I absolutely loved this post and have considered writing one of my own for quite some time. I’m probably going to end up sharing way too much here, but you know, I believe in authenticity. I believe in honoring one’s own truth. I believe in honoring each other’s journeys so I share a little of mine.
I remember the first inkling I had that I was attracted to women was when I was in 6th grade…in Catholic school. I was heavily Catholic. Believed in and practiced the Church’s teachings to the fullest extent possible. Believed with my whole soul. And back in the early 90’s, bisexuality wasn’t really a thing yet. Not like it is now. I chastized myself heavily for even looking at other girls, for thinking anything sexual about them at all. Read the rest of this entry
I’ve been struggling to write this post for a few weeks now. Ever since I learned that I passed the bar exam in my state, I have been struggling with how to write about it. How to reconcile it to what I’ve believed about myself for so long and more than anything deciding what to do with myself now.
This picture jumped out at me as I was trying to find a way to describe how I felt about taking the bar exam again. Taking the exam, while not the most important thing in the world, is a monumental and scary rite of passage. I was being asked to cross a chasm separating two immense mountains. The first is the mountain of my experience as a student. I had faced failure, faced success and conquered it all. The other mountain was the mountain of my profession. Several have crossed this path before. It shouldn’t be that hard…but the fall is so great if you’re unsuccessful that it’s daunting to even consider reaching that mountain. And that path, a tiny bridge between two worlds so similar but so very different looks as if the moment you step upon it, you’ll plummet to your doom.
The first time I took the bar exam I was full of confusion, hatred for the path and resentment. I fell and I fell hard. I didn’t pass the first time. I have used tons of excuses over the years to explain why I fell (“I was pregnant at the time”, “I was buying a house”), but the honest reason is I wasn’t sure I wanted to be on that mountain. After I fell, after I gave birth, I climbed back up to that precipice to try once more. But again, I lacked commitment and purpose (yes, even I lacked purpose). I allowed myself to become distracted and in truth I did a lot to sabotage myself because the same month I was supposed to take the exam is the same month my husband and I became polyamorous. Looking back on it, I can see why I fell, why I failed the bar that year. But nevertheless I was in that chasm dividing these two mountains.
Earlier today I got an annoying message on Facebook from a HS acquaintance who wanted to correct me for the stance I have taken on gay rights and specifically same-sex marriage. I posted my response to my feed there but I decided that I wanted to take it a bit further and just keep saying it loud:
Obviously we need a reminder. Let’s be clear, I am a supporter of same-sex marriage. I am an advocate for equal rights for all people. And so I don’t react well when someone wants to “take me to task” for my beliefs.
For all the people trying to make this a religious argument–that marriage is a “religious act” that government should have no part of, then I highly suggest you make your actions match your words and reject any and all government benefits you receive for being married. I challenge you to file your 2012 taxes as “single”, to divide your property according to contract law and purchase your own insurance instead of benefiting from your spouse and to be subjected to a custody evaluation to ensure that you are fit parents for your children. Go out today and make a will that doesn’t rely on presumptions of law. Hire an attorney to draw up any powers of attorney you might need in the event of an unforeseen disaster. Oh and be sure that if you are asked to testify against your spouse in a court of law that you don’t invoke spousal privilege or marital immunity. Go on. If marriage is only a religious rite/right then this should be no problem…rejecting all the ways in which your marriage is entangled with government and getting government out of the way.
You can’t have it both ways.
If you’re unwilling to to give up your benefits for the status of your relationship then you better be willing to extend those same benefits to everyone else who has made just as sacred a commitment to their spouse as you have. They are prevented, by law, from obtaining a marriage license in order to have the same legal recognition as you. Why? Because of the gender of the person they have felt compelled to pledge their life to. A simple matter of gender and that somehow is enough to restrict their ability to enjoy the same benefits and certainties as you. Sorry, but marriage is not a private matter, not when so many governmental treats flow from that change in status.
