Hunger isn’t just about food and poverty isn’t only about money. I used to hide in closets to avoid both. Sitting alone in a small, dark space day dreaming, talking to God or reading filled the void. In the safety of confinement on my own terms I could escape the layers of expectation and projections. Leaving the closet meant adopting one of many characters as part of obtaining basic needs, avoiding unwanted consequences or dissociating to preserve a light I must’ve still believed was there. Doing what I wanted or needed to do was easier without an audience. Not because it was illegal or gross but because experience repeatedly showed me it wasn’t safe to be my self yet. I learned to hide anything of value I didn’t want stolen or used without my permission; an elusive trick when you feel worthless and invisible. It turns out I’m not even alone when no one is there. Permissability is subject to power and authority, two abilities I’ve failed to grasp, yet. What I had or have is some combination of marketable commodities and condemnable offenses, simultaneously. If you haven’t recognized your worth and you’re desperate for a break people can get you to do all kinds of things. Money can’t buy truth but it can afford you the time and space to go look for it. If the gurus are right, boundaries are free and they’ll also buy you time and space. I’ve been practicing them diligently for over a decade and still find myself compromising out of necessity. Some guy named Tom Sachs gave the keynote speech on Authenticity for the New York Times International Luxury Conference. Did you catch that? He said fake Gucci sunglasses are advantageous and easy to forget because they cost less. “They don’t own you, you own them because you can dispose of them.” Is that why we kill for shoes? To prevent ourselves from being thrown away? It shouldn’t matter that we’re easy to forget but it does fuel the fire of futility. We could find joy in the simplicity of chopping wood and carrying water, given time. As he rambled on about his important creations and all the ways he’s empowered to live out the fullest expressions of himself, I heard the voice of systemic oppression. Love is free. Freedom is a state of mind. But we live in a concrete world with rules about rank and access which most of us had no part in writing. The consequence of ignoring flesh and blood reality while selling bumper stickers about kindness and hustle are now becoming visible in the form of allegations. We don’t just sparkle out of this. We don’t just good vibes only this into submission. I’ll be the first to admit silence is a different kind of lie but it’s one we accept as part of justifying survival, until we’re no longer surviving.
Apparently womb means empty. I’ve chosen for mine to stay that way, having noticed more enough unloved people wandering around. Making more never made sense. There’s plenty to replace the emptiness. Babies are wriggly, helpless, germy and they leak for at least the first two or three years. I work full time but I’m a woman so by default I’d be expected to match tiny socks, befriend other daycare moms, quickly get back into a pre-baby shape, make crafts with washable glue, plan ideal celebrations to demonstrate how much I love my family and otherwise be a fountain of nourishment to every living being within earshot of the kitchen. That sounded awful so I made a very conscious, different choice. The social contract doesn’t consider debt or the confines of reality. Also I’m still learning how to meet my own needs which carried over like detached figures from some unsolved, life formula with too many x’s, oh’s and why’s. Why do people have children? Why do people have children and put them in daycare? Why do people have children and put them in boarding school? Why do people have children and sell them for drug money? Why do people have children and prescribe them a destiny in exchange for ‘love’? Why do bad things happen? Why do good things happen? Why does unresolved trauma make my face go numb? Why are we here floating on a pale blue dot in a galaxy in a universe? What am I supposed do about it?
The thing about empty spaces is we fill them up, mostly with things that make us feel temporarily good. Cake, sex, excuses, flirtations and those $3 scented candles from T.J Maxx; because we like the max for the minimum. Meaning, we want all the good feelings with none of the thinking, effort or responsibility because it’s too much bare. I have no idea why this is true. Very smart people orate about science, brains and guts from distinguished platforms. The rest of us keep quiet and listen, mostly to commercials attempting to sell us things we don’t need. What makes us vulnerable to the seduction of cultural programming? A desperation to belong and live the joyful looking lives of the people in commercials. Chips proclaiming we can buy fun with friends in a bag for a dollar. Where did our deep sense of longing and separation from love come from? The same place it’s always come from since the beginning of time; the cosmic punchline.
Trauma can do one of two things: make you talk incessantly about nothing or trap truth inside you like a mute prisoner. Do you ever feel like the words you want to say are lodged behind a Rubik’s Cube stuck inside your vocal cords? If I could just spit it out, I would. If we could just forgive and forget, we would. Certain questions are empty spaces if left unanswered make us feel anxious. Why did this happen? Why didn’t you tell me? Why did you do that? Am I loveable? How do I manifest peace now? In an effort to hold our place in the bread line, we quickly assign blame to some one or some thing; poverty is the fault of entitlement, homelessness is the fault of laziness, obesity is the fault of mice, abortions are the fault of sexually immoral women, addiction is the fault of personal weakness and everything else gets blamed on parents, priests and politicians. I blame low blood sugar and mornings. The thing about trying to get the most while giving the least is the creeping debt accumulating someplace out of sight until Jill comes tumbling down and there are broken crowns everywhere. Hidden debts racking up in our collective heart. This moment in time is nothing more than a myocardial infarction. Attack. Am I or I Am?
I was either a miracle or mistake, depending on the account. These extremes were balanced out by my stepfather. The spaghetti burned. We’ve got a bag of sugar and flour. Funnel cake for dinner it is! Both he and my father told stories of the people society wanted to forget, for different reasons. Ignorance, anger, thoughtful curiosity, delight and shades of alignment. One brought compassionate humor while the other brought dignified rage; both were beautiful. My mother attempts to rescue all of them with pizza and prayer. At present the country seems to be leaving the palace of the comfortable illusions of pride and prejudice. It’s fantastic and sad. We’re both the problem and the solution.
Love is born
With a dark and troubled face
When hope is dead
And in the most unlikely place
Love is born:
Love is always born.~Luenig
Thank you Sophie, for sharing this poem to bring us full circle.
*I wanted this to be more; a clear explanation linking emotional incest to the tidal wave of sexual harassment accusations against predominately white men in power but this is what came out. I’m tired of attempting to use someone else’s voice and equally tired of silence. xo