A Supposedly Straight Woman’s Process for Grieving after Orlando

My name is Jessica. I recently graduate with my doctoral degree so, in some spaces it is also likely that I am referred to as Doctor Williams. I am 5’9″ with an undercut and kinky, curly natural Black hair atop my head. I weigh somewhere between 250-350 lbs at any given time depending on what is going on in my life but I always identify as fat. Today my shirt is a “Large” and my skirt is a size 18. My preferred gender pronouns are she/her and I consider myself heterosexual, though my affect and affinity for the Queer community has made me curious about how much of my sexual identity as heterosexual is socially constructed. I am a feminist who believes that people have the right to define themselves for themselves. I identify as Christian, though feel my union with God to be unable to be contained within one religion. I see religion as sociocultural and not necessarily indicative of one’s faith beliefs. I grew up in a middle class, though some argue upper middle class home in Atlanta, Georgia a majority minority city and later Douglasville, GA a middle class suburb of the city. I have minimal physical ability barriers, but am currently managing PTSD and an anxiety disorder stemming from sexual assault. I would describe myself as a beautiful mess.

Fresh off the high of learning my dissertation had been published the mass shooting at PULSE nightclub in Orlando, FL happened. It knocked the wind out of me. First because my younger cousin who identifies as lesbian had snap videos in the club in Orlando the night of the shooting. I reached out to her immediately after finding out about the tragic incident yet once I learned of her physical safety, the sense of comfort did not come. Days later I would find myself in a lesbian bar celebrating a friend’s birthday. A place I’d frequented for various reasons over the past few years in San Diego now had a coldness to it that had nothing to do with the temperature. The mood of the space–set by the additional security  and rainbow flags at half mast–had shifted.

“I’m sorry I haven’t said anything about Orlando to you,” I found myself texting to a dear friend of mine who both identifies as Queer and manages an LGBT resource center at a university, “I honestly did not have the words.” My research conducted on fat women and identity highlighted the kinship between the Fat and Queer communities. In my dissertation I wrote:

Borrowing on the popular “We’re here, we’re queer!” mantra of the gay rights
movement, Fat activist Katie LeBesco (2004) recalls chants of ‘We’re here, we’re
sphere!’ from the fat community. LeBesco details Pam Hinden’s “fat coming out story” noting that “coming out” as fat was akin to “coming out” as queer in that it meant that one was going to intentionally and unapologetically forego traditional social norms; “coming out meant mustering outrage to engage in activities usually thought proper only for thin people (Lebesco, 2004, pg. 95)…”Queer language such as
“outing” or being “in the closet” further illustrated the bond between these two
marginalized communities. Says Margaret Wann (1999) on her last day “in the closet”, “living in the closet [was] not working…[I] decided to come out as a fat person and tried to do it really publicly and really loudly because [I] wasn’t going to put up with exclusion” (pg.95). In this instance “coming out” was strategic to indicate one’s acceptance of self be it our sexuality or our bodies. While it may seem paradoxical as a person is conspicuously fat where queer may be harder to visually assume, the idea of “coming out” refers to an individual proclaiming an internal truth to an external audience. Being “here and queer” or “here and sphere” was less about queer or sphere but in fact, it was about “here” and the acknowledgement of one’s self which in turn calls for acknowledgement by others.

marsha-p-johnson1If it were not for the research I had quite literally just completed, I am not sure I would have felt like this tragedy was mine to own and ache for, like this was a hurt that I had the right to publicly express. However, my connection to this community, my community was undeniable. I look at a leader like Marsha P. Johnson who just went out to dance and ended up making history at the Stonewall Inn. PULSE nightclub could have been any night club in any city at any time and that is what chills me to my core. As a woman, going out requires careful calculation. My heels must be high enough to make my legs look good but not too high that I could not run at the end of the night. My dress should be short enough to move in but long enough to make it clear that I am not public property or for public consumption. The flowers in my hair invite conversation, even adoration but not objectification. The love made between me and the music is our own and sometimes it is a threesome with a man of my desire, but sometimes it is not.  Nearly every woman, and every single fat woman I know frequents “gay bars” because it is a space where we, too, feel free.  The space was not created for us, the space is not ours, but yet we are welcomed and accepted in this space.

