This year I promised myself I’d drink less, work out/write more and become a increasingly social. So far, all of these things have come to fruition, with varying results, depending on the day. However, I should’ve resolved to treat and respect myself better overall.
Being down for the cause–the people–and using all of my skills and talents to move toward our collective and intellectual liberation is a good look. It frees and heals me from past traumas and allows me to do the work of unlocking: the work of tapping into my innermost truths, talents and fears. However, throughout this practice of unlocking, or unpacking, I have encountered some startling truths that I wasn’t quite prepared to confront.
“Our feelings are our most genuine paths to knowledge.” Audre Lorde
The cause, or the work, can be liberatory but it can also be a bandage over (a) festering wound(s). I’ve come to recently realize this as true for myself. When I feel pain, hurt or impending rejection, I channel those feelings of vulnerability, shame and unworthiness into work-product. My analysis is sharper, deeper and more connected to the flesh of the people I care for, and am more connected to their/our realities. This work elates and exhausts me to the point that I fail to confront the initial force that produced the trauma and, prescriptive inertia, to write, speak or organize in the first place.
Most recently, actually almost always, this since of unworthiness has resurrected by the dating “process.” Bear with me as I attempt to become publicly vulnerable. My sense of unworthiness isn’t a declaration or a feeling of unworthiness to be loved, received, had or held properly. No, but it is somewhere, somehow related. Instead, my feelings of unworthiness and shame have to do with communication, time and affirmation. They have to be proven, stated, exhibited explicitly. When they are not, even when I should know they are there, my fear of incongruence in our measurement of my worthiness of proper treatment elicits a reaction of retreat, disappearance, callous and short-term, emotive explosion. My fear of unworthiness is a fear that the other, through their inconsistent profession/display of said-worthiness (mine or theirs), has had a change of heart and I have set myself up for failure. So, as opposed to many who think they are not cute enough, sexy enough, smart enough, snatched enough..I don’t feel those things. I know my worth to myself. I instead continually prepare myself for the worse, likely because I’ve become more accustom to abandonment and fuckery than an equitable commitment and production of the love and loyalty I continue to offer. I expect the shade, and therefore prepare to fight or flee.
If I were the scape-goating type, I could blame this on black and/or queer/blaqueer culture. I could talk about the ways in which many of us have no models for relationships. I could speak about the amount of wounded men I’ve dated and their professions of being ready for love and relationship, but their fear of receiving or producing love. I could rant on and on, about many desiring love as a feeling and as the recipient, but unable to articulate or perform the daily to day work of love, the respect, the investment, the activity and the healing work. I could say all these things and they would be true, but they of course, do not explain or dictate my reaction to this reality.
I know that for me, in order to be healthy and feel “safe,” I require constant communication and affirmation (both ways). While there are no guarantees of anything in love or dating, there must at least exist the reasonable hope of something real, healthy and restorative/edifying. I must communicate these things and state when I feel unsafe. I must be prepared to walk away, take a deep breathe and leave. I must commit to my own sanity, before I commit to a prospective relationship. I’m a ride or die lover–I generally court and disavow dating around–and lately, I’ve been too willing to die. This year is about living, and I hope, riding.
A portion of problems here center on my existence as someone who is equally introverted and extroverted. Sometimes the conversations themselves exhaust me, other times, I have suitcases to unpack and I want to get down to the particulars of the journey. It also has to do with the consequences of speaking up. I’m quite aware of my emotions and have no shame around how I feel. However, when communicating these things, it is not uncommon to have my gender, manliness and capacity to be “real” questioned. It’s as if asking real, foundational questions about your relationship, your desires, your fears makes you a “woman,” which in turn implies that you and women, as the ambassadors of feelings, are unable to conceive “real” life and that emotions are trivial as opposed to foundation to, the connection and compatibility of two people. In other words patriarchy, in supposedly blaqueer relationships, robs us the freedom birthed by queerness and enslaves us to the “realities” of heteropatriarchal fuckery.
So here I stand, scissors in hand; preparing myself to heal the wounds of old, and separate myself from that/he that would infect my soul.