When Discomfort Silences: The Importance of Owning Your Feelings

In Emi Koyama’s short and brilliant essay from 2011, Reclaiming “victim”: Exploring alternatives to the heteronormative “victim to survivor” discourse, she addresses the societal issue with the identifying as a victim.

Many people prefer the word “survivor” to “victim” because “survivor” feels strong and proactive. I understand that, as that is precisely how I felt for a long time also, but I am starting to think that we need to honor and embrace weakness, vulnerability, and passivity as well, or else we end up blaming and invalidating victims (including myself) who do not feel strong some or most of the times.

The society views victimhood as something that must be overcome. When we are victimized, we are (sometimes) afforded a small allowance of time, space, and resources in order to recover–limited and conditional exemptions from normal societal expectations and responsibilities–and are given a different set of expectations and responsibilities that we must live up to (mainly focused around getting help, taking care of ourselves, and recovering). “Healing” is not optional, but is a mandatory process by which a “victim” is transformed into a “survivor”; the failure to successfully complete this transformation results in victim-blaming and sanctions.

This is the so-called “victim role,” an extension of sociologist Talcott Parsons’ theory of “sick role.” The society needs victims to quickly transition out of victimhood into survivorship so that we can return to our previous positions in the heteronormative and capitalist social and economic arrangements. That, I believe, is the source of this immense pressure to become survivors rather than victims, a cultural attitude that even many feminist groups have internalized.

I have to be careful, lest I quote the whole essay because it’s all worth reading. So go read it.

The ONE issue I have with it that really needs to be addressed is in her final paragraph:

I argue that feminist anti-violence movements and communities must embrace unproductive whining and complaining as legitimate means of survival in a world that cannot be made just by simply changing our individual mentalities. We must acknowledge that weakness, vulnerability, and passivity are every bit as creative and resilient as strength and activeness.

A hearty and grand hear-hear to acknowledging the importance of weakness, vulnerability, and passivity. It is the idea, however, that whining and complaining are unproductive that needs to be addressed.

I argue that whining and complaining ARE productive. They ARE legitimate and important forms of emotional self-expression. Yes, people can seem to get stuck there for longer than we’d like, sometimes for longer than they’d like, sometimes they can be stuck there for the rest of their lives. BUT this essay is not about that; it’s about everyone else around them.

The problem with whining and complaining being seen as unproductive is that it shows that the listeners, the supporters, are NOT dealing with their own discomfort and are not taking ownership over their own feelings. What happens is that they then either blame the victim by telling the victim to stop whining and complaining because the victim is making them uncomfortable and that no one wants to hear it, telling the victim that it’s unproductive and that she needs to pull out of it and move on, or they begin avoiding the “complainer”, instead of doing the courageous thing of owning up to their own discomfort. Avoidance isolates the victim. Poorly handling your discomfort isolates the victim.

When we do not own up to our own feelings of discomfort and openly share where our own boundaries are, we do a great disservice to our friends (or clients) and to ourselves.

“I know you need to express where you’re at emotionally and I don’t want to silence you. I want to support you. I need to share that I’m having a difficult time with what I perceive as being whining and complaining and I’m stuck between wanting to tell you to stop and wanting to not be around you. I don’t want you to feel like you can’t talk to me and I also don’t want to abandon you. I don’t really know what to do about this, except to share where I’m at emotionally with what you’re sharing with me.”

Diligent care needs to be taken in situations like these because even in owning your feelings, you may come up against a response from your friend wherein she feels that your emotional expression is passive aggressive manipulation or blackmail or she feels shut down because you have a problem with how she is expressing her situation. There is no easy answer to this. There aren’t any magical formulas. However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t own where you are. Please keep in mind, though, that owning where you are and expressing that to your friend-in-need are two different things. Ownership is recognition and acknowledgement that you feel a certain way because that’s how you feel, rather than putting the onus on others not to make you feel a certain way. No one has control over how you feel. Likewise, you cannot control how others feel.

When we fail to have good boundaries and when we fail to engage in the self-care of owning our own discomfort, we end up victim-blaming, isolating, and abandoning our friends who are looking to us for much-needed support.

They already feel the weight of shame and anger and violation and fear/terror and a host of other things they have a hard time dealing with. Do not dump your issues on them and make them contend with your stuff AND their stuff.

