“Be who you want to be. Don’t let anyone else influence that.” -Jane Holiday
“Lady in Red”
Fiction. Based on a True Visit to Ostrog Monastery.
This journal entry is inspired by true events. Some of the characters, names, businesses, incidents, and certain locations and events have been fictionalized for dramatic purposes. Any similarity to the name, character or history of any person is entirely coincidental and unintentional.
Trigger Warning: our program often motivates people to discuss their trauma. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, please, take a step back to address emotional flashbacks and trauma before continuing to push yourself. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 911 or the National Suicide Hotline at (1-800) 273-8255.
The priest puts the wafer on your left hand when you hold your palms up, like heart wings, asking for Jesus’ blessing, during Tuesday evening Mass inside St. Ignatius Church in Dubrovnik, Croatia.
Earlier that morning, Mother Mary urged you to attend mass. You wanted to reason with this voice that you wouldn’t understand the language, and, sure enough, they were speaking in Croatian during service. Unlike what you’re used to in American church, the Priest would call by singing a verse and then the audience would respond with a few verses following. The responses from the audience in the pew were in-sync, as if this was somehow rehearsed prior. You are also not Catholic—yet, you were all worshiping the same God who died for our sins. You were also a foreign American tourist, yet the priest still gave you a wafer, symbolizing Jesus’ flesh that was sacrificed in place of your own.
He placed the bread on your left hand—you the last person who received Eucharist at the end of mass.
St. Ignatius gave you the assignment.
St. Ignatius, the co-founder of the Jesuit Order.
Lady in Red, he tells you, your mission is activated.
The night before you leave Croatia for Montenegro, waves of loneliness overwhelms you. Your entire body feels a mixture of anxiety, sexual fire, and yearning. The morning sensation of being held in Aaron’s arms, wrapped by desire, need, and passion burns into your body. You resist the urge to reach out to him. The battle between your id and your superego rages under the cool night air, where the stars are bright and the moon is even brighter.
You’ve always sought comfort in the moon. Ever since you were a little girl, you thought the moon would follow you, courting you, observing you, guiding you. You also liked the moon because it allowed you to reflect upon the Sun without melting or becoming permanently blind. You call your neighbor out. He’s also an American expat from DC who got jaded somewhere between leaving his brother hanging in a cannabis partnership business and a heartbreak. He never mentioned heartbreak and you never brought it up, but your spirit told you it had something to do with such. You did ask about why he left DC, and he brought up having to leave the business partnership.
“I knew that I could have doing the cannabis for the next ten years,” he said, “the money is good, but then I’d look back and regret it.”
He speaks to your lonely soul.
You tell him that part of the reason for your divorce was wanting to travel freely like this, but only now that you’ve left the relationship for the uninhibited traveling, you’ve realized just how lonely it could be.
Rather, it is felt by the both of you. So no words are needed to express such feelings. You could also tell that anxiety, uncertainty, and tinges of regret also run through his face. You tell him about the BYHO business idea a few days before, at an empty coast called Mali, eating sea bass, fished from the Adriatic sea into your plate. You two were perhaps the only American tourists there. March is off season in Croatia, so it really is a serene, borderline ghost town country. You wonder about this theory of overpopulation as you continue your travels. You see it as more of a simulation between heaven and hell, a purgatorial realm if you will, than an actual fixed existence where people are just killing the earth. Rather, God created earth for this simulation. You opt in to Elon Musk’s one in a billion theory that we are in fact, in a simulation.
Esquire tells you that he’s looking for a stable place to settle down soon. If worst comes to worst, he will move in with his friend in Belgium.
“That’s the worst? That’s not bad at all for a worst,” you say.
“I know, I’m privileged,” He smiles.
You break one of your SLAA rules by opening up about your trauma in front of a man. You tell him that the fear of falling in love again after the divorce 9 years ago is what is holding you hostage. But, you also share, “I’m sick of singing that same old tune. I’m ready to build a family again.”
You tell him that when you were standing over the castle walls of Dubrovnik, overlooking the waters, you felt peace. Your heart no longer ached the way it used to ache when you were hiking Machu Picchu. You are finally ready.
“Yes, but don’t just jump into the arms of the first man you meet who wants to have kids with you. I know it’s easy and convenient, but you don’t want to regret it later, when you look back and realize it could have been with someone you were supposed to be with instead of the person who was convenient for you at the time you wanted one.”