The God I believe in loves unconditionally and blesses each of us unconditionally. You lose nothing in this deal except the peace of mind that the peculiar combination of your boy parts and girl parts make you special in the eyes of the law and in the eyes of God. Just like colleges, businesses and clubs were forced to open their doors to women or to men and women of color, you wrap your institutional identity so tightly around this concept of “specialness” that you feel you might lose your identity if others are allowed into the club.
Stop acting so persecuted and petulant. Recognize the privilege you have and extend that with grace and compassion to others.
This morning I participated in an online “oneness” meditation with hundreds of other people from around the country. While others had this immense feeling of well, oneness, and awakening, I felt something that has been virtually inaccessible to me for the past several years: my own light. I get glimpses of it from time to time, it shines through brightly only to fade silently into the twilight of my own fears and anxieties. While I have been a healer to others over the years, able to see the invisible energy centers twirling and dancing within, I’ve never been able to see my own. Until the meditation today.
Today I sat in the silence of my own truth and was able to see why I’ve grown so distant from myself, why it has been so hard for me to trust…not just others, but in particular myself and my own skills. Here is what I saw: Read the rest of this entry
I awoke from a nightmare early this morning. Yes, yes…it was just a dream, but you know how those images stay with you? How the emotions stirred up in a dream haunt and disturb you in your waking life? This isn’t the first time I have had this dream…but it was the first time I tracked it to its source. It is sunrise, I am awake. And I am grateful.
Having slept poorly for the past few weeks I couldn’t imagine anything worse than having to wake up at 5:30 in the morning screaming and crying. I’ve woken up in part because my dreams have me work even harder than I have to in real life. Chasing down leads, following evidence, questioning my every move. It’s exhausting. And this morning I finally came face-to-face with the entity causing all this turmoil in my nightmares, the client I had been “serving” …a very cunning, old and yet wise giant spider. A Queen of Deception set on ensnaring me in her trap.
I am arachnophobic. So let that sit for a moment. And one of my greatest fears is being trapped.
I saw her through a slit in a wall after taking all her advice, after chasing down every lead. And there she was. In all her grotesque beauty. Disturbed and scared I woke up screaming “Never Again!” And in the dark before the dawn, I finally understand it.
In my waking life, just like in my sleeping life, I have been chasing down task after task. But like in my dreams, I have been doing these things, not to serve my higher self, but instead to serve my fears. These tasks, these duties, these actions have not brought me to higher awareness or achievement, but have only served to reinforce the lowest of myself: my fears.
And my response, just like in my moments where I awoke screaming is the same: never again. Never again will I pursue the “safe” path in order to assuage and protect my fears. Never again will I second-guess my motives, my actions, my very life or lifestyle choices to serve and defend the basest of ideas. Never again.
Fear is the antithesis of love. Once it enters into a relationship it stands in opposition of love…questioning it, distrusting it, suspecting it, doubting it. But I don’t want to be known as a woman of fear. I want to be known as a woman of love. I want it to flow out of every corner of my being. It is what I want to give to my clients, my projects, my family, my enemies. I want Love to prevail. Not fear.
All this chasing. All this turmoil had a purpose. And I will take it…
The dawn indeed is quite beautiful.
It’s been a while and there is so much to discuss (Prop. 8 decision, bar exam, queer kinksters of color, polyamory, scening, upstart fucktards who pretend to give a shit but are really masking their own insecurity and narcissism, etc). But I’ve had a few epiphanies over the past few days and weeks that I think a few of you might be able to relate to, so I thought I would share.
Most of you reading don’t know me quite well. I often make that mistake when writing here. I forget sometimes that this isn’t LiveJournal where strangers become friends through investing in and commenting to a piece of writing that they see in the safe space of “Friends Only”. Here I’m utterly exposed (which should explain the lack of photos on this site—maybe I’ll add one just for some flair) and you have no context for why I’m saying the things I do or what I’ve gone through in my journey. You only get scant pieces of the puzzle. Some of you do know me, but not enough of you to be able to fully relate to my experiences or perspectives. I’ve been very pampered on LiveJournal with a small little following (that once peaked at 500 followers) that were eager to gobble up the latest slice of drama that I had to dish out. Drama Diner Special of the Week.