How not to say the wrong thing by Susan Silk and Barry Goldman shows how to deal with your own issues when tending to a friend in a hard situation: It works in all kinds of crises — medical, legal, even existential. It’s the ‘Ring Theory’ of kvetching. The first rule is comfort in, dump out. Read it. Deal with your own stuff as related to your friend’s difficult situation so it doesn’t make things worse for your friend. Take care of your own needs.

Why is it important to deal with your own discomfort? Because in whining and complaining, a victim is expressing and vocalizing her emotional perspective. When you tell her to move on or to stop being a victim, when you tell her to stop her “unproductive” complaining because you don’t want to hear it, because “no one wants to hear it”, you are contributing to her victimization by silencing her. Don’t do this. Victims are so often deprived of their voice. Be supportive as they work to take it back.

Aborting the Birth of a Healer

I follow Dreamwork with Toko-Pa on Facebook because she posts beautiful artwork and insightful commentary. I appreciate her perspective immensely. Last week, she posted this:

In the shamanic view, mental illness signals “the birth of a healer,” explains Malidoma Patrice Somé. Thus, mental disorders are spiritual emergencies, spiritual crises, and need to be regarded as such to aid the healer in being born:

And then she linked to an article called The Shamanic View of Mental Illness (featuring Malidoma Patrice Somé) by Stephanie Marohn. The following selection, under the subtitle of What a Shaman Sees in A Mental Hospital, is what is most relevant to my experience.

 

On the mental ward, Dr Somé saw a lot of “beings” hanging around the patients, “entities” that are invisible to most people but that shamans and psychics are able to see.  “They were causing the crisis in these people,” he says.  It appeared to him that these beings were trying to get the medications and their effects out of the bodies of the people the beings were trying to merge with, and were increasing the patients’ pain in the process.  “The beings were acting almost like some kind of excavator in the energy field of people.  They were really fierce about that.  The people they were doing that to were just screaming and yelling,” he said.  He couldn’t stay in that environment and had to leave.

Schizophrenia3

In the Dagara tradition, the community helps the person reconcile the energies of both worlds–“the world of the spirit that he or she is merged with, and the village and community.”  That person is able then to serve as a bridge between the worlds and help the living with information and healing they need.  Thus, the spiritual crisis ends with the birth of another healer.  “The other world’s relationship with our world is one of sponsorship,” Dr. Somé explains.  “More often than not, the knowledge and skills that arise from this kind of merger are a knowledge or a skill that is provided directly from the other world.”

The beings who were increasing the pain of the inmates on the mental hospital ward were actually attempting to merge with the inmates in order to get messages through to this world.  The people they had chosen to merge with were getting no assistance in learning how to be a bridge between the worlds and the beings’ attempts to merge were thwarted.  The result was the sustaining of the initial disorder of energy and the aborting of the birth of a healer.

“The Western culture has consistently ignored the birth of the healer,” states Dr. Somé.  “Consequently, there will be a tendency from the other world to keep trying as many people as possible in an attempt to get somebody’s attention.  They have to try harder.”  The spirits are drawn to people whose senses have not been anesthetized.  “The sensitivity is pretty much read as an invitation to come in,” he notes.

 

It has been a challenging and difficult winter for me. Spring has been no easier. My sensitivity has increased dramatically over the past year, and that has been read as an invitation. Because I had specific, pertinent knowledge prior to my series of ‘spiritual emergencies’ of the past several months, I have managed to stay out of a mental hospital, but it came close a few times. It is tiring and exhausting work to maintain the perception of relative sanity to all but a few people (most of whom have been extremely supportive). This perception must be maintained because of the stigma of mental illness in this culture. Not only is mental illness sometimes caused by spiritual disturbances that need tending to but which are ignored or utterly dismissed as delusion, people who have issues with their mental stability have to go undercover lest they shoulder the exasperating and additionally wearisome burden of discrimination from people who are ill-informed and do not wish to correct that.

