Tiny Atrocities

#theupsidedown

Ever been in such a strong life rhythm that you have somehow muted the swirling static brewing underneath? Welp, that’s me and this thing- this kind of depression I am emerging from.

I am calling it a Facebook Depression. Everything is so seemingly normal on the outside but on the inside, my brain was eating Facebook Cheetos every day, numbing out on the junk food of social media. There are many constants I have constructed- all of which would give anybody the idea, nothing but happy lives here. I traditionally call these the “non-negotiables”; eating well, sleeping enough, getting regular exercise, and practicing self-care. Got all those in place and it would seem that it’s all being done well, maybe even great. Somehow, I lost sight of the deep down darkness and rather than keeping it close, it slipped shut to the underneath.

Perhaps that sounds lovely- to live within the light. However, that naiveté sounds more like being emotionally asleep at the wheel. For the emotionally awake human, that should petrify us more than dipping into our own upside down. And yet, I had successfully placed a wad of sweet cotton candy between me and my darkness. I tricked myself into thinking my life was a daily success when in fact I was sucking down the social media nitrous.

I genuinely cannot place the Why? And it could be simply a lack of neurotransmitters executing the appropriate happy party in my brain. It has all been so sneaky and undercutting, I have to say I am half fascinated with how devious the mind can be. And although the why is elusive, I am beginning to understand what has been missing. Given these revelations, it would seem careless on my part to not write down and share those tiny atrocities that created the cotton candy barrier of numbness.

I won’t lay blame solely at the feet of Marc Zuckerberg, he may not be very happy about that. But really, when social media takes over our brains we don’t have to face the fact that focusing becomes lost on us. I felt like my social media turned into a modern version of the body snatchers! For realz- my brain after hours was just pure mush. It also becomes the presiding excuse as to why so many other things are not occurring.

I stopped enjoying and doing many of my regular things- like reading and writing. When we set down our passions and grab handfuls of Cheetos, we are in trouble. I was “reading” stuff on Facebook, but not the pile of books growing like kudzu in my room. I wasn’t even writing about the fun stuff, much less examining my upsidedown.

I stopped crying. I get that for many the crying would become the problem, but I am a feeling person in a suck it up world. Losses in my life have passed me by without a tear. Another close friend was sucked away by a better town and job because sustainability in a small town is so difficult. I witnessed another divorce massacre and many were lost in the process. Through it all- not a tear.

I stopped dancing. It is a common phenomenon to dance in the kitchen, the bathroom and certainly in the car! Just a few days ago I discovered a new artist, Ben Rector and flung myself around my bathroom floor, doing a jig like I had new legs! Before- Nada. No matter how loud or poppy the music, that spark just did not ignite me, instead I was drool and unimaginative as I got ready for the office each morning.

I made myself believe a different future stopped on its axis. Perhaps for some, happiness is sought in the regularity of life’s rhythms, but for many the consequences are great. I am left without freedom of choice. I can wish for nothing and dreaming starts to become a distant pastime. Worse yet, I convinced myself that the consistent drumming without the variation of change was a good thing.

I was constantly worn out at the end of the day, at the end of the week. This gets sticky with the number of medical issues I have that straight F.U.C.K. with my ability to master the difference between interacting physical and emotional difficulties. Keeping up with the physical ailments are a necessity, but when physically I am ‘all clear’ and still carrying around invisible sand bags- there’s a definite problem. Perhaps the larger discussion is around doing what Shauna Niequist calls “fake-resting” in her book, Present Over Perfect. I may be at home in my pajamas being comfy and having the appearance of lazy, but I’m cooking, cleaning and tidying up all day. Noticing the spots of dust and clutter and “gravitating towards this inside movement” that really turns out to be nothing less than work.

I spent more time feeling like intimacy was unpaid labor rather than a fun night at the private disco. This part of life is always tricky because for us trauma survivors, many other things are wrapped up in intimacy and I recognize no matter how hard I work at this part of my relationship, it will always remain work.

We all have a completed shadow self that resides right below the brightness we share with others. When we stop taking the time to reflect and notice, the pain can slip away into the depths of our deep down darkness. It’s worth our while to see both and be both. It seems an important part of ourselves is lost when we attempt to live in either for too long; the sun will give me cancer and hanging out too long in the dark upsidedown will be like being force fed forgetting.

You may look at these and think, “Uh, lady-I never did dance, how could my lack of coordination be a depression problem?” Of course, these are just my little depressions. What we actually need in our lives goes beyond getting sleep and exercise and dancing just may not be your thing. There is value in going beyond the non-negotiables and seeking out those telling signs that inform us about our health- mind, body and spirit. These tiny atrocities occur when we fail to embed the simple soul work. Do you relish in the last trickles of warm water running down your face as you turn off the shower water cleansing you? How often do you take the time to notice the created atmosphere while your kiddo dances wildly to music, you sing with broken abandon and all the while the smells of homemade food bubble in the back drop? Perhaps you may find just the right dance steps flowing between the dark and light of your life, relishing in the many reasons for our own created happiness.