For someone to violate such a sacred space…it’s the chill. It’s the kind of cold you feel after trauma that requires swaddling and circles rubbed across the entirety of your back. It is the hurt that you cannot put words to and you cannot describe to anyone who has not also felt this sort of violation. I shared with a Lesbian friend of mine that it felt like rape all over again in some ways. The feelings of confusion, helplessness, loss of safety, loss of comfort, need for closeness with your community and also a fear and hesitancy to put yourself out there again for fear of repeat violation. You try to make sense of the hurt, try to understand why and not one single explanation makes sense.  All you know is that it happened and now having lived through it, you are different and everything you knew before you know now in a different way. You become more attuned to shadows. You grow more suspicious, more cautious, more timid, more “safe” and you try your best not to close off from the whole world. Only that does not help either. It only leaves you alone with your pain to fester and rot. God damn this curse of survival, I do not want the memories, I do not want the pain, I do not want the scars, the tears, the flashbacks, the loss, the confusion, the sadness, the worry.

Then you remember something. For me it was Marsha and it was Audre my two heroines who, in my mind, could just as easily beat a face, speak in couplets, as they could fuck up systematic oppression. I remember them and I said to myself, No one is going to ask you if you’re gay in a nightclub if they are coming to shoot. You cannot escape the pains of the queer community through semantics and uncertainties, this is your fight because otherwise you are turning your back on an entire population that has opened their arms to you, loved you when you did not know how to love yourself, shown you the importance of self acceptance and self expression, given you the freedom to express your impulses and explore your inklings and held you in a way that only someone who has been there can hold you. I not only gave myself permission to fully grieve Orlando, but I made myself accountable to action to respond to the needs of those affected by Orlando–not just now, but always.

This year, San Diego Pride will mean something much different to me. Being in attendance will not be just dancing and drinking in lavish and colorful outfits. It will not be just a celebration of love and acceptance, I imagine it will also be very emotional. Cathartic. It will terrify me to be in a crowd knowing that at any moment someone could inflict pain on myself or others around me for reasons that will never make sense. However, there really is not an option to not go, to not participate and to slip quietly into the “safety” of supposedly “straight” clubs. The first pride was a riot; says Michael Fader,

Everyone in the crowd felt that we were never going to go back [after the Stonewall riots]. It was like the last straw. It was time to reclaim something that had always been taken from us…. All kinds of people, all different reasons, but mostly it was total outrage, anger, sorrow, everything combined, and everything just kind of ran its course. It was the police who were doing most of the destruction. We were really trying to get back in and break free. And we felt that we had freedom at last, or freedom to at least show that we demanded freedom. We weren’t going to be walking meekly in the night and letting them shove us around—it’s like standing your ground for the first time and in a really strong way, and that’s what caught the police by surprise. There was something in the air, freedom a long time overdue, and we’re going to fight for it. It took different forms, but the bottom line was, we weren’t going to go away. And we didn’t.

And we won’t.

The piece of me that hates the whole of me 

I write this from a place of semi-sobriety and complete honesty. It may contain triggers for those of you who have been affected by sexual violence. My hope is that through my sharing I gain some peace and that maybe am able to connect to others, helping them move closer to their own serenity. 

There is a piece of me that hates the whole of me for that night. I just laid there. After saying “no” repeatedly he told me to stop telling him no. That I was not to ever tell him “no”. So I was compliant. I didn’t know then that my complicit silence would be the grey area making it difficult to charge him with rape. Why didn’t I fight? It was a question the detective asked me. It was a question I’ve repeatedly asked myself. And perhaps it’s a question that those who know me who have never experienced rape have wondered. The truth is, I always figured myself for a fighter. To be assertive and aggressive and clear about consent and my own discomfort. But in that moment being held down so forcefully I would have bruises on my back for days after, silence was my only weapon. 

When the detective for sex crimes asked me to describe the event I did, in explicit detail. There were, it seems, many times where I could have gotten away or fought back or stressed “No” beyond the initial iteration. Why didn’t I seize those opportunities? They asked me waiting for an answer I didn’t have to give them. I wish I knew. Beholden to a man who’s grip would leave scars while tears streamed down my face and a mantra echoing through my head, “just don’t make him mad.” Jennie says it was self-preservation. But I have not yet come to the place where I can forgive myself for my weakness, my silence, my presumed compliance in that moment. I am not sure I ever will. 

