Monday, February 4, 2013

It's All in the Details

I have a thing about secrets.  I used to be a secret keeper.  Secrets of assault.  Secrets of abuse.  I held my secrets until they literally broke my body down and spilled onto the floor beside me.  I held them because I was told through words and actions that my experiences were not valid.  I held them to shield hearts against breakage.  I don't do that anymore.  I no longer bear all of the responsibility.  The thing about secrets is that, one day, one way or another, they will be revealed anyway.

During my quest to finally find out who my mother really was, 20 years after her death, there were a lot of secrets revealed to me.  Secrets that, had I known at an earlier time, could have completely reshaped my life, my understanding, my identity.  Secrets that ultimately repainted many pictures of people and judgement calls.  Secrets, which in the end made me feel much better actually knowing.

I do not want to raise my daughter within a web of lies, and do so on the basis of "protecting" her.  I think it's safe to say that, universally, parents care a great deal about protecting our children.  In the process of providing that protection we will bend, omit, restructure, hell... even recreate truths.  Essentially, we don't give our children enough credit for their ability to comprehend and process truths that need telling.  To avoid being across the table from my child 15 years down the road listening to her tell me all the ways in which new news could have provided her so much more way back then, I will sit across from her now, and answer any and every single question she may ever have.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Apples and Pears

While we're talking about the body, how long is this new weight loss age going to last?  Maybe it's not new, but it feels like it's newly aggressive.  Is that because it's the beginning of a new year?  I never considered the fact that one day, I might become overwhelmed by the amount of diets, comparison photos, missed meals, body envy, self hate and transformation updates that appear on my Facebook timeline.  I think that being health conscious is a beautiful and life changing thing, but I also think that self torture and self bashing is dangerous, unnecessary and sad.  

A friend once said that nobody's body actually wants to be fat.  Here's something else to think about: perhaps the body does not actually want to be deprived either.  I've noticed some women who have created a life of losing weight.  Meaning, they've lost weight, gained weight and are losing weight again.  Maybe that struggle is not needed.  Maybe a particular body wants to be a certain weight, and when that body drops below that weight it simply returns. 

And something else to examine: being content within the body you're in, right now.  It's just a much better look to be kind to ourselves.  I know it's not always easy, but it's something we must do.  If the goal is to lose weight or to get healthier, we should be able to work toward that goal without telling our asses, thighs and stomachs that they aren't "normal", and without tearing down those around us who inhabit the same kinds of bodies.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

My Body is Entitled to Peace

From my Writing Ourselves Whole writings:

My body wants to be at peace.  Not within itself, but within the world.  When my body is bestowed upon or in the company of men, my body is entitled to appreciation.  My body does not wish to be taken advantage of.  More than my body's large breasts and vagina want to be worshiped.  My body's heart and soul want to be caressed.

My body is entitled to peace.  Not within itself, but within the world.  My body's uniqueness ought to be accepted.  With its hair gracefully covering its arms and legs, short stature, short torso, large waist, blemished skin.  Stretch marks from skin stretching to bring forth new life.  My body is amazing.

My body is entitled to peace.  My body knows what's good for it.  It knows what it likes and what it wants and just what to do.  My body does not want to be demanded, for my body has agency.  My body is entitled to peace, love and appreciation.  My body is entitled to safety, my body is entitled to care, my body is entitled to itself.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Family Is...

Ha, I've been trying to hash out what "family is" for a few days now.  With every single day and every single familial encounter it changes.

Family is ups and downs.  Family is pain and love.  Family is complicated.

Jen writes:

"This is the long legacy of trauma — how such violation and abandonment hacks away at the parts of us that do intimacy, and how long it can take to heal those tendons and muscles."

Since I've allowed Emma and I to be accepted into a number of deeply loving families, and to build lifelong bonds, I guess it's safe to say that some amount of healing has taken place within myself concerning what family is, and can be.  Still, there are scars.  Surprising scars.  Society would have you to believe that since my father resided behind bars for the majority of my lifetime, and probably his own, that my deepest scars would have been formed by his frequent, repeated absence.  Society would probably also have you to believe that my father's absence is linked to the absence of a man in my household - that's another post for another day.  No, my deepest familial scars aren't paternal, but instead maternal. 

