Monday, June 3, I’ll be on Jon Leonetti in the Morning on Iowa Catholic Radio, 7:15 am CT. 1150 AM 88.5 FM 94.5 FM. Discussing my new book RAVISHED.



I’m an ex-gutter drunk who graduated from law school in a blackout, sobered up, quit my job as a Beverly Hills litigation attorney, converted to Catholicism, and in the mid-1990’s embarked on the precarious life of a creative writer. My history includes promiscuity, abortions, adultery, a 14-year marriage that ended in divorce, and a life-long tendency toward romantic obsession.

Divorced, childless, single, aging, as a woman, in and out of the Church, I often feel I have nowhere to lay my head.

In and out of the Church as well, I’m also often challenged by my fellow women to be angrier. “How can you belong to a church that won’t allow female priests?” for example, is a question I hear often. The short answer is because Christ set it up that way. The long answer is that just because men do something women should be able to do it, and vice versa, is a notion that strikes me as moronic. I want to glorify womanhood, not water it down. Any woman who wants to be a priest for the right reasons—which is to die to self, to serve—will already have naturally ordered her life so as to be acting in a priestly capacity.

 Beneath the anger is fear. Beneath the anger is the one fact we’re really not “allowed” to say: that we long with all our hearts for the male gaze. To live with the tension of not having that gaze returned with the intensity we ache for, or maybe at all—and to react with patience, kindness, and creative nonviolence, while still loving men—that is the way of the real warrior and the real feminist.

So is trying to be kind, understanding, and compassionate to all women: the pregnant teenager, the trans recovering alcoholic, the gun-toting, home-schooling Republican.

 To hold such tension, all our lives, is the way of suffering. Not dumb, wearily-resigned suffering, but active, conscious suffering. “Stay awake!” said Christ. And before we start pointing the finger at everyone else, let’s remember that, being human, every one of us comes to the table with our egos, our agendas, our wounds. Even those of us sufficiently well-educated, well-traveled, and well-experienced perhaps to consider ourselves above the fray come with deep vulnerabilities and fears: that we’re not pretty enough, thin enough, loud enough, quiet enough. To acknowledge our vulnerabilities and fears—and to devote our lives to trying to live fully with many of them intact—is the way of strength, not weakness.     

Many of us come with a hard-wired propensity to “pick” and then to compulsively pursue emotionally unavailable men.

For most of my life, I’ve counted myself squarely among that last group. In fact, to have longed for a man and never to have had a truly reciprocal, healthy loving relationship with a man—partly because I’ve been blueprinted for another vocation, partly because my own temperament has engineered against it—is my deepest, tenderest wound.

My “failure” at romance is the part of my story that tends to make me feel most ashamed, humiliated, exiled, and like a loser. It touches upon my fear that I’m not worthy of love nor capable of loving others. It goes to the heart of my womanhood and my humanity.

To accept this reality—to have come to see my situation, even, as a strange grace—has been a long, painful crucifixion. But to have suffered the wound these last three decades without anesthesia—no matter how lonely, frustrated, and crazy I’ve felt; never knowing how long the suffering might last—has formed in me, at last, something useful, something eternal.

I want to tell the story of those years of purification.  

I want to tell of what has been the adventure, the pilgrimage, the gamble of my life.

Here’s what I’ve learned: Our deepest identity does not lie in our gender, our sexual orientation, our wounds.

Our identity lies in Christ.


  1. Anonymous says: Reply

    This is so powerful, Heather. It pierced my heart and soul! I cannot wait to read your book.
    Jesus be near. xo Rose

    1. Thank you so much, Rose! I know I can't be alone in this, plus are we ever REALLY fulfilled by human relationship, no matter how deep and rich, in this vale of tears? Anyway, thanks in advance for reading my book and Blessed Pentecost!

  2. Whew…..you have a way with words, Heather. This preface knocked my socks off. Godsmacked again. "Bloody but unbowed" still slays me, though. Maybe that's your next book! XXOO

    1. Anonymous says: Reply

      "Bloody but unbowed" is from the poem "Invictus," by William Ernest Henley (1849–1903). You are not likely to see this comment, but other people, like me, who are way behind and reading late might see it!

    2. Thank you, good to know (though I hardly consider myself the captain of my soul)! For some reason, I associate it with another poem from childhood, "Shoot, if you must, this old gray head, but spare my country's flag." That, however, appears to be John Greenleaf Whittier.

      The comments show up for me in a chronological list so I get to see the ones that are written even re posts from years ago. Thanks again–

  3. Oh Heather-this speaks to my heart and soul so deeply. I'm looking forward to reading although couldn't ever get hold of 'Famished' in the UK so hoping I can get hold of this one! God bless you X

  4. Anonymous says: Reply

    Dear Heather,
    You have articulated my exact situation. I've watched myself slowly work through the stages of letting go all those longings for the male gaze (as you put it) and accept what is also a combination of my vocation and temperament: that I, like our Lord, am meant to move through this world without loving or having loved. It's tough but I am making progress with it. My consolation is that one of my failed marriages did produce two daughters who are an astonishing gift. Anyway, I will be getting this book. I need to read how you are walking this path too.

    1. Thanks, Dana! We're built to long for the male gaze because we're built to bring new life into the world–so that longing is nothing I'm ashamed of. We SHOULD admire each other, men and women! But yes, coming to grips with not being first in anyone's heart has been an arduous, and ongoing journey. Progress, though, as you say. How beautiful that you have two daughters–astonishing gifts for sure. I greatly appreciate your readership and support–

  5. Anonymous says: Reply

    Our identity lies in Christ–powerful words.
    As a married gay man I am struggling with my place in the Church. Maybe the struggle is what will help me identify more with Christ.

    I read your book Redeemed. I loved it.I want to read all your books. Do you receive any profit if I buy them used through a site like Abe Books? I think I might remember reading here that you only receive profit from used books if bought on Amazon Could you clarify? I'm sorry if this question is inappropriate.

    1. Not inappropriate at all–I don't receive anything if the book is bought used. Even new, the royalty split is generally about 88/12 in favor of the publisher and that's after costs. So even under the best of circumstances an author gets maybe a dollar a book. The exception is the books I've self-published: Poor Baby (long essay), Stripped, and now Ravished (which by the way includes Poor Baby so don't buy both). There, I get I think 70% or so of the the ebook royalties and 35% of the paperback royalties.

      Clearly books are not a big money-maker, at least for me. I'd rather a reader buy the book used than not at all. Hope that helps and I hope RAVISHED helps as well, if you end up reading it–thanks for weighing in and asking–


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