And then in the aftermath. The grasps for control. The breakdowns. Five of which I’ve had today alone. The ocean of tears I’ve cried. The deep desire I have to quit my job because it physically wears me out to have to perform the act of normalcy. But knowing if I do I lose access to my mental health care. It is a pressure that feels like the weight of him on top of me. One that I can’t seem to get out from under. 

My biggest plight right now is not knowing how to find relief. I hate the question are you okay? No. I’m not. And I’m afraid I don’t know when I will be. It scares me more than anything else in this world right now. I want my mom but I don’t want her to see me this way. Broken and unable to be fixed, even by her love. It’s an impossible feeling to not know what you need. To be told that time is your serum for healing but time is the noose around your neck and the sand in your lungs. 

I hurt and all I can do is cry out through my fingertips. Because for anyone who asks, I don’t have any words. Just like that night I guess. Which makes me cry even more. Where was my voice when I needed it? Where is it now? Can I be brave enough to speak even if it’s through tears and short sharp breaths? I hate the part of me who thinks I can’t. She was born that night. 

Enclosed

IMG_0459To say the past few days have been difficult would be an understatement. It’s been an uncomfortable replay of last year. Feeling rejected, drowning in silence, tears and feeling invisible. I told a classmate of mine earlier that I could feel myself almost wishing someone would bump into me so I could just feel someone else. Be acknowledged if even by accident. I likened myself to Mr. Magorium’s Sock Monkey.

The difficult part and the part people keep telling me (I hear you, please stop) is that it will all work out. I am worthy I am enough I matter blah blah blah. Sometimes even the most well meaning mentions feel like bullshit. Because you’re not in a place where you can FEEL utopia, why the hell do I want to see a postcard?
That’s how I feel right now.

It’s so incredibly difficult, still, for me to ask for help. It is even more difficult when you can’t ask for a thing. It’s not a specific favor not an exchange of anything tangible. How do you ask someone to just love you? Love you gently because you’re feeling raw? Be tender with me. Ask me how I’m doing and be prepared for any combination of words tears and silence. Ask anyway. Hold my hand. Hug me like you mean it and don’t pull back until you’ve given me all you think I need. Rub my back. Sleep with me. Literally if you can, figuratively if you can’t. Include me in your prayers, I feel that warmth. Be my friend.

Is it that simple? I try in my own quiet way. Reaching out, but never feeling I have the right words. Peculiar problem for a writer. I gather up all the gumption I have left and ask for time. Usually, the people who know me best know what that means. But there are others. With whom I wish I were closer to…with whom I want to have deeper connections…But they don’t speak the language of my silences. So they miss the meaning in my words.

Still I reach. And on nights like tonight, human after human…the thing I remember most about depression was how isolated it made you feel. Everyone felt so far from reach, like you could see and hear everyone around you but you just couldn’t touch them. As if you were enclosed in thick glass. It was sadistic. To reach every time sharply shooting your hand outward towards an open hand only to have your knuckles cracked by the pane.

But I relied on the connections I do have. In my way, I gave my Hurt voice. I still struggle to share. Be bare. To not just name it and speak of it as separate from me but to own it as a part of me, and squared up. Because I can’t say what I need, I simply asked for time and maybe that IS exactly what I need. Intentional, quality time.

Last Night a DJ Saved My Dissertation

The entire room felt like one massive, united tribe of thousands of people, and the DJ was the tribal leader of the group. People weren’t dancing to the music so much as the music seemed like it was simply moving through everyone. The steady wordless electronic beats were the unifying heartbeats that synchronized the crowd. It was as if the existence of individual consciousness had disappeared and been replaced by a single unifying group consciousness, the same way a flock of birds might seem like a single entity instead of a collection of individual birds. Everyone in the warehouse had a shared purpose. We were all contributors to the collective rave experience.
~Tony Hsieh “Delivering Happiness” 

I’d read these words sometime last year and highlighted them to remind myself to share them with my Work Wife. I knew she attended raves, and I wanted to know if this experience that Tony described was what she felt, too.  When I asked her, she confirmed and ever since then I’ve wanted to attend a rave. Last night I did.

