Thursday, June 16, 2016

RIP Didi: A Remembrance of Luminosity

I haven't quite processed this week, it has been one wave of emotion crashing into the next in an endless tsunami. I am waiting for some respite but it hasn't happened yet and some illogical part of me fears that it never will. The platitudes of taking things "one step at a time" and the well-intentioned but shallow level supportive rah-rah from the sidelines urging me forward only serve to dredge any motivation with a saccharine soak of resentment. I feel the urge to scream "how do you KNOW it will be fine? How do you KNOW I will make it through this?" because there is nothing guaranteed in this life.

On Sunday I got a phone call. The kind of phone call that blindsides you because there is no bracing for news like this. Erin said it best so I hope she doesn't mind me piggybacking the words I can't find
Is there a catharsis after death? Maybe someday. For today, I am grieving.

My student was lovely--gregarious, larger than life, shatteringly beautiful with the best legs I shouldn't have had the pleasure of seeing, in such short skirts and such high stilettos, in a high school setting. She had verve and charm, panache. She was also desperate for love and acceptance, fought against intolerance and ignorance and stood tall despite not wanting to be known solely as a  transgendered advocate, though she inherently was. She helped people see her, not as a transwoman, but beyond labels, beyond stereotypes, beyond fear, beyond curiosity, to the heart of humanity.

Our moments together were short, poignant, quietly powerful. And while I could encourage her, sit with her through those moments that she would tell me about her hopes, her dreams, her plans for someday, I didn't have enough traction in our small relationship that allowed me any more than the fleeting weekly glimpses. But, oh, I remember those moments, those precious moments, the simple ones of pressing buttons for Pink Shirt Day, the tender cutting up of ribbons for the Day of Purple, the excruciating moments of sitting silently shaken during the seemingly endless roll of names in the video for the Trans Day of Remembrance. Those moments will stay with me, pressing me to lean into the hard but necessary conversations for our #LGBTQ2 community, to stand as a staunch and determined ally, to stay silent no more. It is the least I can do in her memory, for everyone who fears being who they are, for the sake of our collective humanity.

Hug your loved ones, if this week has shown us anything at all, it shows us that tomorrow isn't guaranteed to any of us, and that the only way through this darkness is "love is love is love is love"

Rest easy, love, and God be with you til we meet again.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Getting over it

Sometimes I think I'm over it. It has been a long time since I was 17, 18, 20, after all. But then something comes up to remind me that some things haven't changed and, while my reactions are more muted, I am still so effected, so traumatized.

My youngest girl loves to chew on ice. My husband likes to tease me. The combination of these two innocent and disparate things have sent me into a tailspin that I haven't quite gotten over yet, a week after the conversation has faded from everyone else's memory.

How could I tell him that certain memories of ice are associated with being assaulted? That there was, and still is, a confusing array of emotions--guilt, fear, shame, and yes maybe arousal--that came back in that very minute, as though  twenty three years hadn't really passed by. 

I didn't say no. Well, I did say no but maybe I didn't mean it because I didn't run away. I let it happen the first time. And the next time. And the last time. I didn't need to be held down the whole time. I was curious and horrified, even as I was repelled by the whole thing, from start to finish. I wanted to please him, to do the right thing. I wanted to be nice. I only cried a little bit. The condom was overfilled, the ice was jagged.

And afterward, I still wanted a relationship with him. I stayed with him for four more years. I let him do it again. And again.

Tell me with sincerity that my desire to
stay makes my experience less traumatizing. Tell me if a judge would cast doubt on my testimony as to the veracity of my lack of consent. And then tell me if there is anything that will help me to get over the injustice that still rages in my heart.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Awash in Tension

I am awash in tension tonight. I suspect there will be more writing, more sharing. I suspect it will make people uncomfortable and sad. I am not looking for pity or attention. But the verdict of the Ghomeshi trial reminds us that we mustn't keep quiet, that we need to break the stigma of sexual violence, that we need to work together to find a solution. That we mustn't be afraid to say out loud that it happened, that it still happens and that it will continue to unless there is a fundamental paradigm shift

The Tangle of our Narratives

A re-post from Sept 2014 (link at the bottom)

A reminder that the narrative we lay out for girls--to be nice, to be pretty but to also be strong, to make good choices but also to accept responsibility and consequences for mistakes made, to stand up for oneself but to also strive to mend fences of conflict and be forgiving--is reinforced daily. 

This tangle of choices and the heavy judgement that lies upon those whose faces are broadcast publicly creates the system that allows a man like Jian Ghomeshi to walk away from charges he himself does not dispute.

