Cycles of abuse

I’m tired. Of trying so hard to make things…exist in a space they haven’t. Going forward intentionally aware of my own toxicity from white women’s tears to my own trauma cycles and cues. Sometimes it means I’m told no one wants to talk to me, or that I’m projecting wwhile being projected upon, that the issues of abuse we faced were just the past, that I’m not doing enough. A few months ago after a discussion about our household and leaving I said something about an upcoming trip that made my brother so angry he put this hole in the wall. He “fixed it” but it’s been on the wall for months like this.

I know that I am a whole human deserving what I send out and give. That energy mirroring and trauma loops are things we can break with intention. Intention requires transparency & honesty – naming and facing awawareness to not allow what has always been norma to continue.

Responsibility and accountability are fundamental in trtransformation – personal & community. May this post offer us the opportunity.

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Feelings – November 5, 2018

I feel like I am being eclipsed. That my ‘true life’ passes me by while I dripping in privilege navigate child rearing (often poorly with anger and outbursts of yelling and fragilely restrained desire to thrash the tiny humans…residual trauma? or failure as a good human?  both.) the work that goes into relearning, undoing basic human interaction exhausts me yet, to be doing this work, at this time, is an immense privilege not afforded to entirely too many.  Because of this my parenting is not, ‘I would never’ but ‘I too have been there, and are there with you, let’s work together’

The ‘I’m not going to let you hurt others’ phrase feels so fundamental and how that was broken for me when physical violence was used in the form of spankings with wooden spoons and belts and backhands across the face so my grabbing and holding, vainly trying to still time and bringing to life the internalized stuffing of big emotions is still causing harm, although is less…as was the physical violence I endured as a child less than that my parents endured as children…yet it still is harm, that I cannot undo even as I strive to not do it again.

I want, desire deeply for more connection, friendships, relationships, conversations, sharing sharing sharing.  And now, I’m left behind as I’m in a place only I can revisit in attempts to allow healing to break down, kill off, all the parts that were the response to how I was treated and fuck such a whiny load that is an excuse for my lack of producing anything of value, monetary or otherwise.

Church.

Holy spaces exist where we are. Today as I occasionally do I visited my moms church where I sit outside of the service and exist in my own holy space.

Seeing what exists in a church others have created – beauty of course in the gathering, the way humans manifest our yearning for holy connection. But also the hurt, trauma, fear, hate.

The yearning for connection itself is holy – the need to be held, find community, have space made comes from our realization we are divinely interconnected.

So often we find that belonging offered is superficial not able or willing to allow us to be whole, segmenting and cutting off parts of us – false prophets promising what we need without intention of ever fulfilling only consuming or breaking us.

My church exists within the connections I cultivate the hhumans I share existence with and inspire me, reading words of reckoning, writing, developing practices that enrich me, listening to music that touches my soul, giving attention to a 14 year old so emotionally mature they ask for it and highlight that it is being asked for not demanded by meltdowns, and this sending out words to share.

Life is incredibly beautiful and full of ways to work towards community with honesty & justice. I am finding my way to live deeply enmeshed in my feelings, whole, in community and full of faith.

Blessed be.

White women. Accountability and Personal Growth

As a white woman I always try to work towards remembering my privilege – after realizing the harm I caused in tears that I was conditioned to use as weapons examining my emotions means that I am responsible for the impact of what I do/say/type even if my intent isn’t malicious or even something I’m aware of.  I’m going to write around the perspective on being called out/in with a relationship of accountability from my perspective as a white woman.

The process of learning is not a straight line, checked off list, once and done, much like being an ally, being in a relationship, weeding, sweeping the floor, or any other work it is a constant, daily practice.

Complicated in this practice is the work of unpacking – our racism, sexism, classism, and other ways we are oppressive or marginalized. For example with white womens tears – I would constantly find myself crying when I didn’t want to cry (and to be clear crying can be healthy and necessary) what helped me change that behavior was to get angry that as a girl child I was was taught that my tears were more important that my words, that adults and men only would see ME if I cried but not before then. The internalized sexism impacted how my tears took on a life outside of my conscious decisions, the racism of being a white woman connected me to the historic and current violence of white toxicity. I had to do the work of both confronting my role in a racist system and how I was both harmed (personally) and used to caused harm (directly & systemically) by a sexist patriarchal system. Finding a healthy expression of my emotions also means unraveling the abuse as a child – so many different areas that are rife with big feelings close to personally understanding of self. It’s no wonder so many white folks shut down when we are confronted with the harm we cause. But understanding doesn’t excuse, understanding means we move closer to changing our behavior and growing – learning. 

