Identity

Paradigm Shift

“Who is this Black woman wearing blue lipstick and clothes that don’t match? Don’t worry-I’m just as perplexed as you are as to why I’m standing here, but hey. Let’s trust that Rachel and Sarah knew what they were doing when they signed y’all up for this.“

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I served and took communion for the first time in 7 years yesterday at the Evolving Faith conference in Montreat, NC. That’s how comfortable and affirmed I felt being in that space with Christians who are actually...well the Christians I’ve desired to have connections with, but didn’t believe existed anymore. 

I got on stage and told the crowd that I could feel the presence of my great grandmother and Prince there with me too. I told the audience I have conversations with them. That I have an altar in my house. That I honor my dead. Use candles with my prayers, as well as set intentions and manifest what I want to see develop within myself, family, work, and life. That I reclaimed and learned how to listen to my intuition by practicing tarot. That I have friends who worship Orishas, do root work, who are Hindu and Buddhist, who celebrate Samhain and solstice, and am married to a man who is a futurist and desires to be preserved by cryonics upon his death. That I read my horoscope according to my natal chart, follow the planet’s transits throughout the sky, and the monthly cycle of the moon. That I believe in energy work. That painting is a form of divination for me. That I am married to a cis man and am in a heteronormative relationship but I am also queer. That my children are neurodiverse, I use people first language, and I have a responsibility to advocate for and equip them to move within a world that is not inclusive, but not to change them-they are whole beings, not broken. That I was abused as a child and sexually assaulted as a teen & young adult. 

I dropped a few f-bombs. Told them to face themselves. To abandon the frameworks and constructs they’ve built through conditioning, experience, and trauma over the years in  exchange for whole living. To burn shit down. To open themselves to exploration and curiosity. Told the POC especially to study, connect, and expand their faith to be inclusive of spiritual practices and tools rooted within their own cultures. That they might be hurting and weary but the only thing fragile about them-about all of us-is our ego. That if I can withstand this moment with all I’m carrying, they can too. 

The response was unexpectedly positive. It knocked my ego on its ass, because I walked into this experience thinking I couldn’t possibly connect to what was happening because I’ve spent the last 7 years deliberately removed from this...culture. From the institution. From a faith I no longer recognize or live out as I used to. That I question and reject for its racism, misogyny, sexism, patriarchy, oppression, bigotry, phobias, erasure, and violence.  I walked into it cynical, thinking I’d be pilloried. Instead I was embraced. Thanked. Seen. Heard. Respected. 

The fact that I was able to serve in this capacity alongside scholars, artists, writers, pastors, activists, and thought leaders I learned from and admired heavily in the past and even from afar over the last 7 years, was the icing on the cake. It was humbling. 

It helped my spirit heal in ways I didn’t realize were needed. It released me to continue expanding and moving forward in my spiritual development. I hope I continue to learn from it in the months & years ahead. 

A Rerouted Personal History

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 "A well-documented feature of trauma, one familiar to many, is our inability to articulate what happens to us. Not only do we lose our words, but something happens with our memory as well. During a traumatic incident, our thought processes become scattered and disorganized in such a way that we no longer recognize the memories as belonging to the original event. Instead, fragments of memory, dispersed as images, body sensations, and words, are stored in our unconscious and can become activated later by anything even remotely reminiscent of the original experience. Once they are triggered, it is as if an invisible rewind button has been pressed, causing us to reenact aspects of the original trauma in our day to day lives.

...still, all is not silent: words, images, and impulses that fragment following a traumatic event reemerge to form a secret language of our suffering we carry with us. Nothing is lost. The pieces have just been rerouted." (It Didn't Start With You: How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are and How to End  The Cycle  by Mark Wolynn) 

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Am I Enough?

I've been reading through think pieces, texts, and comment threads the last few days and while somewhat enlightened and challenged to think a bit more critically about the systems of patriarchy and oppression, I've also questioned if I'm "feminist" enough. From what I've been reading, (and quite possibly, according to bell hooks and other 2nd wave feminist ideals and theory) the answer is no. 

I wonder, then what would it take, to be enough...of anything? Of every identity I embody? I honestly don't know. What I do know is that I've spent nearly every day of my 33 years not feeling

"Safe" enough

"Good" enough

"Black" enough

"Feminine" enough

"Thick" enough

"Thin" enough

 "Smart" enough

"Nice" enough

"Pretty" enough

"Woke" enough

"Radical" enough

"Progressive/Liberal" enough

"Woman" enough

"Mother" enough

"Wife" enough

"Christian" enough

"Mentally stable" enough

"Old" enough

"Strong" enough

"Brave" enough

"Educated" enough

and on and on and on the list goes.  

In this moment of frustration and weariness I feel like lead in my bone marrow, I just want to know when will I be enough? Is enough attainable? Is liberation attainable? If so, for whom? Is it for the Black, straight, able bodied, cis woman and stay at home mother living with bipolar disorder who enjoys sex when she isn't exhausted, being feminine, wearing make up, and looking fly as hell for herself and her man, who ALSO grew up with abuse and dysfunction in her childhood? If I'm not able to be enough, and I can't get free, how can anyone else who's far more vulnerable and has less privilege than I do?

I don't mean to whine or complain as much as simply express my exasperation with these standards that seem to always be out of reach...with this constant barrage of messaging both within patriarchal systems and academic schools of thought that imply nothing I do or am will ever be enough. Nor will anyone else unless you got their ideals and standards and live out the "truth" according to how they've constructed it. (Or maybe this is just a big whine. Whatever. I'm being honest. Snark away. These are the thoughts ruminating on a loop in my anxious mind as I attempt to fall asleep at 12:04am.) 

There are just these moments when it is overwhelming to take in and the tension of bearing it suffocates. I'm committed to working to disavow myself of as much bigotry, bias, and conditioned bullshit as possible...but I have to be honest and admit that there are moments when I question if it'll ever be enough-for myself or for anyone else and their freedom. How CAN we get free? When will women (all who identify as such) have the grace, compassion, space, autonomy, and agency to simply just B E? 

It feels like a pipe dream.  

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