the war years

I’ve felt pretty guilty since the inauguration.

I’ve watched the crowds of people cheering for #45, I’ve felt their pleasure in my bones. I’ve listened to their incomprehensible belief that 45 is the best thing that has ever happened to the US. My stomach has twisted with growing apprehension as hard red faces get tighter and meaner. I know what those faces mean. I know what’s coming.

And I admit, I’ve spent more time since the election and especially since the inauguration feeling scared, overwhelmed, defeated. Even though I’ve been to multiple protests/rallies, and even for the very first time ever, I had my family ask to come with me (rather than what usually happens: me packing everything up and saying, get in the car, we’re all going to the march now. Cue groans and eye rolls.). Even though marches have been bigger than anything I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been to marches on Washington and anti-war protests and anti-Patriot Act and pro-immigration and pro-choice marches for well over two decades. Even though the place I spent much of my childhood, Conservative Religious Evangelical USA, had thousands of anti-Betsy DeVos protestors out in the main square.

Even though.

There are people ‘resisting’ that I never expected and never would’ve imagined could. And I know I’m supposed to feel joy. But it’s been hard to even see these faces of ‘resistance.’ All I see is the sweaty red heat of anger and the squirming tension. I know what’s coming.

I know I’m supposed to feel joy–but I’ve spent most of my post-election time just being depressed. And for lack of better word, nihilistic. There’s nothing we can do to stop what’s coming. There’s nothing we can do to fix this. We’re all screwed.

And so the guilt swirls around me, picking at my depression, grinding it up and spitting it out. While so many inspirational amazing and frankly overwhelming actions and solidarity and love has sprung up around me, I’ve been chewing the ‘yeah, but…’ my tongue has been trying to fling all over the love. I keep eyeballing my Actually Pants I keep in the corner of my room, ready to pull them on once I just can’t take the determined hopefulness anymore.

Actually, this is all bullshit, actually, we’re all fucked, actually there’s nothing we can do I don’t know why you’re bothering, actually these white women are back stabbing assholes, actually nobody really wants change they just hate 45, actually actually actually actually actually.

I want to spit all over everything before it even gets started. I want to burn to ashes the trust required to even hope that any of this ‘resistance’ is real.

Because just as I know the sinewy tautness of those hard red faces, I know the bland dismissal of the hundreds of thousands now marching in the streets. I know their ferocious level of allegiance to keeping everything just as it is. Liberal reformist, they said with pride.

My body was one of those bodies thrown to the heap by the red faced bulldogs, with the apologetic help of those marching now. Violently attacked as ‘criminal’ by the bulldogs, blandly dismissed as ‘not practical’ by the reformists.

I know who these people are who write about ‘resistance.’ I know what the whiteness of their eyeballs when they roll up into the back of their heads, I know the maddening ‘patience’ that they used to type out their email defense of doing everything exactly as it’s always been done. I know the pride they wore ‘practical’ and ‘common sense’ in the face of my ‘rabid’ warnings about immigration regulations and DHS goals and Detroit and Michigan and emergency managers.

I’ve felt guilty, even as I get up and march, even as I keep talking talking talking with confused friends protesting for the first time, even as I sign my post cards and call my Congress people.

Guilty because I don’t trust any of this. And I know what’s coming. And we’re all fucked.

I ran away from the place I grew up in. Was (re)birthed by a new city into a new worldview. I ran away because I couldn’t take the abuse anymore. I couldn’t handle it. The new city that claimed me gave me love. Freedom. It didn’t pray over me or try to change me or love me and hate my sin. Acceptance. I ran away, as so many of us have done, to freedom.

Then that city that I grew up in got bigger and took over my state.  And then the election happened and 45 took over, and I figured out that there’s no place left to run. That I’ve been standing on the plank, the noose tightly wrapped around my neck all this time. And now that people are finally marching and protesting and ‘resisting,’ I don’t trust their ‘resistance’ anymore than I trust that the red faces will ever stop savoring my death.

And I feel guilty because what I have to offer to this ‘movement’ is not what’s needed right now.

So I decided to just rest. To just rest in all these feelings and feel them. Because they’re so overwhelming I can’t see anything else. I can’t even see a way out.