A recent online exchange brought me deeper into learning – providing lessons I’m still working through that felt helpful to share with others both in what I learned and in what I can learn from their feedback.

My immediate responses were impacted by the expectations of friendship and communicating information I was assumed to have but didn’t so that my first responses were explanation. Thinking more about the comments helped me realize “Fuck I’m being held accountable now what” thoughts. Because honestly I’m still in the place of defensiveness around accountability (it’s a really hard habit to break, like white lies around things like if I have eaten or not) recognizing where that defensiveness comes from helps us open up to the experience of learning. 

It is ok to realize that sometimes the best response is simple and to take time to think, versus fast typing to protect our rep or ego. Remembering that online conversations, like in person conversations, can complicate the process of learning/accountability when things move too fast for us to reflect and respond within the conversation (we all have had the best responses to conversations in the shower the next morning, laying in bed falling asleep, driving). This is also something helpful to remember when we are holding others accountable. 

While I sat in my deeply uncomfortable feelings there was a process I went though to keep myself grounded in learning and not reacting in a defensive/dismissive way.

“Well they were mean/didn’t know/are just as bad/etc” Trying to deflect the accountability away from myself when I get checked I always find mentally defend myself with but this person does xyz/isnt perfect/causes harm. It’s not about them it’s about me – I cannot control them but I can decide how I move in the world and take the lesson presented to me. 

Even if I don’t agree with (or am ready to learn) everything they are saying, asking myself “Is there truth in what I’m being told” helps move me closes to the lesson in the exchange. Sometimes it means a strengthening of my understanding of my perspective, sometimes it means changing my thought process – but at least for now for me neither of those feel great. 

If I have already responded or am working on a response asking myself “Am I being defensive or explaining myself” helps me approach the exchange in a way that offers more growth. If I feel like I have to explain myself it tells me I didnt do a good job to begin with and the people it out are showing me space to grow.  Figuring out why/where I am being defensive also highlights areas of where I can learn. 

It helps me to recognize that it does not feel good – its tension and feeling not liked and feeling like saving face and feeling like the worst and all the negative feelings rolled into this one thing. It’s not that the exchange itself isn’t good but that we have again been conditioned to think of things in a binary of right/wrong good/bad without room to make mistakes and grow in learning. Learning isn’t a binary but an organic process like the branches of a root system or tree branches, the flow of lava building over what we knew to move us towards where we are going.

Because of that binary thinking (which is a big part of white toxicity) a lot of us immediately want to hide our mistakes because we must be perfect or we are vulnerable. The truth is we are vulnerable and in community with each other. We cannot undo what we have done/said – don’t delete unless asked to or hide or avoid but also recognize how to help yourself think through it in the future. It helps ourselves and it helps those around us who can learn from our mistakes. 

Yes folks can hold you accountable and be mean/rude/harsh – and it is ok to have feelings about it or need to set boundaries around it. Be mindful of your privilege – if you can ignore it or not be impacted by it the harshness especially if coming from the marginalized is a part of the lesson. Sometimes it means they trust you as a person to grow and share and sometimes it just means they are tired and need help. Having identities addressed especially when you are a part of an oppressive group is not the same as being name called/personally attacked, if that is a place you struggle reflect on how that identity is something you benefit from. 

And sometimes it is ok to realize you are not in a place to learn the lesson – that you personally have work to do to be able to navigate all the pieces, but don’t discredit the exchange. It can be something that you look back on as a turning point in your understanding.

Often even people calling us out or calling us in and holding us accountable also grew up with conditioning of the binary right/wrong – its why and how we isolate and ignore those we don’t agree with, holding them more accountable than we do with ourselves. Remembering our shared humanity is vital to growing together. When we dehumanize each other the first step to finding shared humanity must come from the person who systematically has power – asking someone who is marginalized to see you more humanely than you see them is dehumanizing and harmful. Accountability must be grounded and rooted in our shared humanity – outside of that the work first must be done to recognize the humanity and that work needs to be done by those aligned with those denying humanity.

