Women Beyond Faith

Meet Jessica Part 2 -

October 04, 2020 Leah Janet Season 3 Episode 13
Women Beyond Faith
Meet Jessica Part 2 -
Chapters
Women Beyond Faith
Meet Jessica Part 2 -
Oct 04, 2020 Season 3 Episode 13
Leah Janet

I know you've been clamoring for more of Jessica's beauty and badassery!

You're in luck! 

Here's more of her story!

#findingfreedom #onestoryatatime #womenspeakup #womenspeakout #dysautonomia #eosinophilicesophagitis #chronicillness #deconvert #emptythepews #exvangelical #psalm34:14

Jessica grew up swimming in christian fundamentalism.  Despite the christian education, life at home was hard -- raised by a single dad and an abusive bipolar manic depressive mother who was in and out of her life. A revolving door of blended families, domestic violence, sexual assault, neglect, and mental and emotional abuse were the norm.  

The christian schools grounded her and offered structure and stability. She found an identity and safe space to find refuge from the instability at home.  But it wasn’t enough. Jessica attempted suicide at the tender age of 10. 

Life was extreme. Ample finances granted travel to over 20 countries, outdoor educational school for weeks at a time, and a christian fundamentalist camp every summer. To outsiders, life looked like rich privilege, but money and Jesus were tied up in family power in a bid for approval and acceptance. 

In high school, Jessica became involved with a particular brand of Christianity focused on uncovering the Jewish identity of Jesus. This led her to 2 tours to Israel while still in high school, followed by a move to Israel for a year only 2 days after graduation. During her time in here she began a relationship with a Chabad Israeli Jew, which led to the discovery of her own sexuality. 

Jessica’s experiences (both personal and humanitarian oriented) in Israel set in motion her deconversion from fundamentalism. By her sophomore year of college at Kent State University, Jessica no longer identified as christian.  

Jessica transferred to Temple University in 2007 and met an Israeli Jew. He followed her back home due to family obligations. She married him, had a baby shortly thereafter and divorced by early 2011. 

After completing a human rights program in Rwanda, she graduated in December 2011 with a Bachelors in Applied Conflict Management, a beautiful two year old greeting her off the stage. 

During this time, each of her Christian friends fell off the face of the earth. She dated, continually reinventing herself and attempting to discover her true north all while raising her child as a single mom. 

In 2013 Jessica met her current husband. They had a baby and married, but were soon beset by a myriad of serious undiagnosed health issues besieging Jessica. It was not until 2018 that Jessica had some answers for the conditions plaguing her: Dysautonomia, gastroparesis, Eosinophilic Esophagitis, arthritis, small fiber neuropathy, and other debilitating issues. 

She currently resides in Ohio, with her husband and a 10 and 5 year old. She is happily atheist. A skeptic, realist, who is deeply uncomfortable with spirituality and religion, abhorring anyone and anything that discourages the asking of questions. 

Jessica enjoys evidence-based medical and cosmic science, fantasy book series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, piano, writing, gaming, animals, and dark humor. She is currently wading the intimidating waters of motherhood, marriage, medical professionals, and autonomy, striving to seek balance, while helping her children navigate life. And she does these things with while being chronically ill and preparing her funeral. 

She sports a tattoo in Hebrew on her back, obtained after deconversion. Part of it says “Desire peace, and hunt it down” Psalm 34:14.

It’s a damn good conversation. You’ll be blown away by Jessica. She’s a brave, badass woman! 

#findingfreedom #onestoryatatime #womenspeakup #womenspeakout #dysautonomia #eosinophilicesopha

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/user?u=8739294)

Show Notes Transcript

I know you've been clamoring for more of Jessica's beauty and badassery!

You're in luck! 

Here's more of her story!

#findingfreedom #onestoryatatime #womenspeakup #womenspeakout #dysautonomia #eosinophilicesophagitis #chronicillness #deconvert #emptythepews #exvangelical #psalm34:14

Jessica grew up swimming in christian fundamentalism.  Despite the christian education, life at home was hard -- raised by a single dad and an abusive bipolar manic depressive mother who was in and out of her life. A revolving door of blended families, domestic violence, sexual assault, neglect, and mental and emotional abuse were the norm.  