So here is some context: Once upon a time I was a dating a man in Texas. I was his first openly poly experience and he was my first stable poly experience. He was the first man I ever called husband other than my actual husband. It was a fantastic life, separated by way too much distance. He had someone in his life that was a thorn in my side…sometimes more than that, more often less than that. He had been dating her when we met and dropped her shortly after and now he is back with her after our relationship became flaming shards of the happiness we once knew.
During my relationship with him I had gotten mad about something she said or did and she emailed me. I don’t even remember the full content of what she wrote but the line that I do recall is “You create your own drama”. It set me off faster than anything I had experienced before. Next thing I knew I was raving through my office, unloading my anger and rage on every piece of paper and furniture I could find.
That’s how most of us react when we hear a truth about ourselves that we don’t like. That’s how most of us react when it’s shoved in our face so unceremoniously. It’s a shadowy side of denial.
Yes, I said truth. I didn’t admit it at the time, but I….she….he…all of us create our own drama. We choose to see the world a certain way through our own lens of experience. We justify our version of this vision with the victimization we think we’ve endured. It’s not that I create drama, I would say to the imaginary version of her, if you’d stop bringing it to my door there wouldn’t be any drama. Lookie there, me making myself the victim in all of that. In truth, I was indeed creating it or at the very least feeding it, in that particular scenario because I was intervening in a fight, argument or situation that frankly was none of my business and had nothing to do directly with me. In other scenarios it was because I thought I was defending a loved one. In others it’s because I wanted to make my opinion known (as if somehow my opinion is superior to anyone else’s). And in others I was reacting with the first impulse that came into my head that I wasn’t making conscious choices that would benefit me in the long-run.
I take responsibility for the fact that I built my polyamorous relationships to be inter-dependent, to have a sense that what impacts my loves, affects me as well and vice versa. But I think this was taking the idea of interdependence a bit too far. Too often my partners or I would literally take a statement made to one of us as a personal affront against all of us. We all lost potential partners over this…over this insistence of creating our own drama or at the very least prolonging the already existing drama.
But it’s not just when the “honor” of a loved one is at stake, we do it in our everyday lives. We take it all personally usually because we’re either prone to seeing ourselves as the victim or we are insistent that we are not the villain. We do it in such a variety of ways I’m sure we hardly notice it. That guy who cut you off on the highway this morning, I’m sure you’re convinced he did it on purpose. The bill collectors who won’t leave you alone have absolutely nothing to do with the fact that you are overwhelmed with the amount of debt you have; they’re harassing you! The friend who is upset with you for not calling on their birthday just needs to get over the fact that you’re just way too busy and important to be attentive to their needs. I mean, like OMG, can you really believe how horribly mistreated and misunderstood you are? And it’s you and only you, right?
See, everyday we make excuses for our behavior and thoughts. We point fingers at the alarm clock that wouldn’t go off, at the boss who just doesn’t like you, at the overbearing mother who won’t respect boundaries (my personal go-to), at the ex who judges you for everything you say, at the kids who just don’t respect your authority. It’s all excuses. We constantly say how “drama-free” we want to be, but we rarely consider how often we are pulling ourselves into that drama, creating it from the ground up with our reactions and often over-reactions to things. How sometimes we’re making excuses to cover up for our own fears and insecurities, our own mistakes and inadequacies. We figure the world is going to judge us, so we judge them first. We impose our self-righteous rage on them before they can point out that we brought this upon ourselves.