A short remark before I continue, people are often surprised at the things that I get into.  My thought now, and for most of my life has been to just have fun and never be afraid to try new things.  Of course there are things that I do not like or that do not sound appealing to me (sky diving), but more often than not I believe in the fun of the adventure and a life free of what-ifs.

So, last night Work Wife (WW), her husband and friends and I went to see Armin Van Buuren here in San Diego.  I was dressed like a highlighter in bright neon workout clothes because she told me to dress bright and light–as in light fabrics because with so many people dancing it can get hot.  We arrived at the concert at about 8, and for the next five hours were treated to lights, smoke, acrobatics, singing, dancing, live musicians, confetti, and of course, really really good music.  I’ve told WW previously about my ability to see people’s auras and colors in music.  There was a moment last night when I sat down and just closed my eyes. She asked me if I was too hot or needed anything and I told her no I was fine but I could see better with my eyes closed. I tried to describe to her the way all the colors looked to me but nothing I said could quite paint the picture. It was amazing, and the words Tony used, or that I would use to describe the experience fall daftly short to even begin to explain.

I texted a friend of mine who has been to raves and told him that it was easily one of the best things I’ve ever experienced in my life, and asked him why he never told me about them before.  He messaged me back and simply said, “Its a total different experience, right?” It is.  When I woke up this morning I was still so curious about what I’d experienced the night before. What was that? It was beautiful, whatever it was, but what was it?  It was then that I went back to my copy of Delivering Happiness and looked for Tony’s words to see if I could find my own truth hidden in them. It was exactly it.  It’s a shame that raves get this stigma of drugs and out of control behavior, because it was so much more than that. It was, I thought, exactly what I’ve been trying to describe in my dissertation.

Connection…drafting…murmuration…movement…one purpose…deference to the collective…this was it. It was the experience of being at a rave but in a classroom.  How do we get that? How can we foster that? What do we call that so we can ask for it specifically?  My synapses were firing all over the place lighting up connections between this theory and that study. It was like a laser light show of thought.   I went straight to my computer and began typing. I didn’t stop for two hours.

 

Red Nails

When I was little my aunts and grandmothers told me that red nails were not for little girls, they were for grown women. I suppose I took red make-up in general to then be synonymous of womanhood. Like once a girl was ready to embrace being a W-O-M-A-N than then she could wear the color red. Maybe its why on days, like today, when I feel whole and womanly I reach for lipstick in the reddest red.

I’ve always thought the sexiest outfits a woman can wear are one of two things: a fitted white tee-shirt and blue jeans, or a knee-length little black dress. Simple. Classic. And in many ways, are not about the outfits themselves at all. On my sassy days, I’d pair the outfit with red lips, as I did today, and feel complete. It wasn’t until today that I realized some of the meaning that might be held in my favorite things.

I’ve made it no secret, my desire for love. I was watching Iyanla, Fix My Life and she was speaking about weight. She said we put it on when we are protecting ourselves from something. Nothing new. But something repetitive as I’d read the sentiment in an instagram post a friend made about women holding weight in our midsections to protect our most precious treasures; our reproductive parts. When I heard Iyanla speak I remembered this and it dawned on me that as I’d just eaten McDonald’s for the 2nd time this week that there was something I needed to hear. Then she said, you are using other people to make you feel good about you…you can’t do that!

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I do that. In a lot of ways, in the past it’d been far more destructive more…needy. I can see it now…here. For as much as I don’t write for comments in the comments section or likes on facebook…posting “selfies” and smiling when my number of “double taps” exceeds 30…I’d be lying if I said it didn’t feel good. Damn good. And I think that makes me nervous. Because the taste of it is intoxicating and I can see myself reaching for it as I used to reach for….well many things that weren’t good for me or to me.

I went to a coaching session today and was asked, “And what if you are abandoned? Do you believe in you enough?” I answered that I better. But that word, abandoned. It felt like opening the door on a freezing cold morning. My breath escaped me completely. And in my heart of hearts, really in the core of me…which rests in that midsection I’ve protected so well (haha) I knew I did. Because even when I let go of people, I do so holding on to something else far greater than myself. I may get left, and I may feel lonely…but I am never alone. And I recalled that in the moments when I’m trusting, I never even feel alone. I feel full. And whole. And like a woman. Like a mother.