The transformative power of change has been conditioned as scary and terrifying unknowns instead of the enriching process of growth and learning where we will stumble and make mistakes. Accountability is a step towards that, embracing it and settling into it changes us.

I look forward to responses, feedback, and learning opportunities in the comments here. Please share with your thoughts – I’m excited about conversations around this.

 

Consent starts now

I lay here nursing this sweet child to sleep worrying and just trying to be here now, the wind blowing in the trees out my window, golden sun touching hair, the hands holding hands and ears, and it works and it doesn’t. So much I would leave behind and undone. Raising this child to remain loving in consent and respect even to nurse, momma nurse please he asks even in the middle of the night half asleep. My love overflows. And in this moment I find enough.

I have been thinking the last few weeks, months, years about consent and the tiny humans we help grow. My sister taught her now 6 year old son to ask to nurse with the words, “nurse please” and in all things parenting I learn and emulate her. My now 2.5 year old asks, ‘nurse please’ and when I say yes sometimes he will respond with ‘thank you’. Sweet consent has helped me when I’ve felt tired or resentful of nursing but it has especially helped in he hasn’t bit my nipples the few times we have had a rough unlatching or nip I have told him, “that hurt me and I don’t want to nurse anymore” and we stop or pause nursing until he asks again.

We often talk about how momma is sharing her milk from my body which then leads to him pointing at his belly saying, ‘my body’ and at me saying, ‘mommy’s body’.  Simple rituals we use in interaction we have at least 3 times a day, sometimes more. These moments gather into the way his understanding of the world that our bodies are our own even when we share space with others. Another part of the ritual I recognize in nursing is thinking ‘this is my body, given for you’ while we nurse, the basic magic that is nourishing a child which begins in utereo and continues once they’re earthside in nursing and feeding our children.

That phrase resonates from the reading Dance of the Dissidents Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd wrote on page 15, “I … nourished by the symbol and power of this profound feeding ritual. It never occurred to me how odd it was that women, who have presided over the domain of food and feeding for thousands of years, were historically and routinely barred from presiding over it in a spiritual context. … ‘This is my body, given for you,’ not once did I recognize that it is women in the act of breastfeeding who most truly embody those words and who are also most excluded from ritually saying them.”

When we feel powerless to make change remembering that in the small every day moments we weave what will become memories and foundation of interaction with the world for our tiny humans. These are the things that will spark compassion, connection, consciousness when faced with other narratives of human interaction that can be harmful – toxic masculinity, objectifying femme bodied people, rape culture, romantic hierarchies, and lack of consent. Allowing the space for our children to develop into full people means thinking about every interaction we have and working to make it better and trusting what they have to teach us as much as we feel we must teach them. A friend, Onyx, reminded me once when I was touched out and frustrated that kids know what we need when they come cuddling to us – we need reconnection or just connection and its a part of our trauma that we hide from that when we need it the most. It doesn’t mean it’s easy or that we have to surrender our ability to consent and have boundaries. But it does mean that we have to hold space for the lesson to emerge even if we choose otherwise.

Parenting, like activism and allyship, is not a checked off done once and finished thing. It is a daily, every moment, and breath thing. And in the radical connection that happens during nursing and feeding our children we have a place to re-write the narratives of bodily autonomy and consent.

Rough draft

I’ve been invited to speak at an event today denouncing the nomination of Kavanaugh to supreme court. And as I mull over what to say I read about the death of John McCain with so many people who advocate for equality and freedom and justice sharing about “respecting” this man “despite differences”. I see the intent just like so many calls for peace/civility/nonviolence it’s a call made with good intentions. Intentions to help, to heal, to humanize. Venerating someone like McCain does not humanize him, it continues the dehumanization of people he actively harmed.

In my house there is a sickle. It has the family history of being brought home by my grandfather from Korea when he served in the army there. Untieing the knot that includes the fiercely cultivated relationship between identity, masculinity and military service is necessary and even though I wish to distance myself because of my personal views also something I am responsible for. I will do the work to address this, untie the knot of my ancestors harm.

Critical thinking is necessary when facing established rules and systems. It is *critical* because we cannot allow them to be because they *are*. We have to constantly grow and change and mold ourselves and this world into what serves the people (all, not just some).

