a message from the happy descendants

September 17, 2016

I’ve been hearing from the Happy Descendants for a while now–the people who will come after us and specifically those who are living in a green and vibrant world, living in human communities shot through with beauty, justice, and delight and also woven with gratitude, respect, and deep love in interdependence with the whole thrumming web of life, aka that world we point to when we say, “Another world is possible.”

They want me to share messages from them and today I opened up, listened, and transcribed.  Here is what they said:

As much as you can, imagine us, imagine our world in vivid, sensory detail, imagine our lives as felt from the inside.

This can be hard, we know, there are voices and facets inside you that clamp this down or struggle against this. Because you’re scared to face the pain and grief that arises at the sight of the gap between your lives and ours. And there’s envy too, a strong anger at how unfair it is and a desire to lash out, to away from us what you never had/what was taken away from you.

We have these impulses too. You don’t need to destroy them–trying to do is counterproductive. You do need to be aware of them, to open up spaces (inside and out) where they have less sway and to actively nourish and cultivate your voices of hope and possibility.

Seeing through your anger to the core of it, the thirst for justice which you don’t always know how to point in the right direction or to clearly move from, is a key for some.

For all, imagining–and creating representations of your visions: songs, stories, plays, paintings, comics, games, rituals, poems, prayers–is important.

Be generous and expansive in how you respond to each other’s visions. The purpose is not to hash out the details of our decision-making systems and political structures–as if you, from your vantage point, could! The purpose is to evoke, to inspire, to remind the slumbering spirits of the world, human and beyond, of the beauty and tenderness and fierceness that are possible, that are already here.

This is a great act of magic, the birthing of a new way/world. Your sensory, lush visions are one of the portals through which we will enter the world.






my body is a living temple of love

July 14, 2015

[trigger warning: pretty raw descriptions of body shame/internalized fatphobia]

Every day I think things like, “I’m fat, it’s gross, I need to lose weight, I hate being so fat.”  It’s scary to write this, and also a deep relief.  Hiding this shame, these thoughts only makes them stronger and more insidious.

I experience some confusion about my body, my size, my level or degree of fatness–for a long time I have been receiving mixed messages about my weight.  As a kid, I remember both my grandmother telling me that I needed to eat more, to put some meat on my bones and a doctor–who was much bigger than I was–telling me that I needed to lose some weight.

A few years ago, when I was significantly smaller than I am now, I had multiple friends tell me that they thought of me as thin.  And I also had a boy who I was hooking up with tell me, after I took my shirt off for the first time, “I don’t need people to go to the gym all the time–I like it when boys do more interesting things with their time–and I need people to be in shape enough to have some stamina.”

(I don’t know how to speak about this exactly, my words are uncertain in this new territory, so forgive me if this jumps around a little.)

Looking back at myself in high school, I think, oh, gosh, I was actually pretty thin then, why did I feel so fat, so ashamed of my body?  Part of it, of course, is one impact of my father’s sexual abuse–my body as a site of disaster, a dumping ground for toxic waste, wrong and disgusting and always responding in the wrong ways.  Another part is the intense and vicious body standards within the gay male community, the veneration of certain–young, tall, thin, masculine–bodies and the denigration of any that deviate from these standards.

I have taken in these standards, too, of course, swallowed them down like all the sugary cereals I ate as a kid.  In high school, I thought I needed to lose weight, to be thinner so I could be attractive to other queer boys.  I wanted to become anorexic–and I tried but always failed.  I would not eat for hours and hours but I would always get hungry in the end and eat something.  I never lasted an entire day without eating.  At the time I thought I was failing at developing an eating disorder but now I can see that my thoughts and actions were probably on the spectrum of disordered eating.

Less medically, what I’m saying is that these thoughts–that I need to lose weight in order to be attractive, that my body as it is is disgusting or wrong–are a form of self-hatred.

And there is another layer to this story, one that seems riskier in some ways to tell.  I want to be clear here that I’m speaking only of my one body, my own truth, and not trying to speak about anyone else’s body.

Here’s a quick timeline: in the years, following my remembering of my father’s abuse, I gained a lot of weight.  This also coincided with experiencing economic scarcity and precariousness and a huge amount of stress.  (I am starting to understand more and more how I haven’t thought of myself as a “poor person” and how much this is tied in with typical American patterns around class consciousness, or really lack thereof, and how many economically marginalized people experience significant weight gain–there’s a whole ‘nother blog post there and maybe I will write it soon.)  And I remember this moment when I was eating and eating–probably what could be classified as binge eating–and I felt out of control, in a frenzy of shame and self-hatred, a vicious spiral where I hated myself for being out of control, and I found myself thinking, “I want to be fat, I want to be the fattest person in the world.”

