Diverge

One beautiful thing I’ve acquired in my thirty-one years on earth, and in particular the last five years or so, is a steady growing surplus of “no ‘fox’ given”.  If you understand what I’m saying…

It is like all those cliche internet memes suggest, when you finally know your worth, you find it increasingly more difficult to be around those who don’t understand or add to your value. I remember a conversation I had with Nick as he drove me to LA to catch my flight to Bali. I told him how I had such a hard time saying someone wasn’t good enough for me. Or that I was better than any one person. So I found myself giving people the benefit of the doubt more often than was comfortable for me. He told me–flat out–that I needed to get over that. And he was right. I had to reframe it, it wasn’t that I was better than anyONE, but certainly I was better than certain behaviors and actions. It wasn’t that someone wasn’t good enough for me, we all have the capacity for greatness, but I need someone who has knows his capacity for greatness and is actively working to realize it. 

Next came what was certainly the most difficult to own, and that was my certainty around being “okay” never being a bride. Not that I would remain single forever. But I’ve always dreamed of being a mom, not a wife. I’d made one conditional on the other, and I decided recently that that was unnecessary. This idea freaks people out when I mention it. As does my indifference to monogamy.  But the more I’ve become okay with my beliefs, the less I need other people to be okay with them. 

I have grown to own that for as different as I am, and as “out there” my beliefs are that at my core I am still very simple. I believe in kindness. I believe in helping others when you can. I believe in love and that it is everlasting and the most powerful force in the cosmos. I believe that who we are today is an alchemy of who we’ve been across lifetimes, which is why we are so much more socially complex than we were fifty or even one-hundred years ago. I believe that freedom is in authenticity. I believe that sex is among the most sacred spiritual experiences one can have, and that it is the truest expression of the truth of any coupling. I believe that children are magic, and adults terrified, but jealous we will never be that magical again. I believe that the most innocent creatures hurt the most because they feel too deeply. I believe the elements can heal most ailments. I believe in waiting for your cue. I believe in quiet exits and grand entrances. I believe in art. I believe that we have in us, the power to change the world. I believe we are terrified to own that power because we are too afraid of the responsibility and the accountability. I believe in saying ‘I don’t know’ when it is in fact the case. I believe that everyone knows in their heart why they’re here. And that our purposes are much bigger than the roles we play. I believe in speaking only when it improves the silence. I believe in a lot of silence. 

Full Out 

When I was a little girl, my mom swears I hated dance. I never remember hating it, though. In fact, for as long as I can remember I have been obsessed with dancers, form and line, and love to dance to nearly any type of music. So I laughed at the question when Colleen, who sat across from me giving me an I’Ching reading, asked me if I danced? I recalled my looking up adult dance classes and wondering if I had the nerve to show up to one. I remembered the conversation I had with Jillian only weeks ago about indulging in this latent dream of mine. Do I dance?

Days later Ted would sit across from me and explain how he felt a shift in himself, like a move from a prince to a king. The metaphor stuck with me even though I wasn’t so keen to call myself a queen. I was, however, very interested in what that transition meant. I called our trip his coronation. Fitting because “ceremony” was very appropriate given our place and company in New Mexico. And as I began to feel a similar shift in myself, I struggled to put language to exactly what it was I felt I was or what I was becoming.

“You know how when you make a decision that’s so spot-on you feel it resonate with your capital-S-Self and you just feel a weight lifted, almost like this great peace washes over you,” I asked Annie. She shook her head yes indicating that she understood where I was going, so I continued. “That’s how I felt when I decided that academia is not for me,” I declared. It still feels so good to say out loud I find myself mouthing the words even as I type them. Later with Brittany, I went on, “if I have to live on peanut butter sandwiches but I’m in love with what I’m doing. That’s worth it to me. Because at this point higher education feels like wool on my skin.” I’m dramatic. But that’s the point! I’m dramatic. I’m bold and outspoken and I can own a room if I choose to. I am a colorful spirit governed by freedom and I am meant to fly, not grow upwards from one place.

It is certainly not to disregard academia nor its constituents, after all it is the process of obtaining my doctoral degree which taught me best how much I do not want this life. “I’ve been holding back,” I wrote to Ted. Wanting to say so much more and tell him all the ways I had. The many struggles against hypocrisy I’d had which almost always boiled down to art over form. No one had a good enough reason of why we had to do things a certain way and I desperately needed to know, finding precedence an insufficient response. I deeply admire my teachers and professors who have found their own art within the walls of ivy towers; for many years my admiration of them kept me safe within the confines never quite fitting in but certainly mastering the ins-and-outs well-enough.  It is because of them that I feel confident in my knowing Knowing that my stay here is expiring.