Screen Shot 2014-06-16 at 1.53.08 PM

 

When one has the inclination towards becoming a healer and has had that inclination all one’s life, complete with a significant interest in shamanism specifically, but lacks the training necessary to cope with all that is coming one’s way, there is a certain level of naïvety. Things start out a certain way. It’s exciting. It’s very positive. It feels amazing. Not euphoric, mind you. Not mania-levels of amazing, just really good and happy, like things are moving in the right direction, and you’re finally going to make substantial in-roads towards making a lasting, positive difference in the world as a career path. It feels like this:

large

 

Everything is shiny! Everything is happy! Look at their innocent faces. There is momentum! Everything is good and you are at peace, taking it all as it comes. But I will tell you this. After months upon months of trying to keep up appearances and not knowing where to turn for the sort of training one needs in order to handle such a confusing onslaught of beings, energies, influences, etc., it becomes wearing, particularly when those beings, energies, influences are hellbent on exploiting any ounce of negativity and emotionality in one’s system — targeting the weak points in order to draw attention to them. The centre cannot hold. Things fall apart in one way or another. It feels like this:

No-Ash-I-chews-you

 

It becomes a lived shamanic dismemberment experience. It is intense, traumatic, and not a process I ever wish to repeat. It has also been extremely useful and productive, and I am deeply grateful that this pain has had purpose. With the help of some supportive friends and a small handful of healers and helpers, I have managed to tend to and to begin in earnest a journey that is healing some of the most wounded parts of myself. It’s not a pretty process. There’s nothing tidy, nice, or pleasant about it. There is a lot of grieving. It is very private. There is a lot of crying involved because of the need to release. I hate crying.

I have been able to take this prolonged situation that, in many ways, could have been construed as being quite negative and very dark and turn it into something productive and useful. I am the sort of person who stubbornly refuses not to use every experience as a learning experience. There is a reason for everything, and no we don’t always get to know what that reason is. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a valid and important reason why any given thing happens. And yes, sometimes that reason is because we are stupid and make bad decisions, but still. Reason. And it’s hellishly painful, at times, too — both to be told there is a reason for bad things when nothing seems reasonable in this world and to actually experience those unreasonably bad things. It might serve us to toy with reframing ‘bad,’ choosing instead to call it ‘hard’. Hard is not necessarily bad. Good is not necessarily easy. There are so many shitty experiences that life has to offer each one of us, but those experiences teach us so much for the rest of our lives if we open ourselves to them rather than shutting them out, abjectly refusing to look at them to see if there’s anything useful there to learn. (There always will be.) We’re afraid of the pain, not realizing that, by avoiding it, we’re making it more painful than it needs to be, whatever “it” is.

And you know what? It’s ok to be afraid of the pain, and it’s ok to avoid. It’s necessary at times. It’s life-saving at times. But avoidance is meant to be temporary because avoidance is not living, it is defense. A life steeped in abject avoidance is a recipe for disease and ill-health. Sometimes, it can become vitally important to reassess your coping mechanisms to see if they’re serving you or if you are now serving them. It is a matter of whether you feel free or whether you feel defensive. Either way, your soul will evolve: It is as the 14th century medieval mystic, Julian of Norwich, shares in her vision of what Christ said to her: “Botte alle shalle be wele, and alle manner of thinge shall be wele. [Vis. 13.45, 61]” But all shall be well and everything shall be well. Either way, it’s gonna be ok.

 

In realizing that I could turn this process that I was enduring into a learning experience, turn it into something positive, I decided to liken this exploitation of the negativity I held in my system to what therapists go through during their training. In order to become therapists, they have to go through therapy of their own. They have to deal with their own shit before they can effectively and safely help others deal with theirs.

I have a lot of shit to deal with. (We all do.)

Right now, however, I am learning that I need more training than I am currently willing to give myself over to. There are no definitive arrows pointing in a particular direction of training in this path, and so I am working to establish a temporary respite from pursuing healing as my vocation. To use the above phrasing of Stephanie Marohn, I am aborting this process of becoming a healer and am doing so consciously. To be sure, I am using this word to mean ‘pausing, setting aside’. Abort in order to retry later because this is an undeniable calling for me. Mostly because I don’t want to deny it! It is simply that I have recognized that I need to train in another area of my life for awhile, in order to learn other, more mundane things. And when the time is right, the birth process will begin again with gusto. It’s in a holding pattern for now, shelved for later. I’m ok with that. Shifting gears and changing directions is sometimes necessary and is sometimes also illusory — it’s all part of the process of getting myself where I need to be.

