Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Guest Column: Addiction and Spree Killing

 I regret that I didn't post this earlier; at the time I got it, I was in a schedule crunch, and then I forgot. But I DID remember this morning, WITHOUT being reminded, so: here is a guest column!

First off, hello Padre, thank you for taking the time to read your favorite daughter's discombobulated thoughts!

Second, HELLO, INTERNET WORLD!!!!!! Hello to friends and family, known and unknown, I sincerely pray that this finds you healthy and full of joy! 

If you haven't already read Papa's posts (HERE and HEREon the events in Georgia, you should start there, or at your news outlet of choice, otherwise this may not make much sense. It may not make sense anyway, but I digress. 

I grew up in a little town called Woodstock in the state of Georgia. And when I was growing up, it really WAS a little town. It was SAFE, it was SHELTERED, and bad people didn't live there or ever go there. At least, in my kid brain, that's what I thought. And most of it might have even been true. But then, as is known to happen, the Big City just south of us got bigger and bigger, and Woodstock turned into "north Atlanta." Now, that doesn't really matter, EXCEPT that for my kid brain, BAD THINGS DON'T HAPPEN IN WOODSTOCK, AND NO WOODSTOCK RESIDENT WOULD EVER DO ANYTHING BAD!!!!! My adult brain knows how false that is, because I was a heroin addict in Woodstock, and I did plenty of bad things. Again, I digress.

I heard a snippet of a "news" program the other day, I do apologize, I didn't pay enough attention to know names or stations, but I did see the header "Parlor Shootings in Atlanta" and I was aware that they were interviewing an Asian reporter (the only reason that stuck was I feel like they said something about "thank you for being the voice of your people" and it made me roll my eyes a little bit, again, I didn't really know what happened). 

It's a bad day when a 32 year old woman can see something about a shooting on tv and just think "ah crap, another one. Here come the lobbyists for gun control." I had NO context about it. NO IDEA except for "shooting in Atlanta". And then I read Papa's blog post, and looked into it a bit. And my first thought was "Oh no..... He's from Woodstock." It immediately shattered my "small town feel" of my home town. IS THAT IMPORTANT???? Yes and no, but mostly no. People are dead, lives have been changed forever, in the long run it doesn't matter where the suspect received mail at. Yes, only because it shows me that the whole world is hurting. It's not just the big cities. It's not just minorities. The whole entire world is on fire, but instead of trying to do something about it, we want to micromanage issues that are political hot buttons and "sexy" right now. Namely, gun control. Here's the problem..... There have been changes. There have been issues that have been addressed. This VERY young man (he's only 21, that's a BABY) still somehow got his hands on a firearm, walked into several buildings, and took innocent lives.

This is not a gun issue.

Another hot button that we will choose to talk about? Racism. Most of his victims were of Asian descent, and he is a white man, so OBVIOUSLY he was a racist. Now, I DON'T KNOW ABOUT THAT, so I'm not going to say anything about that, but I will say this: this is not a race issue.

And then we're going to go a little bit old school and rehash some hot buttons of years past: Pornography. Ted Bundy blamed it for his crimes, as did countless other serial killers that I don't feel like naming. I'm going to go ahead and pop this bubble right now: Pornography does not make people murder other people. It just doesn't have that power! It can ruin relationships if it's allowed to, sure, but then we're getting into another issue altogether, which is what the suspect has blamed his abhorrent acts on as of now: Addiction. As an alcoholic and an addict, this is something that I understand, at least to a point. The suspect has said that he blames massage parlors and the people who work at them for fueling his sex addiction. 

During my sickness, I blamed poor Kroger for selling alcohol because I was an alcoholic and I was GOING to buy booze when I went grocery shopping.

I blamed the people I hung out with for having drugs in their pockets that they would share. 


Oh but we are a selfish lot. 

I'm going to bring this up, and I'll put it right back in the box, because it's something I am currently working through so I don't have as much knowledge, wisdom, or understanding as I will, God willing, in the future days, weeks, and months. 