When I am my truest self I find others in awe of me, much to my chagrin. I am not looking for admirers. I am looking for other daring souls to challenge me, push me, inspire me, and break me open. While certainly in academia there is access to absolutely brilliant minds, by and large there is still a great appreciation and reward for those who move through the system draped and fueled by tradition and western pragmatism. It feels so counterintuitive to me more often than not, to be obtaining a degree touted to mark the contribution of new knowledge in a specific field yet in a very particular and specific way. I am not meant for this world. Even my most favorite inhabitants of this world exist on the perimeter whether they would agree with that statement is unknown.  It is certainly subjective. And as I said the words out loud the weight of all my years of trying to fit, do what I’m told and be agreeable, lifted off my chest and I could breathe.

I’d been the nail who stood too tall, marking herself as a target for strike. If I was my most authentic, I was a complete anomaly. Systems, I’ve found, don’t too much care for the enigmatic. I still remember the conversation with my Chair: “People do not like to sit in discomfort.” “Maybe you should teach them how.” Do I liked discomfort? I wouldn’t assert such a claim normally, and I am not even sure of its accuracy at present. What I am sure of is that I do not like complacency. I like to push and prod at boundaries. I like to be told “no” and fight for my “yes”. I like questioning and uncertainty that catalyzes clarity and intention; the split second before disaster when it all becomes clear and you know exactly what to do instinctually.

Exiting the labyrinth I realized that all the answers to my question, “How could I best be of service to God?” We’re about my own self awareness and self improvement. Listen. Trust. Fly. Lean. Cry. Grow. Clean. Look up. They were instructions for me to live my very best life.  I could best be of service to God by being my best self because it is that being who can best fulfill her purpose. It was so clear it was as if I always knew it. Well, because I did.

So I told Ted, “While I do not resonate with the royalty metaphor, I have decided to live my life full out.” Like dancing full out, when you are encouraged to rehearse as you would perform which makes sense because this is it. This one life, this is the only August 7, 2015 I will ever get. I need to live it full out. Which means following my callings and indulging in that which truly nourishes me.

For far too long I have sustained myself by overindulging on things which required copious amounts because they were lacking in substance. In my life I was consuming spiritual junk food rather than soul food meals. No more. I cannot afford it, and now acknowledging the truth, it makes it that much harder to ignore. I need nourishment. Real sustenance. I need to be fed in a way that is loving and ripe and filling. And I mean this in all facets of my life. I need to be fed in such a way that reflects the appreciation I have for my vessel and my spirit. That includes literal food, relationships, career, hobbies, etc. I need to live as though I love myself. That is what living full out means to me. As though my life were on purpose and has meaning, because it is and it does.

after careful thought…

The answer to every question you have is right there. Just be quiet, and listen. 

Then move forward without hesitation or fear. Trust yourself. Your Self. The God that dwells within you. 

Disrobe your fear. Dress instead in faith accessorize with grace and forgiveness. 

Love yourself. Be in love with your reflection. It is essential to your survival and your thriving. 

All things in their time. And if never at all, trust they were never supposed to come to pass. 

Hold hands. Figuratively or literally. We are not islands and support is sometimes this most precious gift of all. 

Be kind. Speak love. Live so that tomorrow you can be just as proud of the person you were as the person you will be. 

Take chances. Your heart knows the way forward, your head only knows where you’ve been before. 

Smile at strangers. Play with animals. Hug children and kiss your loved ones. Leave this earth with seeds of your love scattered in all four corners.  

Be yourself. Speak your truth. Feel the sun on your skin every day. Take a deep breath of the wind to keep your fire ignited. 

Hold back none of your passion. In the end, be empty. Make sure you use it all. 

white flags

I am sick. I write the words with a heavy heart full of exasperation as they echo through my head. I am unwell. As much as I wish it were not the case, it is and after trying to stand up to it and fight, I now–body pained and exhausted, mind weary and strained–fully surrender to it.  

There’s a sort of relief that follows my admission. Letting the tide of post traumatic stress, and anxiety toss me this way and that. I have not come here to die, I quickly remind both the ocean and myself. Quite the opposite, I surrendered not out of force but of my own volition. It was time for me to make peace with my right now instead of trying to turn it into something else. 

