Writing Resistance: Insurrection Memories from an Empath

For weeks I’ve thought about what I wanted to convey about the anniversary of the insurrection. What could I write that would convey my healing intentions, but express my disappointment with justice? What could I possibly say that others haven’t said? Was my voice even worth hearing? I got myself so locked up that I was writing until well past dinner time trying to find the right words. So we’ll have to settle for a day after the fact.

I started the anniversary by vowing to clean my office. Overwhelmed with the holiday clutter that crept into my sacred writing space, underwhelmed with my lack of ideas, I knew I wouldn’t be able to write until I reset my life a little. But as I plugged in my laptop to charge, I found myself writing the only thing that really wanted to come to the surface: the love I feel as an empath.

Made with canva.

By my very nature, I feel things quite deeply and have an intuitive awareness of the emotional history and trajectory of others’ lives, their fault lines, and secret dreams. I was always called a “sensitive child” and what some call a gift, I know was also the product of early trauma and codependent navigation of others’ feelings to stay safe. I am considerate to a fault at times, too easily swayed by others’ anger and frustration, well versed in the “fawn” trauma response to keep myself safe. But just because something was born out of a traumatic situation doesn’t mean it isn’t still a gift, a talent that can be shared with others. And in my early years, I knew I had been born to be a wounded healer.

When I was a kid this took the form of “walking in someone’s shoes”. I’d see someone, say at a crosswalk and I’d connect in, seeing their worries and hopes and carrying them with me, even after a brief encounter. I’d pray the rosary for them just as I was taught to.

But after the vision I had at the age of twelve, I started to find parallel paths to do more direct healing. Throughout high school and college I was two women in one – the wounded healer, the woman who had been wounded by rape and childhood sexual abuse healing men with the intimacies and ecstasies of sex; the other, a playfully smart and passionately persuasive policy priestess, healing communities through law and argument. Dark and light sides of the same coin.

In both venues, I found myself adopting the reverence of a calling as something like a spiritual sin-eater. I rooted out the guilt, traumas, and limiting beliefs lingering in the fabric of our humanity. I pulled out threads of darkness and I transformed them into the diamond dust of healing, forgiveness, generosity, the sparks of love, hope, and trust.

I’m sort of like an Ood from Doctor Who – except I’m holding my heart in my hand, trusting people I meet with something impossibly strong and vulnerable.

I don’t just wear my heart on my sleeve, I hold it out with vulnerability and fervent hope that people will understand what it is to feel the world so vividly.

It’s taken two days of writing to truly encompass what I saw, felt, and experienced on the day of the insurrection. To distill it into words of hope and recognition, tinged with expectations of harmony and justice. The challenge as a writer and an empath is to convey these emotional truths, paint images with words that carry symbols that defy any sentence I can construct.

The more I start to declare to the world that I’m a writer, the more I have a thirst to share what I feel with others so they sense the emotional truth we all share as humans. So others know the impossible strength of sharing our full selves with the world, the radiance of knowing one’s light is seen and embraced, even the ugly bits. But to also convey that evil is constructed of our self-hatred of those ugly bits…our way to control, manipulate and coerce others into ignoring they exist at all.

This is why it’s important for me to show what I see…because we don’t have to live like this.

Overwhelm & heartbreak

I have learned through the course of my life that we all have the ability to transform pain into magnificent growth and healing, especially when our intentions align to help reduce the suffering of others so that they don’t have to be so strong and resilient as we were to merely survive. So that we can all thrive together.

I have been through enough in my life that I could be a sorrowful ghost of myself or I could live even more authentically, in defiance of all those obstacles that stood in my way. I keep shining so I can demonstrate that divine love will still win. I offer the hands of a companion in the darkness, the glow of a lighthouse in a stormy night, a fiery catalyst for transformation. And no matter where I am or what I’m doing, this is the gift I always bring: the empathetic hands of compassionate justice and relentlessly optimistic love. –

That’s why they call me Sharp & Sweet.