The article that I read (from The Patch) stated that the suspect was very active in his church. Keeping in mind that this is a sick individual who needed help BUT I BELIEVE chose not to seek it, bear with me here..... I was brought up in the church and I am unashamed to say that I am a Born Again Christian and I do attend a church that preaches the Word of God. I ALSO have some very deep wounds from "the church" when it comes to sexuality. I believe that we live in a CULTURE where, if you are religious IN ANY CAPACITY, sex is a subject that is off limits. I say in any capacity because THIS IS NOT A CHRISTIAN THING. This is something that is seen in almost EVERY religion around the world, sex is not talked about in a healthy way, and HUMAN SEXUALITY has been DEMONIZED, and as a result, people are going off the deep end because "if I have sexual feelings, then I obviously don't really believe in *enter deity here* and I'm going to *enter bad underworld here* so I might as well be bad because I OBVIOUSLY am hopeless". AND THAT IS A LIE!!!!!!!!!! I'm not going to get into a talk about sex here, but I will say this: SEX IS NOT UNCLEAN. IT DOESN'T DAMN YOU TO HELL. THE CREATOR CREATED YOU AS A SEXUAL BEING, SO STOP THINKING YOU'RE UNLOVEABLE BECAUSE YOU HAVE FEELINGS!!!!!!

Now, that being said. This young man stated he has a sex addiction, and that brings me to my possibly final point: I am curious to know if he sought addiction counseling. I highly doubt he did, and here's why:

1) Counseling is expensive

2) We still hold on to this archaic belief that if we go to a head doctor, there's something wrong with us, people will look down at us, they'll think we're crazy, and they won't want to be around us anymore.

3) Counseling is expensive.

4) Most "regular" people don't even know where to start when it comes to looking for a therapist who is an expert in what we're dealing with, so after a quick webmd check to diagnose ourselves and then getting distracted by other things online, we get frustrated with not being able to find any help and we stop. 

5) I don't know if I've mentioned it before, but COUNSELING IS EXPENSIVE. 

So we self medicate, which makes us more sick, which makes us that much more unlikely to reach out for help.

All of that to say, yeah, I know what PART of the solution is. Quality, affordable, accessible mental health options. I don't know how it'll happen, because that's not what they're paying me for, but I will say this: I'm a recovering addict and alcoholic. I sought out help. When one thing didn't work, I tried something different. I go to my psychiatrist on a regular basis. I'm on a wait list for a talk therapist. And yes, it's expensive. I wish it wasn't. But I will die if I don't get help.

I leave you with this:

Feeling bad, don't mean doing bad.

Be angry, and sin not.

Do the next right thing.

Bess B.

Friday, April 2, 2021

The April Fool of 2021, plus it's Good Friday, and RED Friday

A great good morning to all my friends and neighbors in Internet Land! And to family members who have dropped by, this story will not come as a surprise.


The blog title is “The April Fool of 2021;” but if I were writing this as a 19th century adventure, I would most assuredly add 
How Dr. Joseph Cousin, Senior, 
and I 
Combined Efforts 
To Produce 
Goodness From Goofiness.”

Despite appearances, you ARE getting a massively edited version of the events taking place on April 1, 2021. This is a John 21:25b-type event! (If I wrote it in detail, even the world itself couldn’t contain it…)

So, dispensing with the HIGHLY significant and relevant 1995 events, as well as those from 2001,  2011, and 2020s, even MOST of 2021 events (!), I present to you the story of how The Reverend Doctor Joseph Cousin, pastor of Allen Temple AME Church of Woodstock, and the Forward Focused Thursday broadcast, combined with my own gifts (!!) to play the best April Fool Joke on me EVER!!!

If you wish to know the background, you will find it in the breathtaking true-life story of “The Church Lady and the Motorcycle White Boy, Volume II,” which is still being written. And lived.

For reasons, every Thursday at noon since November, I have made it a priority to listen to Allen Temple AME’s Facebook live stream, “Forward Focused Thursday.” The patriarch, Bishop Philip Cousin, is joined by two of his two sons, Dr. Michael Cousin, Sr, and Dr. Joseph Cousin, Sr, and by grandson Reverend Steven Cousin Jr, with grandson Reverend Timothy Cousin making frequent appearances as well. (All these men are AME pastors, and the godly heritage itself is enough to commend it to listeners.)