So I lean back, close my eyes and rest up against my illness. There is no mistake that as I become one with it, it also must become one with me. So I will stop combatting its existence. I will acknowledge its presence and its power. But I also demand it acknowledge mine. 

I have come here to live. To survive you, I have to learn you. To learn you I cannot pretend you do not exist and I cannot underestimate your influence. Similarly, you must know I have no interest in you becoming my whole story. It is just that I’ve tried to fight you in every way that I could and lost. So now I surrender the battle and let the chips fall where they may. 

The war, however, that victory is mine. 

Stupid Girl

“Stupid girl…” I called myself as I breathed through a morning anxiety attack where I found myself missing you. “Do you miss me too?” The stupid girl in me asks that more often than I would like to admit. But do you? 

I would like to think that because of all the hurt and all the brokenness I would never go down that road again. But if you wanted me to? I would. Stupid girl. 

I thought about the scar on your arm. How you got it at that concert we went to in the park from a girl you were trying to help. You were pissed as she scratched you off of her. I laughed and hugged you trying to bring your mood back to the light. Somehow the scar from a stranger outlasted us. It’s so silly to be jealous of that. Stupid girl. 

I miss you and me. Chicken club toasters or stuffed clams with wedge salads that I hated. Your horrible love of top 40 and refusal to like R&B. The way you wore your clothes as if you knew what I liked, because well…you did. The moment you walked into the bar that time before Christmas with just enough of a beard to make my mouth water. Kisses you delivered to my hands and the insides of my wrist as I drove. Stupid girl…

It feels like a lifetime ago. But it wasn’t…have you moved on? Probably. But don’t answer that. I thought I had. I want to. Although truthfully part of me doesn’t and hangs on to the hope that we will fix things and be us again. I love you so much. And I just miss you……..

F is for Fat

“Don’t call yourself fat, say you’re full-figured,” my aunt offered as a comment on a picture I’d posted on Facebook. Since I had been knee-deep in fat studies literature and the more pop-culture versions #BodyAcceptance and #BodyPositive movements, I had almost forgotten that for many, fat was still very much the F-word.

I have had a curious journey through my own fatness. It began as being the chubby kid with “baby fat” to the “solid” teenager, the “thick and curvy” young woman in college to whatever I am now. Having not been thin or even average weight since I was about four years old, fatness and I knew each other well. For many of those years it was a struggle; I did not hate my body, exactly, but I was also not terribly fond of it. Sure there were pieces of me that I liked (my eyes, my smile–which paired with my chubby cheeks always reminded me of Janet Jackson’s famous grin) but by and large, I was not a fan of my body.  I waffled between wanting to appear confident and strong, and wanting desperately to lose weight, my only real success coming around both of my graduations–college and my masters–where I lived on salads and diet pills, running and circuit training all to look good from every angle in my graduation photos. Even at the time, though, I always felt fat. And here I mean the word in an emotive sense; I felt large, unattractive, bulky and gross. My thick thighs rubbed together drawing up fitted dresses and skirts, walking around in the hot summer months in the south meant sweating and there was nothing worse I hated than sweating when, to me, all the thin people did not seem to be bothered by the heat. To me, everything that was associated with my body was negative.

For the most part I was silent about it because I did not want to hear lectures of “how to fix it” because when you’re fat, all the world is a personal trainer slash nutritionist. I also did not talk to friends about it, and when I worked out I never claimed it was about losing weight. I was so deeply uncomfortable with even discussing weight and it took me lots of soul-searching to even understand why that was. For one, it is incredibly vulnerable to open up to anyone about one of, if not the biggest insecurity you have. I also wasn’t interested in pity or claims that I was beautiful no matter what. It always felt forced and so incongruent with how I felt about myself, I was unable to receive those messages at the time. Lastly, I am an incredibly accomplished, and prideful person. Admitting to anyone else, but mainly myself, that there was something I could not master or even get a handle on, meant admitting I was weak and incapable. I had no interest being a victim, and I certainly would not ever suggest to someone (or myself) that I was not fill-in-the-blank (diligent, focused, ardent, fortuitous, smart, persistent, strong, etc) enough to lose weight. So I avoided the topic and the conversation entirely and completely.

Failed attempts to shame myself into losing weight by taking unflattering “before” pictures and keeping track of my progress on a secret blog that I would only ever publish once I was thin, happened a few times. As did a few public proclamations on this blog, my public journal, such as the time I told the world I wanted to lose 100lbs.  And while I was successful with eating and working out for a while, eventually I would fall back into my old routines and the weight loss would come to a halt. I would talk to classmates and friends who managed to lose notable amounts of weight about how they did it. Fascinated by their personal journeys of trial and triumph, I would often leave the conversation both inspired and wondering what was wrong with me that I could not seem to get to that magical turning point in my own life where “enough was enough”.