I don't think I could ever accurately explain the level of pain/damage/stunted growth/loss that came to me after my mother's death.  Really, how does an 8 year old girl process the death of her mother, especially if she never got the tools from the surviving members of her family.  How does an 8 year old process death period?  I think I've ridden in more limousines and followed more hearses than any young person should ever have to.  My mother died in 1992, and by 1994, I was again, in a limousine, following the hearse that transported my cousin's body - a cousin whose head had been riddled with bullets.  How does a 10 year old process horrific and life changing death?  Probably much the same way my 10 year old self processed the news from my father that I had a 14 year old sister.  With some kind of misguided maturity that does not allow for questions, just acceptance.

Do I really wanna write this today?  Do I really wanna "go there" today?  I should.  

Scarred.  Scarred maternally by death, and by coming of age in a household with a head who was two generations ahead of me.  Scarred by non-existent relationships with aunts and great distance between granddaughter of first born and grandmother.  Just, plain old scarred.

Jen asks:

"Can we heal what family means?"


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Somewhere That's Green

Berkeley is green.  Berkeley is familiar and safe.  Berkeley is where my extended family originates, and where we always return.  Berkeley is a centrally located driving distance away from my grandmother's city of Martinez.  Berkeley is home.

Home.  My home.  There are 20 steps up to my home's front door, and earlier this season, raindrops dripped from my home's ceiling.  Not anymore.  

Although my parking space covers my car, the complex's maintenance equipment (which includes an assumed non-working stove), and the few neighbor guys who like to smoke their weed there, I've tried to focus solely on the fact that, my parking space, and my home, with all of their flaws are good enough for just a woman and her 9 year old daughter.  It's Berkeley living at its finest.   

Still, I dream of somewhere that's green.

The kind of green that Emma can turn cartwheels down, through and all around, while our furbaby gives chase.  From my special seat atop the balcony, I will look up from my book, and out on them, through the growing tomatoes, green beans, kale, brussels sprouts and other deliciousness.  I'll even give a wave to my sister in-law, just across the way.  I may or may not turn down an invitation from Emma to come join in the play or rinse a little of the new desert sun off with a swim.  For, there will probably be dishes to load into the dishwasher, or clothes to wash and dry in our laundry room.

Those creature comforts.  The extra storage space, the schools right down the street, the shopping center within walking distance.  This time the rent would actually be worth the living, but the possibility to be free of hardship will come at a price.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Chasing, Rebirth, Metamorphosis

From my Writing Ourselves Whole writings:

Chasing metamorphosis, chasing metamorphosis, chasing metamorphosis.  Emphasis on the chasing and less on the metamorphosis.  I do an awful lot of chasing.

You gotta crawl before you walk, start at the bottom and work your way up.  But what if one rolled before the walking, or started in the middle and climbed to the top?

Metamorphosis is to rebirth as chasing is to... well, chasing.  Yes, I do an awful lot of chasing.

The clicking in my mind of the rebirth is taking its own sweet time.  Therefore, I chase.  Probably in the wrong damned direction because that beautiful mosaic of possibility has not opened, but remained closed.  I want to do better and be better and have better.  I should know better.

It's completion that's the real problem.  That very last class that officially earns the degree, the reorganization of my household, the continued journey of passions, the permanent residence in the past and future.  The present takes a backseat because I'm still chasing.

She Does Not Have to be Good

From my Writing Ourselves Whole writings:

And she decided, right here, right now that her broken record does not have to be good.  The record that replays itself over and over on days like today.  She's come to the realization that, just like other things, she can also change the meanings of words.  Bad does not have to be entirely bad because sometimes good is just plain old safe.

Like, if that broken record's lyrics profess all the ways in which she is different from other women her age, she can let those lyrics in with the warmer meaning of transformation.  Meaning transformed into girl, not woman.  Of course she is different because that girl within her has not fully healed, but is still seeking, chasing metamorphosis.

And if that broken record's lyrics begin to paint a picture of all the things she does not have, she will simply uncap her sharpie and pen "YET".  For maybe not this time, this place, this state, but another that is more appropriately her own. 

She decided right here, right now that everything in her life does not have to be all good.  If everything were all good all the time, she would have never grown.  She would have never wanted more, she would have never moved.  She may not have been able to keep convincing herself with her famous inner monologue, "it's ok, it's ok, everything's ok".

If she does not have to be good nor does her broken record, maybe she will have the courage to rewrite the lyrics, to sing a new tune - out loud, for the world to hear.  To be seen, to be heard, to shine, to make mistakes and bounce back from them, to actually see within herself what others tell her they see.