I rest in these feelings and admit that I can’t handle seeing even the names on tweets of some of those liberal reformist marchers any more than I can handle seeing or even saying 45’s name. I blame them as much as I blame 45. I don’t trust what’s going on and I don’t know if I ever will.

And that’s ok.

The basic rule of thumb for organizers is that you start where people are. You don’t ask anybody to be anything but what they are, and you go from there. But far too often organizers don’t give themselves that same acceptance, that same grace from the universe. Start with where you’re at. We’re the ones that are supposed to be the ‘leaders,’ the ‘experts’ at what we do now. We’re supposed to know what to do, where the resources are, how to move forward.

We’re not supposed to be so bitterly hatefully angry that all we can do is glare and try to not punch all the liberals who are all of a sudden embracing punching as an organizing strategy. Do they know how much I’d love to have punched them in the faces all these years? Do they know the urge was almost uncontrollable in me during the ‘punching nazi’ debate?

I feel guilty for even typing that. But I’m not going to delete it. I am going to instead just relax. And accept that this is where I am right now.

I didn’t punch a liberal reformist today. It is a good day.

And that’s all I can ask of myself.

A common mantra right now is that this isn’t a skirmish we’re dealing with, it’s a war. And to be prepared for war, you have to be prepared for the long haul. Eventually I may be more able to push and shove and meld all these conflicting issues in my body and mind into a new shape, and I’ll be ready to negotiate the world with that new body. There’s time, hopefully. But even during wars, sometimes the world stops and you just can’t move forward until you recognize all that’s been lost, all that will never be the same again.

And right now, I’m there. The world has stopped. I can’t run away–there’s no place left to run. Things will never be the same again. Which means we’ve already seen the first casualty of this war.

And I need some time before I can move on.




loving in the war years: day twenty eight

Coming Back To Life: Healing Through Crisis With Ritual + Action

A creative parent holds space for a child to explore, be creative, test boundaries, let their imagination run wild, experience different personalities, ideas and roles. A great parent doesn’t control or shut down. This is the same when dealing with your inner-child. Allow yourself explore and experience life, empower yourself to make the right choices and live life in your own way. Be an innovative parent to your inner child: loving yourself when you’re sick, being encouraging when you fall over, and always cheering yourself on.

read more…

loving in the war years: day twenty seven

Feeling Grief + Dreaming Another World

“Philandro Castille. I honor your life by releasing this grief to go home. I release this heaviness in my heart so I can be an active part of creating a new world”

“To the people of Nice. I honor your lives by releasing this grief to go home. I release this heaviness in my heart so I can be an active part of creating a new world”

“ For the non-human communities who are devastated by strip-mining… For the three officers who were killed in Baton Rouge… For anyone who preaches hate and division… I honor your lives [or the lives that have been affected by your wounds] by releasing this grief to go home. I release this heaviness in my heart so I can be an active part of creating a new world ”

read more…

loving in the war years: day twenty six

the following quote comes from a really great blog post about nourishing self with food during times of mourning. it has a good recipe for bone broth that i highly recommend–with a few caveats. while this author is probably correct that bone broth should be made from organically grown animals, i also know that organic meat that’s connected to the organic bones can be and is often extremely expensive. sometimes you can get lucky and find just the bones without the meat, but even those can be super expensive. whole foods knows there’s a bone broth phenomenon going on right now.

my suggestion is to buy the ‘tough’ cuts of organic meat with bones in–because they’re not ‘prime’ meat they’re often quite a bit less expensive. you can also ask for bones, on the off chance you have access to a butcher (but as i said this often can be just as expensive depending on where you go). also, don’t forget that buying already made organic broth in a box is totally a choice. of course it feels good to buy things fresh and make it yourself–but, sometimes self care comes in the form of being able to pull a lid off a $2.99 container and heat up contents in microwave. you get the benefits of self care, self nourishment, and calming soup all for much less expense and much less work.

anyway. check out this excerpt:

Sorrow and mourning can take many forms, as death and loss can come in so many different guises. Sometimes it isn’t the physical death of a loved one that we mourn, but the end of something we cherished. The loss of a job, or a friendship, or an intimate relationship, or even a lost pet. So many experiences tear holes into us, and we have to practice a fair bit of self care in order to heal those wounds so they don’t grow and fester.