The christian schools grounded her and offered structure and stability. She found an identity and safe space to find refuge from the instability at home.  But it wasn’t enough. Jessica attempted suicide at the tender age of 10. 

Life was extreme. Ample finances granted travel to over 20 countries, outdoor educational school for weeks at a time, and a christian fundamentalist camp every summer. To outsiders, life looked like rich privilege, but money and Jesus were tied up in family power in a bid for approval and acceptance. 

In high school, Jessica became involved with a particular brand of Christianity focused on uncovering the Jewish identity of Jesus. This led her to 2 tours to Israel while still in high school, followed by a move to Israel for a year only 2 days after graduation. During her time in here she began a relationship with a Chabad Israeli Jew, which led to the discovery of her own sexuality. 

Jessica’s experiences (both personal and humanitarian oriented) in Israel set in motion her deconversion from fundamentalism. By her sophomore year of college at Kent State University, Jessica no longer identified as christian.  

Jessica transferred to Temple University in 2007 and met an Israeli Jew. He followed her back home due to family obligations. She married him, had a baby shortly thereafter and divorced by early 2011. 

After completing a human rights program in Rwanda, she graduated in December 2011 with a Bachelors in Applied Conflict Management, a beautiful two year old greeting her off the stage. 

During this time, each of her Christian friends fell off the face of the earth. She dated, continually reinventing herself and attempting to discover her true north all while raising her child as a single mom. 

In 2013 Jessica met her current husband. They had a baby and married, but were soon beset by a myriad of serious undiagnosed health issues besieging Jessica. It was not until 2018 that Jessica had some answers for the conditions plaguing her: Dysautonomia, gastroparesis, Eosinophilic Esophagitis, arthritis, small fiber neuropathy, and other debilitating issues. 

She currently resides in Ohio, with her husband and a 10 and 5 year old. She is happily atheist. A skeptic, realist, who is deeply uncomfortable with spirituality and religion, abhorring anyone and anything that discourages the asking of questions. 

Jessica enjoys evidence-based medical and cosmic science, fantasy book series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, piano, writing, gaming, animals, and dark humor. She is currently wading the intimidating waters of motherhood, marriage, medical professionals, and autonomy, striving to seek balance, while helping her children navigate life. And she does these things with while being chronically ill and preparing her funeral. 

She sports a tattoo in Hebrew on her back, obtained after deconversion. Part of it says “Desire peace, and hunt it down” Psalm 34:14.

It’s a damn good conversation. You’ll be blown away by Jessica. She’s a brave, badass woman! 

#findingfreedom #onestoryatatime #womenspeakup #womenspeakout #dysautonomia #eosinophilicesopha

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/user?u=8739294)

Leah  
Welcome to women beyond faith, where we are finding freedom on the other side, one story at a time. For women who have walked away from faith, the challenges are often overwhelming, isolated, abandoned by family, misunderstood by partners,

Unknown Speaker  
ostracized by friends,

Leah  
shamed for thinking critically, cursed for speaking out subdued by the patriarchy. Thank you for joining us today,

Unknown Speaker  
as we provide a platform

Leah  
for women to speak up, to speak out and to share their stories, because their stories count their stories.

Well, good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. And I'd like to welcome back today, Jessica. And it's been a hot minute since we connected in our part one interview, I think that was probably even before COVID Is that possible?

Unknown Speaker  
Yeah, I think there were rumors of it. Okay.

Leah  
And Damn, the world has been a little bit upside down. Since we talked last time, I was hoping to be able to meet you in person for reals this summer, because you're like only a few hours away from me. But here we find ourselves. I'm still in southern Ohio. You're still in northern Ohio. And we've yet to been able to meet up because of the Coronavirus. So, that's on my to do list in the future. So welcome back, Jessica.

Unknown Speaker  
Thank you.

