When I am Declared Queen Of Christmas

When I am declared Queen of Christmas, we are SO doin’ this shit differently. And before you get all fussy about whatever part you like, it will not be a complete cut up your credit card kinda cancellation, but definitely a moratorium on the crazy. Perhaps some would be deeply disappointed by my changes. Of course people in the business of participating in the great giveaway would be deeply annoyed. I’m sure a few lawsuits would swiftly be on the way to attempt a return to fluid consumerism.

But the truth is- We Have Lost Our Way.

Every year from about mid-November to the New Year, the anxiety and pressure to perform according to our made up expectations (that seem to climb exponentially) creates a kind of emotional vibration culturally unseen at ANY other time. Our therapy practice bears witness to the rising tide of anxiety soup, choking all the joy out, including an ability to recall why we celebrate. Not until the New Year arrives at the stroke of midnight do we sigh the only sigh of relief-oh-joy in a month! We have somehow forgotten to take in the beauty and depth joy can offer us and instead it gets convoluted in just being glad things are over. May I suggest a moratorium on the crazy? All the scrambling to meet the culture of scarcity’s expectations, when we step back, makes utterly NO sense.

We already have enough because We Are Enough. Our incessant need to fight over the pie leads us to forget it is really PIES (plural) of endless compassion and not at all attached to stuff. Compassion does not tie itself to the prettiest lights or biggest tree. Not the bestest nativity scene. Not all the most elegant wrappings under the tree. Compassion is a verb of choice that is driven by the love we offer one another. I desperately want us to be able to give up what does not serve us. If slogging out thousands of ornaments and garland makes you cringe, LET IT GO. If cooking for an entire army (and frankly most of it gets wasted) makes you unhappy, then can we just stop?

The vibration of the season may be best served through our ability to get quiet. Setting our intentions on recalling and being a part of what we love will free us from this season of stuff. I fear that without focusing on remembering where love resides, we will be forced into allowing others to reign over your holiday and we shall not ever remember our way home again. If I were able to provide a detailed picture of the kind of loneliness I witness in my treatment room during these dark months, leaving the holidays behind as we know it would be the most logical and compassionate answer we may have to the crisis of depression and anxiety that plagues Americans.

I want instead to give gifts that are lasting and matter. I want to slow down the moments of decorating and cooking. I want to relish the experience of who I am sharing my time with and not the requirement of a quantifiable mass that I pass out to others. And since I personally have so much to offer, I want to spend time with the lonely and offer my most precious gift of time and smiles. What would it be like if we left behind the strange expectation of the ‘hottest toy’ and pulling out the most expensive china and instead recalled that family and serving in a way that feeds us is the greatest gift we have to offer? I keep waiting and hoping that our sight will return and we will relieve ourselves of the madness that has become this holiday.

In the deep dark of winter, while the light is short, we are called to quiet and yet somehow we have used this holiday to distract ourselves from our own needs. We do not need more lights. We do not need to add to the glow (as we are glaring instead of glowing) and certainly we do not need MORE busy. We crave the quiet in the dark and when the loneliness is great, we have the ability to offer an honest gift; one of the light in our eyes and in our smile. This needs no wrapping paper or blinky lights.

Perhaps we return from this terrible distraction and come back to ourselves and each other. I will offer my hand and my warmth of presence during this dark time. And when I am Queen of Christmas (which will likely be never….) perhaps there will be lights, mangers and food, but offered in the spirit of Self Love first, something bigger than money can buy.

So I ask, during this holiday, remember the lonely and in our ability to be present, perhaps we can let go of this maddening distraction of stuff and offer something of substance– our wholehearted presence.

Drowning in Denial

I stood on top of a tall lumpy rock overlooking the Benicia Bay while my baby sister climbed down and went for the sand. She was barely seven while I had already left childhood long ago. Reaching into adolescence and ready to die.

The ocean is majestic. Drinking in the salty waves and noticing the sweet breeze run along your cheeks takes most of us to smiling places. But perhaps its enormous mystery felt equivalent to my damaged heart while my mind regularly wandered away for its own safety. I would often burn things including myself. I was finding tiny ways to inflict pain; attempting to bring my body forward to finally greet my mind. I desired to be home, but it was a deep hole with an endless sea of shame so only visiting on special holidays was allowed.

On that day, at the precipice of adolescence, I was done. My second family had fallen apart and my first stepfather was greeted by another man in my so called home soon after. My stepfather had retreated to his family and we were left with mounds of spoiling leftovers to stare at. My sister began her career at eating the pain while I dug in, literally, until I could take no more.

So, THERE. There I was swallowed up, desperately wanting it to all be taken back, swish over this broken and damaged body. Let someone or something else be accountable to this life as I just could not do it any more.

It’s cold since the Pacific Ocean is rarely for lounging in the sun and the lumpy rock looked like a good place to lay this tired body to rest. I watch my sister edge to the water, feet wet, staring back at me, making sure someone was not far away. Yet…..I had been a million miles from a grounded place since she was born. Do I leave her? Would it matter? I just don’t know. I am not even able to touch my own emotions to understand what hers must have been like. She separates farther from me, like one of those wobbly watery force fields and to see her clearly I have to poke at the space between her and I.

I was ALONE. Not a soul had gotten close to this dangerous and treacherous heart. Not even myself. I wanted desperately to belong, but to what? I did not have a family. What once was family now brought trauma and shame into my life. I was so frightened of what may come next. What if this was not the end of the horror? How much more could I take?