Alle shalle be wele.

It already is.

In time, it will feel well, too.

I have a price. I know that now.

I am having an existential crisis of sorts unfold before me.

My newsfeed on Facebook was recently beset with commencement and convocation photos of people graduating with Masters and Doctorates. Of professor friends and acquaintances participating in ceremony.

Diving straight to the heart of it, these represent, for me, family photos I was left out of, and it hit me so embarrassingly hard.

Let me explain.

Growing up, more than any other place and for better or worse, school was where my need for acceptance was met. Not entirely, of course. Oh so far from it. But certainly more consistently than at home and by so many other people. It is where I felt valued; where I was met with approval. I have letter grades to show for it, you know. And even though this is true for so many people, it still pains me to say that my teachers and professors, whether they knew it or not, were my surrogate parents. My dad put me up on a pedestal that I felt I could never live up to, and my mom was simply exhausted from life and had very little left in her for me. It’s how life was. I learned early on to be as emotionally independent as I could be, but I still had needs. A Lot of them. I still do. That happens when you’re human.

I took 5 years to finish my undergrad, at the end of which, I decided to apply to the Master’s program in the same department because little else was calling my name. It was the best thing I could think of doing with myself at the time. I spent an additional year and a half coming to the realization that I didn’t have the zeal I needed for that particular program. It wasn’t what *I* wanted to do with myself. So with help, I put effort toward creating my own program. And then life flung some big changes my way and I ended up in a different country, at a different university in a different Master’s program. I didn’t finish this program, either, for the usual reasons that people generally did not finish this particular program. There was a proficiency exam that I needed to pass. I had 5 tries to do it; I quit after the 4th failure. Quit the program and didn’t look back for 8 years.

This was my teenage rebellion.

During this time, I learned that I retain information much better if I’m interested. I studied neurotransmitters, drug usage, dietary issues, food intolerances, hypoglycemia, depression, went through various phases of living as green a life as I could within the confines of extant limitations. I learned I could live without blatant plastic usage. I learned about living life with two partners. I studied pregnancy, birth, and attachment parenting. I learned a fair bit about herbalism. Gardening, urban homesteading. I created two beautiful children. During which time, I learned about trauma, separation, flashbacks, visitation, learning what was ok to talk about and with whom, trusting my gut instinct, making do, letting it all fall apart so that I could put it back anew.

All of this has value. This is life, and I dare say, it has been a life well-lived. But there is unfinished business, so many loose ends.

I see these commencement photos and it draws up so many feelings I wanted to forget about. All the insecurities have come to the fore. I look at the life I have lived since leaving university and I see it through the merciless eyes of Academia. None of it has served the Academy, so therefore none of it has value. Maybe on a person-to-person level it does, but not overall.

I went to an academic conference last year and felt both at home for the first time in a decade and so out of place as to be ashamed and embarrassed that I had nothing to show for my time spent away. Meaning that, in terms of what is valued within that particular overarching community, I had nothing but an undergraduate degree and a descriptor under my name of Independent Scholar. With no university affiliation, I was Suspect. No post-grad degrees meant no short-hand ways of gleaning where I fit into the greater scheme of things. Truth be told, I was welcomed just fine but there was an obvious undercurrent of Othering. “I took time off,” I said. “I’ll be able to go back someday.”

I felt ashamed. I still do when I tell people that I’m a stay-at-home mother. I feel like I should start telling people I’m a writer, but then, blogs aren’t really Writing, are they? (We know we value bloggers because we get free insight, but we bloggers get made fun of relentlessly… “And now there are all these bloggers…” a writing teacher dismissively said last year to my Saturday class. “Do any of you have a blog?” I did not respond. I didn’t know how to play the game.) I didn’t respond because I didn’t value myself as a blogger in the face of criticism. And I feel ashamed to tell people I’m a stay-at-home mother because I do not value my work as a parent. I keep looking at it through the lens of our sociocultural norms rather than through the lens of someone who appreciates the work I do…

I have two amazing creative projects, my boys, but they do not serve the Academy, and they’re not actively serving society. I am not contributing to the economy because I have no job for which I get cash payment, and, as a result, I spend very little. Parenthood and all that comes with it is nothing that society at large actually truly values. As a parent, I see that reflected back to me in so many ugly and sharply painful ways. And that lack of value is reflected in Academia where so many academics, who are mothers, are consistently discriminated against, and not just by male academics, either. It is a problem. THIS is what I want to go back to?