You think of Aaron. Perhaps he was the convenient one, and Rylie is the one you truly want to build a family with. Instinctively, you know this to be true. Rylie has that wild spirit, rooted in the earth, sensitive and artistic, dark and deep, yet light blue and contemplative. You fell in love with him. That evening, after your talk with Esquire, you worked up the nerve to call Rylie. It went straight to voicemail.
You had told Esquire the story of Rylie—how you had sabotaged it subconsciously because you were still not yet ready at the time. You told him how he had blocked you. Esquire ruminates for you. “You must have meant something to him if he had to block you. This means he does not want any reminders of you. If he truly did not care about you, he would have stopped responding altogether. Ghosted.”
“Yeah, he even took the time to call my dad and my sister to warn them that if I did not stop, he would have to call the cops on me. Restrain me,” you mused. You remember when you were in Arizona, when Rylie had texted you that he would see you in court, to which you responded… “So… are you saying that you want to see me?”
He did end up ghosting you.
He blocked your emails. He blocked your Instagram. He blocked your numbers.
He blocked you like Aaron had to block you after you told him that you loved him.
They both don’t trust you. How could a loose-lipped girl just say the word “love” like it’s just some word? It’s not just some word.
It’s the entire world shifting, in a man’s world.
His whole entire universe will shift for her.
He will pursue her, build for her, strive for her, and lie and die for her.
That’s the importance the weight of “love” carries.
They don’t trust you because they suspect that you are using love as a weapon.
You knew you had to go. When the call comes, you go. You finish checking Foxy in.
…You get on your knees to pray, forgetting that there are tourists who may have their opinions of your overt faith in action. You came to pay homage to the great saints before you. You have the spirit of Mary Magdalene—the madonna/whore, the intuitive, the lover—the woman whom all men have lustful desires towards, the lady in red. At the very top of the monastery, there is a mosaic of Jesus holding a woman in red on his left hand, pulling her along. She is resistant, fearful, and yet obliges. Jesus takes an older man on his right hand and pulls him along as well… If you look at the picture from a different vantage point, it almost seems as if he wanted to bring them together in matrimony—as if the Son is saying, “Come to the Wedding that you two will have. The Father awaits for both your glories in divine marriage.”
You then step out to the balcony on the very top, right side of the monastery, facing the vast mountain. There are three Englishmen tourists standing by the balcony to your right— two older women and one older man. You close your eyes to pray for guidance, hoping to tune them out, but you hear the man tell the women, “…the logic is irrefutable…” You pray, “Dear Jesus, Thank you for bringing me here. I am so grateful for your continual guidance. May I learn how to listen to the Holy Spirit, the voice of the divine Marys, and for the honor, glory, and truth of God.” As you pray, one of the older women said, “…Irish…”
Forgive and you will be forgiven.
What you do not forgive will also not be forgiven.
This is the spiritual warfare of things.
What are you still resentful towards?
Your sponsor, Smartie, has now become your “traveling companion” because the connection the two of you have is strong. Now, the two of you are talking about doing steps 8 and 9 together. This is where action meets miracles. You have been sitting on the 8th and 9th. You intrinsically trust her because she has similar demons to fight, and together (where two or more believers gather) makes for a fierce team against the strongholds. She also is fighting the same sin of omission that you are fighting—the sin of omitting your own goodness in God’s Kingdom and God’s Glory.
But here you are at the mountain top at Ostrog Monastery, a Serbian Orthodox church, 900m above Zeta valley, and Jiminy Cricket tells you, “Respect the rules. Remember what Dr. Jordan Peterson said, ‘You want to play fair. It’s about playing a series of games to win and not playing as if every game is the last game. That’s what psychopaths do.’ So play fair.”
The urge to bring Roxy inside the vicinity of the church is strong. Locals are staring at you in the parking lot, because you have Roxy, something most people don’t often see when tourists arrive.
You find a parking spot under a tree where an old man is smoking on a bench behind. You park there, crack all four windows, and give Roxy a hug, “I’ll be back, love. Wait.”
She waits patiently. Always patient.
You walk out and the sense of ancient wonders fill your soul. You realize you can do this for the rest of your life—visit ancient ruins, historical landmarks, and architectural sites that have high spiritual resonance, like Lara Croft….yes, just like Lara Croft, minus all the bad guys trying to kill her, ’cause spiritual bad guys are enough to contend with.