I stood a little longer on that lumpy brown rock and edged just a little closer to the end. My heart did not race. I felt at ease and perhaps was breathing normally for once. I could end this madness and stop flirting with pain like it really offered me more than a mere 50 cents of release. I had become someone’s play toy so why not throw the used up rag doll down this rock and into the ocean?

The sea spray picked up and my sweet sister laughed and ran away from the waves playing tag with the bubbly water. She took her tiny fingers and dug them in the wet sand drawing her name…..and then mine. I don’t even know her. My baby sister was trying to craft a life in this moment out of the brokenness that she must have felt. This was her father and her family. I was just along for the bodily ride.

Then, my body must have startled in the wind. Did I hear my name and the warbled water divide and disappear in the sea?

I don’t know. But I took a broken-winded breath from my chest and sat down on that lumpy rock. For today dying was over. Perhaps I would be brave enough to take my own life and spare myself the lifetime of agony that I foresaw ahead. Today, I felt like a coward. I couldn’t speak my pain and I couldn’t stop it. I would continue to be forced to swallow it for many years to come.

Inside that deep darkness, suicide seems logical and brave. It appears to the mind as the one way to have some control over what has puked havoc over your life. The chaos of trauma is like carrying a soaked wool blanket over your entire body. One might think this was a cute trick or a funny attempt to play Halloween ghosts; instead it makes your body and mind unrelated, unknown and separated from yourself. And despite the confabulation of bravery in suicide, it was not a story I took off the table until adulthood.

I had to learn how to die internally so that I may rise again and fly.

This way is not easy or simple like a crash onto lumpy rocks in the Benicia Bay. I was so long away from understanding how courage worked, but as I reflect back, I thank my sister for remembering how to live in the moment. All the while I am attempting to die, she played, calling the waves to dance with her, scribbling her name in the sand with those stubby cute fingers. She carried such loss in that moment too, but perhaps had not yet lost the ability to remember to RISE.

 

IMG_8590

Feeling Helpless in the Idolatry of Whiteness

I just had to watch. Normally, I NEVER watch. Not even pictures. Sometimes I have to wait to see much of anything beyond the radio reports. But this time I had to watch because I was just there.

A dear friend began to clearly and purposefully make their way farther north in an attempt to escape some of the hatred that has been petrified in our culture. We agreed it may have not been far enough. Now, white supremacists are radically showing their faces in an attempt to take back areas that have grown progressive. It’s appalling and strange for a community to be punished for seeking something beyond blind acceptance of a mono culture.

So I had to watch what unfolded in Charlottesville, VA. Unfortunately, this is unlikely the end. I foresee the rise of the unspoken beliefs of hatred and racism (along with other divisive belief systems) bubble back to the top and it become trendy to carry tiki torches screeching about blood and “the many sides”.

And the helplessness continues to settle in. I am often named as a strong woman, often outspoken; but this continues to rock me to the core. I feel naked and unstable as I waiver watching the idol of whiteness make its way through scores of people. To be clear, I am not surprised. I live in a southern white strong hold where it is clear that the ‘other’ will be placed in tiny houses without access to resources and your only ticket out of that state is to enter it with money from your inception. I am so undeniably aware of the #usandthem phenomena that I mostly feel internally isolated and unable to share who I actually am. I am aware that if I am silent, I can hide.

I am a white upper middle class female who on some days can just blend in, but I don’t want to be associated with, not even by a single stray hair, with such hatred and bigotry. But it gets complicated very quickly.

The United States, a country I am grateful to be a part of, was built upon the backs of bloodied slaves. This horrifying system was put into place as a result of the sin of whiteness. We seem to collectively forget we will continue to pay for idolizing whiteness as an equivalent to greatness without change. And, without a doubt, I know I have benefited from this system as a white person. I feel desperate and clingy as I imagine myself being dragged forcibly by hands and feet at the back of the tiki torch line. I want to disentangle myself with a kind of force and rage I have rarely felt in my life.

And yet as I watch, I am so frightened I cannot undo what I do not fully understand. I still remain a gifted one while this idolatry parades itself around in both private and public arenas. I find every crevice I can, but I suppose in many ways, I cannot be released fully until collective salvation and justice occur in communion. I suppose strands of my hair and a few fingers will have to remain attached to this collective sin. For that I am heartbroken.

Because we created and love our country as we do, we ALL become a necessary part of the change. We cannot use the bullshit lines, ‘my ancestors didn’t have slaves’ or ‘that was a long time ago’ or my very favorite line, ‘I’m not a racist.’ I hope you can see my hazel eyes rolling DEEPLY in the back of my head. My fear and helplessness settle in as I look around and worry that the complacency of some white people is born out of the silent agreement with the collective sin as to not upset their pretty lives.

I don’t EVEN know what all that is and I still say, ‘BRING IT! I NEED EVERYONE TO HAVE A SEAT AT THE TABLE!’ Because I feel so little power in following the best path, I get stopped. I gasp for air, try to breathe and stall out in a stand still. I am a parked car on the Highway 5 at 5pm. And so here I am, doing the only thing I know. Say it. Write it. Let it be known that the helplessness is rising and although I am fearful, I know I am not alone.

I just keep waiting for our collective salvation. I am in it and hopeful. We desperately need to grow as a people. We are responsible for learning and transforming the past. I ask my clients to wake to it every day.

So can we? Together? RISE.