Tuesday, February 26, 2008

updated list: upcoming posts.

my list just keeps growing.
seems the act of living does that.
there are always more (and more and more) things to write about.

so, here goes:
1) organizing, sans self-abandonment.
2) healing and intimate (romantic or otherwise) relationships.
3) shared woundedness, individual woundedness as played out in women's relationships with (hetero) men (examples, in my case, from the food service industry).
4) creating/finding/being in communities.
5) activism as woundedness/victimization, played out. (or not.)
6) writing/healing

and, new to the list:
7) heartbreak. as a heart-opening experience? (as in, the heart breaks, and the heart breaks open.) as exquisite pain. as pain you can learn from. i want to write something about not closing yourself off to feeling that pain. about not trying to erect those walls around your heart again. i want to write something about heartbreak as inspiration for more than angsty love poetry and whiny pop music. i want to write something about heartbreak as opening your eyes to different wounded parts of you that need healing. about not stifling that heartbreak in order to appear "above it" (when you're clearly not), but still containing it when it's not a safe place to express it.
i want to connect heartbreak to a larger picture, i want to explore why we, as a culture, avoid and silence and censor heartbreak so much...with ice cream, distraction, bad movies, chocolate. why we try so hard to not feel it.
i want to write all these things.
but i can't. not yet. it's all a little too raw still.
it will come.

Monday, February 25, 2008

the power of lies, the power of truth-telling.

i've got a couple of those "works in progress" posts started. i've got one about writing / healing about halfway done. (only half-)surprisingly, it's kind of hard to write. mostly because i'm not only writing about writing, but i'm trying to use the post as a beginning of the process of writing to heal. which means i'm trying to tell one of my stories in a complete way, linking both facts / events and emotions. i, of course, am trying to do so with one of those stories that i don't tell...the story that i've only told to a total of two people thus far - my old therapist and a very good friend. so writing this post the way i want to write it? is tough. to say the least.


i've got a couple things i can start saying about writing.
or, more specifically, about words.
(inspired in part by a conversation i had recently with one of the incredible women who's part of this healing community i'm slowly finding / cultivating here in western mass.)

a lot (far too many) of us grew up in environments where words were used only in the form of lies. we couldn't speak the truth about our pain, about our real experiences, about our woundedness. our words became the things we hid behind, the things that provided us with a not-so-safe kind of safety. we might've used them to pretend that everything was fine, to sacrifice ourselves so as not to rock the boat. lied our way into convincing other people (and ourselves) that we were ok, that we were safe, that we weren't in the pain that we maybe couldn't really handle at that time. or we used our words to control other people, other situations, because at least that way, we could ignore what was really going on. we could avoid the situations that were far beyond our comprehension, our maturity level. and, of course, words were used almost entirely as lies told to us; telling us we were loved when every action by our parents or siblings or relatives or other adults clearly told us otherwise. telling us we were safe when we were anything but. telling us how important "the family" was, how important it was to look the part, do whatever we needed to do in order to give that illusion of a happy family. of a functional family. telling us that our acceptance and approval depended on being "beautiful" -- i.e. skinny, feminine, athletic, intelligent. telling us we weren't good enough. pretty enough. smart enough. white enough. or just simply enough. never, or rarely, telling us the truth.

so words, for so many of us, were a kind of betrayal. putting trust in these things that so often and for so long let us down, left us wanting, becomes difficult, incredibly so....but not impossible.

because we can reclaim these words. all of these words, all of this language that was for so long used against us. we can use them to tell the truth, instead of lies. use our voices, our mouths, our hands, our ink, our fingers, to tell the truth. claim and embrace our truth.

the truth, too, is just as powerful as these lies. more so, even, by virtue of it being the truth. more powerful because we know what the alternative is. more powerful because we're more conscious of what it is to tell the truth. more powerful, for ourselves, because in telling these truths, we're healing the parts of ourselves that have been so deeply wounded by the lies we've had to tell and the lies we've been told.

which means, of course, that writing -- writing truth, writing the truest reality -- is an exercise in healing. is a form of healing. it's a (potentially) public form of healing. which means, further, that its potential is immeasurably powerful. if writing the truth is healing for the writer, reading a writer's truth - her raw, uncensored, real truth - is healing for the reader, as well.

the power of words is, well, awesome. almost unbelievable. in the very literal sense of both of those words.

......it's funny. i'd started out this post thinking that i would make a couple statements about words-as-lies / words-as-truth, then move on to discuss #2 on my works-in-progress list - on relationships and being whole & open & healed/healing within them. seems my fingers and mind had something else in mind, though.
maybe next time.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

in the works.

a (numbered, of course) list of some posts that i'm thinking about, some things which may turn into full-fledged posts (or, you know, may not) in the near future:

1) how to be an organizer, an activist working for social change in a social movement environment that devalues, even discourages, individual healing. how to not lose or abandon yourself or your needs in your dedication to creating social change.
(in the works 'cause i have yet to find a solution to this dilemma. i'm workin' on it.)

