Sunday, March 30, 2014

When Creepers Come Calling

If I ever write a horror novel, I think I'll call it "When Creepers Come Calling."  Unfortunately, I can't even read the jacket of horror novels without losing sleep for a week, so there's no chance of me ever writing such a thing.  However, that does free up the title such that I can use it for this blog post without risking plagiarizing myself later, so that's a definite plus.

This title in this context is partly because of my nerdy enjoyment of alliteration, and also, unfortunately, true.  Last Sunday, I found myself at home, writing some notes for work and watching a movie when, around 7PM, the dog started barking.  I looked out the window and saw two men walking up to my door.  My blinds were open because the sun was still shining, and they waved as they saw me on the couch and continued to the door.  They knocked, and I answered, opening only my door, and leaving the storm door closed.  These two men looked about my age, maybe a little younger.  One was tall and a larger guy, the
other short and thin.  The dog continued barking, they started talking, and I couldn't hear a word they were saying.  I opened the storm door and the dog tried to get out, so I pushed him in and closed the door behind me. 

"This one's mine," said Short Guy.  "She's short like me, and her hair's super sexy."  He then introduced himself, speaking very rapidly in a very heavy Southern accent that I struggled to understand, explaining that he and his buddy were selling magazines to pay off their student loans.  He asked to come inside, and I told them no.  When I told him I was not interested in ordering any magazines, he said, "well in that case, can we just come in?  I think we got off on the wrong foot here...let's start again.  My name's Short Guy, I'm a Taurus and I like long walks on the beach and even shorter walks to the bedroom."  He continued a song and dance routine between him and Tall Guy that made it hard to get a word in.  While Short Guy fiddled with his magazine list for 0.2 seconds, Tall Guy jumped in: "How about we just forget him and you and I get together for some heavy breathing later?"  I ignored him, told them again that I was not interested in magazines and moved to go inside.  Short Guy again asked to come inside -- they were cold, he said, from doing this all afternoon, and he could just use my kitchen table to write down my order while they got warm.  I said no.  "Well in that case, let me just take you out to Red Lobster and kiss you, because you're super sexy and I love your hair."  I moved again to go inside, he kept talking about his magazines and how I should want to help him, and couldn't I just order a magazine for my husband?  Boyfriend?  "Don't you have a boyfriend?!" he asked.  I deflected the comment, said thanks, and moved to go inside, "but Doll, don't go...I love your hair and I'm super cute and good in bed...and you KNOW that's better than you got right now," he drawled.  I told him no and opened the door.  They asked me the direction of Second Ave.  I pointed and closed the door, and they walked away.

It took me exactly 0.7 seconds to start telling myself that I should have handled that differently.  That, in spite
of the fact that I could feel my anxiety starting to rise, that it was Nothing.  No Big Deal.  That I should just sit back down, finish my movie and note-writing, and move on. 

I tried that -- but it didn't work.  I couldn't focus.  My chest felt tight and my body was all twitchy and uncomfortable, and I kept thinking about those things they said.  What right did they have to come to my house and say those things to me?  Did they realize it was threatening?  Did they realize it made me uncomfortable?  Did they REALIZE the impact they just had on me?  Did they realize I live by myself?  I live at the end of the street and my neighbors are Deaf.  Did they realize this?  Why did they come all the way down this little street, right to the very end, to come to my house?  What if they come back?  Were they really selling those magazines?  Was it all a front for some awful assault scheme I just narrowly avoided? 

Ultimately, I decided to downplay it and post about it on Facebook, because...ya know...what else are you going to do with this thing-that-happened that feels like a big deal but shouldn't be?  I posted it, and then stared at the notes I was trying to write thinking, "you're so stupid.  Nothing happened.  It's no big deal.  People say things like that.  Guys say things like that.  It's just a guy thing.  Why are you so stupid?  You're just reacting to things that happened in the past.  That isn't now.  Nothing is happening now."

