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Hanging frames around shame, neglect, and more..

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Voices - Final Post

I have two projects in the works currently. They are both concerned with the amplification of voices that are otherwise marginalized. One in particular will be called "The Voices" which will present speeches as performance art. Both projects will be worked out in detail this summer though I am getting a start on them now.

These projects, being near and dear to my heart, will require much of my time and effort. With this said, I believe it is time to put this blog aside. This framing project has run its course in the most beautiful manner. I want to respect the temporal effectiveness of this kind of outlet. Blogging allowed me to become aware of my feelings and attitudes towards the abuse I experienced. Blogging also allowed me to identify themes or frames which are inherent in who I am. My identity is no longer 'victim'. I am me.

Shame will always be a feeling that emerges when life cues its entrance. It just won't be the dominant feeling that overshadows all of the other rich feelings I am fortunate to have born within me.

To be heard uncritically and attentively is a rarity. I feel like I tapped into something difficult to achieve in other settings. Thank you for listening. Thank you for the validation. You have helped to turn a painful echo into a human voice.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Re-Framing

This project is for me. I have to remind myself of that. It is too easy to defer my needs as a person to the needs of my professional identity or a larger professional sphere. I have a job title and given my patterned interactions in both social and professional settings, it is too easy to succumb to a one dimensional identity. We all do this, I think, this very painful identity squeeze. The squeeze happens when we are assigned our job title or select one in aspiration. After some time of molding ourselves to this title or position, we allow or are coerced into aligning our voice's projections to the expectations of that position and the organization it belongs to.

More directly I mean to say that while sharing openly in this online setting has been liberating and freeing in ways I could not heal without, my professional identity whispers to me to keep quiet. To defer to the comfort zones established by others. These others will always hold me to particularly restrictive professional roles, meaning they will always expect me to show no vulnerability. Vulnerabilities run the risk of compromising all of my professional accomplishments - my credibility.

I ask these questions in the grips of this identity and now credibility squeeze: At what point do we acknowledge the wrongfulness in this? -that there are many circumstances where an organization and its position is neither good for us or the people it seeks to serve and claims to help. At what point is it our human duty to speak out for our personal expectations when our position and our organization betrays our humanity or the humanity of others? At what point do we say that too many of our vulnerabilities are not created out of poor personal choices but in direct relationship to the dynamics created by our professional spheres?

I believe we compromise everyone's safety by stifling our vulnerabilities into the shadows of discreteness. I am safer and others are safer around me because I faced my history. I put it out into the open where others could interact with it and help me through the disarming stages of recovery. What a sad irony that what breeds more safety may compromise my credibility. I imagine I am not the first in recovery or will be the last to reflect on this disheartening issue.

While this war of wills between our social identities wages on I want to take a moment to reflect on framing.

I began framing my pain from abuse through shame. Shame proved to be a successful launching point and soon after I found myself writing compulsively without great effort. Reflecting back on previous posts, I realize that I no longer do this with scrutiny or judgement but with love for the person I have been. I also realize that I operate with very particular frames that are much more effective and attuned with who I see myself being. My writings are often framed through the concepts of voice, listening, and teaching. I haven't decided what I will do with these frames yet but I want to do something. I'll keep thinking and writing to see.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Fitter, happier - more productive

Intrepid has once again inspired me deeply. She noted in the commentary of a previous post that in coming from one particular discipline into another we proceed with caution. It can be disarming to be an expert in one arena only to be novice in another. We wish to believe, I think, that if we walk down one path far enough we will eventually end up everywhere. It isn't so. We can only tread the ground where our feet can touch.

An acquaintance who dances watched a video I made and responded, "I didn't know you were a dancer." I had clipped and cut the footage so that the ream of images emphasized the beauty of everyday type movements. So today I was thinking about thinking like a dancer though I am not disciplined in the art. I was also thinking about being a casual and persistent young poet in an education system that rarely taught poetry. Then I thought about being a vocalist in a literature based society. Feeling sorry for myself I came to the conclusion that everywhere I go I am the one with something to learn, the one with roughened edges. How could I shine with the polish of expertise when I have lacked the familial and educational support to refine?

I identify as a perpetual novice afflicted with impostor syndrome.

What have I really achieved? My most prized and effortful creations walk around in the works of art I have been fortunate to teach. Conversation is my medium, teaching my craft. My creations will never be fixated in a scheme of composed symbols on a page worth saving. Healing is my greatest achievement but will never be celebrated; no ceremony, no validation from my society.