The Genetics of Sexism

 For #AudrieandDaisy

In a culture that continues to lack the ability to rise to the occasion to view both males and females as equal participants in society, it is going to take all of us in of our communities to make meaningful changes in the genetics of sexism.

I am continually baffled by the notion that my culpability for being female needs to be the only thing questioned when a crime has been committed. However, I am left with the recognition that we are losing in our ability to raise our boys. We lack the courage to even recognize that the derogatory and covert remarks against women continue to be at the heart of why males will blur the lines between a comment or gesture and criminal behavior. If a female is supposed to just tolerate whatever is said or how she is touched, no matter how subtle or direct, then what are we actually saying to half of our society?

Let me answer that question for you: We continue to inform our boys that girls are just a commodity, no different than my messy nightstand. And if you are not clear about how your behavior is not potentially translated into the blur that becomes rape, let me provide just a few examples of what this looks like from the perspective of a woman.

  1. Sexist behavior is when your first inclination in evaluating a female person in the public is to judge what she is wearing and whether she behaved appropriately.
  2. Sexist behavior is when a male orders their partner to do something for them without consideration of her needs much less her existence.
  3. Sexist behavior is when you grab at a female in public expecting her to follow your expectations or assume your gesture is simply a form of play.
  4. Sexist behavior is assuming that another female will give you attention simply because you asked for it and if she does not respond in a ‘nice manner’, you become self-righteous in an attempt to knock her humanness off its block.
  5. Sexist behavior is assuming that when a female speaks up about the horrible thing that happened to them, you say, ‘they just want attention’.
  6. Sexist behavior is hearing others making derogatory remarks about a female and remaining silent.
  7. Sexist behavior is calling a woman who has sex a whore while the males are champions making notches on bed posts.
  8. Sexist behavior is downgrading a woman’s success, basing it upon luck or what other people gave her.
  9. Sexist behavior is having an even higher standard for women, expecting her chastity and accomplishment to be pristine in order to be worthy.
  10. Sexist behavior is assuming that a girl or woman is a “bitch” because she speaks her mind and has an opinion, especially if it does not suit you.
  11. Sexist behavior is being told that ‘you should know your place’ when as a woman you state a clear opinion that does not favor men’s behavior.
  12. Sexist behavior is continuing to overlook one’s unacceptable behavior in the name of some false higher good labeled as politics or position.

 

I wish I could say the concept of rape culture was not real or true. And if it’s not clear what rape culture is, refer back to my examples and make the connection. I would hand over limbs in an effort to wake up our culture to the fact that our subtle acceptance of sexist jokes and seemingly little things is at the heart of why young boys and men continue to rape and why we continue to tolerate it. And each time we are either a participant or witness, another sexual assault is built upon the sexist comment tower we created. I know it is a difficult challenge to swallow the notion that our process addiction to daily sexist behaviors creates this monster, but it does.

This is exactly why when a sexual assault occurs in our neighborhoods- we want to separate ourselves and lay no claim to the possibility that a crime could have occurred. We would all have to admit that we played our part in the acceptance of the process that leads men to believe that women are things and not humans. It is why in watching the documentary Audrie and Daisy, Daisy stood zero chance at a fair opportunity for justice. Wanna know what rape culture looks like? Watch this movie and hear the words, REALLY hear the words of several of the officials. One just couldn’t believe that their beautiful golf course wasn’t the more important topic in their town than a young girl who was sexually assaulted.

We are called to something better than this. We should demand a concentrated effort on recognizing our own biases and ask ourselves, for once, honest questions about our own internal struggle and what we accept on a daily basis that creates the monster of rape. Monsters are not born, as written in the documentary, they are made. And if we are the tower’s architects, then it could take very little to obtain the permit to burn that shit down. We would not condone words or actions built on the misogyny of sexism. This does not have to be our DNA- we can shut off this belief that somehow the presence of a vagina automatically implies less than. Perhaps one day, a young woman like Audrie will not take her own life in an attempt to escape the rape culture she lived in.