Leah  
Um, our first conversation, we finished up, um, about the time that you and your Shabbat, Israeli Jewish boyfriend broke up. And you were just kind of devastated in it. It, it was kind of maybe the beginning of the end for your Christian faith. So I thought we'd pick up right, right back there. And then see where life took you from from that point? How's that sound? Okay, all right. So what what, how old were you at that time at that juncture of your life when you broke up with him? When he broke up with you? Whatever happened?

Unknown Speaker  
Yeah. Um, so I was about 1920 years old. And I had spent that year in Israel, and I ended up coming back. And wanted to start going to school since I had a better idea of what I wanted to do. So and I had the opportunity to go to college, fully paid already by my grandparents, by my grandmother's, actually, my grandfather had had just passed away and from Alzheimer's from a battle with Alzheimer's, so, um, so I got that opportunity to go to college, already paid for and I didn't want to waste that. So I was really into archaeology. I had done an archeological dig when I was in Israel. And I was very much wanting to work on my Hebrew skills. So when I came back from there, I ended up going to Philadelphia to Temple University for my freshman year. Hmm. And I ended up studying Hebrew with a dead sea scrolls scholar, and she was a Jewish Israeli woman, and really amazing. And she, like really liked me for some reason.

Leah  
I mean, how could anyone not?

Unknown Speaker  
Well, you know, and at that point, I was since I had backgrounds and working with both Jewish Israelis, Palestinians, Muslim Palestinians, and then also Muslim Israelis. Since I had that background, I ended up doing a lot of stuff that first year in at school, kind of like international type of thing. So a lot of international groups and conversations. So at that point, I was still I was still a Christian, but I was very much Less dogmatic about it. Okay, um, and, you know, I was meeting people from all over the world again at Temple University. You know, like I had friends, I didn't hang out too much with white Americans. My roommate in college was that first year was a black American. And she like, to this day, I have nothing but fond memories with her. Like, she was just amazing. And so I was being exposed to a lot of different people, you know, from Afghanistan and Pakistan, I was hanging out with all the international students. So I'm really just kind of trying, even though like I was here in the States, still really trying to understand people, and not just the people, the type of people I had grown up with, you know, white, Christian Americans. But, you know, people from everywhere with all kinds of different faiths with all kinds of different perspectives and which was just really an amazing that first year that I was that I was there in Philadelphia at Temple University was amazing. I ended up meeting my first husband there. at Temple University, he did not go to temple university. I actually went to the is that King of Prussia? mall? Yeah. Yeah. The King of Prussia Mall, and he was working there. And he, oh, what do they call them? In the middle, they're not like an actual storefront. But they're right in the middle. Like a little kiosks. Yes. kiosk. Yeah. So he was working a kiosk with a friend of his. They're both they're both Jewish Israelis. He really didn't know too much English, but I knew enough Hebrew. And you know, and I was walking by and he's selling makeup, and he like, starts trying to get my attention. And I was like, Alright, well, let's just go for this. So I started talking to him in Hebrew, which, you know, was really mind blowing for him. Um, so that was kind of the start of my very, my very first marriage. And he, I ended up having to, after my temple university experience, I ended up having to come back to Ohio, because I had a little sister that was going through a crisis mode with my mom and everything. So I wanted to come back here to Ohio to be here with her. Because she was living in an abusive situation. And her adopted dad finally got, like full custody of her. There was a lot of stuff that ended up happening, that was really awful. So, when I came back here to Ohio, my first husband followed me. He followed me back here, and, um, he ended up living with us. Hmm, it Yeah, with me and my dad, he ended up living with me and my dad for a little while, and then we found him a job at the mall, with some other Israelis, who were, you know, at the kiosks. And we got married almost out of he was supposed to leave the country like his visa was up. And him and I, you know,

Unknown Speaker  
I, you know, him and I, we wanted to still definitely stay together. But I knew that going back to Israel, for me at that point was not an option. And he wanted to stay here. And we loved each other very much. So we were like, well, let's get married. Let's do this. So I actually went through the whole integration process with him. And got him you know, we got married and he had we went through the system. I when I got married to him, it was at a at the Oh, in the downtown Akron. They have a What does that believe? Sorry, I'm having to create a courthouse. Yeah, there you go. That's what they call those things. Um, and my aunt showed up but my grandmother refused. They found out that you know, I was dating this is really Jewish man. He was not Christian. My grandmother absolutely refused to come. She ended up disowning me, like, because, you know, I was getting married to this Jewish man.

