Okay, I'm just going to say it out loud right now: I love this woman. We met at the CAST event on Holy Saturday last month - we were both presenting and she performed this KICK ASS spoken word. There is something about Erica that exudes life, like SO MUCH LIFE. She is a well of light and I was so moved by this interview with her. I hope her words - her truth telling - speaks to you in the same deep way it spoke to me. Ready? Meet Erica, babes....
Hi Erica! Will you tell us about where you've come from and what sparked your own personal awakening or deconstruction?
Back in November, I was out of town for work and ended up salsa dancing with guy. I came home from the trip feeling all sorts of things-frustrated that I didn’t feel that wanted by my husband, ashamed that I let some brief dance mess with my head so much. A couple days later, my husband crossed a boundary that I had clearly created. It was from this point that my life started spiraling.
Context: my husband and I both slept with other people while married to one another. Through this, I endured a lot of verbal abuse and neglect from my spouse while he was angry. I had slept with more people so his mistakes weren’t as bad. We did not progress towards healing but I did however set up some boundaries that were non-negotiable.
Once he crossed the boundary, with all of my frustrations from the paragraph above still in tact, I asked him for a 6 month separation. The attachment with my husband had been severed so I began responding in a flight manner. I checked out, stopped feeling, started looking for ways to numb. It was in the numbing that I found anger and distrust with God. I began isolating. I began self-sabotaging.
I’ve been on a journey ever since to get back the feeling of my body and emotions. I’ve been on a journey ever since to consider trusting God again.
What kind of obstacles did you face that brought deeper awareness?
My need to be attractive to men really started bubbling up in this process. My need to be touched sensually was beginning to be overwhelming and began consuming my thoughts. Which of course, bred more shame because, “what the actual fuck Erica? We’ve been down this road before and here you are again”.
As I mentioned before the shame caused some isolation. My mind gets really dark and twisty when I’m all alone without anyone to help unwind my obsessions. One day when I was super stoned, God gave me this vision that fucking floored me.
While I was berating myself about being in the same spot as before, learning the same lesson, I got this picture of me laying in a hole in the ground. I was also the person standing over myself, shoveling dirt over the top. I was burying the girl that I used to be. The girl that did all the cheating, the girl that kept fucking up.
This was a very mainstream Christian metaphor playing out in my mind. Then I got sick to my stomach. I felt so violent burying myself.
Then, for the first time in a long fucking time, I considered that Jesus absorbed all the violence for me so I didn’t need to self sabotage or punish myself.
Holy shit. What? I’m aware that I felt the need to punish the old me instead of heal her. It turns out, I’m not learning a new lesson. I buried that girl and pretended she never existed, like she never tried to sabotage her world. She’s back from the dead and home girl wants some love.
How has your self view and world view changed?
I began using the enneagram to help see myself for who I am in health and in unhealth. A lot of how I view the world is so intense and I needed to be reminded that just because it’s a reality in my head, doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily a reality in real life. I’m learning that my personality type is actually rare so I can affirm my feelings of not fitting in all the way. I can learn to see myself as a gift to this world.
This process of undoing has showed me too that it’s people who are frightened by vulnerability and darkness, not the Divine. In that epiphany, I've felt like I can let go of what I think others might think, ignore what people have so ignorantly heaped on top of me and just be me. I mean that in the sense that I don’t fully know myself but that I don’t have to be anything that I’m not or believe what I don’t.
What do you believe everyone in the world deserves to have and how does that shape the way you live your life?
Really good fucking community. Like, deep in your bones, sits at the back of your eyes at all times, love from a community. It wasn’t until Isat across the table from my friends, alcohol buzz sponsoring my words, telling them, “This is me. Will you love me anyway?”
I think all of heaven fell apart when I articulated what I think most people feel but may not have the courage to ask: Will you promise to love me if I show you me? I say that heaven fell apart because my friends did too. I looked into water welled eyes as they reassured their love for me-no matter what.
Big exhale and maybe a little chuckle for thinking I might be less than perfect in their eyes or God’s for that matter. Fuck man. The lies that shame gets us to believe.
What advice or encouragement would you give to someone else who is going through their own awakening or deconstruction?
There are thousands of people who will never garner enough courage to look deep within themselves or pursue doubt. Don’t think it’s going to be some easy shit. It’s so damn hard.
It’s back and forth. It’s push, pull, drag, kick, scream, cuss, cry, laugh, flip out and sometimes all in a week's worth of work. But you’re worth it. Understanding who you are and being fully aware of your shit is worth it. Knowing the ways you can see God and the ways you doubt it is the only way you CAN grow.
What is one thing you know for certain?
Love. I know that it heals and emboldens. I know that it soothes and empowers.
That’s it. Life feels super harsh and acute to me so I know and want love. The transcendant kind, not the appeasing kind.
How can people find you?