No woman, traumatized or not, is ever far from the snide commentary about illogical emotions that must surely rule over us and, therefore, make us easily dismissed.  

If I struggle to reconcile my intellectual self--the one that rails against the violence I experienced in my youth--to the emotionally stunted girl I often feel remains trapped in me--the one who still believes I must have done something to warrant it, that I could have fixed things, if I were thinner, prettier, and more obedient, things surely would have been different--it is because society still confuses and conflates my narrative arc. I can not be all the things and yet the expectation is this very thing we can not be.

It is a false dichotomy to say that we control the narratives of our lives when it is perpetuated around and against us, a death of a thousand cuts.The fault of my trauma does not lie with me. If I am to survive this breath and the next, in my heart I must convince myself that this is true.

If clear video footage of a man harming a woman is still met with doubt and scepticism, what good is anyone's word?

Saturday, December 12, 2015

New York Christmas, day 3

We walked up to the observation deck of the Empire State Building. Well, we walked up the last six flights of stairs anyway. 

Ahead of us, an old man, puffed along and it was a matter of pride as much as endurance to not give up.

There is something interesting that hsbhapenednin the last three months as I have worked on adjusting my attitude towards my body: exertion is no less difficult but choosing to begin is more likely. That is, I don't enjoy the gym even an iota more than I ever did, but my willingness to put myself in a situation that moves my body has shifted.

Looking down, then, into the streets we have walked gives me some perspective about what I have successfully accomplished and that awareness fills me with pride.
Walking throughout Manhattan and indulging our nerdy selves (Star Wars and then Hunger Games exhibits?! Yeah!) helped me to settle down into the truth of this trip: I needed to be exhausted in different ways. I needed to shine because of choices that I made, somewhat selfishly, that helped me to feel settled and satisfied. That I need to not lose sight of who I am as a person, outside of my obligatory "roles" as mother and teacher, friend and colleague.

Our Broadway choice, Hamilton, quenched a thirst we didn't know we had and it was marvellous.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

New York Christmas, day 2

There is a perception that holiday seasons, especially Christmas, produce an excess of moments that feel almost miraculous. Moments that seem made for the word awesome at it's most literal sense. 

We feel cynical and jaded at a world that is too loud, too violent, too sharp against the soft edges of our innocence to truly feel in awe of the world.

My husband is described as a well-grounded realist, if one is kind, and a sarcastic cynic, if one is honest. As you might imagine, it takes a lot to fill him with awe. But today? Today had moments that were awesome.

We went to the New York Public Library and there, unexpectedly, we got to see a Gutenberg Bible. It's meticulous illumination work and intriguing hand lettered margin notes left us both in a state of profound awe. The historical significance of this book from 1456, there right in front of us here, made us walk in thoughtful contemplation, pondering mhow society shifted so massively in the post-Gutenberg world. 

To pair this, then, with the Museum of Natural History with its timeline of human origins
and the 10:26 scale representation in the Rose Centre was nothing short of mind blowing. Time, distance, importance of humanity? How relative we were, how insignificant our worries, how trite our lives felt against the magnitude of space, the infinitesimally fragments of all the known world.
And so, pondering the greatness of everything, we walked together in the rain through Central Park, 
and took in the lighting of the Rockefeller Tree 
and understood that our place in the world couldn't be understood in simple ways but would be endured in simple joys, together. And that fact settled inside me, a kernel of surety in a life that so often has none.

And that? Is awesome.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

New York Christmas, day 1

It is December 1st and I am in New York City for the first time. After enduring a day of travel to get here that included numerous delays and turbulent moments, my husband and I are enjoying the amazing freedom of child free companionship. 
In the months between the last post and now, I have committed myself to changing my perspective.

I go to the gym in the hopes that I can gain a new appreciation for how my body moves, how I can work to make it stronger and more capable, how to love more comfortably in my skin. This process is long and arduous. It continues despite my struggles to make it so.

My work/life balance is exactly as it needs to be, despite a frisson of guilt even at the minimal hours I now teach. The proverbial foot in the door is so hard for a Type A gal like me but the resultant joy I have connecting with my children makes this decision an absolute no-brainer. There is no substitution for my time with them.

And because my time is so focused on where my children are right now, it is hard to ensure that I am also focusing on my own well-being.

I struggle with the guilt and freedom of exploring this new adventure, despite the fact that both of us have undoubtedly earned every moment of this trip. 

Parenting is hard and thirteen years of marriage has been filled with ups and downs but on this New York Christmas honeymoon, I am so thankful for everything that has lead me here.