Leah  
Wow. So all based upon his religion, he was a Christian man. Yeah,

Unknown Speaker  
yep. Um, so, you know, and I had some friends there at the courthouse, and my, my stepdad was there. My dad was there. my stepmom was at, you know, like, I had some I had a good support system, as far as you know, there were probably like a dozen people there. So, but yeah, my, my grandmother, she and other family members they did not agree with with it because of he was Jewish. And I guess in their minds, they're thinking that I am still, you know, still on the same page with them at that point. I wasn't. I was like a really loose Christian at that point. You know, you call me a very loosely, I was a Christian. I was starting though, you know, like, when I, when I got back from Temple University, I transferred my, my stuff to Kent State University. So, you know, during this time when I was dating, my ex husbands and dealing with my little sister and the abusive situation that she was in, I, you know, was starting my second year of school at Kent State University, and I ended up starting in conflict management degree. Taking all of those classes, I started taking an evolution course because I thought, well, why not? You know, um, well, the science thing, you know, growing up all in Christian Schools, the science thing was muddled at best. So I had ended up having to unlearn. And to this day, I am still on learning. A lot of stuff, a lot of so called science that I was taught in Christian Schools that is not actually science, right? Um, which I love science now, like, I I love it. I think it's fan freaking tastic

Unknown Speaker  
I love it, too.

Unknown Speaker  
I'm all about it. Like, I've got all kinds of stuff in my house now all about science and, and they tie it like my daughter. We're doing the online public school with her right now. She's got science class, I'm there with her teaching, and going through it all. And I'm learning right along with her. Oh, cool. Yeah, absolutely. Love it. Love it. And I've been getting a lot of supplemental material. Anyway, um, so I, I took this evolution course and and it was making a lot of sense to me. And coupled with my experiences with other people, other religions, that kind of stuff. I just felt like there's a good possibility that I've been lied to. Oh,

Leah  
yeah. A hard hitting revelation.

Unknown Speaker  
Yeah, um, you know, um, but I didn't know who to talk to about it. There wasn't anyone I could talk to about it. So I was just kind of trying to process things on my own. I was very quiet, about stuff about what was going on. Once my husband and I got married, and I, you know, my grandmother had disowned me. My husband wanted me to think about converting to Judaism, because, you know, I told him, Well, you know, I'm not going to rule it out. And so he wanted me to really think about converting for real so we actually ended up going to see a rabbi and talking with a rabbi. And, and I started this process of converting to Judaism. Wow. And I remember very clearly, there was a point where I was like, I cannot believe in this God. Because of all the genocide in the Bible, I can't do it. I don't know if I want to align myself with something like that. You know, I had just, I had been through, you know, in Israel, I was watching genocide. Yeah. And it was 2006. So that was their war with Lebanon. And I had had these experiences where there was just complete, like, complete and total dehumanization of Palestinians, also from Palestinians, to Israelis, like, it's not a one way street, obviously, you know, because I remember getting on buses there in Israel. And like, there are people that pray out loud or have their Bibles open rocking and praying while they're on buses, you know, because there's so many been so many bus explosions. And, and I can remember, you know, observing this and not, and thinking, whenever I get on a bus there, I'm thinking, Okay, well, looking around at everybody, you know, like, everybody to me is suspicious. All sides? Yes. Because the fact of the matter is that there's so much hate. And, um, and you know, and I, I'm certainly not going to sit here and say that love is the antidote, because I don't really believe that. Um, but from what I'm looking at, holy shit. So, do I really want to align myself with this type of stuff? Hmm.

Leah  
Was your husband at the time? Was he pressuring you?

