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the heaviness of ugliness

“Smile though your heart is aching.

Smile even though it’s breaking.

When there are clouds in the sky, you’ll get by.

If you smile through your fears and sorrow.

Smile and maybe tomorrow…

You’ll see the sun come shining through”

I am writing this from Basel, Switzerland.


Long story short, it was a necessary trip that I emotionally, mentally, physically, and financially was not prepared to make. But there was a problem and I solved it…like I do.

Traveling alone gives you nothing but space with your thoughts. Some of you may run in terror at the sheer concept of that…I understand. I really do. I’ve had nothing but time to evaluate my changed life and the cacophony of trauma, emotions, and baggage attached to it; and you better believe that in the past 24 hours there has been deep fear and deep sorrow.

Facing your demons head on is not light work.

Time is my mind’s jungle gym. And below is what came up on the monkey bars today:


Sometimes my life feels like a one-woman juggling act.

And let me tell you, to hold the gravestones of pain AND actively reach for the sun is something I often do not feel dexterous enough to do.

But I’m not a one-woman show…

I have a community in a village that helped me find the rides I needed to make the trip possible.

I have a mom who had a long conversation with me as I processed my fear and my joy.

I have the world’s best cat who can slow down a moment of panic even from an ocean away over FaceTime.

I have people in my corner across MANY corners of the world now.

And yet…

Grief makes us feel alone.

I’ve felt the insidious assault of loneliness more times than I care to count even in just this week alone.

I’ve lost my way inside of my cavernous mind I am struggling to find my way out of the dark.


I read a story on the @humansofny Instagram page this evening.

I read Detra’s story.

Detra was raised in the conservative Southern Baptist church….like I was.

Detra was sexually abused by men in the church…like I was.

Detra became a pastor’s wife.

She learned the survivor method of keeping your head down and shrinking yourself so that others may not harm you. Detra made herself small.

And the world around her not only accepted this, but actively forced it.

But one day, Detra found her power. She chose healing.

She made a new life for herself, and it wasn’t easy…

…but she did it.

I wept when I read Detra’s story.

I wept because I saw myself.

I wept because in our stories, I see the collective of women who were/are abused, neglected, tormented, and controlled within a religious institution that claims it is all done in God’s name.

I wept.

My soul is heavy tonight…. can you tell?

How many Detra’s are out there?

How many Kasey’s are out there?

How many survivors are out there?

Too many.


Detra ended her story with a statement that feels like she found it within my own very soul:

“I always knew what beauty was. And even in the ugly, I created beauty”

My soul feels heavy with the ugliness tonight.

The ugliness of my pain.

The ugliness of the collective feminine pain.

Yet today, there was a bird perched on a ledge near my hostel. I smiled at it, and she tweeted at me.


I picked a bouquet of flowers, and they are drying in my new room in Ireland, waiting for me.


I sat down to write this when I felt the demons tugging at my mind and soul.


The River Rhine, on this scary day, glittered like starlight in the sunshine.


I do not know how to heal wounds this deep.

But stories like Detra's help remind me that it is done

one moment at a time,

one smile at a time,

and one stroke of beauty at a time.

If you have survived any form of abuse, I want you to know how sorry I am.

I want you to know that I do not know your pain, but I know of its essence. It hurts. It hurts all the time.

It is an ugly, ugly pain.

But I hope you know that I see beauty in you.

I see beauty in Detra and her powerful story.

And I am even beginning to see the beauty within myself.

So, when your heart is aching dear friend, gaze into the sun and smile with me.

One moment at a time…we will heal.

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