I can’t wait to have a daughter. To share with her all the power she holds as a woman. The power I, for many years, believed existed solely in my physical being. Red nails, red lips, slim waist and a voluptuous body…my womanhood is not limited to those things. And I have arrived at the place where I can say I love women. I love the company of women, I love being a woman, I believe us to be beautiful, magical, strong, and courageous beings. The things that make us us…well I was, honestly, being dated and chauvanistic. Physical beauty or the elements thereof is not where my womanhood begins and it certainly is not where it ends. It is about creation. Innovation. Listening to intuition and trusting yourself. It is about dancing and movement and connection. It is about sensuality and sexuality braided together with an unshakable knowledge of self. That’s red. That’s womanhood. Or at least what I know of it to date.

A reconsideration of sorts

I had just gotten done working on a part of my research when I got on the elevator heading down to the car. Feeling the box adjust just slightly as I stepped in my heart sank ever so softly into my chest and I asked, “how long have you been telling yourself that something is wrong with your body?”

I didn’t bother to answer. A few weeks ago I decided I was going to start adding physical aspects to my morning gratitude practice. Thanking God for my body in various ways. I thought, more than anything, right now, I am so very grateful for being my mothers daughter.” And what does that mean? It means never being satisfied with the superficial, it means being caring and candid, it means appreciating laughter, and it means being charismatic. Neither of my parents are shy “keep to yourself” types, and so I guess its only natural I have this strong pull to connect with others.

I saw a classmate of mine who told me he reads my facebook posts, and my blog when I post links to it. “You haven’t posted in a while,” he said. I forget. Not to post, but that even this place is a testament to connection.

No one has ever been as hard on me as I have been on myself. I have held myself to ridiculous standards and held dreams just out of reach like a dangling carrot to a mare. In coming to terms with my own…well, with myself, I have grown to understand how much I’ve limited myself. And why? Because I didn’t look a certain way? Weigh a certain weight or dress a in a particular style? Its just a lie. Its an ugly lie and its so clearly not true as evidenced by my amazing life.

I have loved. I have jumped off mountains and treetops. I have drank too much. Danced for too long. Laughed too loudly. Given too much. I have lived. And not only that I have lived a damn good life. And I am so grateful for my story (so far). I am ready for whatever adventure awaits me, and I plan to greet it with grace and curiosity.

In my journal I wrote, as I listened to Joel Osteen:

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And I meant those words. I am worthy of love. Of belonging. Of connecting, that is my birthright as a divine being. I feel I’ve come to the point in my life where I can recognize how many miracles I’ve been privy to experience and I realize just how great its been. I can look at the darkest corners of my being and say with love, “it happened.” I recognize my survival, my strength, my resilience. And any flaw I might have thought I had just isn’t a good enough excuse given all I’ve overcome. No. I am fearfully and wonderfully (that is, full of wonder) made. I am walking ordered steps.

It happened, yes, but God…

Glimpses

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I love photography. I admittedly am one of those people that change my facebook profile picture every few days because I get tired of the shot a few days later. Usually, its about the outfit, or the hair or the make-up or some…accessory that has temporarily made me feel (fill in the blank). I took one of those pictures the other night before a friend’s birthday party. My hair was curled, my lips were pink and pouty, my eyes were understated drama…I felt pretty. And yet a photo I took days before still haunts me in a wonderful way.
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While I felt pretty in the “dolled up” picture, I feel beautiful in the other. Its plain, pretty ordinary and otherwise unremarkable. My hair was straight, my make-up…well what make-up? Its just me. And I guess I see myself everyday, but I certainly do not look at myself and see the beauty I see in that picture.

I was having a conversation with myself; thinking about where I am and where I’m headed. I thought about my strengths, my absolute strength being in people. In connecting and relating and listening to people. I wondered, challenging myself a bit, how I could get better at this. I’ve long believed that the bashert things are easy, we make things hard when we fight against the way. Yes, again…surrender.

So I thought about the things that have come easy to me…the good things like making friends and the bad things like quitting on my health. And I’ve talked myself through “the fights”, asking myself why I stayed in the ring. In past relationships it boiled down to wanting to prove I was worth sticking around for. In past failures its been my own stubbornness is not wanting to accept that not everything was meant for me.

