no more healing; just be
It started with astrology. Reading about characteristics of star placements and comparing their definitions to my understanding of self. I was ready to become someone new.
What does freedom look like to you?
I started writing, too. Reflecting on my trip to meet my biological parents. I knew being disconnected from my heritage held me back but I didn’t know how until I met them. In those stories I began to make sense of my pain by separating it out; these unhealthy patterns are my fault, these ones are their fault, these ones are their parent’s, these ones are defense mechanisms built into the space where I was abandoned. Ultimately, unfortunately, no one’s fault and only my responsibility.
Remember that I love you.
So I made sense of my pain, I laid it out like a map, gave it structure. Then I needed to dissolve to let it leave my body. My acting training taught me how to open myself to emotion and sensation. It required several hours of lying on the floor, breathing, following any feeling in the body and listening to where it wanted me to move. I’m not an expert at anything except Mario Kart and Smash Bros., but I believe that breathing is the fundamental key to healing. Early in my degree my instructor asked us students to start paying attention to how often we hold our breath during a day. It changed my life.
Don’t believe me? Try it: remember that I love you. Remember.
Reading and learning played big parts, too. I walked to the BANQ every week and took out a new book on astrology, self-help, utopian-sci-fi like Octavia Butler or Ursula Le Guin, psychology, trauma, trans autobiography, childhood experience, social justice, yoga. One book led me to the next and soon I understood my desires by seeing them reflected in what I sought out. At the very least, they were signs that I wanted more for myself and the world.
What do you want?
I started volunteering with Big Brother Little Brother. In reflecting on my relationships with men, I realized my desire to fix them and teach them and support them and love them wasn’t shameful or wrong, just misguided. Men take advantage of kindness without realizing it because they are never taught boundaries; again, it’s not their fault. I took the energy that was telling me to love and to care and gave it to a child instead. Someone who needs it and is still open. I think of him and my heart aches, I can feel it pumping out all of the feelings I repressed while I was willing my body to be something different. To squeeze into, to change into, to do anything but just be.
I had to let go of shame to let the light in, and that took time, too. It took paying attention to what my body told me and moving past judgment of those messages. I had to believe I was moving in the right direction.
Where are you going?
Spirituality started entering my life because of how much time I was spending at home and alone. After graduating I made the deliberate choice to focus on my health before taking on any big new plans. This meant slowing down, resisting the pulls of capitalism, and prioritizing rest and pleasure. I read the work of Adrienne Maree Brown. I rearranged my room, made an altar.
I started napping more and paying attention to what my dreams were saying. I made up my own meanings. I dreamt my biological father got out of prison for a day and shared a tender moment with my inner child along a sun-kissed beach. I dreamt my brother and I had a relationship beyond small-talk. I accepted the dreams as gifts, as no different than reality.
Remember that I love you.
I started meditating by sitting still and focusing on breathing in for eight seconds, holding for eight seconds, and breathing out for eight seconds. It gave me a place to feel the emotions that I repressed during the day without realizing. It showed me how I really feel. It’s my me-time outside of time. Sometimes i’ll follow the same breathing pattern but move around, following pleasure in the body, like I learned in class. I started to feel grounded in my day-to-day because I realized I could just feel good on my own, that pleasure and joy can always be found but you have to look for them. By cutting down on distractions and learning to weather the torrent of impulses spring-loaded in my body I found a cache of well-being in the space between the in-breath and out-breath.
You are not special. You are important. Remember.
Learning to love yourself even during conflict is political. Prioritize it. Work as little as you can. Make enough to get by and to buy yourself things that bring you joy. I used CERB money to buy a dildo and Animal Crossing. Release yourself from the idea that you need to be doing something. Come back to yourself. Pay attention to the ways your distractions are manifestations of a white-supremacist capitalist patriarchy. Learn where the line is between self-soothing and self-sabotage (AKA Animal Crossing overload). Approach self-care as if you had no resources - take cues from your body and from nature. In rebuilding yourself, use a different mould. Pay attention to your relationships, they are your greatest teachers. Speak freely and watch them evolve. Laugh at fear in the face. Make art, build something, seek out people who listen to your point of view. Don’t stop. Keep going.
Relax your tongue, feel the weight of it press down gently on your heart. Your body is waiting to find you.
If I may speak from a place of tough love, you are not allowed to feel bad just for existing, and that feeling certainly cannot be your motivation for social justice work. Learn how you feel your best - hone it like a skill and make it into a practice - and then come join the fight. Learning self-respect brings up an endless well of anger towards the injustices we face - that’s the fuel for revolution. We’ll always be here, there will always be work to be done. Life must be accepted before it can be fought for. Remember yourself. Remember the goal: loving ourselves and each other in spite of what we are up against.