The cobalt blue tiles that hug the white and golds of the saints pull you close. You remember a tour guide in Warsaw point out that this color represents the divine feminine— that of Mother Mary– and is praised among all the Faithful. Ever since you were a girl your favorite color was blue—sky blue, baby blue, and now cobalt blue.
You walk in and notice that the crosses have an additional layer, shaped like two swords, pointing toward each other, as if one is piercing the bottom and the other is piercing the top—a double edged sword. You’ve been finally taking Mel Novak’s important advice to you: “Put on your armor. Prayerlessness is powerlessness…” He advised to read the Arsenal prayer twice a day, one morning time and the other evening time.
The swords are indeed in all the hands of the Saints who surround you. You now walk up the corridors, built on the rocks of the mountain. The Monastery is pristine white, fixed against the mountain, and you wonder how any of this is even possible given how fleshly fragile each human being is. But humans collectively working together—that’s the miracle, that’s how you move mountains, or in this case, terraform mountains.
You walk up and the signs were clear. No photography. Again, the urge to rebel and take photos anyway rises. Again, Jimmy Cricket tells you, Obey the Order and you will be able to manifest the reality of true love from within your heart. Remember to play fair and play by the rules.
You realize that you are indeed a pilgrim, not a tourist, in this sanctified and holy place.
Put your phone away.
You walk up the winding staircase where you are in the way of a couple, a man and a woman, each holding a child in their arms. The mom is talking to the priest, and you wait at the bottom of this narrow circular staircase while they finish. When they do, they walk past you on their way out and a tinge of sadness and jealousy comes over you. You look up, and the priest is closing his door as soon as you make it to the second floor. You feel a wave of relief. You don’t know what to say to him anyway, assuming he knows how to speak English. You continue up the staircase. It is a four story monastery. The second floor has a mosaic of Mother Mary, with the cross on her right hand and her left palm facing outward, as if ready to play patty cakes with you.
You keep going and on the third floor is a mosaic of a saint holding the cross on his left, but not just any cross—the special cross, the orthodox Christian cross. You do some research, and Wikipedia says that the bottom bar is slightly tilted, leaning down on the left side of the bar to represent Jesus’ left side—the side of the unrepentant thief.
But you saw something more. It is the shape of a sword piercing heaven. You believe God is currently in hell— the original sovereign, irreplaceable, unduplicable, and singular God is now with both Judas and the unrepentant thief, forming a bridge from hell to heaven so that the prophecy of things to come—Jesus’ second coming will reveal the ultimate way of conquering death itself (Romans 5:21). Above Jesus’ heart is the top bar that represents the handle of the sword piercing down towards hell, effectively killing the serpent, or conquering death itself. God’s ways are much greater, much more mysterious, and He reveals in pieces, strategically, through the Holy Spirit, to all those who tunes their own hearts to the same frequency of His Goodness will find a piece of the task one can carry towards the masterplan from the master creator.
You think of Islam, the moon with the star, and think perhaps Mohammad was the reincarnation of God in the flesh, but the God who does horrible things, and breaks all the rules, His own rules, to prove that the rules are not what makes and breaks anymore—rather, it is a jihad in hell itself that is being fought inside hell. Hell is raging and being divided currently. There is an inner rebellion within Hell—shadows are being integrated currently…yes, in real time. And you think of souls from Hitler to Michael Jackson perhaps all strategically placed in parts of certain realms to fulfill the Captain EOS playbook, the Star Wars Playbook, where Luke plants the seeds of hope in Darth Vader and destroys the Death Star from within and Captain EOS brings in music within the robotic movements to liquidate the structure of laws, so that the disassociated Shadow Eve can remember her original purpose once again… she is currently the ultimate shape shifter and has mastered all dualities, she is Guan Yin Pusa, she is Kali, she is Baphomet, she is Alice lost in wonderland…she is my shadow, the toxic feminine, the negative feminine, she is Lucifer’s mirror…and she is integrating the shadow as I type away, she is learning Lucifer’s shadow through pure compassion, and God is with her now. That’s how you see the sword pointing upward.
“You see that light signaling in the sky?” Esquire points upward. You look. Beneath where the moon shines, there is a hill with a mansion with Hollywood searchlights and it is shining its lights to the night sky, as if they were showing a premiere, or perhaps it is an SOS, or perhaps both.
“That’s odd,” you say to Esquire.