And so the day of insurrection, I didn’t just feel my own heartbreak, the idealistic, overambitious, bold girl who once dreamed of being a nurse, teacher, astronaut, AND senator; I felt everyone else’s heartbreak too. I felt the angry sobs of collective grief unlocked. I felt the shattering of belief, shards of hope scattered to the wind. I also felt the abject disgust and shocked regret of those who didn’t intervene soon enough. And embedded within the streams of consciousness I felt the self-satisfied chuckles and smug gloating of a dying minority who are unaware the clock is about to run out.

It was…a lot. And at times through those first few days of shocked commentary, it was too much. I was grateful for people like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (who is a fellow National Hispanic Institute alum – mi hermana in power) who spoke bold truths about the trauma we all witnessed that day. I couldn’t even feel myself anymore and by the time I could, I had barely had time to say goodbye to my dad and grandpa as they passed. Descriptions of sorrow cannot even begin to scratch the surface of what I felt by inauguration day.

A vision resurfaces

Over the last week, I’ve been reminded of a vision I had back in 2010, that I never wrote about publicly (maybe I should start?). During an early attempt at doing a past life regression, I instead had a vision of a dark future blocking the path to a greater version of humanity. My purpose was to help thwart this monster, drive it back, and soften it with healing.

The image showed the monster of patriarchy crawling out of the crust of the earth. With skin of hard coal and smoldering ash, its veins pumping rivers of molten lava running underneath cracks in its hard skin. The monster that has been responsible for “taming of the earth”, removing symbols, and burying evidence of the connections to the divine feminine partnership that was always meant to be. It demanded that we colonize and tame “savages”. In returning to more earth-based, feminine-integrated practices of communal care and faith, we will see this decaying model of toxic patriarchal values violently lash out and try to pull us down with it.

Like the Balrog grasping for Gandalf to pull him down with it, so patriarchy and capitalism try to lash out at us for simply trying to live In harmony with earth & each other.

“If I go down, you’re going down with me”. This is what evil sounds like to me.

And what it looks like is a desperately vengeful Balrog beast pulling Gandalf down with it. I saw that image again in 2020, as my circle of spiritual friends increasingly became enamored with QAnon. I saw this same slimy, scaly, scorched beast crawling out of the muck of the earth, sending its dark, gnarled tentacles up the starkly white grids of light that these lightworker friends had been mentored into creating (Creepily enough, the Anakin vs. Obi-Wan music from Star Wars just came on right when I typed that!).

But if we hold true to our authentic selves, if we defiantly face the beast with the Care Bear stare of true inner harmony and love, we can finally realize the peaceful future that has always been ours to claim. The monster is there to scare us away from the liberating truth of our own collective and individual power.

The message with these visions told me that if we doubted our path our light would be swallowed and consumed by this monster our fears were strengthening. We’ve actually made so much progress that patriarchy was beginning to sputter out and die. And just like all of history, the moment that we’re on the verge of enlightenment, of social and technological progress, where we’re on the verge of creating a lasting fabric of peace, someone has to go a fuck it all up again. So now, we are called to be heroes of our own collective story. It will take all of us. (and the Avengers theme came on just now. I love spooky signs like this).

I saw back then that the manifestations of our fears and grudges, our selfishness and unresolved pain could become this perversely destructive instrument of destruction readying patriarchy’s backlash. What I didn’t see is that it would instruct and coerce trusted lightworking friends to do its bidding. That they would give into jumping at the shadows of unresolved trauma and ignored demons of neglect that lurked in the corners of their consciousness, carefully hidden. Their lack of resolve to be involved, their willingness to detach from recognizing suffering, from dealing with reality would make them such willing servants of the broken political machine they said they wanted to avoid.