I’ve mentioned that one of the most nourishing foods I’ve come across yet is bone broth, as it isn’t just a soothing internal hug, but also replenishes a body right down to the cellular level. It can be used as the base for a heavier soup, or just enjoyed on its own by the mugful; something that I try to do as often as possible, especially during the autumn and winter months. Quite often, a cup of this broth first thing in the morning does more to wake me and replenish my spirits than half a dozen cups of coffee ever could.

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loving in the war years: day twenty two

a day of mothering: milky oats

trauma and grief
have actual effects, not just on the heart or the mind, but on the body as well. and more often than not, when trauma and grief are mixed with stress, a body has almost no choice but to move into a ‘fight, flight or freeze’ state.

or, in other words, extreme stress can cause extreme reactions–even if you are not physically under threat (like, from a lion). you may feel like you are, however, and so you become highly anxious, snappish, have insomnia, and maybe always feel like you drank too much coffee. or, conversely, you’re sluggish, sleep all the time, have no interest in life, and like it wouldn’t matter how matter how much coffee you drank, you’ll never be able to move again. or you’re too fearful to move, or all you want to do is move. or a combination of all these things, just depending on the time of day.

the thing is though, is that when it comes to grief and trauma, the fight, flight or freeze state doesn’t ramp up and then work back down again as it would with a lion. because grief and trauma stay with us, because grief especially never really ‘goes away,’ you can stay in fight, flight or freeze for decades. needless to say, you’re body is not built to handle that sort of stress for that long.

enter milky oats.

milky oats come from the same plant that gives you your morning breakfast. they are the tops of oat plant, and provide concentrated nutrition. within that nutrition, they also work to revitalize your very overworked body, you’re body that just seems to be too tired to work its way out of the hyper-vigilant state it’s in. too tired to do anything but be anxious or stressed.

milky oats is a long term herb, one that works best the longer you take it. it is an herb you build into your routine, that you have a relationship with. in these days when people are used to desperately searching for the miracle herb that ‘helps,’ many don’t find much use for milky oats. people have been trained by pharmaceutical companies to expect immediate relief from whatever ails them. milky oats doesn’t generally immediately help (although on some it does). and even when you take it long term, you don’t generally just wake up one day and know you feel better. the effects are so gentle, so nourishing, it tends to be more like one day you notice that you’ve taken the stairs every day that week instead of the elevator. you just sort of slip back into feeling ‘normal’ again. not the immediate relief many need (there are other herbs for that), but definitely long term healing.

it’s best to take a tincture when it comes to milky oats, so you can get the full benefit of the ‘milk.’ and the highest quality milky oats tinctures are cloudy green in color. but there is benefit to drinking a cup of dried oat tops or oat straw (the stalk/leave of the plant) tea. Susun Weed talks about the benefits of oat straw here. and you can read more about milky oats here (scroll down past the nettles information) and here.

it’s often very difficult to fit in a new daily routine in your life, but if you think of milky oats as less of a ‘routine’ and more of a small moment of daily mothering, i’ve found i rarely forget to take my tincture when i need to. in times of mourning and grief, even taking 30 seconds to drop a few drips of tincture into some water can be enough care taking to help you get through one more day.

loving in the war years: day twenty one
dia de los muertos en oaxaca
foto credit: della nohl photography

i still observe dia de los muertos.

even after a white lady invited me over to her house to ‘celebrate’ with drinks she made from a new recipe she found,
even after i was informed by a mexican mexican (who, unlike american poser mexican me, never suffered from assimilation) that i was doing it wrong,
even after all the articles declaring dia de los muertos to be the ‘mexican halloween,’
even after the thousands and thousands of white women with the money to get skeleton face make up tossed their braided hair at me,

even though i have so many questions: do you remember/honor children on the first or the second of november? how do you construct an alter? what do you say? what do you do? do you pray? do you cry? i search the internet for answers and curse again–oh, how i wish the internet was not my elder, my mentor.

even after the insecurity confusion anger

i still observe dia de los muertos because it is a mourning ritual that still exists. it still exists. it survived.
the whispering wind calms me. lets me know. it’s ok.
it’s ok.
we’ll survive.
even after.

i honor

because even after all this time.
i still miss them.