channel name taken from Audre Lorde’s words, this is a space to explore and hold in compassionate tenderness the stickiness of shame, grief, disappointment, rejection etc.
Forgive yourself every day, every hour, every second. Be relentlessly forgiving of everything, all the time!
My daughter said, 'Mama it hurts too much when I think about Palestine. Should I try to stop thinking about it and stop feeling it?'
I told her, 'Your heart is a muscle. If you want to have a strong heart, you cannot shut down or hide from the difficult feelings. It is an honor of a lifetime to feel the grief and suffering of another. If you have been chosen to feel it, then you have to step up, lean in, and feel it."
I told her, "you don't get a strong heart by protecting your heart. You get a strong heart by 'lifting' these painful and difficult feelings. And just like at the gym, you can't go in lifting 100lbs of grief and sorrow, it will injure you and leave you no good for anyone... at first you will only be able to handle 10lbs of grief and sorrow... but keep showing up, keep feeling... keep breaking... Every time you heart breaks, it strengthens."
I told her, "Yes, don't be afraid to let your heart break for another human's suffering... in such instances do not protect your heart. This is what makes you human. But know that is not for the undisciplined or the faint at heart... If you agree to stay open, to not shut down and to lift these painful feelings, then you have to commit to holding space for your pain. You have to be fiercely self-compassionate and gentle with yourself. You have to pace yourself.
I told my daughter, "the work of grief is the work of activism and of soul making. It is deep and profound. It's not about fleeting moments of empathy, but a deep and lifelong commitment to compassion and advocacy. It's a promise to feel the pain and the sorrow of the world and know that you have been chosen as one of the people on this earth through which past, present, personal and collective grief will be addressed, metabolized and healed. It is a noble act and that requires a strong will and brave heart.
I told her, "So no, don't stop feeling... because the future of humanity is literally in the hands of people like you... people like you who feel pain when others hurt.... Who stay connected to humanity when hate seems to be trending.... The only hope for humanity is in the hands of people like you who are devastated by what is happening in Palestine right now... people like you who confront the painful truths about our world and let that truth pierce them deeply enough so that they are moved to do something to correct it.”
“A baby does not react to failure as an adult does, or even a five-year-old, because she has not yet been made to feel that failure is shame, disgrace, a crime. Unlike her elders, she is not concerned with protecting herself against everything that is not easy and familiar; she reaches out to experience, she embraces life.
Watching this baby, it is hard to credit the popular notion that without outside rewards and penalties children will not learn. There are some rewards and penalties in her life; the adults approve of some things she does, and disapprove of others. But most of the time she lives beyond praise of blame, if only because most of her learning experiences are unobserved. After all, who thinks about the meaning of what a baby is doing, so long as she is quiet and contented? But watch a while and think about it, and you see that she has a strong desire to make sense of the world around her. Her learning gives her great satisfaction, whether anyone notices it or not.”
♡ John Holt, How Children Fail
Pema Chödrön said to make peace and be gentle with the tightness in our body, with the anger, the sadness, the shame in our body. I watch the tender, vulnerable parts of me with icy eyes. We're all like dough deep inside; soft and squishy, vulnerable, still. I haven't said more than a few words today, I'm realizing. I hold the lump in my throat throughout an entire Zoom call and afterwards run to the bathroom to unleash an entire half hour of pent up tightness. I lay on the bathroom floor. I hug myself, I wail like a baby. I run to my mom, who has softened this year. She holds me and her eyes watch me tenderly, like never before. She talks with me and calms me down and offers to light a bonfire, to burn the stories I tell myself. And so if my mom can watch my sadness, my desperation, my disorientation... with love? Tenderness? Warmth? I suppose I can learn to do the same.