Lancing the wound of supremacy

On the day of the insurrection, I did the only thing I could: I opened my heart and felt it all. I felt the pain of the world locked into cycles of grief and madness. I heard the wildly elated Lord of the Flies bedlam-drenched screams of wannabe villains. I felt the crunch of blown-out light posts of hope and rocky avenues of redemption cracked and treacherous beneath my feet. I opened up my heart and soaked as much of it as I could spare that day. Taking in small bursts of energy. Siphoning a little at a time.

And now a year later I think I can finally describe what I saw:

The insurrectionists didn't pierce the veils of democracy that day; instead, their ineptitude lanced a festering boil that we've been collectively neglecting. They poked at it with their nightsticks and shields built from imagined slights and ego bruises. Their bougie comparisons inflamed the wounds they didn’t want to face, that none of us wanted to face. Seeds of unity and equality soured and rotted within the fleshy sacrifices of body and soul demanded by patriarchy's persistent paranoia. Buried under grafts of peeling wallpaper declaring "love for god and country" they ensured their woundedness became a gross justification for their continued violence against themselves and others. Only their woundedness mattered; they demanded that their hurts deserved healing first. "Freedom" became the rallying cry of those who wasted theirs grinding away in default mode for someone else’s meager profits. Yet, they can only rally themselves to care about the one thing they're losing: their illusions of supremacy.

I saw women of love and light consumed by a structure they could have prevented. But they were so obsessed with ascension that they stopped demonstrating that love they said they lived. Had they too not been so consumed by avoiding responsibility for the unknowable darkness of their own racist, colonizer heritage. No, they were too busy leaving everyone else behind so they could promote their sparkly superficial brand that they failed to recognize the abusive manipulations and shield those more vulnerable. They refused to filter information with the gifts of reason, or worse endorsed information out of ignorance disguised as “research”. They allowed their magic to be diverted to reinforce the pillars of patriarchy. hey liberated their witchy power only to hand it over to the first flashy snake oil salesman they found.
Every time they told me “it’s all part of the plan” this is what I saw.

And for as angry as that image makes me, my magic, part of my purpose in life is to build bridges of hope, not to unleash the chaos of doubt and division. And while I will relentlessly speak my informed truth, it is tempered by the core meaning of my gifts: to be the hands that can transform pain into healing.

That day I became an alchemist of love that absorbed all that I could. I pulled out the slimy remnants of toxic hatred, filtering it, plucking out the decaying, rotting seeds, cracking apart the layers of misguided resentment and unchecked fear to find the kernels of wisdom embedded inside. Reclaiming seeds of life that were struggling to survive: hope, humility, love, and trust. Blessing the discarded pile of mud-soaked hatred as I crushed rainbow diamond dust of love in with the bitter shells of discarded false faith. Creating new seeds of accountability, redemption, harmony, and integrity. And when it was done, I cast the newly fortified seeds with a kiss of faith back on the wind hoping the universe will deliver them to those who need them most.

Once upon a time, when I was on a different path, I might have been at the Capitol that day working as staff or a lobbyist or even an elected or appointed official. So before I sent those seeds back out into the world, I also gave a small prayer of gratitude that I was spared the direct violence because of the path I am on now.

The limits of alternate realities

The crows outside my snowy window this afternoon reminded me that often the things we fear the most are those that we’ve projected our pain and blame onto. These clever birds get a bad reputation because their black feathers seem so ominous and foreboding. And yet, I find something so soothing in their cackles and caws, like a freak show audience cheering me on. Just like the freaks, geeks, witches, sex workers, femmes, bears, butches, and twinks that I love and who have never failed to cheer me on.

I was a space nerd as a kid. I went to Space Camp twice and helped design a self-sustaining space station for a future generation to conduct experiments that could save the earth. My partner Chris Lindsey and I won awards for our design from the Air Force Association and others.

And when you grow up “different” whether it be because of race, neurodivergence, sexual orientation, disabilities, etc, we find ways to exist in alternate realities. Because there is the reality we live in internally and the reality of a world that has signaled that we should be rejected. Us in-between kids learned to straddle different paths simultaneously. I was both white and Mexican. I was bisexual and was attracted to boys and girls (and all the magical beings who exist in the space between!).

But I know enough sci-fi and fantasy to know that those realities and timelines either merge or they will break us apart. And the only way those realities merge is when we find synergy and resonance with “our people”. In the kink and geek communities, it’s about our shared narratives and passions. In the bisexual community, it’s our shared impact. In polyamorous communities, it’s our shared purpose in deprogramming monogamy.

But we have too many who are living in a fractured reality. They’re chasing ghosts while clinging to the wispy details of conspiracy instead of the gravity of the big picture that was there all along. They live in a mirror reality of duality, unable to pull themselves out of the fantasy. They’re living in the mirror universe long after we’ve hung out our sexy Mirror Universe Spock, Uhura, and Georgiou uniforms from the latest convention.

For them, the con becomes the reality, in a very literal sense.

We know we were born thinking outside of the box and have redefined so many spaces that we have become experts in how to navigate multiple realities and intersectionalities while living a more integrated and grounded life. But we also know the difference between fantasy and reality – we defined it. Yet people are often so tethered to existing in the default, that they ignore our expertise by excluding us from critiquing their far-out dreams of liberation – proving themselves to be anything but allies.

The Terran universe is so sexy and…so scary! This could be us if we continue down this path.

And funny enough, much like the mirror universe in Star Trek, they cling to a fantasy of perpetually winning at capitalistic vanity contests of wealth, fame, or power. They are so sold on fleeting delusions of self-importance that they’ll follow a desperate sweaty game show emperor with nakedly ambitious venom oozing from his make-up clogged pores. They line up be the next that his sticky unwashed fingers will choose to be pawns on his gilded chessboard – one that he’ll just throw across the room in a temper tantrum later like he has always done. We live in a world where the noxious obliviousness and self-congratulatory bad editing of QAnon videos and theories count as “evidence” and “research”. Talk about alternate realities 😳

How do we reconcile with people so stubbornly anchored to a reality that is so inherently violent, separate, and corrosive that they’ll go to the graves cut down by a preventable disease as martyrs to what exactly?

You can find the perfect meme for anything!

They will tell us that their cause is freedom. But is freedom supposed to feel so….bad? Is freedom supposed to feel so hostile? Is freedom supposed to always feel this violent, bloody, and dehumanizing? Is freedom meant to deprive us of access to necessary health care and safe workplaces? Is freedom supposed to feel like a punishment for simply existing and wanting to help others?

Or does freedom feel like being able to breathe again? Being able to hug and celebrate again? Isn’t freedom supposed to feel like having enough food on the table, a roof, and a bed to sleep well at night? Isn’t freedom achieved when we feel valued at our jobs, able to pursue the opportunities that call to our deepest souls? Isn’t freedom the ability to take a risk on ourselves with the unconditional love and support of our beloveds if we fall a few times?

When I embraced the collective grief, the communal WTF?isms, the global concerns of American instability, I felt the full weight of the schism that formed that day, but I also felt the unimaginable love of a country that wanted better for itself, that finally saw the mirror and could see the fractures of reality cracking through the very foundations of our nation. There are enough of us to bring a world of justice and peace to fruition.

There is only one way we win…

But like Doctor Strange, I see only one reality in which we don’t descend into our doom: Transmuting our fears with love.

One comment

  1. […] As I mentioned last week, I see a fracturing of reality happening in part because we’ve been staring so long at our navels, getting lost in pools of ego and self-pity, that we don’t see that we each have a piece of the larger picture that we can solve. In my corner, I’m helping with food justice and heart-centered leadership. Friends are working toward sexual recovery from trauma and trans rights. Others are working on efficiencies in our environmental impact and others are caring for the children of the people doing these things. We each have an essential role that only we can play. […]

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