But -- I have awesome friends.  Although personal history told me folks might say, "huh, that's weird," or
"were they cute!?" or "sounds like a missed opportunity to me..." or "nothing bad happened," or "did you get his number?" my friends did none of that.  Instead, they indicated that what had transpired was decidedly Not Okay.  They encouraged me to call the police.  There was no joking.  It wasn't funny.  It was decidedly wrong.


After much thought and deliberation, I did call the police (in spite of my fears that he/she would not believe me, would think I was overreacting, would be upset that I called about something so small and wasted their time).  They sent an officer out quickly -- and he was nice.  He listened, took a description of them, said he would like to "run them out of town," and offered to continue to patrol the area until he went off duty at 4AM, if I would like.  I felt silly, but I said I would like that.  And I did.  I did like that.  Feeling supported and protected was a novel experience that was uncomfortable, purely because it was not what I expected. 

And really, that's it.  That's the whole story.  That's all that happened.  Weird guys showed up at my doorstep and said weird things, and I felt uncomfortable and called the police, who did what they were supposed to do.  It's a simple story, on its face.  But in reality?  It's so, so complicated.

So here's a little unpacking I've done of this complicated issue.  It's not new news.  It's not new ideas.  It's not going to shatter any thinking you've done about this issue before.  BUT -- I think it's important, because so often we (and by we, I mean me) understand issues when they are presented to us abstractly.  When we see the issue in a book, or an essay, or a blog, we can say, "oh yeah.  I get that.  Rape culture is definitely a thing.  Violence against women is totally normalized, I see that.  And yeah, patriarchy and oppression of women is totally an issue!  Rock on, book!" we think.  Then when issues come up in our conversations with others, we can say, "I read this article on rape culture the other day..." and we feel like we've done something good.  We feel like we have been educated, like we've shared that knowledge, like we know what we're doing and we're well-versed in being a good person, or standing up for ourselves and others. 

But too often, when it comes down to the real life application of these principles/ideas/issues, we don't see it.  We can't see it.  When it comes down to the fact of the matter, as it applies to us as we live our daily lives, we don't see it.  There was an article I read in a social psychology class that asked the question: "does the fish see the water in which it swims?"  The answer?  No.  And what are we, really, but fish in a big sociocultural pond?  The important thing here, too, is that this is true regardless of which fish we are -- if we're the big fish that eats the little fish, we don't see the water.  If we're the little fish that's being eaten, we
don't see the water.  Whether we represent majority or minority status on any particular issue, we need to work to see the water.  And, regardless, we will sometimes be unable to see it.  It's just how the water is.

And that is exactly what happened here.  I have been raised in this water.  I catch glimpses of it from time to time, but when it is a real life experience that is playing out for me?  I am just as ignorant of the water as if I had never seen it.  So creepy guys came to my door, and I, not seeing the water, thought that I shouldn't talk about it.  I thought it was not a big deal.  I thought that I was making a big deal out of nothing, because those lies are in the water.  Those lies are the water.  Those lies are part of what many women are raised to believe, and in the moment?  I fell for them.

I thought, "why do things like this always happen to me?"  Because that is also a function of the water -- making us feel as though we are alone.  Things like this happen all the time, to horrifying numbers of women.  This story is the story of street harassment.  It is the story of bosses that make sexist comments to women.  It is the story of assault, it is the story of rape, it is the many, many, many stories that we don't tell, because we've been told not to.  Because we've been trained not to.  Because we've been taught not to.  Because we've never been shown anything different.  So many of us have never been taught to tell these stories, because the mechanisms that make up the water are the mechanisms that keep these stories in place.  To expose them would be to expose the water, but some of us?  Some of us don't even have the language to begin the conversations.

In talking to a good friend of mine, who has an uncanny ability to not only see the water, but also to name it, I confided, "I feel like I'm making it all up.  I feel like I was just responding to things that happened in the past, and that I just made this whole thing up." 

