i feel like you know the feeling.
my father pinched my mother often.
scattered across her arms. legs.
“i bruise easily.”
no, love. your skin was not created to withstand the frustrations of a man who laughed to see you wince.
i see it in myself.
whose pain is my release?
this morning after prayers i thought to check some financial accounts to verify which recent transactions had gone through. when i did i found that i was potentially going to be overdrafted today. enter stress. we are in a limbo between beginning medical school (read: loans) and getting ready for medical school (read: moving costs, daycare costs, loss of income). however, realizing the immediate financial complications allowed me to address them prior to overdrawing from our account. i don’t believe mediation/prayer = some kind of “gift” that led me to thinking about checking the transactions, but perhaps it cleared my brain in a way that brought important matters to mind and better prepared me to do the difficult: reach out to borrow money.
i was raised to accept blessings and it was further ingrained in my spirit not to refuse blessings while in haiti. i live by this now but it does not make asking for help like this much easier. nonetheless, my friend was able to go to the atm and withdraw what i needed to deposit to ensure we were covered. my family is covering some of the larger needs over the next couple months. blessings which can strengthen relationships, encourage humility, and improve generosity.
but in the moment it did not feel like that. i was frustrated–to change careers while birthing/raising my son to get our family to this point took a lot of sacrifice. we try to be responsible and independent. we also value sustainability and building a healthy home. getting into a situation like this felt a little bit like failure a lit bit discouraging. when will we ever…not need people? be so wealthy that our personal stockpile covers every inconceivable situation that may arise..maybe we should focus more on building those bank accounts and work more outside of our home over the next few years..
one of my husband’s students died today in class after experiencing their first known seizure. an employee unsuccessfully tried to revive the student. life is fragile. another lesson in this day that brought the perspective i needed. what is important?
i am thankful for the blessings of this day. may the family of the student find peace. may we all prioritize the relationships in our life that make life worth living. may we receive the blessings, the lessons we are surrounded by.
one of the experiences i have been grateful to share with my toddler is his lack of concern for the judgement of others. he is not digging in the dirt because he thinks you will see him as strong, but because for some reason he truly enjoys it. he did not learn a new word to impress you but because he enjoys learning and expressing himself.
that being said, he also enjoys sharing these experiences. his best sharing comes when another person is going to engage in the same task he is focused on: “let’s vroom our cars!” his favorite part of potty training was the family song/dance that followed.
his full engagement and natural self-confidence has made me completely rethink the US cultural norm of praising our children. when he hears “you are so smart!” the moment becomes less about whatever he is doing and more about the judgement made by the person. it takes him out of the moment and into the judgmental mind of the adult where things are being categorized as smart or dumb, good or bad, right or wrong.
not only does it impair his ability to simply immerse himself in the moment, but it also makes an experience about his qualities or accomplishments in a way that suggests he should be proud instead of grateful. personally, i believe there are so many factors outside of personal control at all times (genetics, family background, country of origin, gender, etc) that gratitude is more reasonable than personal pride. shared pride is more honest than personal pride.
it is my goal for my child to live in a constant state of gratitude, for my child to be able to observe without judgement, for my child to experience fully…and i think withholding verbal judgements most times will help provide a more cultivating environment.
i told my dad i was raped. not because i planned to or particularly wanted to–it has been several years since the assault and i specifically did not tell him once i came to the place of healing where i told anyone at all. largely because i don’t feel the type of connection, the relationship with him that would create a reason for telling him. we were having an overall cordial conversation about our different opinions on religion. simple version: he believes christianity is holy and right while islam is evil and wrong. i believe they are different versions of the same. to prove a point that other cultures are more evil than westernized, christian societies (i.e. the US), he gave this example: “In India, they think it is ok to gang rape 10 and 12-year-old girls. If that was my daughter I would blow their brains out.” There could not be a more privileged, machismo, heartless, ignorant thing to say. 1. His privileged position looks at a gang rape and relates through the position of the father. NOT the person who was actually raped. 2. Since he has no traumatic response to rape stories (apparently), he can bring them up at any moment with no concern for it triggering trauma. 3. He gets to fantasize about “blowing the brains out” of some imaginary villains while speaking to someone who was able to do absolutely NOTHING to her real life rapist. 4. He takes a horrific assault and makes the occurrence about him–the victim still has no power (how would she define justice?), the victim is still objectified–this time it is just as a possession that requires defense. “Your daughter was raped while in college just like about a third* of my peers. Stop talking about other cultures you don’t understand and look at your own culture and country.” “I’m not saying bad things don’t happen here, I’m just saying…” blah, blah, more bullshit that in no way acknowledged what his actual daughter had told him. This, of course, proves what a shitty thing it was for him to say in the first place. When his own daughter was actually assaulted he did nothing. When she told him about it and he could have actually done something he instead barely acknowledged I had spoken and instead moved on to his next important point in the debate and has since never mentioned anything. When we teach our daughters they are possessions of men we strip them of their sacred power. When we teach our sons that women are objects to be sexualized and female family members are objects to be defended, we place power into incompetent hands. In both we create societal dysfunction. We must move past the machismo, the violent responses to grievances. We must teach our boys to empathize, to listen, to validate, to acknowledge. We must hold the givers of life as sacred.
P.S. I have also been personally challenged to be more careful in the examples I use to prove points or the “if that were me” scenarios.
*exactly as I said it but not an exactly scientifically accurate figure
“mama, why do you want to be a doctor?”
“because i want to help people be well.”
“ohhhh…” (disappointed face)
“you don’t want me to be a doctor?”
“no, i want you to be a mama.”
“my love, i will always be your mama; i will just also be a doctor mama.”
smiles and hugs.
perhaps you never had your male boss physically drag and shove you in the direction he wanted you to move. and if you did would you have realized that not only made you feel bad, but that he was wrong enough in his action to have deserved serious repercussions? perhaps you did not spend your teenage years with nearly daily unwanted physical touches by your male peers. friends. innocuous enough to feel safe, frequent enough to feel normal, unwanted enough to feel violated. and perhaps if you did then you had a similar reaction when you were later raped. the questions of your culpability, the disgust for not somehow preventing the unpreventable. the sense of loss and shame. the overwhelming isolation. perhaps your first longterm employment was not in the female role of the grocery store when only the male role led to management. perhaps you were never questioned by your male interviewer how, as a woman, you would be able to handle a certain situation. perhaps an interviewer has never commented on your exotic appearance, beauty. perhaps a mentor has never done the same. perhaps the majority of powerful roles in your world are not held by men. perhaps you have never had sexual threats yelled at you as you walk down the road, drive in your car. perhaps you were never responsible for feeding a child from your breast in a society that is only comfortable with breasts exposed for adult male pleasure. perhaps the emotional, biologically normal responses of women are not medicated in nearly a quarter of women in your society. gray hair is not distinguished in men but scary in women. i hope so, but if so, don’t fail to listen to others.
“Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women.” Maya Angelou