“Yeah, it’s been doing that for the last couple of days. It’s as if they are welcoming guests, but we’re out here in the middle of nowhere.”
It is odd indeed.
Jordan Peterson in his Maps of Meaning talks about paying attention to anomaly. Carl Jung talks about the anomalies in dreams as the messages the supernatural realms are sending you.
The dream you told Rylie once upon ago was how you realized you were the anomaly in this city of warring angels— where the rest of the pretty women were on the red carpet, putting on their beauty masks, and you were the only one who was authentically yourself. And they labeled you the crazy one.
What could it mean? You think to yourself.
Well, the past few days, while that light has been shining in the sky, you have been receiving breakthrough downloads from the Holy Spirit about the revelation of Adam and Eve.
The Orthodox Cross is the Yin/Yang, the Star of David, used both ways. It looks like the bottom hilt to a sword pointing upwards. Instinctively, you recognize what the bottom sword pointing upwards means—shadow integration. The yin of the yin/yang duality. The Bottom Sword is the downward spiral of gnostic mysteries…what do you find at the bottom of hell?
You find God, who chose to be there, waiting in patience for heaven to mobilize and be reconciled, in faith, to find Him.
This is the Shadow Integration.
The 13th Disciple is Judas.
Judas who pulled the shortest straw, the one who chose to descend while the rest ascended.
The greatest among you shall be the least.
The Muslims have it right about Muhammad and Allah.
God is in hell.
You had written this out through the help of Paul and the network of Holy Spirit…
Hope in Hell
Yes, it was acted out at the Three Oranges Opera in Berlin. What happened in the end to the machinating sister and the king’s evil minister who plotted against the king? The angels, the men and women in white, the Holy Spirit network, had hid them when they both needed help when the King was after their heads. Yes, it was the Holy Spirit who shrouded them in their network of Holy Light so that the shadow could no longer be found by the King.
Who you forgive will be forgiven, and you will be forgiven in the same token.
Who you do not forgive will not be forgiven, and you will not be forgiven in the same token.
Who do you need to still forgive?
The night before you jumped up three times because there was an ad from Mindvalley that talked about the metaphysical and physical benefits of forgiving others.
You jump up the first time. I forgive Sonny!
You jump up the second time. I forgive Micky!
You jump up the third time. I forgive Myself!
You want a family again and you want it with Rylie.
It was Rylie who broke the spell of hell for you.
The man who is convenient is Aaron.
He wants a family and it was the first thing he told you when you first talked on the phone.
“I’m hustling to make money so I can provide for my family. That’s what a man does. He takes care of his family.”
You remember getting super turned on by his statement.
You email him. You tell him that you can’t go back to Los Angeles, because if you do, then the two of you will most likely talk about building a family together because that is what you want at this time. You hope that he resolves what he needs to resolve with his ex before train hopping and a new relationship. You still need to do the right thing. Give him time, space, and let him go.
The Thorn on your Side
In this dream, you were in Africa, lost and lonely. You were waiting for Aaron, but instead, Conner came to visit you on your journey. The sexual urge was too much and you craved the body-to-body touch, so he came to satiate your sexual appetite. But it was brief. So brief. And when it was over, he said he had to go back home, for work, for family, for his day-to-day. You walk him out, but you wind up in a time machine that blasted you both into an orthodox church somewhere in Germany, where you looked down in shame, knowing that you had failed the first test—resist the sexual urge to act out. Conner is antsy, and though he finds the church amusing, he is also treating it as a tourist destination rather than a pilgrimage for spiritual downloads. But you got the download there. The message is, “You are forgiven child. We have anticipated the tests you pass and the tests you will not pass, and we have given grace for those you did not, do not, and will not pass.”
There, Conner was transported back home to Colorado, and you were transported to Africa, where you found yourself in the middle of conflict—brink of war between the Mullahs and the Shiites. You are not familiar with the dispute, but you are in the mosque, like an avatar in some video game, researching what the heck is going on. You ask the leader of the mosque and he points you to a door. When you look at this door, you realize there is something very uncomfortable on your lower right back, and you begin realizing that you are in a dream as you open your eyes into the real world to check what that annoying thing is that’s causing discomfort on your lower right back side, and, as you pull that thing out, you realize it is the wooden cross that you had picked up the day before at Ostrog Monastery.
You say out loud, “I think we have the same thorn, Paul.”
But why would God not take that away?
