If you have been around here long enough you know that Mardi Gras is my favorite holiday, and Lent is my favorite time of year. It’s about a week away and I have been thinking a lot about what I’m giving up this year. I definitely settled on something, based on experiences the last two weeks. And I’m hopeful this will be the last blog post specifically on this topic.

Purposefully blurred for effect. “…does not make you ‘too much…’ ” being the clearest part.

An Open Letter

This is a letter I could never send. You’d see it as petty, and dramatic, and you wouldn’t take it seriously. But writing it is still cathartic to me. And so, here we are. I need you to know that I’ve woken up, I’ve seen through a lot of what happened, and I am choosing me. At the end of the day, the gaslighting, which I don’t use lightly, was not okay. And it wasn’t in just one area. Trying to convince me that I am fundamentally not who I am was not okay. Trying to convince me that interactions were precipitated in ways that were so different than the truth was not okay. I realize we are allowed to have our own perspectives on a situation. But you aren’t allowed to tell me my reality didn’t happen (because, honey dee, it did). So here is what I’ve decided, for me:

I’m giving you up for Lent. Do I realize how silly that sounds? Yes. Is it important to this time and place and does it hold deep meaning? Also yes. It’s proof to myself that there is no turning back. It’s proof to myself that even though Lent starts on your birthday, there is no need to reach out. It’s proof to myself that I can disappear for 40+ days (and never return). It’s a very real metaphor for me: walking in the desert with my own temptations. Part of me wants to “stick it to the man” but none of this is actually about you. It’s about me, and my growth, and standing up for myself. And you aren’t worth it.

You’re savvy. You’re sneaky. You don’t like to be called out. You don’t actually want accountability. Your emotional capacity is nonexistent. You manipulate. So I’m also giving up: trying to crack your code, trying to understand the secrecy, the backlash from calling you on your shit, battling the gaslighting, giving and not receiving, being taken advantage of for crumbs. I recently said to someone “know better, do better”. And that is my new trajectory I am claiming. I see more. I learn more. And then I adjust and act accordingly. I do more. Giving space for others is important. Forgiving is important. But you can do that without keeping someone in your life. Not my typical MO, and obviously not something that is easy for me. But it starts now, today, in actuality and perpetuity. No turning back, no turning back.


I’ve never had to question how my faith and belief comes off to others. I feel comfortable in what I believe and how I live my life accordingly. I don’t spend much time worrying about whether others have an opinion on how/where I commune with G-d, how I pray, the ways in which my intuition and spirituality are sprinkled in. It’s all mine, and defined by my being, and I think radiates from my core. I don’t hide it.

But today I had an interaction that shook me to my core. Literally dumbfounded me in a way that hasn’t happened since I met our cousin Luann for the first time. A friend was sharing with me that their father is having open heart surgery on Monday. Me being me, I asked what time. “I don’t know,” they said “Monday morning?” And I asked that if they find out the specific time for them to let me know so I could be in intentional prayer for their father—something I try and do in cases like these for my nearest and dearest. And their response floored me. “Ha! But why? You don’t believe in God!” My jaw dropped. “Excuse me; what? Come again?” “Shannon…” “um, I don’t believe in God? WHAT would have ever given you that impression?” “Because you don’t. You don’t believe in God”. And that’s where it was left. Because they hoped off the phone for another call and I was left in the wake of someone who, for whatever reason, felt they knew something about my being that is utterly not true.

From a stranger on the street, perhaps that response would have felt justified. From someone who knows me at all it seemed like they’d just ignored who I am. I’ve had faith conversations with this person. I’ve told them I’m praying for them. I’ve shared a book of blessings with them for their grief (written by on of my favorite Methodist minister poets). I’ve talked to them about my former position as a youth minister. I’ve shared about getting back into the habit of attending church. I’ve shared intimate details about my struggles with organized religion and various calls God has had in my life.

Where then did I give the indication I didn’t believe in God? I’m sorry, but who exactly do you think I am?

Trying not to take it to heart. Remembering that people maybe don’t always know us as deeply as they believe they do—or maybe they don’t know us as well are we previously thought they did. I still feel confident in myself and my beliefs. But boy if that didn’t throw me for a loop.