But when I look at that picture, I get a glimpse of the woman who is sure of herself. The woman who is not defined by her relationship status nor her partner. The woman who loves fully because she chooses to, not to validate herself. The woman who is capable of anything she puts her mind heart to. I smile because I see her. And until I can see her everyday, I am going to keep searching for glimpses through the photograph. Glimpses that remind me of who I am and who I was created to be.

A Liminal New Year

Let us just begin by stating that prior to Zachary, I had never even heard of the word ‘liminal’ and now I am using it to describe a very real phenomenon.  Not sure that I have mentioned, but I will be travelling to Santiago, Chile soon.  I am going for a class but will be leaving on December 31st and arriving in Chile on January 1. What this means is that I will be “in between” when the new year rings in.  It dawned on me just yesterday that this was less of a hinderance (because New Year’s Eve is my favorite holiday and how dreadful to be on a plane instead of celebrating–to further this aside, many have tried to argue that I will be on a plane…heading to CHILE but that, to me, did not negate the fact that I’ll be covered in strangers’ germs and peanut salt rather than glitter and champagne residue) and more amazing happenstance.

Before I continue, a lesson on liminality. From what I understand of it, it is literally a state that exists in between two readily identifiable places; one of a past way (which you have left) and one of a way yet to be (which you have yet to embody, fully).  Zachary calls it the third space. I think of it as grey.  In any case, because of the time differences when travelling, I will be in-between many things:

  • Places–> North and South America, home and destination
  • Times–> time..I’ll move through december on into january and out of 2012 on into 2013, plus time zones–I mean will I fly right through Midnight? Just goes to show how menial and contrived these things really are..
  • Space–> What else would you describe 30,000 feet as?

When I reframed my thinking and realized that this trip will be an extraordinary opportunity to experience simultaneous multidimensional liminal states, I can’t lie I got pretty excited. Zachary described it as magical, and I suppose that in large part I see it the same way. Talk about falling down the rabbit hole…but I wondered (aloud, and to him) what it means that I’ve found myself set up for this experience? Surely it is no coincidence  and of course many people do this sort of thing often, but I wonder if they consider it as phenomenal?  I wonder what it means for me, for the trajectory of my life and my being, for my work (academic and otherwise)?

Of course, there are the normal things to be excited about…its my first time out of the country (out of the CONTINENT/ HEMISPHERE), it’s going to be summer in Chile (not that winter in San Diego is anything to complain about.  I am going to get to take amazing photos which is something I do not do enough of these days. I am also going to get to be learning about change within educational policy.

Honestly though, I am most excited that I am going. What I mean by that is that the trip is booked. My flight is booked. I did not allow myself to see  any other option other than going and I set my intentions to making it happen. I faced any problems head on and kept insisting that I was going. I’ve been working really hard at not letting money be a barrier and it seems to be paying off. This new mindset is foreign and taxing, to be honest, but I am seeing how trust in a way much more knowledgeable than I really works.

Now, I need to brush up on my spanish:-/

 

 

What does it take to LISTEN?

I have said on numerous occasions that God speaks in the way that we listen. Not only that, but the universe will start at a whisper, then speak, the yell, then its a deafening echo ringing in our ears without yield. And even though I say these things, and I know these things, sometimes it still takes me getting life lessons in surround sound before I take action. I have been working at listening at 2, and for lots of things I’ve done well, but with others…

People have been suggesting I write a book or publish my posts as a book for as long as I have shared my blog and to some extent even before that. At first, I said that I didn’t have a books worth of anything to say about any “one” thing. Well…I have over 1,200 posts and if I used my tags like I should, I’d be willing to bet I’m wrong and already proved it. Then I said I didn’t have time.  Then I didn’t have help. Then I said okay! I’ll do it, but then…I didn’t. Twice.

I thought about this curious cycle as I lay in bed itching to write just as I wake, like most mornings, and I sent words of gratitude to a friend who had written to me suggesting I publish. I thought, what is it going to take for you to listen? I asked myself, “are you playing small?”