It hits you.
Paul wanted to avoid love as much as you wanted to avoid love, but God did not take the sexual urges away so that you both could understand what it means to love someone, and not just preach about it, but to actually experience it firsthand. If those sexual urges for that person you burn for went away, then you would prefer to just be asexual the rest of your life. God doesn’t want that for you. He wants you to discipline yourself in love while still dancing with the lust/love dynamic.
The lonely nights and your body taunting you, haunting you, and the taste of Aaron’s body odor still lingers on yours when you smell your skin. His love is in you. The night before he replies with a simple request: Come back home next month.
You can’t. You’re not done here. Yet you also know that if you did come back to Los Angeles, you and him would be moving in together, fast and furious. It’s the addict in both of you. When you were in Perast, on the night Roxy was struggling to breathe, that night you thought it was curtains for her soon, you called Aaron in weakness. You felt so helpless and alone. Without Roxy, you would be truly alone here in a foreign country with nobody to touch, talk to, or counsel with.
You called Aaron because you missed the way he held you and you wanted him to hold you so badly in that moment when Roxy was gasping for air at 2:00 in the morning and you were crying and crying, helpless to help her. It was her struggle. At one point, she hid herself under the bed. You called Jerry, the devout Christian who inspired you out of Milestone brainwash cult camp, the man who you started developing strong feelings towards two years ago that somehow went away. He still cares and has been watching you on your journey on the sidelines. He tells you that it’s okay to find another dog after Roxy passes, but tells you that he understands since he’s had to see off four of his dogs. You call Aaron and he tells you that he had to put down his 14 year old Labrador, and ever since he’s never gotten a single dog. He tells you that the best thing to do is to put Roxy down and end her suffering if that time comes. You tell Jerry that you’ll take her to the vet first thing and you ask Jerry to pray over her and he obliges. You also ask Aaron to pray over Roxy and he tells you that he will pray for peace over her—whatever that means.
Two nights in a row, you stayed up with Roxy as she was wheezing throughout the night, gasping for breath. You were crying both nights but on the second night it really hit you that she is 14. You remember the taxi driver telling you about his dog passing away at 14. Aaron tells you his dog passed at 14, and when you Googled Papillons it said 13-15. You do believe that if you take really good care of Roxy, if you take her everywhere you went on these excursions, if she has adventures with you at every turn, that it will extend her life.
Please call me back.
“I’ll be home in a minute.”
You wait a couple of hours.
You get impatient. You call him. He does not answer.
And just when you are about to turn off your phone, he calls you back.
“Hey,” he says. “How are you?”
“I’m not doing good. I haven’t slept in two days and I’ve been crying because Roxy has been gasping for breath trying to live. I don’t know what to do.”
“You have to sometimes accept their end. The vet will know.”
He then proceeds to tell you the harsh truth that he thinks you don’t know about yourself, but he wants to tell it anyway because he thinks that it’s the right thing to do.
“I think you’re running away. It’s childish. I’ve met a dozen girls like you in AA who have your story. What’s the use of running when the inevitable is to take responsibility for your life? You got to face your fears. You’re being rebellious. You’ve probably been this way all your life. Smoking meth then pissing off your parents, making them worry about you. What’s the use of doing all that? What are you rebelling against?”
You are a bit shocked at how direct Aaron is, but that is also why you like him the way you do.
“You’re probably right,” you say to him. “I don’t want to come back home.”
“Come back home. It’s the right thing to do. Your family, friends, and community are all here.”
“I want to isolate.”
“I know… I get that. We both have that in common, but you can’t be out like this for long.”
“Come see me,” you say to him. “The only thing missing is waking up to you every morning. Imagine what life would be like if we both woke up to a different scenery every month? Imagine visiting a city every month and discovering life in all different parts of the world.”
“And have no responsibility for anyone or anything? That’s not a way to live,” he says. “You’re older than me yet it seems that I’m more of the adult.”
“Aaron… life is too short to please everybody. I’ve learned the hard way. I’ve done the whole homeowner with mortgage thing… it’s a ball and chain…I’ve done the marriage thing… it just breeds entitlement and dissatisfaction from arrogance… and I’ve done the whole long career thing… I’m ready for the innovation, the entrepreneurship spirit, the explorer. I’m like Dora the Explorer… I have a wanderlust heart. I love you, Aaron, but I’m not going to compromise my soul at the expense of loving you. Sorry.”
