“Never allow anyone to be humiliated in your presence.” Elie Wiesel
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called…” the masculine children of divinity, depending on which version of the Bible you may read. And yet many are those of varying gender identifications who make peace by the way they live their lives. Some stay real with themselves about their growth processes, seeking out accountability and listening to those who can constructively school them on their need for change, their toxic exceptionalism and passive/aggressive denial of systemic oppression. Some simply live it out, opening their hearts and minds to the viewpoints and lives of those who will expand their minds to move beyond the status quo, the status quo that lulls us all to sleep when our wakefulness is most needed. We are a many-varied and colorful tribe of humans hoping towards fulfillment on different levels as we struggle to recover from the oppressive backlash of centuries of authoritarianism and the resulting mindset. Some of us seek our recovery by means conducive to capturing truth, fostering freedom and encouraging growth and prosperity for everyone as we confront our demons, the darkness we all wrestle when egos clash and righteous rage collides with denial and judgement. And we wonder, “is it righteous, really?”. Apparently, according to the wise ones, we are all acting out in the wake of trauma. Some of us embody the traumatizers, and some of us war against them, but we all began in the oppressive authoritarianism that ultimately seeks to destroy soul. No one with even just a modicum of awareness will deny that abusers have been abused and neither will they deny that some who’ve been abused manage to avoid the abuser’s program through hard, painfully aware work.
The problem I have with identifying us all as victims of trauma is that such an identification could be seen as a uniting truth when there are those of the grand us who are not wanting actual unity or truth. (Truth like, love is what we do and not simply what we feel. And truth like, we’re all valuable, precious human beings. Not “truth” like, there is one God and one way and those who don’t believe will burn. Not “truth” like, we say so and so it is so.) So, sure, we’re all victims of trauma, participants in reactions against the power-over model of authority. But we’re not all growing and we’re not all seeking accountability, and on the other side of it all, we’re not all perpetuating violent and destructive acts that divide us. These distinctions deserve regard because they distinguish between those who seek to empower others and those who seek power over others, even if only vicariously.
While it’s likely true that those who are openly seeking dominion over others are victims of trauma, my experience in moving from a place of forgiveness and understanding with this slice of the population has only netted me betrayal, slander, loss, isolation and more trauma. I literally unknowingly signed up, in the name of forgiveness, unity and hope, for another round of soul-bruising loss. I thought my faith in love would prevail. It did not. I’ve learned that you can’t afford to smile and approach abused abusers with the assumption they want to actually be anything other than what they are. You can’t project your own hope for a truly noble, truly valuable, truly life-affirming legacy onto those who are “in the same boat” with you. It’s just not that simple. It’s like inviting Leviathan to tea and hoping the beast won’t be a beast. Sure, we all came from the same sea but some of us are walking on two legs and hoping to not regress to more beastly behavior while others of us are glorifying the beast by way of denial-based, narrative-skewing belief systems. The perversion of truth and rationality is unprecedented. Shift blame, redirect focus and make the victim pay. But hey, we’re all in this together? As much as we may technically be in this together, trauma bonds as they are, we are at least as much not in this together in unity, and we are not going to experience true unity with each other when anyone in the boat is eagerly perpetuating the power-over authoritarian model of “community”. The best we can do is sit on the other side of the boat and pray that our work to end generational carnage actually takes while hoping those on the other side finally wake up and join us in the work for emancipation from oppression.
And writers and historians like Rebecca Solnit help me solidify and give voice to what I see and feel during this epic time of both loss and hopeful growth here in the US. Solnit’s following expression fills up the gaps made real by a confusion of intentions on a boat adrift in the wild sea of meaning.
“The middle ground is not halfway between Nazis and antiracists. The reasonable position is not a compromise between rapists and feminists, slaveowners and abolitionists, Natives and General Crook. The truth is not midway between the liar and the truthteller. That has to be a factor in all those calls for reaching out and unity. The murderer and his intended victim don’t have to agree on what’s right. The people who were harmed don’t have to reach out to those who did the harming. The people who told the truth don’t need to make liars feel better about themselves or what they said. Those who were targeted by this war don’t have to do all the peacemaking. If reaching out and finding unity is good, the haters and liars can go find some olive branches and apologies and do the work to leave their will to destroy the rest of us behind. Then it begins. The party of hate never had a mandate; they lost the popular vote last time and this time; they may think of themselves as the real American and the gatekeepers but we don’t have to, and we don’t have to enter their gates or play by their rules. We don’t have to hate them either, but we don’t have to protect them from the consequences of their choices or sell out our principles for their comfort. When you stand on the ground of truth and justice, let others find their way to you. If you stand firm, many will in the end. Not everyone will; that does not change what truth and justice are.” Rebecca Solnit
May you know the value you trivialize by believing any form of womanizing is worthwhile.