2) on a much more personal note: on healing before and/or within (romantic?) relationships. this will mostly be a comparison, a record of my evolution from thinking i needed to hide my past in order to be in a relationship to my thoughts and beliefs about it now. both the post and my thoughts on the topic are works in progress.

3) the ways in which a lot of women's reluctance to reject and deferment to the desires of (especially hetero) men is not only a sign of her own individual woundedness, but also indicative of our shared woundedness. i also want to discuss how "the patriarchy" (and everything that goes along with it) contributes to our own individual woundedness, how the oppression we feel is rarely capital-p Political, and how healing from it doesn't need to be Political. (healing, though, is inherently political, inherently an act of social change.)

4) communities. creating them, finding them, being whole in them.
(intentionally vague.)

5) connecting activism to its root, the thing that spurs individuals to take action. how often is this a way of playing out (and replaying, fighting this time) their own woundedness and/or victimization?

and, also:
6) writing. my relationship to it, to words. the different forms. (prose, stream of consciousness, personal essay, memoir, poetry, spoken word, etc.) how it can be a conduit of healing.

Sunday, February 17, 2008


i visited my hometown, very briefly, this weekend.
it was....well, i don't really have concise words. but it was.

what i want to talk about now, though, is something i realized while i was talking with my grandmother over dinner.

she was asking me about what i was doing with my life, what i wanted to do with my life, where i was headed.
(as a side note: as similar as she is to my mother, her daughter, there is a key difference that allows me to be more open and loving with my grandmother: she trusts me, trusts that what i'm doing with my life is best. mostly, though, she wants me to be happy simply for the sake of my own happiness. she would be proud of me and happy for me if i were to move into a box on the streets of northampton, as long as i was happy.)
i'm well aware of how this path-finding / path-discovery happened. this weekend, more than before, i made a very conscious effort to be always connected with myself, with the spiritual part of myself, with my higher self. that, i'm convinced, is where the following came from. it came through me, but it came from somewhere higher, because of that strong connection i'd cultivated especially for this particular weekend.

i was telling her about my eventual plans for grad school (a joint JD / MPH in reproductive & sexual health), and about what i hoped to do with that degree. i gave her my usual answer: become legal counsel or do some kind of policy work for a reproductive justice organization. but then, without putting much thought into it, the following answer spilled out:
but more than that, and in that kind of position, what i want to do is to bring something else into social justice work, into feminist activism. i want to bring in the aspect of individual healing, i want to help transform the movement into one where activists and organizers take care of themselves, heal themselves, help others to heal. i want to bring that healing environment into the often unhealthy environment of the social justice movement.

i've voiced this desire before, but more in the context of my own individual life, my own individual activism. i hadn't integrated this concept into my career plans. but now that i've voiced it, now that i've explained it - to my Roman Catholic grandmother, of all people - it makes so much sense.
i've always wanted to make a difference.
but it's always been an abstract, very general idea, something about "making things better for women."
this is it, though. this is the difference i want to make.
my calling, perhaps?

Friday, February 01, 2008

a couple of short updates:

1) Regarding this post, decrying the rash of male entitlement i experienced in the duration of one short day....the first man I talked about, parasailing Peter, who signed the Freedom of Choice Act petition because he thought the girls asking him to sign were cute....he's a regular at the cup & top cafe, where i work. he's actually, every so often, a decent enough guy. my read of him, now that i know him a little better (he likes mochas, by the way, but sometimes just goes for a regular coffee), is this: he's a lonely guy. he probably thought that by giving me and my co-volunteers a compliment on our looks, he would be able to engage me in conversation for a while, and be a little less lonely. and it worked. and it still works, at the cafe. he's getting his needs met through a totally manipulative, entitled avenue, but he has good reasons for those needs, and for feeling he needs to use these manipulations to meet them. i didn't think it would happen, but i'm growing compassion for him. for this entitled white guy who chuckled when i said i thought women were still second-class citizens, who was pro-choice solely because he thought we pro-choicers were hot....i have compassion for him.

this approach to those we might deem our "enemies," or at least the people whose interests oppose ours, has potential.
that whole "catch more flies with honey than vinegar" thing, i guess.

2) Regarding this post, on authenticity and belonging and passing and community:
I noted that there was no place where I could be my whole self, where there wasn't some part of me I felt I needed to censor or de-emphasize.
That's not entirely true now. That community is small; currently made up of 3 or 4 people, but it exists. And I'm whole in it. Or, at least, working my way towards being wholly myself with these select people.
I still can't be wholly myself within a lot of the communities I was trying to be part of. Still do sometimes try to be a part of. I don't know that I ever will be, though I hold out some hope that maybe these communities I yearn to be a part of will one day accept all of us not-quite-enough people in our wholeness. But in creating my own community, one that's not exclusively survivors, or queer women (well, actually, they are all queer, but that's out of chance rather than intentional identity politics), or women of colour....in creating this community for myself, I've created / am creating that space that I crave so much. That space that I can be whole in, that space where I can have company in my wholeness.
How's that for an uplifting note to end on?