Category Archives: Calling
My calling in its many interpretations and manifestation. To be the hands of the Divine The method and the means by which I am present for others in helpful, realistic and yet magical ways.
This post hit me in the gut right when I was at my lowest, mired in Imposter Syndrome and knee-deep in panic. This was a small light that emerged in the darkness, illuminating one of the deepest, hardest truths of my life.
Sacrifice as proof of worth?
I am not as familiar with the Giving Tree – I managed to encounter Shel Silverstein, without much time spent on this book. However, this criticism of this story rang a clear, resonant note of truth within. Sacrifice of talents…using them to meet the needs of others is a major reason for my anxiety and internalized pain.
This why I have a complicated relationship with the Catholicism of my youth. I still believe in the divine – I don’t call it god or any specific name, but I feel connected to something bigger than myself, far more infinite and loving than anyone can imagine. I’ve felt this presence since I was a kid, a guiding presence that was on my side, lovingly cheering me on even in my mistakes.
But Catholicism invaded at a very young age with messages telling me to fear God. The introduction of shame was packaged with meaning and redemption. The judgment meant I was answerable for every small transgression – such as merely thinking about sex. Any violation had to be confessed and absolved in order to still qualify for heaven someday. Humility or humiliation?
That isn’t to say that I didn’t genuinely love some aspects of Catholicism. I am drawn to a sense of ritual to anchor my spirituality. The Mass exemplifies the elegance in which all the senses keep your body present in the moment: incense, music, movement and body connection, the wine and bread, the visual presentation of the mass and its setting. There is something divine in the visceral celebration of our humanity like that.
But the spiritually connective ecstasy I experience in the rituals of faith are soured in seeing the shallowness of the people who claim community with me. The hatred they sow, the majestic righteousness they promote, the private deceitfulness they practiced were abhorrent. And because I was a “true believer” (in middle and high school), I had an obligation to be better than the average Sunday catholic.
That pressure was doubly true for a “visionary”, someone seemingly “chosen” to fulfill a mission. Someday I’ll share more about it, but at the young age of 12, I had been called to be the “hands of Mary”. My world changed. Faith was no longer an aspiration, but a leadership skill. Little old ladies asked for my blessing. Priests were at the ready to advise (I chose my confessors wisely).
My role always has been to provide healing, light and love in the world, to be the tangible and conceptual hands of the divine and loving feminine. The challenge of this role: this path would be paved with sacrifice, selflessness, imbalance and fairness, infinite patience, and the constant fear that I am not giving enough.
Someone else needed my gifts more than me.
“Lord, I am not worthy to receive You, but only say the word and I shall be healed” . A moment in the mass that is so sincerely that I tear up anytime we get to that part (and I hate how they’ve changed it).
My parents taught me kindness and hard work, but Catholicism amplified those qualities so that anything less than perfect performance was swiftly declared a sin. A true examination of conscience reveals all the minutiae of errors in word and deed and imposed shame for the sin of having faults and bad days. Any kindness I refused my fellow human being was a black mark on my soul, a disappointment to god. Anything less than perfect patience was selfishness. Asking to be loved back or simply accepted was greedy. I was so good at turning the mirror on myself, at holding myself accountable, that I confessed the tiny little lies I tell myself to cover for my flawed self.
I was a literal expert at tearing myself down. Why pretend I am better than I really am? Why bring attention to myself by promoting my achievements? Why take the credit when others’ contributions were more significant? I viewed my pride, my selfishness and greed with such disdain. These were what was going to land me in hell, I knew it. I reasoned that if I put myself through hell now, I might not be judged as harshly later.
In high school, when I found out I was in the running for salutatorian, I deliberately blew off a couple of classes to ensure that I wouldn’t take that particular spotlight. I figured other people deserved it more and that I wasn’t harming them by taking myself out of the running. I didn’t want or need the spotlight and such attention feels inappropriately arrogant. To this day I can’t even take a compliment because fuck…how selfish would that be?
Self-Destruction isn’t Love
So…here I am at 41 years old constantly struggling with imposter syndrome, trying to lead a major arm of a local nonprofit and still trying to make a difference with the individuals I encounter. And this locus of worth, the laden expectations of the purpose I chose for myself is what is holding me back. I have so convinced myself that by possessing certain gifts and talents, that by choosing a larger purpose for my life, that I must deny any benefits that allow me to live in celebration or accomplishment.
The consequence is I have trouble believing in myself or in my own value in these roles. I chase after everyone’s goal-posts, trying to please everyone’s expectations of me at once. Constantly struggling with never feeling “good enough” or “smart enough” or “pretty enough” because I judge my best efforts as never enough – I could always do more, be more, share more. Thus, I am easily manipulated by others’ disappointment in me, including lovers, co-workers and random strangers. I succumb to the friends who say I’m not there for them enough. I break myself making it up to the partners who resent that I’ve chosen work instead of them.
I have impossible choices, all driven and decided by the lack of value I find in my own reward and happiness. I fall on my sword at every opportunity – because I should be held accountable for not being all things to all people. How fucking dare I not be infinitely grateful to serve in all the divine perfection I am allowed? How dare I not be grateful for the gifts god gave me? Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam – for the greater glory of god.