And I could evolve the tunes I have comforted myself with over the years...
___
Daylight don't go, I see stars in the sky,
Stars that are too high.
___
Drinking's only bad when I do it.
Money's only spent when I'm foolish.
You take your time
and I waste mine.
___
I stopped talking
Smile more
Now there is less of me
Do you love me more?
___
Each time you laugh at the gait of another’s walk - 
Label, name call, ostracize, balk - 
Every time you set up rules for how much hurt one is allowed to express 
I want to scream at you, damn you! damn you! dammit!
____
He waits for someone to understand him
but pursues those who cannot;
She who waits will never be understood
so she pursues her own mind.

But I will leave them as they are. I feel silly admitting it but this is what I feel happy to do. Each one of these and many more have set tunes to guide my reiterative performances. They are for my head nourishing little pieces. They are blanketing, they are resonating, they are comforting.

I wonder who else identifies as a perpetual novice afflicted with impostor syndrome. Who else might be collecting gems still covered in stone, finding them beautiful as they are - lacking the interest or intent to create products from what is already productive. How they must feel in a system hell bent on making its people productive contributors to society. Why do we pretend to know what true productivity is?

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Being vocal

My eldest brother who is responsible for a great deal of imprisoning sorrow was always on the margins of social interaction for as long as I can remember. He played the violin quite well. It is a shame his mental and emotional conditions were too much to bear. By 18 or 19 years old he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. His violin playing stopped, never to be revived.

His reality, as valid as any, saw danger in those around him at unpredictable moments. My family played characters in his private world. I was 'time' and it was always my fault for failing to pause it or stop it altogether. I remember feeling legitimately guilty for being unable to control time. Part of the guilt stemmed from the fact that because I couldn't he would consequently spiral into rages. These rages created a fear inside me that stayed long after the momentous rage passed. I carried it with me in my 'hellos' and in my 'I'm doing fines.'

I am compelled here to bring up his musical abilities again. To help him cope with the voices in his head my mother bought him a drum set. We set it up, he sat down, with headphones on and Nirvana playing. He quickly caught on and took to more and more intricate levels of skill. He was talented. That seems important to emphasize but I do this out of habit. You see there are narratives I was trained to tell through repetitive devices employed by my mother.

Now in this current wake of healing the story feels challenged by what my body remembers deeply. I remember awaking at night in my teens and hearing all the door knobs down the hallway jiggling. My family never discussed how disturbing it is to be amidst the vulnerable state of slumber only to awaken to a threat that to defend against would be to betray the foundational family value system. He would inevitably come to my door and attempt to pick my lock. It makes me grimace that it was such an easy lock to pick. Stick a slender pen inside, find the button, press and turn.

This is in part how I learned to use my voice. How I ached to have developed my voice for more than defense. This is how it was. He would whisper my name in a way that cooled my senses, compressed my diaphragm. I would fight back by yelling. He whispered, I yelled; breaking the family code. Do not disturb the patient. For we all would pay when one of us disturbed his condition. Therefore, if I defended against my abuser the rest of the family would endure abuse. This is what I think they mean by conundrum.

Receiving protection was never in the cards for me. Being vocal was my only option. It is only now at 29 that I am embracing the use of my voice for reasons outside of desperation and last resorts.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Wisdom is reciprocation

Academics: Vampiric of ideas and information. Sucking the literature dry. Believing that the tangibility of bounded texts means that knowledge can be consumed. We lose our patience for others who have not happened to have read the very things we ate quickly, without tasting.

I think a lot about pride and arrogance. My own sneaks up on me like a glance in the mirror. In that silvery reflection is for a moment a stranger, until to my dismay I realize it is me. A truer self than I knew. There are many moments of energy draining frustration where it would have been so much easier to interact with another if they just knew what I knew, in the way I understand.

Or it would be easier if they lived some of my experiences and felt my feelings. Some mechanism in me tends to kick in and corrects my misguided frustration. If they knew as I know, if they felt as I feel, what affect could I have on them? One of the most gorgeous qualities of humanity is the dance of relating to another. The painful and pleasurable ways we work together towards familiarity of experiences, solidarity of politics, laughing at the same joke, sharing context.

I wish that this mechanism kicked in for those who do not identify as survivor and perhaps wish that a neutral stance were possible (and I believe is not). Neutrality is stepping back and forth nervously, wearing oneself out with worry of reputation and other superficial states. Taking a stance can be worked with, communicated to. It is tangible and potentially able to reciprocate. Which brings me to the stewing idea of this day, reciprocation.

I feel as though many are ready to consume the other they wish to relate to. They would like to absorb the nutrients of human wisdom without feeding back into this wondrous well. They desire to improve their morality, refine their ethical position without offering themselves in return. They wish to say they listened to a survivor, performed their social duty, without allowing themselves to be transformed by the survivor's story. For the world to better itself we must listen with the very humble intention to change ourselves, not to consume knowledge or information. Wisdom is reciprocation.