Unknown Speaker  
Yeah, yeah. Okay. Yeah, he was pressuring me. And, you know, I was also what, probably five months pregnant. We had gotten pregnant, like a month after we got married. Wow. Yeah. And I remember when I got pregnant, um, you know, I gone to see the doctor at Kent State University, they have their own little medical center there. And, and I remember the nurse saying, you know, she knew I was married, but she looked at me and she goes, are you you should really consider an abortion. And at that point, when it came to abortions, I was like, real iffy. Like, why would that be the first thing that you tell me? I'm married? Yeah, I'm young, and I'm going to school. But why are there other options? So, um, now, with a little bit more clarity, I feel it a little bit more experience. I understand why she asked that. At the same time, though, I don't know. If I was a nurse if I would be that brace. To suggest such a thing.

Unknown Speaker  
Yeah.

Unknown Speaker  
I'm radical. I

Leah  
mean, like, I am a nurse now.

Unknown Speaker  
Mm hmm. Yeah. But right now,

Leah  
I'm not working with young women. But um, yeah, that is a part of healthcare that I am curious about and maybe interested in getting involved in? And yeah, I don't know. That's, yeah, that was pretty bold of her. Yeah. parkins back in. I mean, 1415 years ago, whatever. That was 10 years ago. Yeah.

Unknown Speaker  
Yeah. And for me to be married, you know, I just didn't really understand and you know, and he wanted me to get an abortion to Wow. And I felt really hurt by that. But, you know, abortions to Israelis are no big thing. I mean, they do it all the time, which is just one of a little bit of irony, but you know. So, um, yeah. And that was really kind of like a really big turning point for me going through starting that process of converting, and being like, I don't want to align myself with a genocidal God. I can't do it. You know, you can sit there and talk about a crush as a Christian all day about the love of Jesus. But I'm sorry, man. Like is, is does the love of Jesus include sending you to help because you don't? Right, even like, likes.

Leah  
So are you expressing that? And though this to your hubby? Yeah. Yeah. And what was his response to you?

Unknown Speaker  
Um, I don't really remember, to be honest, because things were kind of Rocky between us. He was a bit of a womanizer. And he was a gambling addict. Those were things that I was aware of before we got married, but you know, standards change. Yeah. And it finally got to this point, um, you know, we we ended up like moving to Maryland further for a summer when I was pregnant. And things were really volatile, he ended up like, I was six or seven months pregnant, he ended up like tackling me to the ground. And I remember at one point, I had to flee. He had a knife in his hand, and he was like, chasing me down the steps screaming at me and Hebrew, you know, I'm gonna slash your tires, I'm gonna cut the baby out of you like all this stuff. I just remember like being just ahead of him enough that I was able to get in my car. And as I was driving away, like he grabbed the windshield wiper wire to try and like and tear it off. So really volatile, all of it. So I ended up like, driving back to Ohio. He ended up coming back to Ohio. Like we ended up trying to work it out. We ended up getting an apartment of our own. It was kind of one of those things where we weren't ready to say goodbye. Yeah. Like we were more willing to deal with these truthers shit. Yeah. Then, to part ways. Yeah, um, which obviously is not wise. But you know? Yeah. And

Leah  
who wants to admit, you know, especially at that age for you guys, I would think, you know, like that they made the decision that was wrong. They made a mistake.

Unknown Speaker  
Yeah. Well, and plus, I had been through so much Don't forget as a kid, all, you know, all the domestic violence that I had been through, and, like this revolving door of family members, marriages and divorces, and everything was based on who was having sex with who, and, and I just, like, I was able to tolerate a high level of shit. Yeah. Because for me, it was normal.