Honor & American heroes are those who serve the values our country was idealized on, not necessarily founded on. Langston Hughes speaks to this in his poem, “Let America be America Again”.

‘Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed —

Let it be that great strong land of love

Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme’

Korrin Gaines, Bree Newhart, hundreds of thousands anonymously doing the work necessary to move us collectively towards freedom, justice, equality.

Privilege & Power Alice Walkers quote, “people give up their power by thinking they dont have any” I struggle with this that my power of writing and words matters that the things I do and say and am mean more. The privilege of whiteness is oftentimes sunk into the feeling of helplessness. White people are privileged in this system but we dont change it by ignoring that privilege as if we could opt out – we change it by empowering, truly empowering those around us who are not treated equally – starting with black women and native women.

Military & police state are both systems implemented by the empire to cause harm – directly to those marginalized and oppressed but also to those who believe in their good intentions and have those weaponized in the work they choose to do. When identity is encouraged to be merged deeply with these professions it removes the ability to critically address issues without personal feelings of that identity causing defensiveness. The thin blue line flag is literally celebrating a police state. America ideals cannot exist within this system.

John McCain was not a war hero for the people, he was a war hero for the state. He was a threat and war criminal towards the peasant and poor/working class folks especially of color. His choices continued to cause harm in the years before his death. Uplifting the work of indigenous activists in the state he was elected to serve and betrayed the people – Oak Flats and other land that was sold or otherwise removed from the people.

When we continue to allow the faults and flaws in what the people want in this country to stand as normal we deny freedom not only to the marginalized but also to those who are used as tools of oppression. The Atlantic just released a story on the decline of life expectancy for white folks who buy into this system and the despair that drives them to self medication and death. Audre Lorde said “I am not free while any woman is unfree. Even if her shackles are different than mine.” We all must strive towards freedom, side by side and together. This Unite for Justice demonstrates a living, breathing embodiment of Lilla Watsons call, “If you are here to help me you are wasting your time. But if you are here because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”

addendum: one of the organizers of this event asked for a moment of silence at the end of it for John McCain. I quietly said no, shook my head, and then at a loss of what else to do took a knee at the moment of silence. I sent a message to the organizers via the facebook event which was deleted, silencing the voices of so many people of color for whom South Dakotans Against Racism exists to amplify. South Dakota is incredibly progressive with pockets of people committed to justice and then…we all fall short, myself included.

Stay

How do you stay?

When

It all seems to fall

Apart a part

Of something else

In ways

That we fail

Fuck up

Cause harm

Hurt

The systems we play in

Are apart of us

We can’t escape

But we also

Cant talk

About the ways

These systems harm

Hurt

Us

As we keep trying

Flailing

Fighting

We all deserve

A place

To stay

To feel

Love

Loved

Whole

Apart

Where do you go

When you try to stay

The Practice of Change

i first read Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower & Parable of Talents a few years ago. recently i have been listening to the amazing podcast by autumn & adrienne maree brown, how to survive the end of the world it reaches in and touches something deep in my soul, the place where fear and love intersect, allowing me to hold onto it and choose, through love to stay and ferment in the discomfort of messy growth. choosing love. choosing growth. choosing how i change.

Image result for all that you touch you change

while waiting for a friend at a local coffee shop i continued my reading of emergent strategy – pages 180 to 190. i have been reading this book since august 22nd, 2017 – almost a year when i typically devour books in hours, days. in these pages adrienne visits with Dani McClain about meditation and Dani shares about the value of ‘finding a community of people to learn from’ when i began this journey of healing i disconnected from outside community to delve internally, vital yes, but also only part of the work i need to be doing.

my relationships with immediate family, the radical household of matriarchs raising full humans, albeit tiny, has been a forefront as i strive to embody the ‘everybody wants a revolution but no one wants to do the dishes’ by personally finding the value in doing the dishes, caring for children, taking out trash, moping the floor, cleaning the bathrooms. which tangents into a whole other blog post i’ll make. these areas are historically and currently devalued so for me to value them allows me to find foundation – everyone needs clean dishes, food, clean homespace, caring for.

that foundation helps me, allow myself those needs and helps me to meet them myself and through asking for help. and then strive to help others.

from that i begin to reach out and share what has allowed me to be intentional in the change i am making. allowing grace for when i struggle or get stuck or just revisit that space on the spiral of my life that is hard for me.