Kids, we let drama get to us because it gives us the satisfaction of feeling like we are right. In this big, bad world of unfairness and inequity we are constantly subjected to people and situations that are out of our control. By giving in to drama and creating it we feel some power even in the midst of an acclaimed powerlessness. We can stomp our foot and stand our ground no matter how ridiculous the issue or insignificant the battle. And let’s face it, drama even when it’s self-imposed is exciting. It brings up rage and anger, euphoria and competitiveness. It gets the blood pumping and keeps us on our toes. And when we get really good at creating it, we know just what buttons to push to make it a show-stopping worthy display. And when someone isn’t bringing it to us, we resort to trolling our own lives to create it. Regardless, it gives us a reason to check twitter every 10 minutes, to ignore the mundaneness of laundry and dishes and fills the space left when our favorite tv shows (like MadMen or Walking Dead) are on an extended hiatus. It’s living on the edge: a maddening, harsh and wantonly critical precipice.
But there is a difference between feeling like you’re right and actually doing what’s right. What happens when you realize that living on the edge isn’t what it’s cracked up to be? What happens when you finally want to grow some roots into solid, soft soil?
The past few weeks have been eye-opening about the bar exam. If you want to really examine a drama of my own creation it is that one. I have made every excuse in the world for why I didn’t pass back in 2003 and 2004. And some of those excuses actually were self-critical judgements of my own decisions and lifestyle choices that created its own massive amount of drama. When a former professor told me two months ago that I could pass the bar exam this year I started really examining what that might look like. It’s not about luck. It’s not about whether I’m smart enough. It’s about letting go of all of the drama I had and was continuing to create about it. Being on the precipice of success and failure was no longer cutting it for me.
I was presented with a choice.
I could choose the same old life: living paycheck to paycheck because my law degree makes me overqualified for most types of jobs and I’m simultaneously underqualified for other gigs. Or I could choose something different. I could go through the hard process of figuring out where my problem areas are and I could get up and try again. I could keep calling myself a failure or I could stand up and create my success.
We each have a choice. We have a choice to step back from the edge, stop listening to the whispers in the wind, start to care only about those arguments and battles that truly have an impact on our passions and well-being and address those issues like adults. All it takes is finally making choices that match our intentions of “no drama”.
Feeding into the larger drama machine only keeps you trapped in a world where there are only victims and villains. Life isn’t a fairy tale. There is not good vs. evil. There is not a battle between the wicked queen and the innocent princess. But our cultural story encourages each of us to view ourselves as the victim of our situation. We even compete with each other to see who is most victimized and therefore most deserving a 2nd chance. But what happens when we acknowledge that we are not just victim but villain as well. What if this whole time we’ve been playing against ourselves? What if we have been playing out this grand drama inside us so we can avoid facing those insecurities, doubts, fears and troubles that have grown from our experiences? What if we are really sabotaging ourselves, our dreams, our relationships? What might you be able to accomplish if you spent that time fixing the drama within yourself?
Several years ago I was working with students at a local low-income middle school who were aiming to make something more of themselves. When asked who Martin Luther King, Jr. was they responded uncertainly with “he freed the slaves?” I wasn’t quite appalled, because it’s not surprising that most kids don’t understand the impact this man and those who have been inspired by him had on their everyday life. They know he did something important, but they just don’t understand how significant that impact is on them.
He has been an inspiration to me since I was in 4th grade. We were required to find significant quotes from him and create a poster with those quotes. While I was indeed inspired by the “I Have a Dream” speech, that wasn’t the one that stood out for me. Instead, what I was drawn to were his speeches about love. I may have been the only one that year who used this quote. Later in college he was assigned reading for my philosophy courses. And his 1963 “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” is still one of the most influential pieces I have read.
We owe it to ourselves and our communities to not just honor this man today, but to actively continue his work in each sector of life. To forge peace in our relationships with our loved ones. To recognize the interconnectedness of humanity in our dealings in everyday society. And to require of our leaders and policy-makers to reflect these values with each decision they make.
So say we all:
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction…The chain reaction of evil — hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars — must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.” Strength To Love, 1963