Pretty much after getting the news about my Abuela dying. A text. Then a call from my brother. Pretty much I fell apart for the rest of July. And yeah, the first week of August. I can't pretend I've come around this week, either, but. No, yeah, it still guts me.
If you need an affirmation, or just confirmation that you are Ok, it's on the Internet. That's something I've learned. Unconditional love, and words of encouragement, empathy, validation, reassurance? There's a meme for that. I've been collecting, gathering to my bosom, armfuls of mental health balms about self-worth, as-I-am beauty, resilience. I've been reading about systemic racism, about oppression, gaslighting, and toxic relationship behaviors. I have been learning about learning, about unlearning. I hope it sticks. I hope I am internalizing strength, courage, self-esteem, and self-care, grace. And all this learning, and yearning to be well, to care for myself, is hard. And all of the doubt, cynicism, the false narratives, mean habits, bad lessons... they are hard, and persistent. So, even now, I am reminding myself: Speak your mind, and be yourself, and no one else has to validate you, or allow you to feel, to be. Stop living to accommodate, to be loved, to be worthy, to not offend, or disappoint. Shit. Can't believe I need to learn all this. Can't believe how rooted some things get, like weeds.
I didn't plan on sharing all of that. I haven't planned much of anything. There may be more I'll share, or I might just make this a photo-dump, the last days of July, the memes, and moments of a month that already feels like a long time ago, indistinct, elusive.
It's terrible what I am conditioned to do... to think and feel. For example, when a friend sees my work and says, "You are amazing!" and my head fills with criticism and shame, that's not good. Why is my immediate response "No, I'm not"? I can't be "amazing" for making a blanket, because, and then I list all of the ways I have failed, dropped the ball, the unfinished chores, the incomplete jobs, and neglected things. I don't need to be proud of my messes, but I am tired of instinctively thinking of what I do wrong, whenever someone tries to appreciate something nice I've managed. How do we take what we've learned and internalize it? Because, I know all sorts of good things, things I easily apply to others, like patience, compassion, respect, admiration, but it dissolves when it comes to me, when I need recognition or appreciation, care, some kindness. I probably won't ever be able to handle needlepoint pillows with uplifting pronouncements, but if I could accept a compliment, share success stories, mention achievements, wear sleeveless dresses, live out-loud... that would be good.
Points of view can be fascinating. I've seen a lot of ideas and norms change from when I was a child. And even though some of my ideas have been challenged, I am glad to see things in a new way, to understand how many ideas and practices aren't "normal" or "natural" but simply so long ingrained into our language and culture that we forget to question them, to dismantle them. It might surprise younger people to know how awkward, taboo, inappropriate, it used to be to say "condom." Seriously. When the AIDS crisis was full blown, I remember counselors, and PSAs coming at us in high school and college (about 1985) with open talk about rubbers, and it was a sudden and complete about-face from everything we were used to. Instead of discreetly whispering condom, we were offered free rubbers, by the bowlful... and thank God. They're lifesavers. I just read that a Tampax commercial was banned for demonstrating how to correctly insert a tampon. It seems a lot of
Breonna Taylor should be alive, and countless other men, women, and children, like her, have been not only brutalized and murdered by the police, by policies that foster and promote racism, but little has been done to serve justice. We are in a Civil Rights Movement, and this fight ain't over.
It seems vacations, and getaways are not in the cards for us, not this summer. But we are still never bored. We are still making fun, making messes, making plans, helping each other, looking out for each other, and managing to connect with friends. Wearing masks. Washing our hands. Staying six or more feet apart. We care. Paul and Janece gave us a clever device for sharing pictures, like the one in this picture. Janece sent me this memory from her NixPlay... when was this? I know it's from our first time meeting in person! Isn't that wild? Blogger friends, in different states, meet after six years of online friendship! I think this picture might be ten years old. Amira and Maria, so small. Paul, so obliging! Pictures, like this one, make me thankful for every chance we took, to meet friends, to gather, celebrate, travel, share our time and ideas, do stuff. Of course, I want to do more stuff, but I am filled with great memories, and revisiting those happy events, places, people, and experiences, has been a tremendous pleasure. I'm glad that taking pictures has always been a favorite souvenir, and that I've got this blog, with at least some of our stories and memories recorded. This river ride, rough patches and all, will slow down, and we will come to a good, safe place, again. I need to continue learning, and connecting with the world however I can, and I want to believe that if I trust that I can live out-loud, take my pictures, speak up, vote, try again, share... more of us can get there, to a safer, more just place, together.