The toll this has taken on my mental health cannot be understated or dismissed. “Just stop thinking like that” they tell me, as if turning off years of programming and self-flagellating reinforcement is simple because now I’m suddenly “worthy”. Nah, it doesn’t work like that.
That’s not to say I haven’t done heavy lifting on this subject, but when you’re “smart”, you are likewise talented at overthinking everything. And combined with the Catholic examination of conscience, it’s easy to feel like I’m not going to ever be good enough.
But more than anything, these noble messages that equate sacrifice with pure love during childhood imply that our gifts, our talents, or unique value aren’t our own. Our gifts are meant for the consumption of others. Our gifts are meant to be shared with humanity, even if it means we subsist on anxiety and eggshells the rest of our lives.
“You’re meant for something more” is what we tell our smart kids, our spiritual kids, our mature kids. And those kids become adults who sacrifice themselves at the altar of humanity’s betterment. We learn fast, are adaptable and aware. Our skills of observation, of reading the signs of adults around us serve as a shortcut to help us excel and thus generate more to share with humanity. The better we get, the more we have to give in return.
I am trying to find balance with this right now, which is why I had to take a sick day. But that one day of self-care cost me sleep the next night because my conscience wouldn’t allow me to let anyone down. Sacrifice myself so others aren’t ever challenged to be inconvenienced or uncomfortable.
I almost quit this time last week – for no other reason than the fact that I don’t find myself worthy of this level of responsibility. I have always felt my “accomplishments” were just a payment toward the debt that I owe to the divine for the weighty charge I have been given. I will forever be paying back a debt I never incurred. Whereas those who have taken of my time and energy will never be asked to replenish what was given. (Consider the analogous application to the environment).
I chose a life of spiritual servitude, that any other day of the week I choose gladly – but last week it just unraveled me because …I’m exhausted. Too many have asked for more when I clearly have nothing left to give. And it hurts when they fault me for not having enough for them when I don’t have enough to keep myself going. But no matter whether it’s work, friendships, family or more they don’t see or care what it is costing me.
I sincerely believe I am capable of giving my all in the name of love, but my biggest challenge is to demonstrate that love for myself, to allow myself the worth of replenishment. If I am worthy enough of scorn, I’m likewise worthy enough for their forgiveness. And with the gifts I have offered the connection will always feel incomplete until I’m willing to receive.
Each of us shares our life with someone.
In all actuality, we share our lives with many someones.
Our orbits pass through one another, sometimes crashing through the orbits of others everyday. With every action, with every word, with every choice, we send ripples of significance. We each influence someone, several someones, in our day-to-day lives and in the memories reverberating in those we may never see again. And even the most obtusely selfish among us can serve as an inspiration to someone else. One ripple sends another and another.
We are all connected. Maybe positively, maybe negatively – no matter how brief, no matter how intense, the connections we share are inescapable. What happens to one of us reverberates through the rest of us.
Even in the darkest of my depressions, it is this truth that keeps me going. This truth has been the basis of my life and my calling. It is the guidebook for my decision-making, the tome I refer to when I feel I’m off my path. I gravitate toward connectedness with others, even if it means breaking faith with what the world would have me do with its rules and expectations.
It is the universality of our connectedness that gives me hope for our future but likewise makes me fear for our present.
We live in unprecedented times. When I was 15, I cared deeply about politics, but it didn’t rule my every thought or conversation. I worried about getting my homework done, navigating increasingly more adult decisions. I didn’t have to worry about my life or the lives of those around me. We didn’t know the earth was dying.
My son is now 15 with a keen mind for politics and history. He doesn’t want kids because “why bother when the earth will be uninhabitable by the time they’re 10”.
It breaks my heart that my son, my bright light of hope in this world, cannot see any hope in our future. He watched with panic and anxiety when Trump announced, foreseeing a time that brown people would be locked up. Fearing for my Mexican family, that election was so difficult to endure for us both. It became real to us – we were being collectively targeted and threatened.
Combined with the regularity of lock-outs, the proliferation of cyber bullying and the rapidly empty responses to climate change, he has nothing left to believe in. He watched his country, the adults and parents who should be watching out for his generation, elect the most unsophisticatedly inhumane of any candidate possible to usher his generation into adulthood. Environmental protections are dismantled, a sledgehammer has been taken to a woman’s right to choose, and racism, sexism and discrimination is sanctioned and protected.
We have a generation of children who have been force fed a steady diet of fear and impulsive intolerance. Even for the kids not directly in harm’s way today, the multitude of dangers they have to navigate put my youthful grievances into clearer perspective. The trauma, the low, constant hum of human suffering accumulated slowly over time.
Who would they be if we hadn’t done this to them?
We all belong to each other.
This isn’t about my kid vs your kid. This isn’t about comparing our suffering. It’s about recognizing that we share the burden of carrying that experience with and for each other. Without your experience, how can I possibly ever understand mine? We serve as mirrors for each other, reflecting both the pain and the resilience, the fear and the healing. By sharing those experiences, we give context to someone else’s.
People often tell me that I share too much online. And I do. I know better than most the consequences of sharing so much. But I also know that dee in my soul, I share my ideas and experiences so that others might find something that resonates with them. If my story can help even one other person, then I experience a transformative effect for the pain I’ve lived through. I reclaim more of who I really am and I experience a greater freedom in living my most authentic life.
So many of us have been through some horrible things, things that we’re only now starting to find a voice for. Many of us are grappling with the outcomes and consequences of shame, guilt or trauma. That realization has a ripple effect around us, even momentarily altering how we see ourselves and the world around us. And if, in this moment we can collectively mourn for the people we never became, if we can reconcile the betrayal we feel, we might recognize that we have more in common than we think.
In these moments of crisis, in these days of uncertainty, we have a choice whether to silo ourselves away in a tower of enforced misery, or whether we might deserve the strength of sincere companionship. We have a choice to model for our over stressed and over burdened children how to handle emotions like fear or distrust, how to maintain resolve when it looks like all is lost. We can show them leadership. We can show them another way.
Connecting with one another, making ourselves vulnerable to share in the burdens, collaborating on solutions together may be the only way we can ensure that our children will survive their futures.
We all belong to each other.
We all want to be loved, to be found worthy of our intended’s affection, to be worthy of our parents’ pride, to be deserving of close friendships and to bask in the joy of romantic passion. Only by realizing and engaging with that connection will we be able to create a world of abundance, security and peace for us all.
It is now fully 2018. I’m successfully writing the correct year on timesheets. I’ve had time to think about the new year and set intentions and avoid the bad habits long enough to feel like I gave the resolutions the ol’ college try. It is well beyond the time that we would expect to see a “Goodbye 2017 and Hello 2018” type of post out of me, which is why I’ve been sitting with the draft of this post for at least three weeks now.
What I had originally intended to post was my own version of this post by writer Courtney E. Martin who had blogged her answers to 7 questions about aligning intentions in 2018. I wanted to post something similar, but as usual, I started to overthink my answers, allowed it to interfere with the message I wanted to send.
I’ve lost half my life to being a People-Pleaser
I’ve been overthinking my entire life. Controlling for every error, every judgment, every consideration imaginable. And I’m devastated when I fuck up. How could I have allowed myself to make such a stupid mistake? I have spent most of my life controlling for what other people will think of me. In finally overcoming my sense of undeservingness I now have to face the facts about why I care so deeply about what other people think.
I have a pattern of anticipating how I can please others that has resulted in a life so well-controlled by anticipated shame and judgment that I am holding back my own truth, my own needs and desires. Some of it is trauma-based, some of it is personal wounds I kept from healing, but almost all of it is a defensive means of restraint so that the minimum number of people will be displeased with me as possible. It has also been a way for others to control me, to keep me from voicing my needs and holding them accountable for not meeting them.
Nowhere was that control more destructive than with my sexuality. That judgment, that repulsed look in someone’s eye when they hear I am polyamorous. The body image issues that I swallowed with each compromise of a blowjob when someone was too upset by seeing my fat. The compromises, the shame, the guilt in such conflict never trusting in my own voice and intuition.
Who am I when I stop letting others tell me who they want me to be?
The only choice I had was to strip away everything that I had believed about myself, about my motives, about my injuries, about my own narrative, to take away everything that had been whispered or yelled at me. To dig out the stinger those words and actions embedded under my skin.I had to strip that all away so I’d have a chance get back to the purity of what sex means to me: the connection between two (or more) human beings who want to be there in this moment together. In it’s purest form, it is the intimacy of that shared moment that drives me and motivates me, that led me to say yes to so many experiences that can shine forward as fond memories for me.
By stripping away all the dicta, the meaningless words that don’t ultimately matter, I had to surrender to my own truth.
My truth is I have always cared to talk about the experience of sex that aligns with a soul’s purpose. I don’t mean only serious sex or lifelong committed relationships. I mean that one-night stand that awakens your passion, fuels your inspiration and then disappears. I mean that moment when you are accepted in all your fullness by a lover. I mean that 500th time you’ve had sex with your partner and they accidentally find a new way to make you moan for more. I mean that long-distance crush who teaches you the meaning of patience and resilience. I mean the sexual encounters that help us open ourselves to the connections that teach us about ourselves, allow us to glimpse possibilities within. I care about what sex can do to heal the soul with joy.
This is what I offer.
Goddess of the Crossroads: No one can do it for you
I have never felt comfortable giving people advice, telling them what they should do or what they shouldn’t do. There are always so many considerations, most of which are highly personal and relative to how you view the world. I can reflect what I see, but I can’t make the decision for you.
My talent, my work (even with advocacy) is to understand the invisible patterns and connections between and within people. Those dynamics motivate and inform the choices available to someone at any given time. What I care about is being a guide at the crossroads – not instructing you on what choice/path to take – but advising on how to:
- Know yourself well enough to know your priorities & boundaries;
- Evaluate the choices in light of those priorities;
- Predict the path ahead so you’re prepared for what you face after the choice including the collateral consequences to others; and
- Identify opportunities for alignment with the person you most want to become.
But all of this is about stripping away what everyone else tells you about how you should feel or what you should do. Ultimately this is your life to create and craft as your own. No one, not me, not anyone can tell you what choices to make. We can only share our experiences, our knowledge and our support. The rest is about surrendering to the power of your own truth, to forge forward on your own and for your own reasons.
I’ve been scared about whether there’s a place for me as a sex educator or blogger. Is there a place for the more spiritual side of sex without it being labeled as Tantra or New Age? Is there a place where we can recognize that even dirty, kinky sex is sacred and that even sex labeled as sacred can be abusive? How do we better attune ourselves to both surrender and control, to both trust and responsibility? Who can play with the dualities but a woman who has stood at the crossroads more times than I can count? Who knows better about the sacrifices we need to make to please others than the woman who chooses not to sacrifice a vital part of herself in order to fit in?
I can no longer ignore the next step of my journey is surrendering to my own truth and living that truth as honestly as I can. To be the woman I aspire to be, I need to be comfortable in my own skin, making choices that align with that higher purpose. I have lived with the inner conflict and turmoil of distrusting myself, of suppressing my needs and desires to make others happy. I have watched as that stole the joy from my sexuality, made me so self-conscious that I removed myself from any new adventures. I have felt the pain of obeying others at the sacrifice of myself. And here I stand, stripped of the artificial expectations of others, surrendering my shields and allowing myself to experience and share life as fully in the moment as I can this year.
Only by surrendering to our deepest truths, to the power of this moment, will we able to step toward the future we deserve.
I’m always flirting with the danger of being a little too stuck in the past. I revisit old lovers, I regularly journey wistfully in nostalgic reverie, I seek out connections to the past at any opportunity. I want to live in present and often do, but I like to revisit where I’ve been. It’s useful to gain some perspective, to reframe the thoughts I have about who I was. Ultimately, it gives me some insight and inspiration into where I want to go.
A few days ago I turned 40 years old. (Yay!) I was lucky enough to spend a full 48 hours on things that nourished my soul. A chakra massage, tarot readings from two different people, joyful celebration, quiet contemplation, a party, a blessing, a clearing, a purging of my darkness. See, the overwhelming message that came through to me (even with The Last Jedi) was how I needed to let go of the remnants of the past so that I can finally move forward to a place of deservingness and peace. I need to stop examining the past to piece together my shattered worthiness and instead needed to accept my own light, accept my new role and create a future of bright, shining energy.
This is my own personal Tower. This is the structure that has been holding up my life, created from memory, from experience, from learning, and above all from distortions about these. This structure of service without reward, of absorbing the darkness in others so that they might find their light has been such a primary source of identity for me. I’ve been resisting tearing that down, but it’s become so apparent to me that this is the last piece of “suffering” I must do in order to fully feel like I can move forward into the structure I’m building for myself.
The time has come for me to step into Who I Really Am.
The Origins of the Tower
Growth is accepting that not every structure in our life is meant to remain. We must either tear down the old, worn down Tower of self or a wrecking ball will come through and force us to rebuild.
Some of you have seen me talk about “tearing down my tower”. The Tower, a reference to tarot, is what I use to refer to those sacred institutions, behaviors, beliefs, reactions, etc that we use to process the outside world. Whether it be religion, sexuality, expectations in friendships, family values, politics, we each construct a Tower for ourselves, the structure for our home, our life, our relationships, our spirituality, our outlook on life.
The walls of our Towers are adorned with paintings of our grand achievements, statues of the important people in our lives, wall-to-wall libraries containing the knowledge we’ve accumulated along the way. Each is unique to our own self.
Our first Tower was built by our parents, caregivers, and others in authority when we were children. They were shaped for us so that we should be taught how to treat others, what to believe spiritually, what we find beautiful or loving, what priority learning should have in our lives. It provides us with shelter and protection.
The past five years have been unusually dark for me. Full of family turmoil and career drama. I’ve had plenty of reasons to run and hide, to isolate myself from the world. I stopped dating, I stopped really socializing too. I locked away in my little protective bubble where nothing could touch me. And how fitting that this spring I’m starting to emerge into who I have always wanted to be.
I’m sure the isolation served a purpose, allowed me a chance to rest, regroup and plot my way forward. But so much hurt, so much shame, so much trauma and I was more stuck than empowered. Contrast that to where I am now, more social, more vocal, more grounded in who I am. I believe strongly that this is where I need to be right now, in a space of manifestation and creation, fulfillment and passion. It’s time for me to start making some of my own dreams come true and actualizing the purpose I have for my life.
It’s even more important for me to be in this space…
Right here and right now
I can’t even say how long it’s been since I used the word “passion” to describe myself. I’ve been in survival mode for so long that passion had hardened into a strong shell of resentment over the years I had to put aside what I wanted and desired to avoid judgment and shame. And that passion barely had any embers left until the beginning of 2016.
It was a shitty year….we know this now. And when I had started writing this back in October, I had no idea how bad it would get. I had no idea that so many of us survivors of sexual assault would get activated and retraumatized all at once. I couldn’t see that coming. But to have that same person now in the White House is even more terrifying. And more threatening. Read the rest of this entry
Yep, because I can’t always find time in my day to write and because the shit show of the news has captured most of my available attention span, I haven’t kept up with body positive February posts. Not that you were necessarily keeping track, but here’s my attempt to get caught up. These are somewhat big assignments, so I can only break it down into a few days at a time per post:
Day 9: Express appreciation for a source of support in your life.
It would impossible for me to narrow in on just one person in my life, or just one source of support in my life. I could talk forever about the gratitude and appreciation I feel for the sources of support I have access to in my life, especially my husbands and my family. But I thought I might highlight a few people who don’t get the praise and recognition that they deserve. Here are a few highlights.
- For Blush – To say she’s my girlfriend would be inaccurate unless you also include the fact that she’s the closest I come to having a true best friend in my life. She is the earthy, airy equivalent to my intense fire and watery adaptability. We have similar tendencies, similar callings, similar structures in our relationships. But offer each other a non-judgmental place to vent and work through problems as well as a place to obtain release without the strings of expectation or over-attachment. I love her feedback in my life and love the safe space she provides always.
- For S – To say that I look forward to his emails, to his manner of prose and his confessions of the challenges he faces in his life would be an understatement. He has an ability to see into my heart whenever I write and to pull out the main points much better than anyone else. He’s a writer, teacher and lover, and his messages never fail to lift my spirits, touch my soul. He “sees” me and that is one of the most powerful ways to support me in my life.
- For Chris (PA) – Well, there are two Chris’ in PA in my life, but if I were a goddess, this one would be the high priest of my temple. In fact, a lot of out interactions these days focus on me building my temple. He offers such unconditional support. When I’m feeling down, he’s there to remind me who I really am. When I face hardship or a loss of faith in the process, the system or my own fate, he is there to remind me that I am building something grand in my life, something worthy that only those who are equally worthy can witness. He promotes my spirit without making me entirely inaccessible on a pedestal. He guards my soul.
Day 10: Share a song, poem, book, movie or TV show that helps you feel body positive.
There are two of them. I always listen to these songs back to back in this order:
English translation of the lyrics:
I fell down, I stood up, I walked, I rose up
I went against the stream and I also got lost
I failed, found myself, I lived it and I learnt
When you fall harder, the deeper the beat
I keep dancing and writing my lyrics.
I keep singing with all the doors open
Going through all these lands and you don’t have to travel so far to find the answer
and don’t you worry if they don’t approve you, when they criticize you, just say
That’s me That’s me That’s That’s That’s That’s That’s
That’s me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me
I keep on walking, keep on laughing
I do whatever I want or die trying
Nobody cares what I’m doing, the only thing that matters is what’s on the inside
I like to be on the sand, bathing on the sea without a reason without a care
To sit down doing nothing, looking far away and being relaxed
and don’t you worry if they don’t approve you, when they criticize you, just say
That’s me That’s me That’s That’s That’s That’s That’s
It’s me me me me me me me me
I’m like this I’m like this I’m like this
and you don’t even know me
I’m like this I’m like this I’m like this
and you don’t even know me
You know what I mean
You know what I mean
and don’t you worry if they don’t approve you, when they criticize you, just say
That’s me That’s me That’s That’s That’s That’s That’s
That’s me me me me me me me me
Yes, That’s me
Writer(s): Liliana Margarita Saumet Avila, Eric Frederic, Joe Spargur, Federico Simon Mejia Ochoa
And here is the 2nd one by Meghan Trainor. I first heard this song when someone posted this video on their Facebook and I fell in love:
What’s not to love about this song? It praises loving yourself and makes me feel powerful and desirable.
Day 11: Write a Body Positive Letter to your past self
Oh holy shit. This was a hard one to do, partly because crawling into the brain of my past selves is an exercise in confronting many of the same insecurities I feel today. I am in tears at a coffee shop writing this…But I suppose that’s the point, isn’t it?
So, here we go:
At this point in your life, Spring 2004, you gave birth a few months ago to your amazing and wonderful little boy. You carried a life inside you, have been nurturing him to grow into a healthy and happy little boy. And you are impatient to finally act on all the return of your sexual energy. And you’re starting to delve into the world of polyamory, one salacious LiveJournal post at a time.
For the time being, you are keeping your inklings secret from your husband because you don’t want to hurt him, you don’t want him to feel like he isn’t enough. You remember being good at seduction and by this time in your life, you’ve decided to take a few tenuous steps toward exploring multiple partners and satisfying a voracious and vivacious sexual appetite. But because you have not yet found your local communities to create a safe space for this exploration, you are talking to people on Yahoo messenger who are more invested in the thrill of the illicit conquest than being a caring partner in your journey. But remember this:
YOU ARE NO ONE’S CONQUEST
You just met with a guy who we’ll call Mitch. A professional cheater. He meets you close to the office and you give him a blowjob in his Mercedes. When you meet with him again, he asks you to hike up your skirt so he can see more of you (since we’re just before the days of sending digital photos).
A moment of truth for you. No one but Husband has seen you naked since you gave birth. A birth that took a severe toll on your body. Stretch marks. Weight gain of 60+ lbs that no matter what you to try to strengthen your core you just can’t seem to get yourself back into shape. And a paranoia about food thanks to gestational diabetes.
Honey, I can feel the shame and self-blame washing over me as I write this. I hate how we’ve felt about our body. Our miraculous and beautiful body for what happens in this moment and for the moments you will endure after this.
Because in this moment, he looks at you, at your vulnerable state of wanting to be accepted and cherished like the good old days. He takes one look at you and says, “Well, at least you’re good enough for a blowjob” as he pulls your head down for a blowjob in his Mercedes parked in the law school parking garage. You will feel dirty and used and wholly disposable and that will carry through for years to come. But more than anything you feel ashamed. Ashamed that your body isn’t good enough for this beautiful man with the empty heart. You will feel ashamed that the men you will encounter after him will reinforce this message–leaving at the restaurant to pay a bill because your clothed appearance “sickened” him and turned his stomach. Finally, sending a naked photo of yourself at the request of the man who has been giving you orgasm after orgasm on the phone for the past 2 months–only to not even get a thank you for two full weeks. No response at all.
All of this crushes you. Makes you feel unworthy of love. You look wistfully at swingers’ websites, longing to be as pretty and desirable as them to be able to attend their events. Subsequent people you will meet will reinforce the message that big isn’t beautiful (even though to be honest, your size is pretty normal). You will enter the poly and kink communities already apologizing for your body before anyone ever sees it. You will compare yourself to other women, opting out of relationships if they start dating someone thinner than you–assuming that you aren’t desirable, you’ll start to withdraw from relationships to make room in that person’s heart for the thinner, prettier, younger, or sexier partner. You choose not to pursue connections because you don’t want them to see your flaws and deem you unworthy. You do the work for them.
You’ll continue to push yourself to own that vulnerability and at least try to take nudes, to share yourself and to project yourself as someone with confidence in herself, because it’s important to you to at least try. I know because I still do it today. I still challenge myself to show up, to show myself to some degree or another (although being outed certainly had a chilling effect on ever being so public ever again). You’ll reject the compliments and shun those who claim to desire you. You’ll assume that your tits are your only asset and you will tell your body every day that you hate it for the shape it took after this pregnancy.
But I am here to assure you that if you can recognize the opportunity, what is happening to you right now is not a reflection of who you are, but of the values that infect our society. You do not reflect those values and so to stand against them, to speak up against those standards is to pose a threat to them. Their words are not the world you want to live in. This will fuel your passion for social change–to change the very fabric of our societal values. This isn’t easy work, but these experiences are only a reflection of the reasons why the world needs an adjustment.
Trust me when I say that the most common word people use to describe us is “stunning” with “radiant” being a close 2nd. And that is extraordinary. Because that is what we want to be known for. This is who we are and what we want to project into the world.
We are Colorado girls. And we love what is natural and true to self. We are Chicana and driven by a fire and passion for societal change. We are amazing and beautiful and know how to seduce both men and women with ease and with compassion. What happens in these early days of your polyamorous expression is only a dismissive grumble from the unworthy world of the objectifying masses to the world of the thoughtful lovers. I promise, by the end of the year you will find people with a desire to truly see you and know you and they will change your life. Laz, Min, Husband, Hawk, S, BeachBum, Ambyr, and so many others will see you for not just the value that you bring into the world, but will absolutely worship at the temple that is your body.
Have heart, my love. You are beautiful and loved and these early experience will prepare you to establish your boundaries, assert yourself and eliminate anyone who cannot approach you with the awe and reverence that you deserve. Believe that we are growing more powerful by the day.
Don’t let these insecurities get you down…you will change lives in sharing who you are–stretch marks and all. You are sacred and holy and will one day rise as a queen and a goddess to guide those seeking the light in the darkness.
I honestly haven’t been avoiding these challenges, but when Warrior has a long weekend at our house I have a hard time finding the mental space to write. And as he and I negotiate whether he’s moving in after his divorce, these are the things that keep me hesitant.
Anyway, all of that is to say that these challenges have been on my mind this weekend but I haven’t gotten around to writing them.
Day 3: Write 3 nice things about your body.
This one is definitely one of the hardest for me. My body is a source of significant angst for me and it’s hard for me to admire myself or to ignore the faults for the beauty of this vessel. So, for this one I had to imagine what I might say to a lover or a friend in giving them a compliment or gushing about what I love about them.
- I love how soft and silver my hair is. I have good hair days more often than not and I love my silver streaks, even the silver poking out at the roots. I love that it’s given more texture and depth to my hair. I still love the streaks of red, the patches of black. But silver actually has made me look younger.
- How can anyone not enjoy my breasts? I mean they aren’t perky and taut, but they are soft and infinitely touchable. Even my gay leather brothers love snuggling close because of them. And for the lovers who pay attention the right kind of teasing, the right kind of play can induce orgasms.
- I also really love my eyes. I want my eyes to communicate what may be difficult for me to find words to encompass. They change color and turn a bright sea green when I cry. While others prefer my smile, I like my eyes better.
Day4: write three nice things about you that aren’t physical
Umm…that might be harder because while my body is superficial, there’s a shred more objectivity. I can compare against others (“Why yes, we agree that your boobs are rather extraordinary compared to a, b and c!”) and I can piggyback onto the components bestowed upon me. But internal stuff, well, I could think that I’m nice and kind, but am I really?
But I guess that’s true point of this exercise–to say something candidly nice about ourselves without the safety net of knowing whether it’s true. It’s about embracing that it’s true for us.
- I value my spirituality. I care deeply for my calling in life, for the meaningful connection to ritual and symbolism. I feel called to serve a more divine purpose in life, to serve as the hands of the goddess, to be devoted to the service of humanity and to give of all of my talents, all of myself to this calling.
- Of all my talents, I have an inane gift for acceptance. I’m not easily scared by the darkness of others. I give love through my unconditional acceptance of who someone really is in their soul. I try to abandon judgment and shame but my acceptance doesn’t always mean approval, it is just a loving embrace of their path and their humanity and the vulnerability and trust they’ve placed in me.
- I likewise find my greatest courage comes in moments when I am at my most vulnerable. I am always willing to risk being seen especially if it might help someone else find their own courage or light. I am willing to face my fears, to use my voice, to connect to others, to wade through darkness even if I make a fucking fool out of myself because the risk of staying hidden becomes larger with each passing day. Visibility is vulnerability. And I am secretly so proud of myself each time I can show trust in the compassion of others.
Day 5: Treat yourself to a food you love.
Every Sunday Husband and I have been sitting down for lunch to plan out our menus for the week. Today I had a huge craving for G&B’s Fish n Chips. Half order of prawns, chips, a side of curry sauce and a Bloody Mary. It is quickly becoming my favorite part about Sundays. They now know my order too!
It’s 9:45 pm here on October 11th. I got home late and am making an ambitious (for me) dinner of shepherd’s pie. So as I wait, I think back on another marginally bad day. It wasn’t horrible, it just was angsty. And most of the angst was mine. I was impatient, unorganized, forgetful and foggy all day. And it wasn’t until later in the workday, when I was beyond the point of salvaging it that I finally realized why I was so on edge.
Today was National Coming Out Day
For the past 10 years I’ve been flirting with various forms of outness, to varying degrees. And to the point where I’m essentially out to everyone except extended family. Even professionally to some degree it’s been know how I identify. Especially over the past year or so I’ve become far more comfortable with being out.
But today it was scary and triggery. It brought back memories of a workday interrupted by a call from a friend telling me that a website had posted my online journal and that it was circulating. It brought me back to the pacing through the hallways going mad from the ringing of the phone. It brought me back to 8 months of unemployment and 10 years of trying to scrape my way back to believing that I deserved to make an earning even close to what I was making before. It brought me back to the rumors, the panic attacks during the news, the fear, the cowardice, the ignorance, the victimhood and the punishment. It brought me back to a night where I was as close to suicide as I’ll ever get and breaking down to ask for help before I could finish the act.
I didn’t come out on Facebook today like I had wanted to. I have family who, as well intentioned and loving as they are, tend to call my parents over ever minor quip I post. As much as I love my parents, my coming out isn’t worth them having to field phone calls from worried family members and well-intentioned, but clueless friends. The choice to come out is mine and not theirs.
So, instead, I came out on Twitter, reminding all 686 followers of who I am.
Those things are some of the easier to identify things about me. It’s what most people care about when they talk about coming out. But identity is such a rich and powerful blend of concepts, stories, and aspirations that simply saying I’m bisexual, polyamorous, kinky, queer, Chicana, femme, Mother, wife, lover, educator, lawyer, spiritual and geek is just a superficial part of the story. Some of it is the sensational part of the story because ooooh—bi, poly and kinky–that’s out there. But it’s just scratching the surface.
There are other aspects of identity that go beyond the census items of nationality (American), race/ethnicity or income. There are the aspects of self that evolve over time but create the refinements of self that truly identify us closer to our core. Those aspects of ourselves are just as precious and vulnerable, worthy of being spoken as personal truths.
So tonight, I define more of who I am. Coming out as the woman I truly am at heart:
I am a public servant. I have always been drawn to government, politics, and the business of policymaking. But moire than anything I have been drawn to a life of being in service to the public in some capacity or another. Right now I provide direct services through a nonprofit,. but in the past, I’ve served in capacities that were more about the public good than my own advancement.
I am half white and half Mexican but identify as Chicana. This is very important for me to distinguish. I love both of my families, but the Mexican half of my family was the most influential in my upbringing. My dad’s family valued education but watching my Mexican grandparents’ pride when my mom earned her master’s struck a chord with me. It told me the legacy that was going to be passed to me to build upon. It is a responsibility that I take seriously. My father’s family is full of intelligence, accomplishment, and distinction–my role with them is less to carry on their legacy and more to just not fuck it up. But what I accomplish for the Mexican side of my family, like a law degree, creates a path for others to follow. I’ve already helped one family member with his law school application and LSAT prep. We rise together.
That said, I am also very privileged. Because my last name is white, my skin is light and freckled and my hair turning gray faster than my more indigenous parts of the family, I’m a dead ringer for your standard, run-of-the-mill white girl. That’s not what I feel inside and so I get somewhat defensive during conversations about race. I am so eager to relate to people that I end up ignoring my privilege, the same privilege that makes it easier for me to be heard. It has been an uphill battle for me to remember that my story isn’t more important than anyone else’s, particularly those who don’t get the benefits that come with passing for white, cis, het and able bodied.
I am bisexual and married to a man. So another privilege I carry is that I at least am always perceived as heterosexual. I’m not, of course, and that’s where some mental health issues come into play for many of us–being misidentified, ignored and rebuked within the LGBTQ community (mostly getting derision from the Ls and Gs) creates an insidious amount of hardship as we try to navigate our way through the world.
I am bisexual and I have known it since I was 12. But to the outside world, I had a fairy tale wedding and lived happily ever after. And while I love my husband dearly, part of why I love him is that he’s never had an issue with me living my life as fully as I am able. He’s always given me support and encouragement, to pursue what makes me happy–including exploring my attraction to women and non-binary/gender nonconforming folk. Ultimately this is aided immensely by being polyamorous–we negotiate the terms of our marriage and it decidedly doesn’t look at all like the heteronormative ideal. And I am happier for it.
Finally, I’m coming out as a visionary within the Catholic meaning of the term. Again, from the age of 12, I believe I was called to something powerful. This calling initially spoke to me through the images and rituals of the Catholic faith–I was strong in my devotion to the Church at the time (see, I still capitalize it). But as I grew into the woman I am, I recognized that Catholicism at its core no longer fit with the calling that I was given. It was just too large for such a narrowly-defined faith structure. So, I departed from the Church. I still miss it sometimes–going to Mass and adoration, praying the rosary, the cleansing I’d feel after confession. It is like my hometown. I’ll always have a connection to it. It’s part of my story. But it’s not where I choose to live now–I have moved on. My calling is what matters most to me, not ascribing to any one issue of faith.
With all of that said, I have an update on the shepherd’s pie: I burned myself making it last night which is why this is posted late. i’m doing better today–but I guess I also need to add clumsy to the list of identities that I have.
The past week has been a challenge for me. Triggering events from start to finish. The last time I felt like this I was on the verge of a breakdown. That breakdown was avoided by paying attention to the signs and finally heeding the advice given to me for years and years: meditate.
When I did just a 5 minute meditation everything changed. You can read all about it here (and then stay for the guided meditations). I was able to transform a breakdown into a breakthrough.
Gawd, that sounds cheesy.
The truth is I was able to exert some amount of control over my life. I allowed my heart let go of some of its fears. I felt some of the natural insecurity subside. And everything started to become so…open.
I’ve done a lot of thinking recently about the walls I’ve built up around myself. The lack of dating. The refusal to engage flirtatiously with someone. The counter-intuitive pulling away if someone accidentally gets too close. But that refusal to dream big is far beyond just relationships and potentials. It’s how I’ve chosen to see my calling. How I’ve perceived my own personal power. How I’ve advanced my own dreams. I temper everything so either I don’t disappoint anyone or so I don’t have to experience disappointment either.
In this journey over the past 6 months, I feel like that openness has expanded beyond what I’ve ever achieved before. I can see and feel so much. And in so doing I’m starting to draw people toward me again. By reclaiming my passion, I’m able to give voice to a power within that has been cocooned away healing its wounds over the past few years.
I’m not a stranger to trauma. I’ve had more than my fair share over the past few years. It’s not fair and it’s not right. But the worst of it was in 2012. While there were a few noteably amazing things that happened that year, it overall was a devastating year. It was the last time I was able
to trust anyone or anything. Because even though I passed the bar that year, I was being torn apart by grief. Grief for an abusive brother (yes, you can grieve abusive people too).
Retraumatization showed up in so many forms compounded with heavier forms of secondary trauma thrown in. It had an impact of everything–from insomnia to flashbacks, to uncontrollable crying, to an inability to have sex at all. I really couldn’t function at all after the bar exam. To the point that i even injured my knees and ankles and have trouble walking for months. My body was reflecting my inner world.
This journey to where I am right now started when I was at my lowest then. When I thought I would never feel again, a few days before my birthday I had a dream that allowed me to believe that I would recover. That my soul would come back to life. It was so visceral and so real that 4 years later I can still feel the presence and subject of that dream in my everyday life.
So, let’s call that presence “The Druid”. Let’s say this presence has been growing in my awareness since that dream. Wild and controlled. He is an image from another dream years ago. He a priest of nature and me a priestess of love. Committed partners but both with the freedom to honor the organic connection that is created between people.
So since that day 6 months ago, it’s like this Druid spirit has been growing in influence in my life. I’ve been growing more weary of making my life conform to anyone else’s standards. I’m willing to honor consciously discussed agreements for my partners, but no longer willing to hide behind the walls. The Druid spirit calls me from behind my walls. He calls me to build myself back up again.
Every event that has happened to me has been for this: to find a path to rebuild and renew myself. Every obstacle in my path has been to get me closer to my true self, to find control over my surroundings, over my destiny. Everything as been to gain insight into who I really am–without the chamelon skin and delayed wishes.
It’s felt…big…all this time. But I have been impatient for results. And after having one of the hardest weeks on the job I’ve ever had, I took some clear time for myself. And honestly it has been about savoring the sweet joy of being present in the moment. To sit on the back porch at night feeling the breeze around me. To allow the sensations of life to permeate my life on a deeper level. To be completely emotionally open and honest with Warrior. All of these have been acts of radical self-love. A level I never thought I would achieve.
The lesson here is: Fear not for your path, my friends. Listen to the whispers in your heart, follow the light offered to you. Those whisper, that light and your trust– They will lead you home.