Aaron sounds disgusted and disappointed on the other line.
“You’re ridiculous. Crazy,” he says, “You have mental health issues.”
“I love you, Aaron,” you say.
“I’m going to hang up now. I can’t take this.”
He hangs up, and, a few minutes later, blocks you.
The two of you don’t see eye to eye. This is obvious. At least he was brave enough to tell you the truth of what Rylie did not have the heart to tell you.
Rylie told you that you were sick and that you needed help.
Aaron told you that you were crazy, rebellious, and that you needed to come back home… get a real job so you can fit in with his narrative.
You think of Joseph Campbell’s Art of Living book…Other people will want you to go on their adventure.
The Call is too strong. You have to go, like Brad Pitt in Legends of the Fall. He had to seek the edge of the abyss. You think of Charles Hunan in City Z, where, at the last legs of his retirement, he brought his boy with him on the last adventure of their lifetime, and they were both perhaps eaten by cannibals at the abyss of civilization. A tribe that worshipped a fallen angel who has chosen the left hand path, where anything goes, where the rules are arbitrary, and given to the god at the top of the pyramid hierarchy.
You wonder if this is the fate of your life as you walk the line—gambling with life whilst on the call instead of playing it safe in what you’ve always known for the past 30 years. You tell Aaron that you have been in LA for 30 years. You’re here to explore what’s outside the bubble. You tell Aaron that the Call to explore is way too strong. It’s bigger than you, bigger than him, bigger than any one person’s desire.
Perhaps he could see your obstinance, your tenacity, your stubbornness to bend your will to his will. He tries to pull the, “I’m a Christian man and the head of the household, so you need to listen to me, or else” stunt, something you are quite familiar with from when your dad tried to pull that on you many times growing up under his directive. You are revisiting your dad through Aaron. You now understand the hardness of his outlook in life, as well as your role in softening such hardness. Perhaps, it is your adventurous spirit that would widen his narrow view of living and purpose,
Four years ago, your dad observed you renewing your California teacher’s credential. He asked you why you were doing it. You answered, “just in case.” He told you that if you were going to pursue your dream, there is no “just in case”...there is just plan A.
Today, you change your Google Voice number to a new number so you can call Rylie in case he has already blocked the first Google Voice number. Next, you email Aaron. “Please disregard the previous email about paying for my flight home to see you next month, or for you to come see me. The truth is that I’m in love with Rylie. You were my plan B, and I’m no longer taking plan Bs.”
You remember Esquire’s words of wisdom to you back on your last night at Dubrovnik.
“Don’t settle for convenience. Find the right one…even if you have to wait. Wait as long as it takes till you get it right.”
You listen to Machine Gun Kelly’s song, “Home,” as you scale the 45 minute drive from Sveti Stefan Island to your luxury writing condominium overlooking the Baltic sea.
“Home, a place where I can go, to take this off my shoulders. Someone take me home….”
You pass Bar and see a billboard of Selena Gomez on a Puma advertisement. The sign says, “greetings from Cali,” with her face looking so serious. You think about her darkness, her longing soul, her inability to stop trying controlling everything, to the point of pushing Justin away… perhaps, she secretly thought she was unworthy. Perhaps, the song Justin wrote about being happy and loving yourself hit her heart too deeply… because it’s true.
He knows her soul.
You now remember that five years ago, on Easter day, you were sitting one seat away from Selena Gomez. She was on your right side, one seat away. Christine, your Christian mentor, the woman who gave you a red book called, “The Love Letters,” which was the Bible, sat between the two of you. She knew that you were looking for the secret to defining Love at time when you knew the answer is love. But what is love? You had once shared with her across the sushi table on Wilshire Blvd., and she told you if you are serious about seeking the answer, look to Paul’s Love Letter to the Corinthians.
The 13 Verses defining Love.
Now, you are writing in Room 13A, one of only four or five families who have booked this lonely luxury condo resort, where you are determined to produce The Producer’s Playbook, to tell the story right.
