruxy Cavey is no longer a Pastor. Some are treating it like an affaire (despite the fact that the board has explicitly stated it was not just an affaire but an abuse of power) while others understand it to be abuse. As a life coach, I fill out paperwork ever year for insurance for coaching that includes options for pastoral counselling. This paperwork makes it very clear that this cannot possibly be an affaire. See, it is understood that clients are not able to consent to such things. Without consent sex does not exist. Without consent there is only rape. Misunderstandings of this in western society is one of the main reasons why there has been such a push on college & university campuses to shift the “no means no” campaign into “yes means yes.” Under Canadian law a 15 year old cannot engage in sexual intercourse with anyone where there is a significant age difference presence because it is understood that they are in a vulnerable position and are too young to give consent or understand the fullness of what is occurring. This is a similar parallel to what has transpired. A client seeking pastoral care cannot consent to sex as they are considered to be in a vulnerable position. Therefore it is rape. We can use whatever policy language we want to attach different terms referring to the same thing, but at its core that is what occurred.
If anyone is viewing it as an affair, in my opinion they either do not understand all of the facts, or perhaps are in the denial stage of grief – a stage some very well may never move beyond from. Because of this I do not hold it against anyone who has misunderstood this reality and if you choose to view it as an affair I understand. I write this to encourage those who have faced abuse to be patient with those who are choosing to view this an affair. It is a protection mechanism that God has designed into our human existence and the denial stage of grief is a completely normal part of the process. It took me over 3 years to recognize my own instance of sexual abuse for what it truly was and to see the full extent of manipulation that had gone on – despite best efforts of friends trying to point it out to be long before then. I simply wasn’t yet ready to process the elements that need to be processed when that reality finally slapped me across the face. I am grateful for that season of protection and for the dynamic way that God has designed our psyche. And I am grateful to those who were patience and met me with grace when I finally realized that had been right along rather than gloating about it.
If you are interested in further thoughts on moving forward from sexual abuse visit my resources page to access a free download titled “7 Keys To Supporting Survivors of Sexual Assault (& Yourself) Through The Journey.”
For those seeking additional support please reach out by email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 705-206-6786.
Hi everyone, life coach practitioner Katelyn Townsend here! A while ago I was cleaning my back bedroom, when I discovered a water leak on the outside wall. The moisture from the leak had caused mold to start growing. It was working its way up the wall and along the floor where the leak had occurred. The mold was slowly overtaking the entire area, an infestation of sporous fungi.
I had to evacuate all of my important things from the room and spray down the area with intense chemicals. The make shift “fumigating” process caused me to have to temporarily move into the living room overnight. As a life coach I like to think I’m usually quite open to change, but spending a few nights on a couch is not something I was thrilled about. Nonetheless I thought it may offer a neat change in perspective.
Although I was making the best of the situation my dog could not see the silver linings. He sat outside of the bedroom door whining and crying for hours, begging to get back into his favourite spot! Going about my day I thought he would quickly find something else to do. Soon it was well into evening and the poor dog was still sitting in the same spot, whining, crying and desperately hoping for the door to open up again. He was so confused by what was happening.
Often life closes doors on us when it is unsafe for us to be in that area anymore. When this happens many of us become confused or shocked by the sudden change. Sitting in front of the door won’t do us any good. No matter how much we cry, whine, or beg to get back inside the door is going to stay closed. There is a reason it has been closed. It is closed to protect us and redirect us towards something more beneficial.
Here comes the tricky part. How do we turn away from the pain of that closed door? Most of my life coaching clients get stuck at this point, yet it has one of the simplest answers. It starts by taking a step down the hall in a new direction. Rather than focusing on that door we need to shift our focus to look for something new. The first step in getting over the closed door is to simply turn your eyes away from the door.
Eventually if you keep your eyes open to new opportunities you will begin to see them. Once you begin to see them you can begin to take steps in that direction and make those opportunities your reality. If you have trouble seeing these opportunities or figuring out how to take steps towards them book an appointment with me, Life Coach Practitioner Katelyn Townsend, and I can help you get the ball rolling. It starts by knowing where you want to head next. You also have to be willing to continue along that process the next time another door closes.
You can either stop and stare at the closed door complaining, or you can accept what is and move on, knowing that the door is closed for your protection. That area of your life is now toxic. You need to leave it alone, or the chemicals will harm you. Take your hand off the door knob and walk away. Stop wasting precious time. Instead put that time towards something of value. Before you know it you will even find yourself grateful that that door closed! It’s time to let your mind shift from seeing closed doors as missed opportunity towards understanding them to be a source of protection from danger. It is all about the perspective that you have.
Share a story about how you turned away from a closed door in the comments below!
To book a life coaching appointment contact Coach Katelyn Townsend by phoning 1-705-206-6786, e-mailing email@example.com or filling out an appointment form online. Life coaching appointments are offered online or in person within the city of Sault Ste. Marie. You can find out more information about the life coaching services offer by Life Coach Practitioner Katelyn Townsend at katelyntownsend.weebly.com.
Older women role models are missing from the Disney narrative. Perhaps they are not entirely absent all together, but they are certainly never given centre stage and are often found in very minor roles rather than being supportive players throughout the plot.
Yesterday I saw an Instagram post by princess_disney_everything credited to @goldoxi21 showcasing Disney princesses on their wedding day with their mothers standing by their side. Many of these mothers are absent from the films, often due to death, such as in the cases of Ariel, Jasmine, and Belle. This got me thinking. Where are the women role models within Disney?
Sure there are examples of older women such as Rapunzel’s biological mother or Mulan’s grandmother. Yet these women receive hardly any screen time and their character development is next to non-existent. Lately Disney has done a much better job of showcasing depth to women’s character, with films like Frozen, and the live action Aladdin where Jasmine is finally understood to have the capacity to rule as sultan herself, however there is still a long way to go. It seems that showcasing the ability of women means showcasing the ability of young women.
It appears that in North American culture middle aged and elderly women are background noises forced to the corners of the stage of life. As a Life Coach Practitioner I have seen a stream of women come to my office, unsure how they fit into the North American world now that they find themselves somewhere within this category. Is it any wonder that there is tension and uncertainty surrounding this time in life when the voices of this group still remained silenced? These individuals have so much value to offer the world yet come in feeling like their time is already complete. Meanwhile, they are only half way done their lives! If we as a society fail to see this as problematic then we are simply sweeping those diamonds under the rug along with the dust we attempt to hide.
Let’s also remember that this problem is exponentially more difficult for certain categories of ageing women, such as immigrants, people of colour, transwomen, etc. The list could go on and on. These individuals have been fighting for a place from the start, and suddenly find age as a new mark against them once they unexpectedly hit that wall. Rather than suddenly loosing privilege it is a matter of having one more additional barrier keeping them from privilege. This can be twice as debilitating. Yet all of these individuals have so much to offer the world, and SO many more years left to offer it!
The fact that the film industry literally removes these characters through death encourages us to keep our blinders on to the aging women around us. It seems that even when they are present, such as the cases of Brave or Finding Dory, they are not even in human form! There needs to be representation within media going far beyond film, but it is one place to start.
So I ask us, why are we treating diamonds as though they have turned to dust? How rich would be if we were to peel back the corner of that carpet and count the worth that has been hidden below? Why are we not demanding that screen time be given to a diverse range of middle aged and elderly women so that our children can grow up knowing that richness?
Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Until next time,
Life Coach Practitioner
Thank you for taking the time to explore this blog. I truly appreciate it. If you have not yet met me, my name is Katelyn Townsend and I work as a Certified Life Coach Practitioner. You may be wondering what this means. It means that I help individuals like you to make the future they dream of into their reality. I do this by helping them set and achieve goals, provide accountability and offer encouragement to get them to where they want to be.
At this point you are probably asking so why start a blog? There are several purposes to this blog. Firstly, I want to help provide tips, tricks, and tools to help you achieve your own goals. Secondly, I strongly believe that as human beings we learn best through story telling. This blog will also contain stories of individuals like you who have pursued their goals and accomplished great things. Additionally, I want to use the power of fictional story telling to help illustrate the potential for human growth. If nothing else you may just find yourself wrapped up in the drama of the tales that will hopefully at the very least provide entertainment value. Thirdly, I want a platform to be able to provide inspirational motivation. Sometimes, even when you know how to reach your goals on your own it can be difficult to fuel the fire of passion that helps ignite the desire to see those necessary actions through.
Thus, there will be several different styles of posts within this blog. I hope that you are able to enjoy all of them, but if not I will do my best to have things nicely sorted so that you can easily find what you are looking for and keep to the posts that speak to you personally. If there are any topics that you hope to be covered please mention them in the comments below.
I look forward to journeying together with you in the months to come and see where this leads us!
Life Coach Practitioner