Yes.

Through all of this introspection, I have discovered that I have a price. A price that I am willing to pay in order to feel like I belong somewhere. It is the cost of a graduate degree. A graduate degree spanning 14 years, costing, on a monetary level, well over three times as much as it would have cost had I done it straight through. And maybe that price is the cost of two graduate degrees, because who knows what’ll come of my own search to feel adequate. I feel like if I have said degrees, I’ll belong somewhere where I want to belong. Somewhere where I felt like I once belonged. This is what I’m buying into. This is how I’m letting myself be bought.

I have oft times referred to the professors, students, and staff at the first and only university where I actually felt like I sort of belonged, as my dysfunctional family away from dysfunctional family. I am under no delusions that Academia is some majestic heavenly place of fluffy warm fuzzies. People bring their emotional baggage with them wherever they go and they act it out in all kinds of unsavoury and egotistical ways. But that doesn’t stop me from appreciating those people and loving them (er, some more distantly than others). So yes, I get this. And, yes, I still want to go back. Mind you, it’ll be to a different university than the one referenced above, back to the last program I was in.

Except that the truth of the matter is, of course, that I can never really go back.

  1. the people are different
  2. even if some people are the same, they’re still different from who they were a decade ago
  3. I am different
  4. it’s not going to be what I need for it to be

but tell that to my Inner Child and she will cross her arms stubbornly and hold her head aloft, abjectly refusing to hear what you are trying to tell her. The Adult in me wants to tie up loose ends and finish what she started. The Child in me wants so very much to return to a place where her interests were nurtured. Where she felt valued and loved for what she had to offer (for what is love, after all, but connection? and connecting through shared and nurtured interests can happen frequently in upper level education). Where people actively tried to help her get to where she said she wanted to be. All the things she never got as a child.

What I want her to know and understand with all her heart is that she has value no matter where she goes, no matter what she does with herself, no matter what her creative projects are. She is an amazing person who works with integrity to help others and works hard to understand the world. That is laudable in and of itself.

Getting all of that at heart level is the real work that lies ahead.

In the meantime, there is bureaucracy, red tape, and finances to be dealt with. And, hopefully, Latin. So much Latin.

And maybe my returning to grad school is my equivalent of moving back home for awhile just so that I can reassess my life and get things in order before moving on to something else. That’s a price I can live with.

Poem :: Lightening the Load

my life is an act of releasing,
of letting go

I brought so much baggage with me on this trip
and I usually pride myself on packing light
but I am full of self-deception and misperceptions
I forgot that wardrobe’s back opened onto another world
that looks just like me

I brought friends this time; I always do
Saturn splits the chaff from usable grain
Pluto digs around my unconscious self
bringing things from the basement out to the yard for examination
all the hidden parts of me I’ve stowed away
Chiron, the wounded healer, sees my wounds, teaches me to heal
giving me a template of understanding,
a pattern of recognition for empathy and compassion
to blossom and flow from me to others who are also wounded

we are all wounded, even if
some of us would prefer to hide it and hide from it

wounds need airing to heal
and I have been digging and digging lately
eyes shrouded, hands stained with the soil of myself,
bringing so much up
the sweat streaming into my eyes becomes tears I reluctantly shed
I keep forgetting to let this stuff go; I keep forgetting how…
my guts strewn about in the open air, the pain of it
I can no longer make heads or tails
it’s just intestines, half-digested relationships
unfinished meals of thoughts and longings
I’m pretty sure there’s a broken aorta over there
and it feels like that’s the crux of it.
will it ever get reconnected? am I even seeing it correctly?
maybe I’m making a mountain out of a molehill
maybe it’s only a capillary
maybe it’s a vena cava, which would explain the starving heart
how can I have a broken vena cava and still
flood the grass from the aorta?

how does one give up and release that which no longer serves?
how does one learn to let go of realities that never were?

either way, I have dirty laundry to wash and hang
and more lessons from Saturn and Chiron to survive:
I’ve surrendered to Pluto’s compulsion for reorganizing…

maybe I’ll have a yard sale
I’m so done with this shit.

Throw It on the Table and Deal with It: The Value in Valuing Yourself

In a matter of about 5 minutes on Facebook, I came across two gut-wrenching, rage-inducing links. The first was about Purity Balls in the States and the second about the mothers of some 200 girls who went missing from a Nigerian physics classroom staging a protest. I clicked on them in reverse order…

Nigerian Mothers Protesting

This is heartbreaking: Yesterday, the Mothers of the 234 missing school girls staged a protest, demanding that their children be brought back home.  The protest was held after news broke that many of the girls are reportedly being married in mass ceremonies and sold to Boko Haram officials for just 2,000 naira ($12 USD).  When officials gave parents almost no comfort or assurances about their efforts to retrieve the children, many of the Mothers broke down in tears, literally throwing themselves to the ground. Something has to be done, people. Something has to be done. http://face2faceafrica.com/article/nigerian-missing-girls-protest-chibok

“The protest was held after news broke that many of the girls are reportedly being married in mass ceremonies and sold…”

married and sold. stolen from a physics classroom, married and sold. The fact that “just 2,000 naira” $12 USD is the going price doesn’t fucking matter to me. These girls’ lives are priceless. You can buy into the story of OMG, TWELVE DOLLARS? but that’s just a diversionary tactic that supposedly shows how worthless a girl’s life is. The reality, though, is that you cannot monetize a life. You just can’t. Slavery attempts to. Capitalism tries to all the time. Healthcare tries to all the time. It doesn’t really work that way, though. If these girls really were worthless, then why were they stolen at all? These girls are precious and those men know it. The money exchanged is just a part of a propagandist story that attempts to reinforce the worthlessness of women. Except that the joke’s on all of us because it’s not true. Women are far from worthless. You can sell me and treat me like a piece of furniture, but if I know my own worth, then your actions only show how blind you are, how off the mark you are.

Boko Haram means “Western education is sinful” and they’re a militant Islamic jihadist terrorist organization in northeast Nigeria. “Western education is sinful” really calls to mind the Taliban in Afghanistan and in Pakistan. It really calls to mind Malala Yousafzai. She writes in her biography, I am Malala

“Education is education. We should learn everything and then choose which path to follow. Education is neither Eastern nor Western, it is human.”

To sin means to miss the target. The etymology of the word ‘sin’ is misleading, so don’t go by that. Go back to the original source and check which word got translated into the English word, ‘sin’: khata. Aramaic. It’s apparently an archery term that means to miss the target. To be off the mark.

If education is education, as Yousafzai states, then Boko Haram is completely missing the mark. Their actions are so beyond ironic as to be self-parodic without even realizing it. And once again, women and girls are paying the price. Also ironic since it was the girls who were sold for a pittance.

Nothing about this makes any fucking sense, and I feel absolutely devastated. There’s a Change.org Petition available to sign to help push the Nigerian president into actually making an effort to find the girls and return them to their families.

The next link I came across on Purity Balls was one that I skimmed over, since it was just a bunch of photos. But creepy freaking photos they were:

Striking, Creepy Photos of Christian “Purity Balls”

Photo Credit: David Magnusson

There was PolicyMic link suggested under this one on FB, so I clicked on it, hoping for an actual article, which I got: The Creepy Way Fathers Across the Country Are Controlling Their Daughters’ Virginity Highly worth the read. Particularly for the following quote:

“…it’s ironic that the method they’ve chosen to combat the hypersexualization of girlhood is, well, the hypersexualization of girlhood.

When you get down to it, Purity Balls are literally all about sex. If your worth as a human being is invariably tied to what you do with the parts between your legs, who you are becomes defined by your sexuality; you’re either pure, or impure.”

The Facebook tagline for the article reads, “You’re married to the Lord and your father is your boyfriend.”

You’re married to the Lord AND YOUR FATHER IS YOUR BOYFRIEND. Let’s push the bounds of father-daughter relationships right towards incest, shall we? Let’s overtly tinge that relationship with sex. Yes. Let’s. That’s totally the way to create healthy boundaries and a solid sense of selfhood, agency, and self-determination.

When I was looking up sin and khata for this post, I came across this beautifully apt quote from the Bible: “What goes into the man from outside cannot defile him.” (Mark 7:18) It’s a really potent quote. What goes into the woman from the outside cannot defile her, either. Yes, in context, Jesus was talking about food and how food only touches the stomach and not the heart, so it is eliminated, leaving you untouched. HOWEVER, the greater meaning here is that when our heart — our core — is pure, then we are not defiled. If we have a strong sense of self, then we cannot be defiled. We cannot be tainted by someone else.

If we are purely ourselves rather than trying to be someone else in order to please another, be accepted by another, be loved by another, then we value ourselves for who we are rather than who we can pretend to be. And like the notion of selling the Nigerian girls to Boko Haram officials, this whole concept of a lack of sex making someone pure and the presence of sex making someone impure is yet another ridiculous piece of propagandist bullshit from the patriarchy.

Sex is how we get onto this planet. But we’re born pure? How can we be pure if we got here by supposedly impure means? And where are the virginal boys and the Purity Balls for them?

Really, between the stolen girls in Nigeria and the Purity Balls in the States, I’m feeling really flattened. Did we just travel back in time several hundred years? Because that’s what this feels like. It feels like we’re dredging all this shit up from the Collective Unconscious. All our sociocultural skeletons just fell right out of the damned closet and we’re staring at them all, aghast. Bad Family Secrets right out there in the open. So here’s an idea: Let’s just throw all the shit on the table so that we can actually deal with it.

Which means we have to actually Deal With It. 

You cannot stick your head in the sand any longer. There’s too much bad in this world. So if you’re going to LA LA LA CAN’T HEAR YOU, then you’re totally part of the problem and I really have no time for your shit. Doesn’t mean I don’t have time for YOU. It means that I have no time for your bullshit and neither do you.

Men, if you can’t step up as allies and unlearn all the bullshit society has taught you, then fuck off. Get off my goddamned lawn. Women, unlearn that shit, too. It’s not about a goddamned ring — marriage, purity ball or otherwise. It’s not about sex. It’s not about money. IT’S ABOUT VALUING WHO YOU ARE AS A PERSON. NOT WHO YOU CAN MOLD YOURSELF TO BE IN ORDER TO BE LOVED AND ACCEPTED.

Value women. Value them for who they are on an individual level. Not for what they can do for you. If you value them, truly value them, then you will support their own agency. You will support their autonomy and grant them full self-determination. None of this paternalistic crap of telling them what they’re allowed to learn or how they’re allowed to use their bodies. Show them that they are valued no matter what they do. They ain’t here to serve you men and your overblown ideas of what has value.

All of these skeletons that we harbour are getting pulled out for us to examine. These practices of Purity Balls and kidnapping girls from school, selling them off to be married against their will are still acceptable because women are not yet valued as people. Do the hard work of valuing who you are. We are always unfolding and transforming. We are a work in progress and loving that is also a work in progress. But it’s really goddamned important work that will serve every person on this planet. Help others value who they are as people. Accept how awesome you are. Accept that you still need work. Accept that it’s TOTALLY OK because it damn well IS. Ain’t nobody perfect. And everybody’s shit stinks. That’s realism. And that’s what makes it fabulous.

Throw that shit on the table and deal with it. This is how we purify ourselves. This is how we remember that we are already undefiled. This is how we return to ourselves, men and women both.

The Origin of Patriarchy and the Restoration of Balance

Your Funeral Director

So I saw this again on Facebook yesterday. When I first saw this, I felt all defensive, like, “How dare he think he’s the ruler of the roost?! And You GO WOMAN! Damn Right, Funeral Director! I don’t even think so…” And then several months went by and now I’m all, “WTF? This man is completely infantile!”

It was at that point that I was completely flooded with ideas and threads of thoughts, epiphanies and inspirations, all of which culminate in my wondering what IS this thing where men, men’s rights activists, and patriarchy in general demand that everybody pander to their male every things like they’re helpless infants?

Ok, so this is a really tangled knot here. Let’s do some unwinding, shall we? WE SHALL.  Continue reading