Wednesday, January 30, 2013

March For Life happiness

We went to the March For Life last week, as mentioned in my previous post, and had a great time. When I say "we" I mean Bobcats For Life. However, I think the part of the weekend that was most special for me was just getting to share it with Ryan. I mean, he is a part of Bobcats For Life, but having him there as my boyfriend and my best friend, not just as a member of the organization, was special to me. He visited me in DC when I was there for the NRL Academy so it was nice to be back there together again.

Ryan is so special to me. When we arrived on Thursday night, we were both experiencing some pretty bad ear discomfort. I felt pretty stressed out and now in pain from ear issues and I kind of just wanted to go to bed and wake up again feeling great. Unfortunately, the night continued to be stressful with the 8 of us trying to find food in the cold at 11 p.m. and my hearing slowly fading away. Once we all got back to the hotel after dinner, I just couldn't handle the pain in my ears. It was just so terrible; it wasn't the normal airplane ear discomfort. Ryan stayed by my side throughout my whole ordeal. He went with me down to the lobby so I could cry without worrying about waking up anyone in the room. He searched on Google for cures (which, by the way, are bullshit. Yawning? nope. Gum chewing? tried it. Plugging your nose and blowing? don't want permanent ear drum damage.) and sat there with me as I cried and cried and used up a box of tissues from my tears and runny nose. He called his mom for motherly advice at 2 a.m. when my mom didn't answer (she did later, to her credit.). He searched online for a 24 hour clinic, but to no avail. He talked me through it all. Honestly, he handled himself like a social worker would. I recognized in him some listening and reflecting skills that I'd read about in my textbook that day. At the end of the night, after lots of phone calls to my insurance company's 24 hour nurse hotline and to our moms and a can of ginger ale, I ended up taking melatonin & ibuprofen and falling asleep on some hot hands. I woke up the next morning feeling so much better. I was so grateful for the care that Ryan provided me, despite how tired he was from such a long and exhausting day of travel and his own ear discomfort. How lucky am I.

The next morning was the Holocaust museum and the Rally. Before the rally, Ryan went with me to visit National Right to Life's office. I hadn't been back since the Academy and, even though I don't really have a relationship with anyone that was there that day, it just felt nice to go back into that building where I spent such a wonderful summer. This is where I got to be reunited with one of my Academy sisters- Erin (pictured above)! It was one of those dramatic "see each other from afar and run up" hugs. It felt so wonderful to see one of the girls in person after 1.5 years of staying so close through our online thread. I really feel so close to these wonderful women, even if we are all across the country doing so many different things. It is so great to be a part of a group of women and be the least lovely. I don't know if that makes sense, but these ladies are all just so much better than me, in that they all just make me want to go do good and be patient and respond to crises with prayer and not with angry emails. They have provided me with so much kind and thoughtful counsel since we met and I am just so lucky to have them to lift me up from this bitter & impatient place I feel like I have fallen into. How lucky I am to be the worst of us and to be able to benefit from so much grace that they share with me.

The Rally was great. It was so much better than the rally in 2011. Seriously. I was really actually inspired by some of the speakers, namely (and surprisingly) Senator Santorum. I didn't think he would really go the emotional route; I thought it would be more of a political speech than a personal testimony. It was really nice.  The thing that everyone from our group mentioned feeling inspired by was just the sense of being surrounded by so many people with a similar passion for protecting life. Sometimes I feel so exhausted, almost like swimming upstream, fighting this battle... but in this whole crowd, it's like you're just swept away by all the supporters. It's nice to just go with the flow; it feels safe in a way to just be able to let your guard down and not worry about having to fight for a little bit. I didn't see a single protester. I did hear some cray guy protesting the Cardinal that spoke.... but that was a really inappropriate time for that little outburst. Sad part of the March was that the whole reason we flew out to DC from Texas was to March for Life... and only 3 out of 8 of us actually finished the March. Everyone got too cold (and I don't blame em! I couldn't have lasted much longer.) and ended up going indoors to museums. I think 2 more might have finished the March after warming up. It was just a bummer we couldn't all march together. Oh well! Got to run into a friend who is now with the Sisters of Mary Mother of the Eucharist while on the march! It was a beautiful surprise. So lovely to see her looking so happy.
The rest of the weekend was great. Ryan and I did a lot of fun things together during free time. We got to meet up with a friend of mine who just graduated from Baylor and had moved to the city 4 days prior. It was so much fun meeting her & her roommate; we had a wonderful time! It was beautiful to see snow on the ground, an old friend's face, and Ryan in his winter hat. So many wonderful sights to see - and I don't even mean the monuments or museums. The bouncer at the bar we went to was playing Angry Birds so we talked about that for a while (just wanted to remember this hilarious moment in years to come). We also went to a bar we had found on Yelp a few weeks back and were so excited to see that the drinks were as awesome as the reviews suggested (Stan's Restaurant, folks!).
The next day, Ryan and I went to the Students for Life of America conference. I felt a little old for it, to be honest. After spending so much time in this movement as a college student, it just felt like stuff I had already heard a hundred times and also stuff I didn't think was relevant. Had a social worker conscience twinge when some guy - who I obviously didn't enjoy because I don't even remember his name - went on some rant about how the "COEXIST" bumper stickers are evil. Well, I'll rant about how wrong he is another day, but I wasn't going to sit there and have my soul cry from listening to such ignorance so Ryan and I went to check out the booths and I got to meet some sweet ladies from Feminists for Life. I think that was the highlight of the conference for me. We didn't stay the whole time. I do think it is a good experience for high schoolers and college students that are new to the movement and want to be in the pro-life movement with a very religious emphasis. I, however, am not about that. Another post on that someday. lolz. I appreciated the opportunity to attend though. It was inspiring to see so many teens gathered in one room for life.

That night, we went to the Basilica for Mass. Only bummer is that by the time we got there, the place was packed & standing room only.... and it was HOT. I felt really faint and couldn't stay in the main church area with all that heat, so I went downstairs to my favorite spot in the whole place. The chapel of Our Lady of Brezje. Something about this place has drawn me in since the first time I was there in January 2011. I ended up praying there after traveling 1,500 miles from San Marcos to D.C. only to run into the person who hurt me more than I'd ever been hurt before and had not seen in 6 months. What were the odds of that? I'd say close to slim. But after that chance/freak encounter I remember feeling so shaky and uneasy. Gosh, when I saw this person I honestly felt like I was in a bad dream. I immediately whispered to Reese, "he's here" and she knew exactly what I meant. I ended up speaking to this person - civilly, as considering unposted circumstances, there wouldn't have been a way for me to speak to him uncivilly - and walking away. That was the last time I saw him. Shaken from an unexpected trip to a dark time from the previous summer, I went wandering around the lower church to look at the chapels. There were hundreds of people down there for overflow seating from the upper church. People were in almost every chapel, praying or looking or taking pictures, but this one was empty... and it has always been empty everytime I have been there. I remember kneeling there and crying and feeling comfort in the fact that I had no one around to ask if I'm okay or try to talk to me. I remember just wanting to cry. The wall on the right had a quote engraved in it that may have been chiseled in the marble just for me in that moment:
and I kind of understood that the whole experience maybe just needed to happen. God needed me stuck in overflow seating and needed that person to be across the country in the lower church wearing that ensemble standing with that group of his colleagues - to prevent an uncivil discourse or tears on my part, perhaps - for me to have some kind of closure? I don't know. I just know that I cried in this chapel and I love this quote and that was probably the last day he really had much of a hold over me in a destructive way.
It felt really therapeutic to be back in this chapel almost exactly 2 years later knowing that I am free from the fear and insecurity caused by that person. It was wonderful to know that upstairs at Mass was my Ryan, a man who respects me and loves me and would never treat me the way I'd been treated by this person. I don't think I usually get this person on this blog- oops! I don't think I've written very explicitly about this person and I think this will be the only time I delve into that, but it is over and I am loved and I am respected and I am happy. I love that chapel and the chance to kneel there and pray. I haven't been praying enough lately; it is a problem. This is the prayer of Our Lady of Brezje:

Mary, Help of Christians,you show us how to be Christian,how to "hear the word of God and keep it" (Luke 11:28).Help us to respond to God as you did,that His power work in us,that the Spirit form Christ in us,and that His mind, His heart, His will be ours.We ask this through Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

After Mass, 4 of us went to Chinatown for dinner. I loved the food I had at Ming's! Ryan and I were both surprised by how much I enjoyed it, haha. After Ming's was one of the coolest parts of the night - meeting Ruthie (author of The Itchy Scapular)! I had never met Ruthie in real life before. We met through a very strange series of occurences that I think goes from Youtube to Blogger to Youtube to Blogger to Youtube to Facebook, or some combination of that. Luckily, I wasn't catfished! Ryan and I had so much fun meeting Ruthie and hanging out with some of her hilarious army friends at a very TEXAN bar called Hill Country. It was just so great to meet someone whose blog I've read and whose statuses I have liked. Ruthie is just lovely and hope we can meet up again!

 Had to get a traditional pic with the beautiful Mother Teresa statue at the Basilica. I swear I have a third one from another visit floating around my computer somewhere.

Overall, I just have to say that it was a lovely time. I've made this comment before but it's the only way I can think to describe- I lost my voice and can barely hear out of either ear, but doing what I love with the one I love was beautiful & unforgettable.

Oh, p.s. turns out I have a double ear infection & I'm on antibiotics. the end.



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