May you know your worth without first shooting up intellectualism,
riding the high so high and icy cold.
May you come home to the earth of acceptance, not the mind palace constructed
against itself and in that coming home awaken the warmth of uncloaked knowing.
May you take a massive nose-dive into the divine feminine grace eschewed
by your grandiosity, and as your face hits the dirt there,
may you experience an actual fullness,
the presence of true welcome unadorned by any methodology or presentation.
Let all that you claim to be break open,
the husk falling away to reveal what you’ve refused.
May you recognize your need, your deep, deep need for love,
especially the love you disdain and declare fiction,
and when you find it, may you finally know what you’re gonna do with it.
May you take a great rolling leap into the truth beyond your carefully constructed dogma
as your face melts away, shining your visage,
a sun of authenticity feasts and open-hearted screams.
May your dance of control, your Georgie Porgie role reverse itself and succumb
to the surrender you chase, as the skirts all fall down around your face naked.
May you find there the map drawn by the lines of your perpetual retreat
posing pursuit and finally begin the treasure seek as one not master,
not switch, not submissive, but one, just one you.
May your knowing strip you of the sign you hide behind
and dart back and forth from as you desperately evade true connection.
May you turn to grasp that bowl of Peanuts at the bar of life
and find you were the one both setting up the kickoff and aborting it in turn,
over and over again, so sure the spurn was not within you.
And finally, may you learn that in spite of posing, gaming, playing and hopscotch skipping
‘round the block another umpteenth time, your true essence managed to shine,
making revolution alongside the confusion, the obviousness of the game,
breaking at least one heart in ways never broken before,
and leaving a wake of pieces to gather on the floor of a soul
trying now not to hope you know the breadth of the misstep your reformation made.
Oh, we sway as the day’s dance pauses in the hum of moon and sun
and some ancient knowing calls us to feast in the now,
in the everydayness of our unearthings.
We stretch and weep and shout, ousting stagnations,
blooming towards the sun as we turn for one more run.
And one more run becomes us
‘til the next sleeping awakens deeper, truer love being,
love showing truth in the face of the dark histories,
and in the aftermath of all that suggests futility
the dance remains,
but we are never the same.
From here the view: a feast of greens and blues when my eyes lift up
awakened fresh agony dreams, rantings felt deep
down the deep a depth of knowing annihilates notions of anything true then
when my heart hoped in feasts, planting fields of my own vast stores
and the sky holds a heaven only known by the ground, the grit, mud muck mellowing us
for the plowing real obliteration, a song sowing creation for the just
but we first find out who loves beauty, who holds truth when backs hit walls
when you’re facing a courtroom full of lies, you find your real kin
in the aftermath, a wreckage sift reveals the ones who were there all along
singing your song in the night and wiping tears from the fall, unafraid.
We used to dance and hug there on the dance floor
and through fields
and by rivers
a dance made real by the body of our bond
the inevitable creation of souls in unity
and many, many times I fought hard
to ignore the hatchet thwhacking at
the legs, arms of our shared body
I forgave when the first arm hit the dance floor
I really did. I promise.
(and when you berated me for my lack of forgiveness
whenever I mentioned you were actually swinging the hatchet at we
I forgave that too but I can’t do that anymore)
And again, when a leg…
see, crutches can be worked into a dance of sorts
but you can be sure that dance is, well,
it’s a unique dance.
Even someone in a wheelchair can get it to move
and groove to a rhythm made real
by the arms that steer and well
so, when there are no arms, no limbs left
and no medics around to stem the spill
and stop the inevitable chilled corpse
from being exactly that
there’s no dance, no matter how much you forgive
and there’s a bit of the ptsd response in the presence
of those who wield hatchets in the name of love
see, when you grow up in the presence of such
it takes a while to realize how often
those hatchets accompanied statements of “love”
and how often your own projection of your own love
distorted what was really going on
and you stand there, seeing the carnage
and the bits strewn about
as you read, listen, hear those here and there
waxing on about forgiveness
and how it is so important
and you want to take the bits and parts
the arms, the legs, the blood all over
and just shove it in their faces, smear it on their expert cheeks
and ask them to take a huge bite out of the forgiveness cure
see if maybe they can dance with it.
Careful, the floor can get very
depending on who your shared body
Don’t mind me. I just have this problem
and forgiveness can be such a pill,
that great big high for filling up the holes.
But it doesn’t re-grow the body.
Look up. See the ceiling?
All it represents?
Run fast, run far.
Forgiveness is not the only
sustenance needed to keep a we alive
Sunshine, let the sun shine.
Love that refuses bullshit
important than that roof
you beg to keep over your head.
Let me be clear: Especially that roof.
Even and especially God(dess) doesn’t fit there.
Even and especially s/he will not be mocked
though the blood of Christ be tossed
all over the reaping.
blue pieces array overhead
where we meet, greet our losses
our only gain
beyond ancient rubble
why did I believe in the whole of you?
only pieces remain…
And the quiet imparting space
for those tRuthbits not allowed
Can we fit these singing mountains inside the basket
your heart reeled me into?
Or maybe the rivers, the sunsets and the coyote?
Can the energy flowing between our hearts, our minds,
fit inside or…
will the weave burst, filling our laughter up all the way
to the top of every
split second of
Everywhere I turn the words fall silent, singing depths and I’m left
For you. And.
For those friends who are closer than the closest.
Our basket tips, overflowing with abundance,
like the way your eyes drew me to you
and the way my tears fell easily with the friend of friends who
brought me to your heart, to hers, to my own heart…
and to this place,
this forever measures out the next time and place
of happy faces pushed against each other,
skin blending souls blurring lines and distinctions…
’til we find we’re scrambling
for more to fill and overflow
the reunion of souls.
Words fail today for many reasons but mostly because our beloved Naji passed after 19 years on this planet. He has anchored and nourished our family in as much time. And we are grateful. It has been particularly challenging since he decided to sprint towards the finish line as soon as I left town. He knew. This is what the dying do. They wait until you can’t cling another second because you’re otherwise preoccupied. And they leave. We had to assist his passing and it was attended beautifully by Naji’s beloved Marion, eldest of our family. She held him and held herself together while he quietly and peacefully slept his last.
Naji is felt more powerfully today than I’ve felt him in a couple of years. He’s coming through as happy, relieved, grateful. He will forever anchor us as we hold to all that he gave.
I bet you can tell by the title that I’m done with forced appreciation days. I bet I’m not alone. I bet there are a million other moms out there who would just like the world to recognize that women are human, that moms are human, that moms have too much asked of them and not enough expected of them in terms of their growth as individuals and. And. I bet you the consumer ideology that heaps a load of obligation on our backs smells really bad right now while the money rolls in and the lines queue up at the local Cheesecake Factory. I bet you.
[I bet you none of it compares to the birthing our children do of us mothers. I bet you no one has a clue. I bet you there is nothing more challenging or more beautiful or more terrifying or more heartbreaking than bringing 3 lives into an utterly mad, mad world.]
I bet you might assume this is a terrible day for me for some crazy reason. But the truth is, it’s not. It’s a day like many others, a day in which I’m contending with the very intense requirements of motherhood while juggling the fallout of others’ mothers’ fallout while everyone ignore’s the power of others in general. And a day when women are the first and easiest scapegoats in a line of ancient feminine scapegoats. But I don’t feel like one of those scapegoats. I refuse that vibe. I just know this world. And I weary of the disorders posing parenthood and authoritarianism crushing humanism and transformation. It’s everywhere, all day, everyday and it especially wreaks havoc on mothers, telling them they can never ____ and the shouldn’t ever ____ and if they fart sideways they might ruin the world. Ha, and they might actually. It’s a rigged game.
Here’s to mothers. Here’s to women who mother but have never felt the surreal sensation of a bowling ball-like human body coming through the most amazing otherwise recognized channel of incredible pleasure. As it turns out, being able to push ’em out doesn’t guarantee you’ll do much very well beyond that flesh-ripping moment. And it’s high time we quit romanticizing motherhood, I bet.
Here’s to people who refuse bullshit and manage to enjoy forced appreciation days no matter what they conjure of mothers’ worst reruns or best creations. And here’s to the ones who loathe it.
[Here’s to my children whose lives have ushered in epochs of gut-wrenching, heart-embiggening, tragedy-contending, beauty-bowling moments. Here’s to my children who show love in ways no Mother’s Day can convey, who shine and grow and rip up my pretenses, my pride, and my ideas of what is perfect by being gorgeous expressions of wholeness becoming. Mother’s Day can, otherwise, go fuck itself.]