Leah  
Right. Right. And you still did not have the tools? In order to say, No,

Unknown Speaker  
well, yeah, I'd like there was there was no one that I could, like, no one ever took me aside and be like, you know, you deserve something better. No one ever. No one ever said. You know, I think you could do this without him. Yeah. All that kind of stuff, you know. And so I was still going to school full time during all of this that can State University. So I'm still trying to get my degree. While and while being married, going through all that drama and then getting a divorce. We ended up getting a divorce and, and just a few months before we got divorced, when my daughter was a little over a year old. I ended up having for my degree, my conflict management degree. I ended up going to Rwanda for about six weeks. Wow. My daughter was 10 months old at the time. Um, so I had to leave her behind. But it was one of those decisions where I could either take six weeks and leave her in the hands of people who love her and who I know that she's going to be okay with or I could spend a semester barely seeing her because I'm trying to get my hour my work hours at eight, you know, for this position. I don't know. To this day, I don't know what was a smart decision and what wasn't because it was I mean, going to college with a baby. Oh my god raise a baby is not an easy thing. Right? And I can remember, you know, like, there would be students in my classes who would show up like, they were hung over they had like, juicy on their asses and stuff and like, and here I am like, really, and they would like try to ask the professor's for like an extension or something. And here I am. With the kid. Try just trying to graduate you know, just trying to get through all of this. You And I and I did not get that, you know, that college experience people write about, you know what I mean? It just wasn't wasn't

Leah  
your cards wasn't in your cards. Yeah, I and, you know, like my, my middle daughter just graduated from college 21 in August. And she didn't have that either. Like she went to community college or first two years, and then she lived on campus her last year. But like, you know, not into any of that typical community or college experience thing, you know, and I'm like, you know, you kind of feel badly like, Oh, I'm sorry, you didn't get that. But on the other hand, like, it seems like so shallow in some degree, like, oh, let's go out party get drunk. Yeah, what you know, but like, I know, it doesn't have to be that way. But like, I'm kind of, I don't think you really missed out on too much. I think it's okay. You know, or, you're you are that age raising a child not having any family support or minimal family support? You know, and trying to graduate?

Unknown Speaker  
Yeah, well, yeah, I ended up having to buy like my dad, I ended up having to move back in with him after the divorce. And so it was me and my daughter, and we ended up moving back in with him and his girlfriend at the time, who he had been with for like, 10 years or something. She I ended up having to pay her to watch my daughter Now, while I went to school. And I remember when I gave birth to my daughter. The following week was finals. Oh my gosh.

Leah  
And so did you get an extension for your final? Oh, no. Um, yeah. Bad Ass beauty. Miss Jessica. Wow.

Unknown Speaker  
Yeah,

Leah  
I was need to applaud your strength as a as a woman. I mean, like, look at you, like, you know, 20s, early, early 20s young adult, doing all the things like showing up being mature, being responsible.

Unknown Speaker  
Yeah, trying to, you know, it was not an easy thing. And, you know, I made some kind of shitty decisions to along the way, obviously. But, you know, once my daughter was born, I can really say that I knew that leaving religion leaving the church was the best thing because, you know, I got home with my daughter, after the hospital. And I had to go back into the hospital at one point after I gave birth to her due to some complications, and I was finally home with her. And I remember carrying her up the steps when she was sleeping to put her down in her crib. And I just like, I was so overwhelmed with how much love I had for her, you know? And just feeling like how could anybody think that a little innocent baby is somehow full of sin? Yeah. And deserving of hell? Or, like it doesn't. It really solidified for me. Okay, I'm making the right decision by leaving. Yeah, church by leaving all of it behind. Not only am I leaving a genocidal God behind, but I'm leaving a way of life. Uh huh. That is just toxic. Not just toxic for me but toxic for my, my girl. Ah, for all women. Yes. And I didn't want to raise her, like fat. I didn't want to raise her how I was raised. I really, really didn't. I don't know. I feel like I'm doing a pretty decent job right now. You know, my daughter's 10 now. And we, you know, I her she does not know her biological father. He's not in the picture. He hasn't been since she was like two or three. Um, and so the only dad that she's ever known as my current husband, and she we really he's an atheist too. I got lucky that way and She, we've been able to let her know the importance of asking questions, and always asking questions being curious because I, you know, like before me growing up, if I asked questions, it was met with like derision, you know?

Leah  
Yeah, acceptable. Jessica.

Unknown Speaker  
Yeah, yeah. Let you asking questions. No, you're not allowed to. So I, you know, really emphasize, I literally just had this conversation with her two days ago here on the couch, you know, she was asking me, you know, about sex and everything. And, and, you know, and so we're talking about stuff. And I said, you know, at the end of the day, I just want you to feel like you have the freedom to ask questions, and look for answers. And I said, That's, for me, the second most important thing, the first most important thing is consent.

Leah  
What a beautiful conversation to be able to have with your 10 year old daughter. Yeah. You know what I mean? And like you said, like, my parents were not religious, but they didn't talk to me about sex at all. Yeah. So it's not necessarily a religious thing or not, but like, what a healthy human response and conversation you guys were able to have an eye love. I mean, like, I've been able to watch a little bit of your parenting, you know, through social media and like, and like, hear about some of the conversations that you have with your kids and some of the activities you do. And he is just beautiful, Jessica. So yeah, girl, you are doing a fabulous job. raising those kids and they are lucky as hell to have you as their mom and providing an environment right between you and your hobby, where they are free to be themselves, whatever that is. Yeah. I mean, shitty, sometimes disrespectful, maybe rebellious, but hey, that they're not going to be turned away, or they're not going to be silenced. Right, because they're curious. Yeah. And man, like, I'm excited about not only like your generation, like changing things for the future of our country in our world, but like your kids, yeah, generation. Yeah, changing things for our society and for our world. Yeah. Like, it's just, it's, it gives me hope, when in this world, especially where we find ourselves here during this pandemic, where so often I feel like, there's not a whole lot of hope. out there. So yeah, so thank you for changing the narrative, and changing the conversations with your kids. Like it's only going to make our world a better space.

Unknown Speaker  
I hope so. And, you know, and I think, at least when it comes to talking to my kids, I really believe in building resiliency. And you know, all the shit that I went through as a kid you know, all the domestic violence, all the, all the abuse, all the shit from my mom, just all kinds of stuff. You know, it built it built a little bit of resiliency for myself. Not that I want my kids to go. No, right? No, no. However, I do want them to build some sort of resiliency in the face of adversity. Do you fold? Or do you stand up? Do you get through? Yeah. Do you find a way to try and thrive through the shit? Yeah.

Leah  
Yeah, and that's so hard. I feel like I was offering that to our kids because I feel like just as you you're doing with your kiddos we've tried to do with our kiddos like most even like when we were in religion, we were always kind of the different kind of religious people but but I find myself even now, as all my kids are young adults like wanting to like to like dive in and like rescue them so that they're not hurting and they're not experiencing pain and that I can still come up with the answers for them to make life be easier for them. Because it hurts it hurts like hell to watch our kids and angsty and struggle right? Yeah, but like I just the other day, there was a situation with one of my kids where I just as desperate as I wanted to like, whoo, dive right in and try to save the day cuz there's something about that Jesus Messiah complex. Oh, yeah.

Unknown Speaker  
Right.

Leah  
Yeah. And like, no, like, Leah, stay seated. Get on your ass. Let them they have to figure this out. And so I I am a little concerned. I mean, I'm learning still as a parent, right? But like,

Unknown Speaker  
that never ends.

Leah  
Yeah, right. Like, like, because, I mean, I'll speak for myself, but because I have tried to make my kids lives so much better. less dramatic and trauma filled then what I my own childhood was, yeah, that it's going to be harder for them to be resilient and to be able to be in difficult situations and be able to overcome. But like, they have to, you know, they're going to have to figure it out. And like, my kids that are all young adults, like the consequences now for decisions they make, are potentially so much greater, right than when they're 10, or eight or whatever. And like, it's parenting goddamnit it's fucking hard as hell decided this was a good idea to have children. Yeah, so I love I love that you're having those conversations with your kids. Yeah, it's just beautiful.