"I think you may have been reacting to this AND to previous events," she said.  "Think about someone who has been mugged.  If a person starts acting like they are going to mug them, they might be more unsettled than someone who hasn't been mugged before...but they likely aren't 'making it up' or 'overreacting.'  They are respond adaptively to a dangerous situation they have been in before."

Right.  Yes.  There is a message that we're supposed to ignore/suppress/inhibit that adaptation and response.  We don't talk about it, and we're supposed to think (or come to believe) that it is wrong.  Imagine how things would be different if we were all taught to honor that response?  If I had been taught from a young age that you don't have to always be nice and polite to people, would I have been more comfortable with closing the door on them earlier in the conversation?  Would I have been able to tell them they were out of line?  Would I have hesitated in calling the police?  Would I have looked as intensely for all the ways I mishandled the situation?

About a year ago, I had a similar type of situation occur that I posted about hereWhile walking to my car in the grocery store parking lot, I felt two guys following me.  I walked quickly to my car and locked the doors just in time -- they came up to my car and tried to open the doors a second after I locked them.  My first thought?  "WHY did I go to the grocery store at 8:30 at night!?"

That's fucked up.  But -- it's not me.  It's the water.  I was taught these things before I knew what I was being taught, by people who were taught those lessons before THEY knew what they were being taught, and so on, and so forth, for eternity.

I also want to recognize that men are being raised in this same water.  They are given lessons on how to treat women before they are old enough to question it.  They are being taught how to be a man before they can walk.  It is not their fault. 

I don't know what the intentions of those men were.  They may have thought that making comments like that would be the best way to get me to buy a magazine.  Sex sells, right?  They may have been trying to get magazine sales + benefits.  Or, they may not have given a damn about the magazines at all, and they just wanted that short walk to the bedroom. 

However, if the water were not made up with the stuff that constitutes our metaphorical water, they may never have dreamed of walking up to a house, seeing a woman by herself, and making those comments.  If they were not socialized to believe that they could do this without repercussions, to believe that this is just "what guys do," to believe that they hold this power that renders them able to engage in these behaviors, then it likely would not have happened.  There are always deviants, of course, but if this was not socially acceptable on some level, it wouldn't have happened.

Which means, of course, that -- to some degree -- we condone this.  The burden of that responsibility is too much to hang on any one man, or group of men, or even men as a whole.  The burden of that responsibility lies in part in our history, in part with our legislators and persons in positions of power, and in part with all of us.  There are things that women need to see and change.*  There are things men need to see and change.  And it takes us telling the stories and unpacking their ugly truths for any of us to see what constitutes those needed changes. 

*I am struggling to find another way of wording this that reeks less of a "blame the victim" mentality, and I am coming up empty.  What I mean is this: women need to do what I've done here and unpack the stories.  We need to honor our instincts.  We need to stand with one another.  We need to tell our stories and dissect them and reject the pieces that no longer fit for us, and we need to name the infuriating parts where we see them.  We need to find the places where we "get it" and the places where we don't, and we need to try and see the water we swim in.  Otherwise, it passes for status quo, where status quo is, clearly, unacceptable.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

What do we owe our bullies?

For a wide variety of reasons, I've been thinking a good deal this week about bullies.  It's been a roller coaster of a week with good, bad, and everything else in-between popping up at various intervals, and everything -- the good, the bad, and many of the "everything elses" has me thinking about bullies. 

I strongly dislike bullies.  And really -- who doesn't?  Who among us thinks, "man, I really like bullies.  I think they're great."  Nobody.  So, I guess that's really an unnecessary statement; however, I really dislike bullies.  I am over bullies, and over bullying, and I'm tired of being angry about bullies and their bully ways.  Over the past few years, I think I've met more than my fair share of bullies.  It happens.  It's not fun, but it happens.  (I am defining bully here as: someone who uses their power, strength, or influence to intimidate, belittle, or harm others).