I never finish the live stream as the same person I was when it started. Sometimes challenged, sometimes comforted, usually both; it’s an exposure to probably two centuries of combined experience of godly men. (Must I state explicitly that they all, particularly the 89 year old Bishop, bring a perspective that I can only PARTLY comprehend, and that’s my reason for tuning in?)

Yesterday, I go to the live cast as usual. Almost immediately, the team reminds me that this is Holy Week, when we remember the arrest, torture, and crucifixion of Jesus; yet, knowing the RESURRECTION is coming. Deep thoughts, not only of first century events, but what we can do TODAY. And I’m thinking those thoughts, when…

...a little past the six minute mark, Pastor Joseph says this is pre-recorded, because he has been asked to attend a “rally/press conference/event” to protest some legislation placing restrictions on the voting processes.

Since I am under a self-imposed ban on news, I wasn’t aware of this issue, so I paused the stream, and googled “Atlanta Voting Protest.” And THIS  is the result I found. The article states that a protest to Bill 531, to restrict some voting rights, was being held at the Capitol, starting at 5:31 AM, and going to 5:31 PM. 


O Best Beloved, if you have clicked on that link, and seen the article, did YOU catch the TWO alerts that I missed? Yes? No? I’ll tell you later, in case you missed them, as I did.

"That's a good cause," I thought. "I need to go to that, and take Kenneth." He's my 16 year old son, and was home yesterday. 

"Come on, Kenneth, put on your shoes and socks. I'm going to take you to your first protest demonstration!"

(SQUAWK SQUAWK!! “Protest? Protest WHAT?” SQUAWK! SQUAWK!!!)

But, he’s a good and cooperative young man, and in a moment or two, he does appear, wearing shoes and socks. 

I want to get there, participate, and get back home before the traffic gets bad. It’s about 12:30, I figure it will take us an hour to get to the Capitol, find a place to park, and walk to the event. So, minutes count; which is why I don't even finish listening to the rest of Forward Focused Thursday. They are around 10 minutes in, at this point, and talking about football, about which I know little and care less, so I just hit the PAUSE button, and down the road Kenneth and I go. 

I will spare you from hearing the chants I told Kenneth he would have to learn before we got there. 

“It’s a protest, Kenneth! Of COURSE you have to chant.”
“I don’t want to chant,” he replies. “It bothers people.”
“That’s the POINT!” I said.
At the Capitol, we do find a protest, and some of the protesters are wearing "VOTE" facemasks, but they are there for something else. 
I eventually discover NO ONE is there for protest against 531, and that the 531 protest was: 
last month. 

This rally was in support of the family and cause of Justice for Jamarion (Robinson), who would have been 31 years old today. I wept, hearing his story; could have been my Kenneth. Could easily have been me, at that age.

When we get back home, I discover that the Channel 11 news item I had seen was dated MARCH 1, not APRIL 1. And that the protest took place on a MONDAY, not a Thursday. (Didn't notice that.)
Then, I listen to the rest of the Forward Focused Thursday cast, and at around 33:00 hear Pastor Joseph say that he is headed to the World of Coke for the protest event.

Wrong cause.
Wrong place.
Wrong month.

Other than that, everything went GREAT! 

I had a great time with Kenneth, and was deeply moved by Jamarion's story. 
I got to take Kenneth to his first protest event:
One of the organizers and Kenneth, 
because I needed a pic to send to Vanessa,
who had no idea what I was doing

And I learned another lesson in the sweetness of willingly accepting a drink from the Cup of Humiliation! It burns horribly if you resist, but it goes down like cool balm for the soul if you accept the correction. 
Habakkuk21b: “I will keep watch to see what He will say to me, and how I may reply when I am reproved.” 
If my reply is “Yes, Lord,” then I can laugh at my foolishness, and not be ashamed.
So, laugh with me!    

Peace be on your household.