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My 25 Truths

My 25 Truths, Challenge Accepted

  1. I believe in Love and relationship. The deep messy ones where we are left with grime on our faces, but we can say without doubt; we have loved fiercely. It seems to be all we have when everything else washes away. And for me, it is the only thing that makes all the other pain of life worthwhile.
  1. I am not in love with children. I like the idea of them, but they seem so grabby and handsy that I get anxious and worried they will just slide through my hands like Jello. It’s not polite for a woman to say she would rather not hold your kid or gush over its smooshed up face, but I would rather not. Now, when they are mine- it’s different. I experience this electricity in the bond. That seems to override the fact that I feel like I am holding a gigantic chicken nugget.
  1. My body is a vehicle not an ornament. I love how strong and graceful it can be. I get excited by the experience of owning power in my bones, like there’s hidden magic I can unlock by building muscle. I am not impressed by corporations selling me skinny and I am certainly not interested in people who judge me by some odd made up standard of beauty.
  1. Vulnerability is beautiful and sexy. Breakdowns are beautiful. I know it seems the opposite of sexy, but we were not meant to line up like drones in the “I’m fine” crowd- that is made up crap to keep us sterile and lonely. Being vulnerable will mean taking risks and making mistakes. It will mean being bold with our love and daring ourselves to have the kind of relationships we deserve. It will remain as superficial as jam on toast if we don’t dig deep and share the guts of what we’re made of.
  1. Food is the most amazing gift! I love to eat and although not entirely true (see #3), I do exercise, in part, so I can eat. Given that women are supposed to be small and invisible, it’s generally wrong for a woman to even act like she likes food! We are supposed to pick at it and pretend we aren’t starving. I get hangry if I skip meals so, not to worry, I will enjoy EVERY bite!
  1. Being judgmental is a kind of toxic venom that we slowly inject ourselves with. But I am still guilty of it. Just noticing when we are sizing another person up and sending them kindness instead can change your entire perspective on yourself. I realize when I am super judgey, I am simply caught in my mind with MY junk taking up precious real estate in my head.
  1. I am truly silly and love to laugh- especially at totally inappropriate and clever things. Like REALLY inappropriate things. And given that being happy is the most rebellious act, I love to be silly in public and make others laugh- or worry.
  2. Practicing yoga is the one thing that keeps me from committing murders. It would be nice if I were as even toned as my husband….but I’m not. The price of passion is getting fiery mad at shit you don’t like. Yoga reminds me to come back to my center, sit and be quiet.
  3. There are some people who are just more lovely and special than others. I have the distinct pleasure of loving many of them.
  4. Writing cleanses my soul. When I am not doing that in some way- I lose sight of the observer in my own life…..and am likely going to be in trouble.
  5. I like my music loud and to drive my car fast. My husband rolls his eyes so far in the back of his head when he gets in my car, I swear they roll into the back seat. In the recent years of spontaneous dancing, I have turned into a pop princess. Sometimes the bass in my Prius (yes, you can laugh) is up so high the back window bounces!
  6. I think my choices in cussing are simple. It’s my daily ‘Fuck You’ to the patriarchy that continues to attempt to tell me I should remain a silent bystander to some other man’s life. I even have a ring to go with it. I like to point at it when my trainer tries to tell me what to do (although I do pay him to do that).
  7. Although I readily sunburn like a mutha-fucker, the ocean is a healing place. It’s a sanctuary in the blistering oppression of people.
  8. I like things. I don’t generally have issue with things. I like to shop for things- especially shoes. However- I am not attached to them. They can come and go- if you need it, it’s yours. I value the expression and meaning behind those things much more than stuff itself.
  9. I don’t believe in soulmates- but I am a complicated bird so I do believe it’s tough to really get me. Not because I pretend, but mostly because I don’t. Men generally appreciate confidence only if they can capture and box it. It takes a special human to take the risk to love a wild bird. I believe my spouse is a rare soul who can weather the death and rebirth.
  10. I am a most tender soul. I will cry at commercials and cuss you out for an injustice. Both are an alert that I am hurt and I may get stuck in those painful feelings for days at a time.
  11. My daughter says she believes I could beat someone up. I half palm plant my face and am half impressed with the astute observation of my 11-year old. I am happy she can see women who are self-assured and are not afraid to take a stand.
  12. I believe in equality. ……. every kind, without borders or exceptions. My middle class white mind continues to need to learn. I find listening with an open heart serves this conviction.
  13. I believe we are both human and divine. The many stories we hold precious speak to this desperate desire to know the divine within. We struggle instead to worship others rather than follow our own divinity.
  14. I believe in therapy. Next to being a mother, it is the biggest privilege to be in the presence of another person’s emotional sanctuary. Given that we are all feeling humans- we should not do this alone. Having a special person to walk the journey who will have your interest at heart over EVERYONE else is an experience we should all have in this messy life.
  15. I believe in kindness. Given that I still struggle with my judgey pants and my daughter is aware of the asshole prowess, it is always a work in progress.
  16. Life is stunningly harsh and joyous. I’ve learned that when people are seemingly “fine all the time” – they are truly not showing up in their lives. If things don’t fall apart a few times, I am afraid you are just not doing it right. Rigging it all together with tethered strings makes for one holy monkey mess (as my friend would say) when the shit hits the fan.
  17. I am a trauma survivor and I know I’m not alone. I know that so many of us carry the deep shameful burden of a past that haunts us. If we only gave ourselves the freedom to speak our most breath taking truths, shame would die and the war we rage on inside of ourselves could wave the white flag of surrender.
  18. The need to stop and reflect is like needing the breath. Therefore, I believe in therapy. And Yoga. And Writing and pajama days!….and whatever allows you to slow it down, and watch the wind. We need all the kinds of self-compassion our minds can muster. I try to speak to myself with kindness and give myself the same kinds of breaks I do to others I love.
  19. I accept ambiguity and change. I try to hug them like old friends and offer them a seat at my table, give them warm food and yummy treats. Occasionally, I want to starve them out with stubbornness. It never works and is a clear reminder that growth’s invitation can’t come without them.