My own turning point with the f-word did not truly come until after I was sexually assaulted. That may come as a surprise to some, it was even to myself, because months prior to the rape I had made a professional decision to study fat women and their experiences with body, self, and leadership for my dissertation. Seemingly I was comfortable (enough) discussing the topic, and even my own personal relationship with being a fat woman and articulating what that meant to me, but deep down I still very much held the belief that no one truly wanted to be fat and that weight loss was always a goal, whether iterated or not.  Then something interesting happened. I was barely managing to take care of myself while trying to teach, work, write, and get through one of the hardest six months of my life when I looked up and had lost over thirty pounds.  I did not feel particularly proud of the loss because it had come accidentally, nor did I seek attention or praise for it because it had come at the helm of not eating and high anxiety.  And it wasn’t until then that I could truly begin to look at myself in the mirror and love and appreciate my body.  Not for what it had the potential to be, but for what it was. As I struggled to see myself as a survivor of sexual assault, I found that it required careful reflection and examination of who I was: who I really really truly was.

It was not helpful to only own my intangible self, traits and characteristics like charm and wit. No, I needed to also own the thighs that touched down to the knee and made jeans buying impossible, but that would snap shut and protect me from unwanted attempts at physical intimacy. I needed to own my calves which were too large to fit into boots every fall, but would manage to kick a grown man back off of me.  I needed to own my back which had four rolls of fat that made bras and bathing suits ill-fitting, but would be put into a corner after I escaped his hold, forcing him to face me, something he avidly tried not to do.  I needed to own all of me and that included my (fat) body.

Now when I look in the mirror first thing in the morning, I study myself and I feel a warmth that I never felt before in my life. It is the warmth of truly loving that woman staring back at me in the mirror. She has been through so much and yet she still rises with the sun, shining and with just as much light. More protective over my body and with whom I share it, my body, my fat body, is sacred and cherished not by men but by me.  My ears no longer strain to hear affirmations or compliments, I am able to give them to myself. And what’s more, I am able to receive them. For the first time in my life, I feel at home in my vessel.

IMG_4267So here is what I can say about being fat. It is not all of me, but it is part of who I am.  It does not hurt me to call me what I know myself to be. Fat is not a death sentence, fat is not lazy, fat is not jolly or comedic by nature. Fat is not ugly, fat is not so big a flaw that it is the only one that can exist. Fat is fat, nothing more and nothing less. To me, it is an identity through which I see and experience the world, but it is not inherently negative anymore. Fat, my fat, is beautiful…how could it not be? If I am beautiful and I am fat, and the two exist at the same time, as I am the living proof.  I no longer fear being noticed in the same way that I used to, in fact now I would offer that I am perfectly at peace with being seen. There is something truly special about seeing yourself, truly seeing yourself and acknowledging all of your beauty. You do not shrink away or feign humility when offered a compliment, because you know your truth. You are beautiful. Although the greatest part of this story is that you no longer need to hear it from anyone other than the reflection in the mirror.

This post is part of The Layers of Beauty Tour created by GG Renee of All the Many Layers.  Follow the tour through the blogs of 25 women exploring the complexities of womanhood and beauty from A to Z.  Click here to keep up with each post and enter to win a giveaway package of goodies for your mind, body and soul.   #LayersAtoZTour

If money were no object…

I asked Eb and then myself, if money were no object, what would you do all day? Resigned to the fact that money couldn’t give me any of the things I want most right now, my days would look the same. Which is weird to consider. Money can’t give me my PhD any faster, or any easier…I might quit my job but not even because I hate it but because it would give an opportunity to another student to get the incredible gift of a full scholarship. Then it struck me, if I had money I could give more…

My sister (M) would transfer to her dream school in New Orleans and I would pay for her tuition and get her the best instruments, private tutors, whatever she needed. I’d pay for all of her necessities but she would have to work a job for all her fun money. 

My other sister (K) would get a college fund with the same stipulations as M. I pay for tuition and all necessities. The rest is on her. For now though, I would get her an iMac desktop and a DSLR camera. She could write all her stories and take all the photos she wanted. I’d also make sure she had the best acting, singing, and piano coaches in the city. What she chose to do with all of it would be up to her. 

I would give my mom and step-dad half of whatever I had. They could do whatever they wanted with it. 