Naia text me yesterday and spoke of our lives and how they often run parallel even across great distances. She spoke, also, of how she had recently been warned about playing small and laughed when she read it had come up for me on Friday. I thought back to Brene and I wondered what it would feel like to step into my power.  I should say, step fully. Not that having one foot in is celebratory; it has you completely off balance and when you’re halfway in two spaces, you’re not really in either. 

The feeling that comes to mind is that high you get after you just ran on a crisp day. Clear mind, open lungs, a heart racing with excitement…and it occurred to me just this moment that I have never experienced that. Yet, that is what I imagine power to be…isn’t that interesting and telling? I want to be a runner, I want to be a published author…I want to experience the runners high but in order to do that–i have to run. If the high is power then I have to step into it. That was one of those moments where things make sense on a whole new level.

The Colonel always asks, “if not now, when?” And that just felt very deafening. This is me listening.

I Princeton California?

The first night of Adult Development we took an offering. A gift that symbolized some significant point in our own development. I took my Princeton hoodie, and I explained that while I didn’t go to Princeton, P2AD did and when I wear it I feel love. It reminds me of the point in my life when I made the decision to do everything from love, rather than fear. Ironically that is when I left him. Yesterday we had group projects and one group did a montage (holon) of our gifts. When I tell you everybody was moved…everybody was moved. And many of us were in tears. The thing for me is that I was slow to even get it until I saw the Princeton crest and I thought oh how serendipitous…oh waaaaiiiit. Then it clicked. It was so thoughtful and meant so much that they even remembered our gifts and our stories. One member later explained that she didn’t want to mess up the gifts and she changed mine from the hoodie to the crest but I still got it; oddly enough for me, Princeton emotes love. I was hesitant to share that with P2AD because its not about being in love with him or wanting him or anything like that. And I didn’t want him to think anything deeper into it that what I was offering. I did tell him. He didn’t react much. At least not openly. But I didn’t expect him to. As much as the hoodie is about him, it isn’t. Even when I wasn’t speaking to him I wore it. I probably always will. Love isn’t monopolized by one person, and it can’t be. Thank god. In class last week (I don’t event remember the day, because they all blur together) we had to think of a part of us that is underdeveloped, name the barriers in development, the loss that would come, and then an action plan to develop it. I listed my physical/somatic being as underdeveloped. No surprise here, I can’t seem to get going on this goal… the barriers were time, but not because of my schedule. I found myself telling too much truth lol. When I wake up early I have a bunch of people to talk to because I still live an east coast social life. Before I moved, waking up at 6 to go run is something Janika and I did for months! Now waking up at 6 means people I love are at 9 and can chat with me. Also when I get off work, I come home. And I mostly engaged with those same east coast people. The loss, then, would be that time with the people I love. That hurt so badly to write. The reason it would hurt so much is because at home I have a system of support and feel embedded in it. If we’re talking Kegan, I am in interpersonal and so much of me is defined by my relationships. But the reality is, I left. There is this Plotkin wheel which places late adolescence in the south and early adulthood in the west. The early adulthood phase is called wanderer in the cocoon and is categorized by this idea of leaving home and moving into the unknown. Even though I had read the words before, I wasn’t reading them from a place of me, Jessica. They felt so heavy in my arms this time. I literally moved from the south to the west, I left home, I am surrounded by so much unknown I don’t know which way is up sometimes. I am establishing myself in a career and in a new city. I need to behere. I cannot continue to live in San Diego but not live in San Diego. Much of that tension comes from my social/relational needs. Many of the people I am closest with are in committed relationships here. I am not, and so they don’t have as much free time as a single, and often engage with other couples or really, with each other. I am close with Fenway and Mass Elle, but coordinating our lives is a bit challenging. We’re all balancing a million different things for school. I really think that’s why I was so excited about Sorority X. To give me a homebase again. My plan to overcome my barrier was given to me by a classmate. She said to make working out social. It made me miss M3, terribly, and then think how hard its been to make any kind of quality friend and now I’m supposed to find one to work out with? I will put it out to the universe. I often say that my life is not about me, and I believe that to be true. However, I cannot let my calling to serve be an excuse to neglect myself. I can only give when I am healthy and able. I have to remember that. The best of me is needed. That means prioritizing my health and physical well being. My system is still t(here), but I need to start living in California.