You remember crying your eyes out as Judah Smith talked about what the resurrection of Jesus Christ actually means for all of us. For whosoever shall believe that God’s son died for us, we will resurrect with Him on our 11th hour, like the thief who believed on Jesus’ right hand. You had prayed for your whole family to be written in the Book of Life that morning. The tissue was passed to you…perhaps both you and Selena shared the same tissue box. Perhaps you both were teary eyed that day, knowing the truth of God’s love for us all. We all have a character role to play. She produced 13 Reasons Why and you are producing The Producer’s Playbook to reveal the true character of the crazy Eve in her fierce faith in God’s goodness. As this was swirling through you mind, a sudden urgency seizes you. You have to make it back to your 13A home—you touch your chest where the wooden cross is placed under your Churchome sweater you are wearing…the cross the Saints told you to pick up. They said they forgive you for having no Euros that day to deposit the fair asking price.
It’s wood. It’s your guiding light. It’s for you. Take it. You will make it up to us in other ways.
“…to give me the strength to look the devil in the face and make it home safe…”
…the song continues…you replay it over and over again as you drive back to 13A.
Producer’s Playbook. You’ve got to finish, baby girl. It’s 98% done.
You will talk about the power of valence—focus on Peterson’s Maps of Meaning and Campbell’s Mythic Worlds, Modern Worlds, which all talk about anomalies to pay attention to—spirit guides.
The night before you had your first official Love Story Editor’s meeting and the three women who listened as you Zoom screen-shared The Love Story Wireframes to show the power of the character arc, as in synonymous with the Arc of the Covenant as well as Noah’s Arc with God’s promise to Noah…it’s about taking the step towards where God wants you to be.
You remember Aaron accusing you of running away, and a sense of guilt colors your soul on this journey. Are you being selfish for doing what your soul has called you to do?
Darko, the USC film graduate and filmmaker/writer, has responded to your All Call for Producer’s contributing to the next Love Story Volume 3. He asks you how your trip is going. “Must be the best time of your life right?” He asks via text.
“The loneliest,” you respond, “But I have chosen this.”
He then responds with something so profound, it gives you comfort at the apex of your self-doubt: “You will come out beautiful from your soul to your skin. You have chosen powerfully.”
Today, your best friend since high school, Apple, texted you via Whatsapp, “When I went to Italy, I was also lonely. Truth is, even back home it is lonely. It is just familiar with the routine, but still lonely. I think traveling on your own is brave and takes a lot of audacity. I’m here on standby in case you ever get too lonely.”
You thought about the reasons why you still clung onto Aaron, knowing he is not right for you— jumping way too quickly on putting Roxy to sleep, then shaming you for taking on the Hero’s Call by claiming that this trip is really about avoiding responsibility, then enticing you to “get a real job,” etc. It is the toxic control of the negative feminine— the Jezebel and the Ahab spirits— co-mingling together… a familiar spirit. You realize, whilst driving en-route to Sveti Stefan today, that perhaps you still had not fully forgiven your dad for having those affairs, nor the other women who were complicit in your dad’s affairs for co-conspiring in making a fool out of your mother and walking all over her martyred sacrifices. And then the unforgiveness you felt towards your mother for not asking for anything in return, for acting as if she is not worthy of reciprocated love, the unbalance of such. You had sent her a Swarovski crystal purple heart as a reminder of her self-sacrifice, and also a glass that preserved a red rose, laced with 24K gold. She received the packages and asked you what they were. You tell her they were for her birthday, and she starts criticizing you for spending money… she implies that you can’t take care of yourself, so no need to spend it on mother. She still views you as a victim, as helpless, as somehow dumb…and this is the very monster that you are fighting, because it is a projection of her own sin of omission… and why you have flown half way across the world, because you know you can’t cure her if her willingness to take on her own call to adventure is refused. That’s why you can’t touch Aaron. He’s refusing to take on his own Call to Adventure. You can only leave the nest in search of your own strength, your own nest, and in some ways, you still have resentment towards your mother for giving you the bad advice of staying and acting dumb and docile around Sonny to “win” him back from the other woman.