My question today comes from this: I was offered a really wonderful, amazing job (and I said yes).  This job is at the organization I have worked at now for 2.5 years, in which I have moved up the training ranks, until now, when I will no longer be in training.  When I applied for this organization 2.5 years ago, there was a bully standing in my way.

"We've never gotten anyone in there," Dr. X told me.  "You're wasting your application."

"It's out of your league," she said.  "There's no way you're getting in.  You're wasting your time and money."

"You need to change your list.  I can't approve this.  Put (these sites you don't want to go to) on your list instead."

I continued moving forward, telling her that I understood her point.  I changed my list a bagillion ways, trying to reach a compromise, but I left that one site on there.  It was my number 1 choice.  This was the place I wanted to be.  This was what I had been working towards.  This was my chance to do exactly what it was I wanted to do.  And there she stood, intimidating and condescending, right in my way.  In all honesty, it came down to two things: (1) she wanted to wield her power in such a way that those around her would tremble in fear; (2) she had issues with me, personally (for reasons, but not reasons that were my fault, and not reasons that I will explain here.  These conversations took place in a much larger context that was awful, and painful and oppressive and not my fault).

Eventually, I submitted the list (without Dr. X's total permission).  A few weeks later, I got an interview.  A few weeks later, I was accepted as an intern.  A year after that, they accepted me as a post-doc.  A year later as a second year post-doc.  And now, they've offered me a job.  Thank goodness I didn't listen to "out of my league," right?

When I told some people close to me about the job, I said, "it kind of makes me want to send an email to Dr. X."

"Why?" they asked.  "What would you say?"

"How about 'Dear Dr. X, Fuck you.'"

"You don't really want to say that," they said.

"Oh, but I do," I said, nodding vehemently.

"No you don't.  She helped you.  You should write her a thank you note.  You should tell her that you appreciate that she helped you grow in the face of adversity.  I'm sure she would love to hear from you."

And I wish they hadn't said that.  I know it was well-intentioned.  I know it was because they don't want to think that somebody made something hard for me.  I know it was because these particular people have swept that whole era of my life under the rug such that we pretend that it doesn't exist.  But I am so tired of that message, and all of the other messages that go along with it.  I am tired of hearing that I can't feel/shouldn't feel/am not really angry/sad/pissed off.  I am tired of feeling like I have to make sense of things that make no sense, and like I need to be grateful for things towards which I feel no gratitude.

Don't get me wrong -- I have a very active, passionate, meaningful, and important gratitude practice that has brought me intense meaning and joy.  This practice, however, developed in opposition to people telling me to be grateful, or appreciative, or happy about things from which I derived no happiness or gratitude or appreciation.  "Just be grateful it wasn't worse," I was told.  "You can feel glad that all this is happening to make you a better person," someone said.  "Look on the bright side.  Be happy that you'll come out of this a better psychologist," many people told me. 

But I wasn't grateful about those things.  I wasn't glad.  I wasn't happy.  I'm all about making the most of what life gives you, but some lemons just don't make good lemonade.  Sometimes, there's power in just letting those lemons be lemons.  Sometimes, the strength does not come from making something sweet and tasty out of something sour and bitter, but from saying, "that right there?  That's a fucking lemon, y'all, and it's bitter, and it's sour, and it sucks.  It's a  lemon, and it sucks."  Some lemons deserve to just be labeled as lemons, because there's nothing good that can come from them.

However, if the lemons are bad, maybe you pick up a lime next to it.  Or maybe you ditch the lemonade idea and decide you want orange juice, or iced tea, or a margarita.  And then?  When you stand up and say, "THAT is a lemon," and you walk away, and you drink that delicious margarita instead...THEN you can be grateful.  THEN you can practice gratitude because you can say, "life just kept giving me all these fucking lemons, and they I tried the margaritas, which are pretty damn delicious, so I am GRATEFUL for margaritas!"  And isn't that what gratitude's about, really?  It's not about making the awful into something good.  It's about finding the thing that is delicious, in spite of all the suck.

You start to feel, though, when you keep getting these messages, that somehow, you owe something to the bullies.  Somehow, we owe them a word of thanks.  We owe them some recognition in our own mind or in our meaning-making or in our conversations with others.  When we tell these stories of triumph and overcoming, it's like we owe the bullies some sort of gratitude for being a catalyst in making our kick-assness happen.  Like somehow, we would have been a little less kick-ass if people weren't tearing us down.  Like somehow, they helped us to prove that we're awesomesauce, and that without them breaking our spirits, we would have been a smidge less awesome.

And that's a bunch of bullshit. 

If I hadn't gone through what I did in grad school, I'd still be plenty kick-ass.  If Dr. X had been supportive and wonderful and given me gifts of rainbows and sunshine from day one...I STILL would have been kick-ass.  Anything and everything that I have done has come from me, and from me alone.  I do not owe her or the other bullies anything.  I do not owe them my gratitude.  I do not owe them my survival.  I do not credit them with my survival.  They do not get to own my awesome.

So may it be. 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Woman: Writing

Lately, I have been talking to people a lot about poetry.  I recently shared some of my poetry -- out loud -- with others, and was overwhelmed at the response.  I recently submitted some poems for publication (and am pretty sure at least one of them will actually be published for real).  I notice, though, that when I talk about poetry, I apologize.  I assume people aren't interested.  I assume talking about poetry is a nerdy thing to do, and that gushing over it reveals my nerdiness, and...well...nobody wants to hear that.  I'm nerdy enough without all that, right?

Poetry has, again and again, saved me.  Reading poetry, listening to poetry, writing poetry...when the Tough Times start, I can remember or find or write a poem that speaks to the heart of it in ways that prose and conversation just can't.  In this too big, too sensitive, too much heart body that I live in, poetry is the only way that I know how to understand and communicate and uncover the depths of what I live and feel and know.  Prose waxes melodramatic and wordy.  Poems?  The more emotional they are, the more powerful they turn.  (The good ones anyway).  Poetry is the way I have learned to find my voice, over and over again.  When I lose it, when the Tough Times start, it's the way I find it.  It's the way I center and ground myself.  Even as a very young child, I would recite poems in my head.  I remember reciting "The Puffin" in my head to go to sleep when I was as young as 6 years old.  ("Oh there once was a puffin in the shape of a muffin, and he lived on an island in the deep blue sea.  He ate little fishes that were most delicious and he had them for supper and he had them for tea...").

So why the apologizing?  Why the embarrassment?  Why the hesitation?

Because poetry has been the way I find my voice.  It is the way I tell my stories.  It is one way that I show that which is my true self to the world.  And -- that is both an explanation, and also really fucking frustrating.  In a world where we all fight to tell our stories and hear the sounds of our own voices -- why should I silence the way in which I can best and most easily communicate that which is me?  It's been taught, in part.  And it's also just been shaped over time

Right now?  Those Tough Time monsters have struck, and I am angry about many things.  Today, I'm angry about the way we silence our voices and our stories.  I'm so done with that silence.  Because I think in poems, I remember the lines from Eve Ensler's "Manifesta to young women and girls" in I Am An Emotional Creature: 

" Ask yourself these questions:
Why am I whispering when I have something to say?
Why am I adding a question mark at the end
of all my sentences?
Why am I apologizing every time I express my needs?
Why am I hunching over?
Starving myself when I love food?
Pretending it doesn't mean that much to me?
Hurting myself when I mean to scream?
Why am I waiting
fitting in?"

I am done, done, done with question marks and silence and apologies and whispers.  I'm angry at question marks.  I'm pissed off at silence.  I'm finished with apologies and whispers and parenthetical statements I make to undermine what I say.  

This poem is one I wrote a while ago and never liked.  While I was driving today, it finally found its final form.  It's an angry poem.  Rawr.

Woman: Writing

Even as I walk with the unlaced perfection that comes with
unchecked self-doubt, 
and talk with the air that says: "if you believe me, 
I might believe me too,"
I write with utter abandon, because words
are the narcotics I use
to dull the pain of living.

Call me a silent revolutionary.
A fighter.  I use words as bullets
thoughts as bombs
incite political movements through my fingertips
as my pencil scratches the turf of the notebook.

Call me a silent revolutionary.
Silence me and feed my addiction -- you
with your Disney Princess dreams and silencing schemes,
you run tracks up my arms
pumping my bloodstream with pure bliss.  
Delude me into thinking I can start
poetic revolutions,
these words are my illness
my fever
the pill
for everything that ails me:

Give me one more reason to write.
Incite more words--
I dare you to light the fire of this pipe dream and watch
while I burn your world
to pieces.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

On Anger and Legos

I have a confession. 

Sometimes at work when I am playing with small children, I have to be a bully.  I have snatched toys, called names, said mean things, and once even took a lollipop out of a child's mouth and threw it in the trashcan.

This is, of course, all in the context of role-plays in which I try to simulate real-life experiences the child encounters such that they are better able to handle them in the moment.  Depending on the child, they may or may not understand the concept of "role-play," in which case I become this nice doctor lady who periodically grabs a toy, or  gives them chips and then takes them away, or says "NO" in the most loud, obnoxious voice ever. 

I had to play the bully the other day.  "Amelia," age 4, has autism and limited language.  If someone takes her toy -- or takes a toy she assumes is hers (which tends to be all of them), she will fly into a rage that includes falling to the floor screaming, banging her knees to her head or her head to the floor, and throwing the toys across the room.  Truth be told, this isn't working too well for her in preschool, so I was forced to play Amelia's bully.  We were playing Legos and I, in my all powerful bully-state, grabbed the beloved pink Lego (of which there is only one) from in front of her.  Before she could tantrum, I prompted her, "Amelia, say 'that's mine!'"

"That's mine!" she parroted, sniffling.

"Say, 'Don't take my toy!'" I said in my best 4 year old intonation.

"Don't take my toy!" she repeated between wails.

"Oh!" I said, feigning surprise.  "Here you go."  I handed back the pink Lego and resumed playing with the other blocks.

I have another child, "Ben," that we're working on the same routine.  Ben, however, is completely passive.  You can take his toys, wreck his tall tall tower, throw his favorite Superman in the trash, and Ben just watches it happen.  In an effort to decrease Ben's vulnerability, I'm teaching him, too, to tell me, "that's mine.  Don't take my toy!"

With both of these children, we replay this scenario again, and again, and again until "That's mine!  Don't take my toy!" replaces the tantrum.  Until "That's mine!  Don't take my toy!" takes the place of the passivity.  It's long, hard work for them.  (And for me -- being the Lego snatcher is not exactly my favorite role).  The politics of play and childhood are complicated and elusive for many of the children I see. 

I have another confession (this one slightly more serious than the last).

I am really angry today.  Actually, I've been angry for about a week at this point -- but today in particular, I am filled to overflowing with an anger that is hard to put my finger on.  It's not like anger is new to me -- she and I have certainly met before in different incarnations and iterations.  It's not like we're friends, exactly, but we're acquainted.  Well acquainted.

I tried going for a walk, thinking it might soothe my spirit.  I tried doing some work and reading some articles to take my mind off of it.  I tried thinking about the anger, moving towards it instead of away, in the hopes that then Anger would  loosen the talons she was using to hold me hostage and let me run free.  No dice.  As a last ditch effort, I tried going to yoga, which typically cures just about anything...but no.  In spite of the fact that I absolutely respect and adore my yoga teacher, if she told us to breathe in and release the tension in our bodies one more time, I was going to karate chop her right in the middle of her adho mukha svanasana (which, I'm sure, would be really bad for my karma).  It was certainly not one of my better classes.

This anger today is different from the anger I have known before.  In the past, I've been angry at people and at their actions.  I have been hurt, and angry AT them.  I have beat up mattresses and shredded phone books in this anger.  I have run, and run, and run, until my legs collapsed from exhaustion and I was no longer angry.  I've been angry at me, which is destructive, and certainly not helpful at all.  I have been angry about situations.  I have cursed and sat in anger I could barely contain about situations.  And I've been angry on a more global level.  I have been angry about things that happen in this world, and the ways people don't seem to care, and I have engaged in angry, passionate discourse about these topics. 

But this anger is not any of those.  This anger started when I came home from the Women's Retreat I attended with my church.  It intensified today after I attended the first session of the Adult Our Whole Lives sexuality education course at my church.  The retreat was awesome -- it was 24 hours filled with heart and wholeness and trust and laughter and good conversation among friends I had not previously met.  And you know what?  That's why I'm mad.  That is why I am so freaking angry.  I'm angry because there are so many good and beautiful and amazing and trustworthy people out there.  I'm angry because I have spent so long believing people weren't that way.  I'm angry at what I've missed.  I'm angry that a handful of hateful people were able to take away my ability to access these people and this piece of life.  I'm angry that a handful of hateful people were able to take away my ability to believe I was worthy of good, worthy of beautiful, worthy of amazing, worthy of trustworthy.

Right now, I'm angry for me.

(Woah.  I kind of expected the world to open up and swallow me right then when I typed that). 

Being angry for me has an entirely different connotation in my mind.  Being angry for me means I am finally willing to say, "what happened to me was wrong.  I should not have had to go through it.  The things that happened, and every lasting little piece that lingers out to this day is wrong.  It's wrong, wrong, wrong, and I can be angry  about the fact that it is wrong."  I spend a lot of time being angry AT me, and even more time denying that I'm angry or need to be angry at all.  I spent a lot of time being angry at others -- and that's a piece of it, clearly.  I spend most of my time making it distant and academic and talking about "these issues" in general, as they affect women in the US and around the globe.  That anger is right, and justified, and necessary, because we should all be mad about it and working towards change.  But I'm also just angry for me because, ya know, everybody deserves good, and beautiful, and amazing, and trustworthy.  Everybody.  Even me. 

I'm not angry at myself.  I know that I did what I had to do, and that I did what I could at each opportunity.  I made the best decision I knew how to make at every single crossroads I came upon.  I know this for a fact.  I wish I could have made different choices...but I couldn't.  I can't.  We can only ever move forward.

I am angry because somebody took my Legos -- the pink Lego, too.  I tried throwing tantrums like Amelia.  I tried being quiet like Ben.  And I tried, oh how I tried, to tell everyone that those Legos were mine.  But they're gone.  The politics of adult relationships aren't like the politics of the playground.  Sometimes, somebody takes your Legos, and no matter how many teachers you tell, no matter how many grown-ups you run to, no matter how loudly you scream it, your Legos are gone.  "You shouldn't have been playing Legos in front of him anyway," they say.  "What were you wearing while you were playing with Legos?" they ask.  "Well," they sigh, "I guess you'll be more careful with who you play Legos around in the future."
I'm angry because I am finally allowing myself to be in community, and this means there are walls that are crumbling, and this is painful and hard.  I'm angry because being in community lets me see all that I did not have that I should have been able to access.  When I didn't let myself see the alternative quite so clearly, it just wasn't as painful.  Now that I can (on my good days) live into that new reality or, at least, believe it's inciting an anger that's hard to know how to process.

I mean, I have a feeling it does not involve karate chopping my yoga teacher.  On that, at least, I'm relatively clear. Other than that, though, I end this without answers.  I end this with intense gratitude for good, and beautiful, and amazing, and trustworthy people.  I end this still intensely angry in a way that cannot be put into words.  And I end this committed to letting more of that which is good, and beautiful, and amazing, and trustworthy into my life.