IAmNotBritish, episode thirty-four
Happy Brunch Sunday, lovies. Let's raise our mimosas or mugs and clink a cheers to a bit of connection between work, notices and ads in your inbox. Written with a London accent in my head, mostly. Reading with an accent is completely your (next best) decision. I skipped writing to you last Sunday. I did try. It's the first time I missed since I started eight months ago. I made a draft about the wonderful things I learned from my Grandma Ruth Lowe, who passed in 1997, and life lessons from Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The next day, my Grammy Johnson passed away. She was also a great teacher, in the way she lived her life. My feelings were heavy for those and lots of reasons. After a few days of working through them, it felt like the water was no longer up to my clavicle, but to my ankles, like a duller ache that I was able to wade through, as I function about the day. I realized my assumption that stopped the words. A "friend" told me as a foster teen, "No one wants to hear about your feelings." Many such instances reaffirmed her opinion. I stacked them up in a section of my brain, creating this solid little belief:
It is safer to not speak, than to speak and lose what little you have.
If it means you won't leave me, I'll be quiet about how I feel. Young, emotional development does not always allow for an appropriate emotional expression. Sadness and tears are pretty basic, but anger? How does a girl, or a "nice" woman, express anger? I felt all of this: being small and not speaking, desperate to hold on to relationships that kept me tucked away and quiet...all of the women, children, and colored men all revolve around white men. Historically, for sure, but yet, STILL. I only bring that up in order to deflect away from my feelings, again. Because I don't even want to know they are there. I don't want to feel them, ever. If I ate enough or, in the past, drank enough, I could push them down, deep. Even Mormon-ly acceptable drugs: caffeine from sources other than coffee and tea, and s u g a r. All of the things that made me feel different, but not better. I made others, and myself, more comfortable by being quiet. Perhaps I have an abundance of emotion? Excess, like over-production of ear wax or a lack vitamin K so I can't clot and move on? Maybe there's something wrong with me, that I have these emotions in the first place? My voice of reason says, NO. There's nothing wrong. Feel it all and let it pass. Be sad, lonely, worried, afraid, angry, jealous. Let it pass, and be happy again. We are whole and were born whole. I've been chipped away by experiences, and when there was a break between power-chisels, I broke myself. I am not less because I had sex before marriage. (There, I said it.) The first three times, I was forced, so I cannot be less because of someone else's choice, certainly. Sex doesn't make one whole, so how could it break me? And these words: I am not less because my husband is living in a beach house while I sort through our closets and make repairs on our house. I am more than enough.
Today's Deep Breathe: Here's a practical juju nugget, a collective Next Best Decision.
I'd like to encourage women and girls to not be afraid to say what they think, feel and want. If you have a daughter, listen to her. Find a way to open her up, and Hear. I have advocated for autism, moved our home and family many times, made sure both kids transitioned in schools, neighborhoods and church. I made sure they had friends. I wrapped myself around those I loved, willingly, maybe a bit compulsively. At times, their happiness rubbed off onto me, but didn't stick very long. It wasn't mine. Now they all are launching, and I have left myself with very little love or hope. I am building it now. As a child, I wanted to be wanted. Please pick me up. Please smile at me. Please feed me. I catch myself yearning to be wanted, even by those I don't want. I will write and paint and cry and scream, work on this house. Go through every photo of the last 26 years, digitize the albums I created with glue sticks, donate photo frames that hung on our walls. Shred old papers. All the books, and board games that now have screen versions. I have been busy and asleep. Time to wake up and move forward. I listened to my daughter. She lovingly told me: "Do something now to make you happy. You're free to do that. No more caring about everyone else first, after so long. Say what you want. Ask for help with the house stuff. Figure out what you need. Work on thoughts of feeling stuck, and strive to feel unstuck now. Don't rely on anyone else's love for your own self-worth." Preach. I heard her. Until next time, Tami Lowe