I would buy my grandmother a small house. Just two bedrooms with a big kitchen and dining area and a large porch that wrapped around the house. And she would garden I’m certain. I’d make sure it had a pool too so she could do water aerobics. I think she told me she liked that. 

I would give all my aunts and uncles the same amount of money: 20k. It’s enough to have fun with and enough to pay of some debt but not enough to go crazy. It’s just to say I love you. 

I’d pay off the student loan debt of all my best friends. 

I’d start building my house in Jamaica. 

I’d book a graduation trip for next April to Paris (which I’m doing anyway) 

I’d beg and plead Jennie to move out here with me and I’d get us a sweet place with a good view. 

And then I’d do my research. My bank account would never be a worry for me, but I’d still want to write. The only real thing money would give me is a better view outside my window and maybe the luxury of not feeling the pressure of what’s next. 

I’d leave town immediately after graduation. I’d take my family and friends down to Jamaica and show them why I love it so much. From there I’d head to Europe. And just go where the wind took me. I’d travel and eat and write and learn for the rest of the summer. And then I would come home to San Diego and figure out how to turn my dissertation into a book or two. 

When I realize how little my life really changes, I realize that I am already so very wealthy. I live a life so full of richness in love and experience and joy and adventure. I couldn’t dream of another life. And money…it would just enable me to tangibly show the people I love small tokens of my gratitude and affection for them. Because above all in this life, I am so grateful. 

Reflecting on writing even just that last paragraph makes me proud of who I am. I wasn’t always this person. I have been selfish. I have been entitled. I have been rude and sometimes mean. But that’s not the real me. The real me is kind and generous and loving. What I can see now is that I’ve become more of myself. I’ve grown to be more authentic. And money couldn’t have gotten me that either. 

It’s a good feeling to know that the things you are, the things you treasure, and the things you covet are all things that can’t be mass produced and sold to the highest bidder. The good shit just isn’t for sale. 

For my beautiful friend…

I am an entire book. 

There are some pages I wish I could tear out. There are others I flip to readily. Those are the ones where I’m happy, smiling, feel and look exactly how you expect me to feel and look. 

You don’t want to know my sadness. My pain. My hurt. The symphonies I’ve composed from falling tears. You would rather not see it because it reminds you of those pages in your own book. We always want to skip to the good parts. 

And yet, maybe if I’m being honest with myself, I wish somebody would ask. Or admit their big charade. Even call me out, because then I couldn’t hide it anymore. And maybe I could breathe without all those heavy pages of hurt pain and solitude on my chest. Don’t you hurt too? Is it just me? 

The conversation is one that happens in the four minutes I allow myself for a shower. Life must go on and my blank pages must be written. Filled with beautiful updates of the fairy tale we all long to read and realize. I couldn’t dare spoil it with my truth. I’ve convinced myself we all want the happy ending not the messy middle. So I won’t bother to reveal it. Flipping quickly past those pages during story time, don’t worry–I promise–I’m just getting to the good part…

And somewhere deep inside of me, a voice reminds me that my process is the good part. That my whole story is worth telling. That I was born with a gift to tell it beautifully, despite my personal tragedies. My resilience would go unnoticed if not for mention of my struggles. My polished shine would seem contrived if not for tales of my times of pressure and darkness. My smile too hollow my voice too shrill, the whole of me too light to be held down. My story gives me weight and dimension and vibrancy. My story, my whole story, brings me to life. 

I can lie to Facebook. Everybody does. I can lie to Instagram and tumblr and pretend to have a Pinterest perfect life. But I cannot lie to those I love. Not because I can’t but because I do not want to. Because they know my story and have cherished the beautiful tale so much so that they can’t wait to see what happens next. Those are the readers that matter. And I as the author and heroine have the opportunity to, at any point, say this is not how my story is going to end! I can introduce a new character, I can change the setting. It is mine, before it is anyone else’s. 

And when it is finished, many chapters from now, it will be a masterpiece. For I am an extraordinary being, worthy of a long honest read. 

I am an entire book. Do not skip my pages.

Petition to the Universe VII: forgiveness 

Dear Universe, God, Great Spirit, be you one in the same, 

I spent the day asking myself, “How do I save myself?” Derailed by the knowledge that my rapist had begun to follow me on social media, I grew insular and afraid. Unable to fully articulate how it was that I felt and what it was that I needed, I demanded space from everyone around me either implicitly or directly. I took my time to cry and to feel the sutures that were ripped open by the resurfacing of my perpetrator. Feeling helpless and alone, I took to heart my therapists’ challenge. That perhaps this was the part of my heroines journey where it seems I have been defeated. My enemy stands above me believing he has won, and it is the time for me to reach for the thing within me that allows me to rise from the dust and finish the fight. 