Reflecting on that, and on other patterns and dynamics, I came to understand–and I want to be clear here again that I am speaking only for myself, about myself–that my size was a kind of shield, a bulwark against the potential desires of men, which scared me so much, particularly when I was in the throes of trauma.  I came to understand this, and I worked on transforming it, and it seemed like this worked.  I lost a lot of weight, until I was the same size I had been in high school or even a bit smaller, and felt a lot more comfortable sharing erotic space with people and felt empowered and healed and transformed.  It felt like I was letting go of shields on multiple levels.

And then I moved into an intentional community where I felt triggered most of the time for eight months and then at the climax and conclusion to that unsafe home had a re-traumatizing conflict and I fell back into that maelstrom of stress and upheaval and I gained a good chunk of the weight back.

This morning, I was thinking about some of this and checking in with myself and there was this small, scared part of me that didn’t want to lose weight because I didn’t want to get more erotic attention, because “I don’t want men to be attracted to me.”

There are multiple things that seem true about all of this to me, in this moment.  First, as a shield, it’s not working–men are attracted to me and flirt with me and desire me.  As a foundation, I want to affirm that bodies of all shapes and sizes are beautiful and sexy.  So much of this pain and disapproval is actually about my scarred relationship with physicality, with this body that felt/feels like a place of imprisonment and torment–I want to reclaim my sacred birthright of pleasure, to fully embody my flesh, whatever size or form she takes, to feel the safety and strength of myself coating my skin.  I know that it is toxic and self-defeating to focus on losing weight and I also want, in a journey focused on other things, to be open to that shift happening again, to shedding skin and lowering shields however that needs to happen.  But my focus will be on gaining strength and stamina and flexibility, on befriending my muscles and bones and skin, on experiencing the deep flows of pleasure and pain that move through my body, wild and free and flawless as ocean waves, on letting my body be a temple of holy lust, a place of sweet and spicy joy, dancing, thrumming with power and sex and love.

turning the muck around the gold into rich compost

April 18, 2015

[trigger warning: discussion of incest/childhood sexual abuse]

Right now I’m a student in a Master’s Program at a fancy, well-regarded private school in the Pacific Northwest.  There is space there for me to talk about some of my feelings of shame and alienation as someone who grew up in a family on the edge of working class and middle class, with a father who never went to college and who worked as a forklift driver in an auto factor but had middle class income because it was a union job.

But I haven’t known how to speak about my current (and recent and lingering) class and financial situation.  The shame and fear that I feel about where I am right now (and where I’ve been this past year and pretty much my entire adult post-college life) clamps my throat shut tight.

And I have noticed, in this week’s most recent pout of panic about money, that the fear and shame and deep, careening panic that I feel about my financial situation feels very much like the trauma that I experience as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse.  In other words, living with very little money in this increasingly cut throat capitalist society is in itself traumatizing.

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a poem for ten voices

April 8, 2015

[trigger warning: graphic account of sexual violence/incest]

imagine that these voices are birds
rising up one at a time, like crows gathering in a winter tree
or a procession of masks floating across a stage
or children, scared children, limping or scarred,
slowly peeking their heads out
opening their eyes and blinking,
as if they were newborn
as if the entire world were incomprehensible and new
and terribly, terribly bright

the first voice says, “I don’t want to tell this story, okay? I fucking hate this story. I don’t want it to be true. I want to drown it in a bathtub of silence, like an unwanted child, like a child that will only bring pain and trouble.”

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a stitch in time: a prayerspellpoem for my birthday

April 3, 2015
[trigger warning: childhood sexual abuse]

May these words bring healing and liberation.

i feel broken forever, my skin racked and split in some endless time beyond time and space

I am learning to turn the gash in the fabric of time and space into a portal, a gateway for healing and integration.

i feel crazy angry and sad and i hate this and i don’t want to write it


my dad raped me and i still feel the anguish in my throat

I turn trauma into poetry.  With a sleight of hand, I turn the glass walls of disassociation cutting through my body, severing me from myself, into the transparent pages of some metaphysical book.  Words can’t touch me.  His violence shrinks, contained by the solid black shapes of these letters, which I re-arrange and delete at will.

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