the practice of change began with using ‘g*y’ as a slur, a word in place of things i would consider ‘bad’ ‘st*pid’. i was a child in the 90’s and it was common place usage. recognizing that it was harmful was one of my first lessons and it fell out of use from my mouth in the years around when my first child was born. my current practices of change include changing how i comfort my youngest that instead of using ‘its ok’ to silence his cries i allow myself to validate his tears with ‘its ok to cry’ and changing out the use of ‘guys’ when i really mean a group of people, at this time using ‘y’all’. another similar area is the use of ‘sorry’ as a white woman in false apology and submission in the symptom of sickness of white feminism and patriarchy.

replacing the harmful language i notice in my daily practice was really fucking hard at first. it took so much effort, especially before i learned that it is ok to publicly stop, correct, and change my words – that being messy and awkward weren’t as bad as being a harmful racist, sexist, classist, ableist asshole.

the practice of change begins when we recognize we are always changing, even if we don’t make a choice to change by assuming we stay the same we are cementing our current choices.

for me, striving to be purposeful in my language instead of assuming that it was *my* language helped me to recognize the ways that larger systems in play that strive to keep me feeling disconnected and disempowered utilized language i used without thinking.

the way through change isn’t inherently linear as i both learned in reminder during conversation with my friend today and in emergent strategy. we circle back and revisit areas and steps we still have space to learn in.

  •  pay attention to the use of words, language, slang, common phrases
  • learn if you can the origins of them – who first used these, why, are these words mine? are questions that helped me evaluate my language
  • try not to use negative/wrong/shame when i use the words, i’m not a bad person but i can cause harm with the words i use. if necessary, apologize and then immediately reformat the words with the intention behind the use – what did i want to express?
    • i have stopped mid conversation after using ‘st*pid’ to correct myself and explain, i’m trying not to use ableist terms (or terms that use intelligence as a weapon’)
  • it is and doest feel awkward and messy – that’s ok
  • it will become easier to be intentional
  • it will take many, many mistakes to retrace those brain pathways

it becomes a tool to rely on when we become aware of harmful language – we become the purposeful change, purposeful change becomes a part of us

this is not meant to be or to be used to shame people for talking or using language differently for example white folks using or shaming black folks for AAVE or middle & robber class folks shaming poor & working class folks or grammar perfection – if you can understand let it be a bridge. doing my own personal work helps me but it is not a tool i use to bash over peoples heads (even if people feel like it because discomfort has been made to seem equal to harm – its not).

what are words/phrases/uses that you have recognized, are changing, or have changed for yourself? comment and share with your thoughts!

 

 

 

 

i see me looking back looking forward

tonight.

i’m reading my livejournal from 2005 through 2000.

things fall into place.

i’m listening to elliot smith because in 2004 julia did.

seeing my posts about colin, the way the abuse started so early. but also how it had started before he even entered my world.

affirming that i am femme and masculine. i am so soft and open and easy. but i did, i purposefully did hide it away, hide me away. to survive.

the things i see myself as, i feel like i tentatively say, questioningly, as if someone else has to give me permission, that i cannot take for myself.

but i take. and feel dirty and greedy and ungrateful.

and how incredibly twisted that is.

i am so much more than that.

i am allowed so much more that what has been given me.

 

what’s wrong with me

ptsd?

cptsd?

anxiety?

depression?

concussion?

i remember senior year, being grabbed by the throat and not allowed to leave. i remember being dismissed and minimized.

i remember the first time i could name a panic attack after flying in 2009. i remember calling grandma jane to come over and she did, and sat with me and held my hand.

i remember being punched in the head, repeatedly. over sunflower seeds? and just leaving and going back to work because it was my lunch break and its what i had to do. and years later over my emotional distress during pregnancy.

i remember being punched in the pregnant belly, having hard wrought pumped milk thrown.

i remember losing myself, my will to fight. my participation by giving up or choosing becsuse it was better to be hit than emotionally/mentally abused because it would leave a mark, proof. but it never did.

i remember the sorrys. i remember the offers of my violence as solution (just hit me you’ll feel better, as punishment, as getting even). i remember explaining away, the minimizing.

so much that lingers. like an oil sheen on water, sometimes seen and sometimes not.

does this mean im over it all now?