So your mother and your father are the next ones on the forgive list. But to truly forgive you must truly understand the dynamics of their decision—how they had wound up the way they had wound up. You imagine your mother taking a leap of faith for the husband whom she had gifted her dowry and her family’s connections—perhaps, your dad had fallen in love with someone else prior to meeting your mother, but because your dad also strived for ambition… to get out of a stale and seemingly defunct socio-economic and political system, he leveraged your mother’s connections to get him out of abject poverty and the general poor mentality. Your mother saw intelligence, hard work, and a money-making machine from your dad, and perhaps clung onto him in hopes that he would also get her out into the golden promise land of America. You were the security deposit. She was pregnant when your dad went to America to sow his oats. She had you in China when your dad was still hustling in California, studying and obtaining his PH.D. in Civil Engineering so he could prove his worth and his stake in America. Then, when he needed help, you mother left you with your grandparents so she could help her husband. Then, when they had the means, you came. It was a team effort. They all knew that China was not the way—the educated knew. Even though they were not all religious, they knew on an instinctive level that you can’t dictate what other people should do. Love is sovereign, and the utopian ideal can not be imposed upon people. They brought you up in a safe environment… even paid extra tuition for a private school in Kindergarten because the public school was terrible. They made a home in Rancho, then in Walnut, so you could be among other Asian-Americans, though you still felt like the outsider no matter where you went. And maybe that’s why your dad had to go away because he felt obligated, socially controlled by the guilt trips and criticisms of your mother. Perhaps she never did approve or was satisfied, like Prince would say in “Dove’s Cry.” And perhaps your mother felt a growing sense of isolation, and had made you and your sister, her children, her higher power, and lost her own identity in the family, so when Dad went out to do business your mother had put too much pressure and structure and not enough authenticity to the entire family dynamic. Perhaps their entire marriage itself was inauthentic. Perhaps they were each others’ plan B…the way you and Aaron are currently each others’ plan B. Perhaps they married for convenience and ambition as well… to escape abject poverty for better opportunities. That’s why you can’t blame your sister’s choice in settling with the Asian business man. He was plan B as well. Plan B is safe, convenient, and offers material security and freedom to travel, to move, to eat…. all freedom, except for that one freedom that God has called that person to do. Plan B is luxury, stripped of depth, weight, and meaning, but still a good facade to still be in the game to play smooze with the Joneses. You grew up in a family that was mostly about business, about shoulds, and adventures. There were luxuries. You went to Disneyland many times, they took you on camping trips, and you got to visit different countries, including being treated like luxury when you came back to China to visit relatives. Your dad was considered the winner among your China family. You mother looked down at your father’s family background. It was never mentioned. It was your mother’s family who took care of you. She was raised in an upper middle class background with a father who was a professor and a mother who was a nurse. Their family had respect for one another, yet the goodness of your dad’s family was never once mentioned. You just remember hearing stories of your father being criticized and abused as a young boy, and an ignorant and weak mother. Your dad was unmothered perhaps. And your mother was too mothered. Your mother cared about looks and yet didn’t care about looks. She was concerned with your grades and made it her life’s mission to make sure you got the best education you needed for the best chance at life. You can’t blame your parents for that. They want what’s best for you. Most of the time, they were just angry and disappointed in you… at least that’s how you perceived it. There was a lot of expectation for what they wanted out of you, but did not really listened to what you wanted for yourself… until you rebelled. That got their attention. You remember your parents backing off when they found out that you were taking drugs. They blamed themselves for your self-destructive ways and you did not bother to correct them for that assumption. Now with two suicide attempts and four mental hospitalizations, your parents tell you just to relax, be happy, and your dad gives you the green light to travel the world and write. And here you are… doing just that. So what about your parents are you still resentful towards? Perhaps you were unmothered because your mother was unmothered, because of a narcissist mother who often criticized your mother because she was secretly jealous and competing for her father’s attention. Perhaps you were unfathered because your father was unfathered, by a dad who was overly ambitious and thought beating up one’s son built strength, character, and survivorship in a dog eat dog world. You don’t know how bad life under a Communist regime was. If you said the wrong thing you could be jailed, beaten, and executed. Life was regimented, controlled, and watched. You had to be careful with what you said, because what you said would convict you. The newfound freedom they experienced in America was a revelation and a fresh of breath air, yet ialso nostalgic. Or perhaps they were just normie parents that happened to give birth to you, the anomaly. And what you resent is not that you are abnormal, but that they are normal. You observe your sister, and realize that your sister is a better representation of the offspring they have and wanted. She is witty, successful, and happy most of the time. You, on the other hand, were and are mostly and almost always the outsider, the loner, the think outside the box, the something-is-off prospect of the world view. They have accepted what is, and learned to play the game to as high of a level as they can. They build. You kind of wander, lag behind, and perhaps even choose to stay at the bottom, looking for some kind of hint to the reasons why things are the way they are.
“I found no cure for the loneliness, I found no cure for the sickness… nothing here feels like home… crowded streets but I’m all alone.” -Machine Gun Kelly