Unknown Speaker  
Yeah, for sure. And I'm grateful to have them, they certainly were not had with me when I was a kid. And I am hoping that it'll at least give them a little bit of a guiding starting point and life. You know, I, for me, growing up I had, I had most of my needs, as far as, as far as physical needs are met most of the time. Um, but there was a lot that was missing. You know, despite all the money, and all of that, I mean, going through the the, the the abuse and the trauma, the domestic violence, all of that. I don't know, I it doesn't escape. Class, right? Sure. Obviously, class can make things a little bit easier. And, you know, having having some money can make things easier as far as you don't have to be worried about where your next meal is coming from. But, you know, there's still, there's still some struggle. So, you know, after, once, I, once I was able to graduate college, you know, I graduated, and my daughter was, oh, how old was she? About two years old? Oh, two and a half or so. Um, and so, you know, I, I got to graduate with, you know, I came down off the stage and picked her up in my arms. And, and it was awesome. To know that I was able to do this. Now listen, I fully acknowledge the privilege and all of this, I didn't have to work, because my, my, my expenses were already paid. Mm hmm. I fully acknowledge that my situation was not normal. I'm even in a situation where, you know, someone ends up having to raise a kid. And do you know, while going to school, you know, there was there was absolutely privilege here to be had. So I could not, I have a hard time imagining it being any more difficult. Right. But I know that it is. Yeah, yeah, I know that it is for a lot of people. Yeah.

Leah  
And like, how in the world? Do they work a full time job? You know, there's this in my nursing. I just started my my job this week. And there is someone in my new job who just graduated from nursing school continued to work full time while going to nursing school now, no, no kids involved, right. But I'm just like, How in the world did you do that? So yeah, what some people are able to accomplish, you included, is just beyond me. Like, I don't know if I have that within me if I don't have enough food to be able to provide to my children. I don't know. It's I'm not strong enough of a woman yet. Think I would be able to make that happen. Yeah. So kudos to you, girlfriend, and that your acknowledgement of the privilege? I mean, that just goes a long way. Yeah, no. And yeah.

Unknown Speaker  
Well, you know, I am I, you know, I spent six weeks in Rwanda, and it was for a Human Rights Commission type of thing. And I was meeting with other Rwandans who had The same human rights hope for their country. And very much learning from them. They're learning from us. I ended up ended up working with an indigenous nonprofit organization there. And Rwanda. There's a specific group of people. If anyone has any familiarity with Rwanda and the genocide in 1994, there was the Hutus and the Tutsis in the United States did absolutely fuck nothing. And, you know, and you've got million people dead by machete, and 100 day period, and the country is absolutely devastated. And, you know, and it's, it's very slowly trying to recover from all of this, and they're trying to find a way to rebuild their future together. And talking about forgiveness, and they have like these Chacha courts where, where people will try to get some justice. You know, someone who was a neighbor who tried to kill them, or, you know, did whatever. So, I mean, it's a very messy, this stuff is messy, um, it um, I mean, it was really eye opening for me. And I ended up and yeah, this I mean, this is while I was still married, okay, so I ended up and my daughter's 10 months old. And I ended up meeting a Rwandan man, huh, who was my interpreter, who was absolutely an amazing human being, you know, had been through this genocide had survived it as a kid. You know, growing up on the streets, and so forth. And, and he somehow ended up caring about me, oh, I don't know how he ended up caring about me, he just did. And it was very much mutual, we very much loved each other, and that six week period, and he sat me down, and he said, um, you know, I had told him about my situation at home, you know, my husband was a gambling addict, we, I had already kicked him out of the house. He knew that I was going to file for divorce as soon as I got back. You know, but he had our daughter during this time, taking care of our daughter while I was able to do this stuff, and, and work with the indigenous population there in Rwanda, just trying to get some perspective and some experience. Um, you know, I can't do shit for anybody. I can't. And he, he sat me down, and he said, You know, you're a lot stronger than what you think than what you give yourself credit for. And he said, I know that if you decide to leave your husband, that you're going to be able to do it. And he was really the first person who woke me up and spoke truth and life into me. Hmm. He, he was able to get to me in a way that nobody else had. Wow, um, you know, it's shot. I don't know he shared a little bit of his strength with me. Yeah, um, you know, once I came back from Rwanda, I did exactly what I told my my ex husband that I was going to do you know, I started the divorce process, all this stuff. So, you know, and once I, once I graduated, I had a hard time finding a job. I ended up working at an electric company for a few months and that ended poorly. I ended up speaking out about my extremely racist. Oh god.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai