Category Archives: Spirituality
The more spiritual nature of my blog. No specific religion, but various means, methods and paths are represented here.
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.
A few weeks ago I talked briefly about being in the midst of an early personal spring. Whenever I have break-throughs like this, sudden realizations of patterns and purpose, I want nothing more than to capture that feeling, bottle it, keep it safe.
I keep wanting to capture these feelings, because I don’t want to be without that joy of discovery for very long. I don’t want to fall back into old patterns of self-doubt and disappointment about my life and especially my path. It would be so much easier if I could just bottle it and hang onto it for those moments when I’m down and out, succumbing to the darkness of the overwork and drowning in the sorrow of feeling stuck.
But that defeats the point of having those emotions in the first place. The point isn’t so much to capture as it is for it to make the hard work, the suffering, the darkness all worth it. It provides more motivation to keep moving forward, to slow down the progressive bad habits that have kept us stuck in the first place.
Today I found myself longing to capture that joy again. After a long conversation with the person I consider to be my soul sister, I had such a strong sense of clarity that even Warrior talked about how inspiring it was to see it.
I kept trying to capture it, to not lose it. Especially because it’s a day off for me and I don’t want the stressors of work tomorrow to interfere with the enormous job I have ahead of me. But that worry of losing it interfered with my ability to actually feel it. It took me out of the moment of joy and into an immediate space of worry and dread.
So tonight, I’m making a conscious effort to just be present in this moment and this sensation within. Enlightenment won’t make a difference if I don’t fully embrace it when it shows up.
I have to be able to capture this feeling. Elation. Joy. Gratitude. Pleasure. Freedom. Desire. Cosmic Awareness.
It’s been so long, friends since I last felt this joyful in myself. Confident and self-assured. Devoid of doubt for my purpose or of my voice. Absent are the rules that once restricted me. My body is empty of the worry that always consumes it and holds it hostage. My mind is free of the fear that accompanies my word. My heart so strong and self-possessed.
See, a few days ago, something broke open from within. I liken it to a hatched egg, but it was more like breaking free of a cocoon after nearly 10 years. It was a catharsis that I was convinced would never come.
February 2006 was a very different time for me and a very different version of me. A foolish and overwhelmed version of me. I always thought that the events of that year were designed to take me down a peg or two. Indeed, I had grown too full of myself and didn’t have the maturity to really see the 10 steps ahead that I needed to, so very caught up in the everyday poly drama, the attention, the successes.
But now I look back on that time in my life as resetting my path, resetting my calling, breaking down the towers that I had built for myself because they were built on top of shifting sands. Everything had to crash down for me to start over again.
Starting over sucks.
An inelegant and crass way to sum up the otherwise beautiful process of transformation. But as you go through it, the pain, the doubt, the impatience all wears you down until you don’t think there’s any “you” left at all. It breaks apart your identity to its smallest parts, examining it, discarding the corrupted and hurt bits.
The most painful part is letting go of the expectations you once had for yourself, the image you once had of yourself. We become attached to that image, not because it’s great or even accurate, but because it’s safe. That image we hold of ourselves is safe and familiar. And most of all it’s easy. It’s so damn easy in fact that we never think about changing it until something, like life, threatens to take away that part of our identity.
These crises of identity can happen for any reason and at any time. And while I paid a lot of lip service to the need for us to periodically confront these facets of self. I likened it to the Tower from Tarot. You spend your life building up this tower of self, the bricks and materials made of the knowledge, wisdom, beliefs and memories we had accumulated during our lifetime. This tower houses not just us, but everything that makes us special, unique and different. But then an event, a person, a cascade effect of choices comes in and knocks it all down, like a wrecking ball. Devastation and despair ensues. Chaos reigns. To the point that when it comes up in a reading, I’ve seen experienced tarot readers get scared.
But I had always thought that if I was proactive and took the opportunity to examine the bricks and tear apart my own tower I could avoid the headache and the mess that would have otherwise caught me off guard. I was going to be smarter than everyone else!
Until it happened to me. It wasn’t just being drugged, being outed, losing my job, or gaining a lot of weight. It was the impact on my family. It was the depression. It was the heartache and doubt. I thought life couldn’t get any lower. But then my spiritual husband and I broke apart for reasons that seemed important at the time but don’t make any sense to me now. But the worst of it started 4 years ago when my oldest son ran away. The events of that year, 2012, changed my life and broke me down even further than I thought I could be. If I had cracked, broken but mostly whole bricks before, I had dust falling through my hands afterward.
And there was no part of my identity that didn’t have to be rebuilt. Yes, I was still polyamorous, but it was a different poly that I had started with. Yes, I was still a mother, but what kind of mother would I be now? No, I was no longer Catholic, but what did my sense of faith look like now?
The question when it all falls apart, is what will I build in its place? And ordinarily I would turn to some sense of higher consciousness to access the answers I needed, but not this time. That was the brick that had been shattered and shamed, blamed and broken beyond all others. No guidance. No light. No purpose. Nothing.
I cocooned myself away from the world. Only minimally engaging with the people I like or admire.
Here I am, free once again. Free from a few of the beliefs that inhabited the stones and bricks of my tower. Values like sacrifice at all costs. Habits like pernicious negativity. Beliefs like being replaceable in people’s lives. So much has changed. And yet it feels entirely authentic and natural.
I can’t get over the feeling that the universe conspired this break down to reveal the wise, wild, vibrant woman bursting to come forth. No longer the girl mourning the loss of her youth, but the wholly invested queen ready to rule her life. I am discovering the dominant side of my switchiness. I am embracing the duality of my attractions to women and men. I know my limits but stretch my wings to try to overcome them. I am savoring the increase in attention from younger men.I am learning more about how to relax and just be. I love the grey in my hair, the wrinkles emerging under my eyes. I can feel the world in its wholeness again.
I feel renewed.
Welcome to Spring. My spring.
Today I went to lunch with a blast from my past. After nearly 12 years of not seeing one another, we reconnected over kids, family, careers and the horrid commute he has.
More than anything though we discussed our hometown and went over the happenings from high school. All of us have those conversations right? Talking about the good times we had and the stupid things we did and said to each other. We laugh it off as adults tend to do. And imagine the unsurpassing possibility that awaited us.
If I only knew then what I know now is usually the first thought. I would have warned myself to not leave that relationship or I would have gone to this college and not that one . I think we each want to have this conversation with the 13-18 year old version of ourselves. To issue those warnings, to save the far more idealistic version of ourselves the hurt and the pain.
This is something I wrote as an intro on an RP based site about who I really am. Thought I might share it here as well. A little slice of me:
I could say all the normal things, like the fact that I’m poly with two husbands (legal husband and I celebrate 11 years of marriage in May, poly husband and I celebrate 5 years together in May also). I also have two boys, ages 9 and 15 who are like night and day in terms of personality. I am also a lawyer, but practice my craft actually as a mediator. I’m in solo practice and it has been hard to swallow my pride and ask for help when it wasn’t taking off like I thought it might. I care deeply about many subjects and am passionate about following my spiritual path, which resonated quite easily with the Kushiel series and Naamah’s calling.
But what I enjoy sharing is that….I enjoy sharing my experience and life with others. At times I have been called aloof or hard to know, but I consider myself more accessible than that because once I feel comfortable with someone I am so open and vibrant with possibility.
I enjoy knowing the deeper parts of a person, so surface level conversations only hold my attention for so long. I enjoy getting into 3 hour conversations with someone over coffee talking politics, poly, law, family, education…anything other than finance. I geek out about books, movies, pop culture and love historical fiction and biographies. I love crossing genres and get happy when I see my favorite characters interact in my favorite worlds. I enjoy laughing but enjoy discovering purpose and messages of inspiration even more. I am a sensualist at heart but don’t do anything solely for the sale of pleasure. I demand that each and every thing I do have intense meaning ave purpose. I hate attention and spotlights, but love public speaking and connecting with a crowd particularly if it is to discuss anything that I am passionate about grocery for dangling participles–I am not passionate about that).
I am a belly dancer and it took a while before I was comfortable showing my belly since it is the part of myself that I hate the most. But once I make a decision to do something, even if it is embarrassing or shows my flaws and vulnerabilities to the world, I do it proudly. As a friend recently told me, I don’t do anything unless I know I am willing to go all in. I enjoy the gray areas of life, but don’t do anything half- assed. I am often seen as a skilled seductress, but only because I know how to remind someone how much they deserve to be loved for who they really are. Yet, I am genuinely shocked each time someone has declared their love for me.
I am attracted to all sorts of people and don’t use gender as part of my screening process. Each time I think I have a type, someone comes around to prove me wrong. I am attracted most to people who are witty and able to make me laugh without making it seen like a contest. I am attracted to people who express themselves with both elegance and humility. I love the risk-takers and adventurers even if I’m not always ready to join them. I love the stabilizers and steady lovers because they bring balance to my wild child whimsical fantasies. I love people who have chosen to be parents and who can hold a child’s rapt attention with a little bit of everyday magic and wonder. I like people who cook for me and are pleasantly surprised when i cook something well for them. I invest in people who likewise are willing to invest in me. I create a room in my heart for each person I meet, but few will ever get to see inside my internal boudoir. That space is reserved for only the most sacred of lovers and most honored of family.
I am comfortable delving into the vulnerable spaces of others with kindness and respect, but often can be hard on myself for any mistakes. I am easily embarrassed when I feel like I didn’t do something well and that tends to be a primary motivation: don’t make a fool of yourself, Bella. Most people don’t see it in me, but my vulnerability is often my greatest strength. I don’t mind baring my scars, my flaws and my hurts so others feel comfortable enough to do the same. But very few people ever see the truth of who I am…the wholeness of myself that I am so eager to accept in others. I willingly share my light with others; I don’t lose anything in that exchange. I walk through another’s darkness without fear and soothe the wounds I find along the way.
I take care to always remained dignified in almost any situation and I will only let loose with the closest of friends or lovers. I hate to be be embarrassed or in a situation where I feel I will come off as anything but what I want to project into the world. It often ends up that I am never as drunk/high/goofy/free as my friends are. I use the opportunity to take care of them and make sure they are well fed and transported safely home. I aim to be elegant in everything I do, everything I wear…but natural as well. I am a Colorado girl at heart and like to play in the snowflakes falling in my hair as easily as splashing into a mountain stream on a hot summer’s day. I aim each day to recognize the divinity in others and honor each person with compassion and kindness; i dont always succeed. I am forgiving of everyone except myself and work to create peace in my life. I hope one day to have touched another’s life and changed their world for the better, but too often i suspect my actions are too quiet or misdirected to have the impact i would like. Someday….someday i will make a difference and let the positive ripples of my soul touch and transform everything in it’s path with radiant and positive energy.
And while I sometimes dwell in my doubts, I do know who I am and embrace a life well lived.
Tonight, I watched a portion of the State if the Union address. I was inspired, particularly at the end where the President called upon the courageous acts of valor and the tragic ends found by so many children and families. I was so moved that i cried. I cried for those hearts and this country. Where did we go so wrong?
Afterward was the inevitable mocking of our President by pundits and armchair activists alike. The accusations that Obama is stepping outside his authority (he’s not). but the ones that really got to me were the many, many messages i saw on Facebook that again, push for more guns, more ammo, more ways with which to “protect” ourselves. It’s not just the message that is discouraging, it is the rage with which it is delivered. Read the rest of this entry
I am a forest, and a night of dark trees; but he who is not afraid of my darkness, will find banks full of roses under my cypresses.
I have always responded to the call of darkness. The lure. The fact that so many others are frightened of it pushes me deeper into the woods, into the caves of humanity to witness and share in the deeper parts of the psyche. But not just to witness, to stand guard, to lend strength, to share and participate and give the wounds salve until they heal. It’s not the draw of the macabre. It is the draw of desire and spirit. Pure and hallowed to delve deeper than the normal person would.
I serve the darker edges of humanity but specifically the wounds we carry. Wounds…be they physical, psychic or emotional tend to cause us the greatest amount of fear in our lives. And we guard our deepest, darkest fears more than anything in the world. Sure, you think about people who seem to wear their woundedness on their sleeve…almost boasting that they’ve suffered through life and are here to prove to humanity their strength. But what I’ve found is that they don’t put the greatest wounds on display…only the ones that they can wear without harm, without exposing the deeper ones that lay underneath. Those….those they guard fiercely and fight anyone who tries to disturb them.
The only superpower I really have is I am the person people trust with the greatest of their wounds. Their sorrows, their intense pain, their embarrassments, their sense of not-good-enough…these fears of divine dis-love that they try to keep secret from the rest of the world. They tell no one. Not their spouses. Not their lovers. Not their parents. But they tell me.
They tell me or rather….they show me. They creep slowly through the recesses of their psyche, the part they are barely aware of normally. The instinctual and immediate part of themselves that they can’t access unless someone trespasses against that territory. They invite me in. Grasping my hand for strength,clutching at the light that I bring with me for fear. Fear of the monsters laying in wait to overcome them and take control. Maybe if I’m there the monsters won’t attack. Won’t hurt them. Won’t try to take over their world.
And even now as I write this, I’m flooded with the memories of when this has happened. When I’ve seen all of someone, even the big, bad monster they thought they were holding at bay. The anger, the greed, the resentment, the frustration, the hurt, the deception…I’ve seen so much of it. And it is beautiful. It is beautiful because each person’s big, bad monster is an accumulation of humanity. It is a creation of our selves…and it is a part of ourselves. It is the part of ourselves that we’ve discarded, hoping that it will never return. Hoping that it will never find a way back into the light.
And I am overwhelmed with emotion because these people I have encountered have trusted me with it. With something so precious, so grotesque and fearsome…something that resembles them far more than they want to know.
Because at the end of that journey, I show them. I bring a light to the mirror and stand them next to their monster figure and show them…this is you….and I love you both. I love the monster and who you’ve tried to become in order to hide it. I love you both.
It is almost too much for them to bear. To feel that something so ugly within themselves can be loved and cherished. “Aren’t you afraid?” they inevitably ask me. How can I possibly be afraid? I can’t pretend to love someone without loving the fullness of who they are. And by embracing the beast I can now finally love the full person. Does the beast lash out? Yes. But only because it has been relegated to the darkness for so long it can no longer recognize how it feels to have light surround it and hold it safe.
But more than anything, I embrace the fullness of someone. Their light and dark…and I show that it is possible to melt the divide between light and dark within our own lives. That by embracing your own darkness and treating it with kindness and love that we heal the fears that placed it in the darkness to begin with…and that itself is love. True, abiding love for our own self.
This kind of healing isn’t a wound to be worn on the shoulder as evidence of your own bravery, to prove that you’ve suffered…it is one that glows from within and is embodied in your full presence and countenance. It is not a braggart’s courage,but a wounded soul who is now radiant with the joy of life. Nothing more needs to be said. No words are needed.
In an instant I can tell the difference between those who have walked through their darkness and embraced what they have found….and those who are still hiding it, protecting it and projecting the lesser wounds as their evidence of their “confidence”. I can tell…and the more one brags about their wounds, their victimization, their suffering, the more those words are just really big, giant “Keep OUT!” signs to loved ones and others that they will do everything in their power to keep their secret monsters safe and in the dark. They don’t trust themselves, they don’t trust their partners and they surely will never trust a professional to lead them to true healing. I don’t bother with them. They will continue to live a false life soaked in duality, an alchemy that falls flat and leaves them sour and needy.
No…I praise those who have done “the heavy lifting” and I await them at their next crossroads…when a new dark corner threatens to swallow them whole. I stand alone and wait for them to see me and invite me in when either everyone else has abandoned them or are too shallow to see the transformation, the little death, that must occur for them to heal and move forward.
And I am rewarded…like in the quote above…with roses and riches. Such beauty and such abundance of soul. I alone have been entrusted with their stories for I saw their darkness and did not run away or avoid it…I stood by them and loved them to the very end.
Today is my birthday. Birthdays aren’t normally about celebrations for me…or at least my own aren’t. It would take too long to explain how my birthday ritual came to be…or how it grew into what it was last night/this morning. But I take advantage of my seasonal affect disorder (SAD) to willingly enter into a dark night of the soul each and every year just before my birthday. I reflect on the past year, atone for my mistakes and open myself to divine presence in order to set the goals and path for the coming year. It is a ritual that developed naturally over the years and now is a yearly vigil I choose to keep.
This year was harder than most. I turned 35 today and I have had myself convinced since the age of 7 that I would not ever make it past 35. So if that intuition is to be believed then I’ve set up a situation where I’ve put a great deal of pressure on myself to make this year and hence this birthday really count.
So I decided I would actually walk people through the ritual from start to finish and share a few of the guiding messages I received.
December 15, 2012 1:40 am
(terribly sorry for the small pictures. I uploaded this from my ipad and didn’t think they’d turn out this small–Maybe I’ll edit with larger photos)
Tonight is not a short ritual. Tonight I feel the power pour through me, tonight I shall bless myself with each element: earth, air, fire, water.
Earth: crystals and sacred sand from Chimayo. Herbs: mint, balm & Irish moss
Water: water in a pitcher, holy water from Medjugorje and wine (although just as much earth there)
Fire: candles of every variety
Tonight I start from chaos:
Read the rest of this entry
*I posted this late last week on FetLife. I was asked to publish this in a larger forum where they could more easily link to the content for people who might have FetLife blocked or just aren’t members. With over 300 “loves” and 100+ comments and countless personal emails and messages I agree that this is worth sharing with a much wider audience.
I’ve also added a trigger warning on the title for those who are survivors of sexual assault whether in or out of the scene. However, there is no cut to protect against the triggers.*
I’ve been part of the BDSM community for 8 years and the Denver community for 6 years. There was a time when I was new. And when you’re new you do some pretty stupid things.
When I was new I agreed to play with someone who told me he’d listen to and respect my boundaries, even though every conversation seemed to revolve around how great he thought he was. When I sent him my personal narrative about the “whys” of my limits, he told me “well, that was more than I ever needed to know”. But you know, I made a commitment to be there and I didn’t want to back out since absolutely no one else expressed an interest in playing with me (before the days of FetLife). When we played I safeworded, calling Red, three times only to have him to continue the exact thing that I said I didn’t want on the spot that was already sore, the very thing I negotiated as off-limits and for the DMs to walk by or watch oblivious even when in earshot of “Red”. He ended the scene by shoving three fingers up my cunt as my face is covered in snot and tears and asking me if I liked it, expecting to be able to start on my front-side since it was clear he wasn’t done.
I told him I was done and was non-verbal the rest of the night. I didn’t confront him because it was clear that he enjoyed himself, chiding me for not being able to take more…that more would be expected of me next time. And the gall that he thought there would even be a next time combined with the passive aggressive insult that I wasn’t a good submissive, that I didn’t give my all, that I was lacking in some respect told me that he would only try to justify his poor choices and blame me if I confronted him head-on or publicly about what he did. I was a nobody in Denver at the time nor did I feel strong enough in myself to not only endure having been outed but to also be unwelcome in a community I wanted to be a part of. Who would ever listen to me?
But the fact is, I wasn’t wrong to trust and communicate when things were going badly. I wasn’t wrong to trust someone who was in such a position of authority. I wasn’t wrong to communicate when there was a problem (screaming Red counts!). The only thing I really did wrong was wait so long to really talk about this.The parallels between that and my rape are too sad when you think about it. Much like when I had been raped 16 years ago while hanging out with my friends in their dorm room, I didn’t tell others until much later (although I did make a post about it on LJ back then–but no locals were on there at the time). Much like the people who witnessed my rape and heard my “No” (and who jacked off as it was happening), no one stepped in to stop it, even when they had a duty to do so. And like 16 years ago I didn’t confront him, but just made sure to avoid him or anyone closely connected with him. As a person I tend to always put blame on myself and I definitely did for this.
What prompted this? It isn’t to publicize his mistakes. It’s to share an experience that, much like the date rape I survived, is far more common and one where I see a lot of others wrestling with whether they should say something or just keep quiet. What’s worse is I see others who continue to act badly, who take no responsibility for their actions or the impact they might have on others (particularly in a public space) and continue to act as if they are the ones who are victimized whenever anyone wants to address their behavior. I’ve had enough. It is precisely the pattern of consume-destroy-silence-shame- Repeat that is hurting members of our community and I’ve had enough. Particularly with the influx of people coming to BDSM from 50 Shades I am quite concerned about the model we are setting for those who have unrealistic expectations to start–but who genuinely feel a draw to practice what we do. What responsibility are we going to take as a community?
I know I’m not the only one who has noticed this. Hell, we wouldn’t have had to have hosted a FuK Yes! party if everything was working smoothly and people weren’t getting hurt by the same limited few who continue on this path of consumption and destruction. We needed the community conversation and we need a LOT more of them. That conversation needs to continue but more than anything it needs to be followed by action.
The do-nothing or the no-drama response is cowardly, irresponsible and does not actually fix anything. Nor does crying foul when someone is told they are no longer welcome at a particular venue or event. Nor does retaliation when you or a friend has been asked to stop a particular behavior such as touching things and people who aren’t yours or the obvious stalking. Nor does shaming or silencing someone who decides to speak out about their experience whether privately or publicly.
For those on the “we just don’t know what really happened” or “we don’t have enough evidence yet” fence let me clarify how utterly insulting and insidious that response really is. First of all, there are very few of us in the community who have a law degree even fewer of us who are trained to be third-party neutrals. So to suggest that our community is even qualified to hear or evaluate evidence in any sort of neutral, balanced way is fucking ridiculous. And to sluff it off as if there is some magic organization that we created or even trust to sort out the problems in our community is invincibly ignorant. Then to imply that it is the survivor’s burden to bring forth that evidence in sufficient quantity (judged by whom?) suggests that justice basically consists of victim-shaming, silencing and outright dismissal until some superior (that we haven’t actually designated) finally decides that the complaint is “worthy” of listening to. And in those rare cases where the perpetrator was you know, -really, really bad- then we won’t say anything about it publicly, but we’ll have some agreement (not always involving the actual stake-holders) on how we will deal with that person. Probation? Supervised by whom? Suspension? Outing?
At the risk of repeating the obvious, here is another link to the article “The Missing Stair”. Pretending you are dealing with the problem by ignoring the problem or rationalizing why it’s not a problem is akin to denial. And it’s what many families who are confronted with an allegation of sex abuse from within do as well. Denial, shaming and victim-blaming is anything but healthy because abuse is abuse. We as a family, we as a community are in denial and people will continue to be hurt until we wake the fuck up.
Yet when people who have woken up, who are doing something about the problem such a party host, a bystander or community leader who confronts someone either privately or publicly with an issue, the backlash is extraordinary. Whether it was the person who was confronted or their merry band of misfits who do the retaliation, it actively discourages others who felt the same from speaking up and standing up. But more than that it affirms the original perpetrator’s lack of remorse or empathy and allows the wrong behavior to continue as a pattern harming more people along the way. Tell me how that is called responsible, much less safe or sane?? And yet, we continue to invite them or at least tolerate them in public spaces despite their alarming lack of concern for the consequences of their own actions. We have acquiesced and turned a blind eye and yet we have no problem judging other institutions such as churches who do the exact same thing.
The minute they are called out on it, they are on the attack instead of taking any amount of energy to determine whether these people might actually be right and to embark on a journey of self-awareness and knowledge. Much like the man who violated my safeword, they become oppositional the moment they are confronted with wrong-doing and use every tool in their rationalization tool box to assert themselves as the actual victim. But that blame-shifting in order to avoid actually confronting themselves and looking within. It’s a defense mechanism, a wobbly, crooked, and sharp one that has been honed by years of people stepping out of its way instead of stopping it. And the more we allow these behaviors to continue the more we are the ones perpetuating the problem instead of solving it.
Lack of self-awareness in a partner is a deal-breaker for me. A non-starter. And I had stopped playing publicly (even though I really love it) because I continued to encounter people, including the man I spoke of, whose shocking lack of basic remorse, empathy or cognizance makes them a danger. I do not trust their judgment and want them nowhere near my personal space. I have survived too many violations to my very reasonable boundaries and limits to simply “tolerate” those who have violated others. Nor am I the only one who feels this way.
Look, I deal with conflict. It’s my job. It’s a job I chose. And it’s not that I don’t encourage us to deal with our problems peacefully in private with education or healing conversations. What I’m saying is that the people who are actually doing this have been confronted privately and they continue to engage in this behavior and worse yet, they try to lean on those who were trying to be understanding and compassionate about lapses in judgment by wrongly assuming we are on their side.
I know confrontation is scary to everyone. Everyone has their hackles raised. It’s uncomfortable and it’s hard. And those, like me, who normally are more willing to accommodate and accept blame rather than make anyone feel bad about themselves are the least likely to do it. So we take the passive way out…we remove ourselves from the community, we throw up our hands and wait for someone else to take care of it. We limit ourselves waiting for someone to step up to fix the broken stair.
I am no longer willing to wait for everyone else to wake up to this problem. And I support those who tell problem players that they are not welcome. I’m happy to shut doors of opportunity, pulling away welcome mats to those who continue to violate others and act without regard to the consequences of their actions. No more skipping over that stair for me.
Personal responsibility, integrity and awareness are everything.
(Other articles for useful reading: