Tend-and-befriender

It is odd to tell a story as if it was a thing that happened and it has an end and tra la la. This story is a chapter, it is a leaf only recently flipped over, and I am not sure which parts of its’ green vines to write, and which to leave for later.

Yet today, here, now, all I have is cute little me and my inhospitable life story and path. Here, friends, is a part.

August 2015 I am in a restaurant in Birmingham, Alabama with my best friend Emily. She is chewing red and yellow tortilla chips in the magical way only she can, and I gaze at the shiny bottles of alcohol propped on and around the bar caddy-corner to us.

“I’m just afraid that I will marry him and go to be with him and then hate it and not want to be there,” I say. Emily and I do not talk about everything but we talk about most things and all the deep things, yet somehow there is a unique heaviness to the fear I share in this moment. Emily nods like the sane, level-headed being she is, and validates my concern with restraint.

Sadly, utter heaviness was no stranger to my experience of life then, and still maintains a fairly reliable presence (always forward, always healing, always hopeful). At that point I was back from an emotionally stressful overseas trip, and had returned with a new tend-and-befriender. What is that, you ask? Using language from Teresa B. Pasquale’s book Sacred Wounds, tend-and-befriend is a defense mechanism used by someone in survival mode or trauma response. It is associated with the bonding hormone, oxytocin, that serves humans by helping us feel connected to others. It becomes nefarious, however, when a person is stuck in a trauma response and feels dependent emotionally on (often potentially hurtful) people or communities.

At the age of 21, I had spent the majority of my life (read: every second) moving from a stress response. The emotional and religious trauma of my developmental years left me stuck in frozen distress (things can get reeeeeally hairy there is distress-arctica, let me tell ya), and there I was, about two months after the difficult trip, feeling a deep obligation to return to be with someone in a foreign country who had helped me through a VERY rough 13 days. I felt that I owed him something, and that to return and live the life I assumed he wanted from or with me was the undeniable right thing to do.

I felt it not on a spiritual level, nor on a level of dutifulness, nor on an intellectual level. It was deeper than those parts of me, and now I know that when I feel that deep, guttural obligation it is coming from my very evolution. Those stress responses are a part of me because I am a part of an evolving body of humanity; sounds beautiful, sure, but in that moment, I was very stuck. Living in this kind of stress response is like trying to breath with air that is only 0.09% oxygen. It is having your insides in the fetal position when you need them to open and flourish and say things and be responsive to people. It is a jack-hammer in your mind that leaves you vulnerable to re-experiencing the abuse combined with a sense of badness that stings and prods like horse flies on the beach. It is no sleep and avoidance of every love-light ray that comes near your personal darkness.

The religious trauma compounded with this process has continually led me to my knees, trying to bargain with push-and-pull gods off in the cosmos who made me, so must want me, but also must not want me since here I am in this turmoil again.

Thankfully, the kind man who helped me when I was overseas, lived, yes, overseas. After 5+ months in contact with him, I suddenly cut all conversation–text, calls, video. He offered advice and was kind and looking back I think he must have sensed the turmoil I was in though he did not understand it either, and I said goodbye.

January 2016 I am at my part-time cleaning job the day after cutting off the relationship and the air is back to 20% oxygen. Sweet, sweet clear oxygen filling my shriveled lungs. I lift my Pledge-covered rag over my head and dance; I feel elated, happy, for the first time in months. I am happy because I see that I am mine. As the jack-hammer lifts off my mind, I am thinking over and over: this is my life. I clean this house. This is my heart. I feel these things. The fetus my insides had become is suddenly a seed of new life, rather than a posture of protection. I am mine again, independent, and my muchness is slipping back into the ghost of myself that has been living misguided and drained for the past months.

I still wonder if people without an over-active stress response system feel that elated all the time. I wonder how many times I will have to survive a response like that again until my Holy Trinity (body, mind, soul) can look a stressful situation in the face and know that I am enough, and that it is going to be okay and I am going to make it regardless of what goes down.

I never should have accessed this place of stress and trauma. I certainly never should have gotten stuck in it for so long. But this is my life. MY super unique and immense life, people. I am grateful that I get to live it, know it, figure it out. This life is path and path is where my insides and outsides come together and I experience joy and love and laughter. Here, on path, I take the hands of my loved-ones with my own, even when I feel that my hands are not worthy to be inside of someone else’s.

Last week someone I love very much was angry and I could see the anger that she was trying to protect me from as I stroked her black hair.

I could see. I have lived. It has hurt. I can see.

Live free, live inside of the Big Love.

Namaste, nomads.

 

LN

 

 

 

 

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Beauty & Sexuality

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The story of why I cut my hair starts with yesterday (the seed of today):

Yesterday I experienced & incarnated Divine beauty. The invitation went something like this:

touch some sacred places within you and know that you are profoundly gorgeous.

You are woman: wondrously alive and unified with the Earth.

 

That was yesterday.

 

Today I hear afresh the bullhorn of unjust division between men & women, along with a

gospel of mutual objectification. Corruption crawls in one side of my psyche and the

beauty that was the gospel of yesterday becomes a ball and chain–a temple of limitation soaked in the blood

of everyone whose hair isn’t blonde and whose chest isn’t robust.

 

What this new (to me) culture called my kingdom quickly became an instrument of handicap. The reduction of my being into a body, a butt, blonde hair, chafed at me–rubbing me raw. I

felt myself turning on a spit amidst jeering humans with balls & chains of their owns. Pieces

of my flesh dripped grease into the fire as they pulled me apart–nothing but a morsel on their tongues. Women worldwide are seen (and see ourselves) as consumables; my race cut in two like the skin we all rip to enter this world

The same charade plays in my country, but new perspective brings fresh heart break, and a

hunt for Divine invitation here: (the way, Truth, and life of) how to evolve.

 

….Jesus showed me the face of ardent rebellion: women who have been in this fight longer

than I. My classmate with cropped hair under a boys cap, accustomed to the jeers yet still

fiercely female, playing for years with no checkmate, she called me wordlessly to leave my

own kingdom of beauty behind.

 

My soul heard hers call me out of the enemy’s bed, into the rebellion. I jumped. I blinked and

knew that what I did had been essential: that there are no exceptions, no part of me that can

maintain allegiance to the lies. There is no looking back. There is life and death and I choose LIFE.

Life with the side-lined. Outcasts. Humbled Ones. Marginalized. Homeless. Single Mothers. First Nations. Scapegoats of our societies. Fortresses in my own soul.  Life against the odds.

 

I choose to fight relentlessly against sexist, racist, dehumanizing ideologies while loving

radically those who hold to them.

 

As one being we long for freedom.

We long as one because we came from One & are journeying together.

Redemption is written into every story;

I learned from this jump that my sexuality is more than an act or a crass word. My sexuality is

a fierce desire to survive, to evolve for the sake of abundant life in any context.

 

This haircut is the external symbol of my internal evolution: this is Truth incarnate.

 

The Lord lives and blessed be my rock and exalted be the God of my salvation….yes, you have exalted me above those who rose against me; you rescued me from the man of violence. *Psalm 18:46 & 48b*

 

¿Porqué corté mi pelo?

Hay dos partes en la historia: la belleza y mi sexualidad.

Cuando me mudé a temuco, chile de una pequeña ciudad en el sur de los estados unidos me di cuenta de una división muy profunda entre los géneros. Una división en la cual mis lágrimas nadaban porque de la pena de estar vista sólo como un cuerpo: pelo rubio y nada más. Me sentía como un objeto como resultado de la diferencia entre esta cultura y la mía. No es peor acá, simplemente es diferente y más fuerte y me costó cuando caminaba por las calles y escuchaba las voces de trabajadores y hombres normales.

Me sentía como carne en un circulo de hombres con hambre, con ganas comer lo que soy. Pide a mi Dios(a) una perspectiva nueva, una manera para sobrevivir y evolucionar en este contexto nuevo. No pude creer (ni quería creerlo) que mi sexualidad podía ser nada más que un acto, que dibujos y fotos encontradas en el internet.

Entonces vi una compañera de mi clase y su pelo cortito me inspiró: ella luchaba en esta guerra antes de mi tiempo acá y ella tenía la sabiduría y la fuerza mantener su propio estilo sin tener en cuenta las opiniones tristes y malas. Sabía que seguir su ejemplo valiente era mi senda, el próximo paso en mi evolución personal. Así corté mi pelo.

Unas personas no me han respetado desde lo corté y la mayoría no han entendido. Pero hay un poco…un grupo pequeño que me apoyaba, que entendía, y ellos cambiarán esta cultura, este mundo. Porque sus mentes están abierta, sus corazones están suave y porque siempre eligen la esperanza y la libertad personal y no pierden una oportunidad de ver por los ojos de una otra persona.

Si no seguimos luchando, creyendo, esperando un mundo mejor, viviremos sin la energía divina que es necesario para disfrutar llenamente cada día de nuestras vidas maravillosas.

Lucharé contra ideologías deshumanizadoras sin recreo pero amaré a la gente quien cree en esas ideologías radicalmente; es posible hacer los dos al mismo tiempo, lo sé.

 

Por mas difícil que sea un objetivo, siempre exista una manera de superar los obstáculos….Si permanece esperando el momento ideal, nunca saldrá del lugar; es preciso un poco de locura para dar el próximo paso. El guerrero usa un poco de locura. Porque en la guerra y en el amor, no es posible preverlo todo.
*Paulo Coehlo, Manual del guerrero de la luz*

 

¡El Señor vive! ¡Alabada sea mi roca!
    ¡Exaltado sea Dios mi Salvador!
Tú me libras del furor de mis enemigos,
me exaltas por encima de mis adversarios,
    me salvas de los hombres violentos. *Salmo 18:46 & 48b*

 

 

 

 

I Am & I Hope

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Born to be creative, freed by the Truth to pursue life in the trails I blaze through this globe-jungle.

Who am I? is a question I ask myself every day and then smile at the obstinate refusalof my soul to respond simply. I am not simple. I am big. I am not defined by the color of my skin, by my heritage, by what I know or do not know, experience or do not experience. I am me, I am. I am lost in I AM. I am a wide network of dynamic relationships, ideas, and memories. I will not be stifled. I am gratitude and I am the tears of the ones I love.

I spend my days in expectation of the unspeakable Divinity which is faithful to bestow a timely spark on my dry wood. Then, as ashes, my substance travels the invisible current of our atmosphere to the wildest corners of our world; may I land where hope is needed and may I be loyal to her, Hope, the North Star of my very being.

I bow my head to the women whose voices are strengthening me, whose hard-earned beliefs keep me company, keep me grounded in the soil of my God & teach me that I am never away from my loved ones, nor am I ever unloved.

Enjoy the quotes, friends. Thanks for reading.

Lydia Nomad

 

I once heard that there is enough food in the world to feed all the hungry children. It is not a lack of resources; it is simply a lack of will. When I think about what I have hoarded or held onto because of fear, it causes me great grief. I want to walk, eat, pack, and work with an open and trusting heart. For I have learned that when my heart is open to the world, my vision is transformed, and I am able to see family where I once saw strangers and opportunities to heal where I once saw obstacles to joy. –Becca Stevens

 

We have been treating the earth as if it were a supply house and a sewer. Weve been  grabbing, extracting resources from it for our cars and our hair dryers and our bombs and we have been pouring the waste into it until it is overflowing. But our earth is not a supply house and a sewer. It is our larger body. We breath it, we taste it, we are it, and it is time now that we venerate that incredible flowering of life that takes every aspect of our physicality.–Joanna Macy

 

“No hay paz sin justicia,

no hay justicia sin equidad,

no hay equidad sin desarrollo,

no hay desarrollo sin democracia,

no hay democracia sin respeto a la identidad y

dignidad de las culturas y los pueblos”.–Rigoberta Menchú

 

 

Patagonia & Hopeful Humanity

What is this mysery?

Frozen piece of earth,

with lives huddled together on its slender finger turned toward Antarctica.

Who are these mysteries?

Long eyebrows and faces pressed together even in the streets, asking me questions and hesitantly demonstrating the English that was handed to them in high school.

Who am I amidst these mysteries?

…These were questions I asked myself as I drove for hours to reach Coyhaique, a city in Patagonia. I never imagined myself so close to the turning of the globe, to the tip of South America!

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I was there for four full days and experienced the rich culture within the Chilean family of my friend and hosts. The past 3 weeks here in Temuco have been challenging. Trying to figure out communication, how to be me, how to thrive regardless of what goes on around me, all when I don’t know how to take out the trash or what the hell to eat…phew! Culture adjustment is a whirlwind: life with Chile up until my time in Coyhaique had been more of a wrestling match than a love affair.

Then I breathed some mountain air & sat in the fire light of an accepting and warm culture.

My soul exhaled.

When my soul exhales, I tend to write poems 🙂 Enjoy, dear ones.

 

The Taste of Human Hope

 

Life in Chile has a cheesecake flavor,

every bite silk against the tongue, chased by purple wine.

 

Housekeepers and brooms twirl in kitchens,

radios playing the tune of each caramelo swirl.

 

Mamás and Papás, grandmas and their babies tuck themselves into corners

while the whole thing stops for lunch.

 

Children bounce between gentle arms:

the community choreographs an artistic ritual of mild annoyance.

 

Birds with dry rubber bands in their throats ride updrafts to the base

of mountains bigger than I have seen before, as dogs nobody owns sniff my skirt hem.

 

Weak orange street lights draw lines in the evening haze,

dull silver knives massaging cheese and sweet sauces onto fresh buns.

 

Behind curtains cheeks are kissed, tables set with white clothes, tea cups, and small spoons,

weapons against the agitation of winter.

 

It seems that Chileans fight the frigidity I feel with sparks of loving invitations to dinner,

by tenderly cutting their salami and cheese sandwiches in half.

 

Tall trees frame the moon with crusty silhouettes. Under the clouds, in front of the velvet sky,

the star Love gave me winks mischievously.

 

Esperanza, Hope;

I am a child yet she is my winter light daughter.

 

Let us lie in the arms of one another,

first born of each other,

 

as I stand amidst the cold night air

and you pin back the blackness.

 

 

 

Hugs & hope,

Lydia Nomad