How? 

I wept into my pillow for hours comtemplating the probable answers to this question. I scoured the Internet for words but I couldn’t even solidify a feeling, and emotion, a search term. I was lost and all I knew was that I had to figure out a way to get up. Staying down was not an option. 

Ironically, it was the realization that there was no plan B that jolted me a little bit. I remembered who I was. I am the woman who focuses on her goals almost single-mindedly and marches towards them with fervor and purpose. Only it felt like I was stuck. I could not move forward because I was emotionally tethered to this man, this act, this pain. Suddenly it became very clear “how” I was going to save myself. I was going to have to let go. I was going to have to tell myself a different story. I was going to have to accept what happened as part of my personal narrative and perhaps most difficult of all, I was going to have to forgive. 

I have to forgive myself for my actions and inactions which contributed to that night. I have to forgive myself for the way I chose to survive. I have to forgive myself for the way I chose to heal. I have to forgive myself for the stress and mistreatment I’ve subjected my body to. I have to forgive myself for the beliefs I formed about myself as a result of being raped. I have to forgive myself for the beliefs I formed about myself for my anxiety and PTSD. I have to forgive myself for all the things I thought I should have known but only just learned as a result of this experience. 

And God, here is the part where I really need you…I have to forgive him. I do not yet know how that happens. But I know I covet my peace and freedom from the paralyzingly hurt of his actions too much to remain stuck there. I have to move on for the serenity of my own soul. 

So I petition to you, God, show me how to forgive that which I consider unforgiveable. Teach me how to grow from this experience so that it acts as fertilizer to my rich earth. Guide me through remembering the kind of person I want to be, the kind of person I have the potential to be. My purpose requires my focus, my passion, my heart and my light in its purest form. Help me to free it from this black hole. Help me to escape the pull of negativity, self destruction and darkness. 

Without you, Lord, my efforts are futile. With you, all things are possible. So I am going to put my trust in you and choose to believe that my heroines journey is nowhere near over. And the plans you have for me surpass even my wildest imagination. My wellness is instrumental to my utility as a vessel for your work. 

Help me to heal myself, to save myself so that you can use me. 

These things I pray with an open and gracious heart…

Sincerely, 

Jessica J. 

Black|Shadow

I had been sitting with this idea that Black America is the shadow side of White America that wants to be forgotten. That like the movie Inside Out they want to draw a circle around us and confine us to specific spaces and tasks. I’ve felt this for a while because when I look at the group behavior of each side in these racially charged violent accounts in the last year or so, it just feels like that moment where someone is pushing so hard against you not because they want to be free of you, but because they want you to fight and hold them tight. “Acknowledge me and affirm my value!” It’s the cry that I keep hearing  no matter the changing names of the faces of the perpetrators or the victims. 

So I’d been sitting with that. And on a more personal level, trying hard to do “my work” to combat this anxiety stuff. When you don’t know which triggers are going to be the triggers, you kind of work through all of them to see what’s what. It’s like checking all of the Christmas tree lights on a strand. And just like the fight for recognition I feel Black people are having, I am housing my own war within me. I’ll call myself out guided by the things I tend to be most critical about it others (see photo)   

 as it applies to me

  • I judge others for being what I perceive to be as weak because I do not want to face the limits of my own abilities. 
  • I judge others for being stagnant because I do not want to own the part of me that craves security. There is both a love and a hate of predictability and routine. Mostly though it suffocates me. 
  • I judge others for being naive because I do not want to face that not everything is how I make sense of it. 
  • I judge others for talking too much because I do not want to face my own insecurity with my voice. I consider them to be self-important when in fact it is I who does not often see myself as important enough. 

And as I sat with my judgments and moreso,  what each judgment said about me, I felt ashamed but also proud. Ashamed that I judge people at all when I know I know that we are all trying the very best that we can. Then pride that I could look myself inward towards my spirit and say there are pieces of you I ignore and I would like to acknowledge you now. You have value to me in my life. You are of me. You matter. 

It didn’t change anything. There was not miraculous moment of catharsis or a big promise never to judge again. Instead it was just the quiet recognition that despite all things, I am doing my “work”. 

And for the first time in a long time I wondered, how is this “work” going to affect my dissertation research?