Know need to apologize

Going through a lot right now, a period of destroying old habits and relationships that were harmful while trying to hold on the those that are positive, make amends to those I have hurt in the hopes that they will stick around with me, and trying to figure out how to contribute to building something better, more human, more fulfilling.

My heart has been cut open and the flood of emotions have surfaced. Good and bad ones. Relying on old ways to figure out how to heal and realizing, damn that shit doesn’t work and it never really did. When I was practicing Buddhism more consistently I listened to a monk lecturing on practicing. He said that if we don’t practice when we need it we won’t have developed the tools and we will be scrambling to learn while going through the suffering. I feel that hard right now. At the same time sometimes you don’t know what you need or what you need to practice until it comes crashing down. I hope this reflection of my process, strength in learning how to call out fucked up shit around me, and my mistakes can help me with my process and maybe someone will read it and get something out of it too.

My first step forward was to burn it all down. I have been hurt and people did me wrong. Someone needed to pay. I have been in a revolutionary organization for the past 7 or so years and when I started to reflect on my time I realized how much of my life, my relationships, my development has been mediated by men, and many of them fucked up men. Most recently and most painfully are two of my male comrades in my own city. I felt liberated at first! Wow, how amazing that I can now identify why I feel so alienated, why I have felt hurt and frustrated! Not only can I point to the men that have caused harm, but I can relate it to the culture and dynamics of the group I am a part of. I can show the world exactly how this all transpired and why it is fucked up! I can reach out to women with whom I have strained relationships and we can reconnect on new terms now that I have uncovered this truth!

But of course, it all comes crashing down. It isn’t enough to say this is why, this is how. It isn’t enough to explain the pain, something must change. Room for new forms new ways of relating, or not relating. One woman in particular I reached out to, someone who I once looked up to and then for the past several years have had an increasingly tense and painful relationship with. Someone I have hurt and have been hurt by. When I revealed my thoughts, that maybe it wasn’t our fault that things are this way between us, that actually it is a direct result of the men who we let come between us, I thought we could start anew. But just acknowledging it is not enough. What did we do that hurt each other? Where is our blame? How are we going to fix that? What is going to be different this time? None of that was figured out and we continued to hurt each other in the process. I also didn’t acknowledge that I have some residual feelings about the way she has treated me in the past. I also feel guilt about the way I have treated her. How to reconcile those two? This woman was also to blame for my not getting developed or prioritized in different moments. She cut communication with me at times, she intentionally didn’t include me in work, she let men treat me badly. I did similar things to her. You can’t just pretend it didn’t happen and try something new it follows you. I continued to not respect her process, and she has continued to cut me out when I make mistakes.

I had to reach deeper. What was going on here? How could this new realization not foster something different?

Turn inward.

I am a cause. The ways that I have related to her and other women around me is hurtful. And now here I am scrambling to figure out in the middle of this chaos, how can I relate differently. What tools do I use when all my old ones are broken?

I started by apologizing. I apologized to her and to other women I have hurt. I want to stand up and say what I did was hurtful. I want to be responsible for these things and not shy away from them. I also recognize that I have been hurt by women. I am not sure how to both apologize and say you have hurt me at the same time so I start with the apology and hopefully I will learn along the way. I want to be present, to listen, to realize that I don’t know it all, I don’t even know enough to attempt to go through this alone, nor would that be beneficial at all. Opening up and showing your pain allows others to open up with you. Some will not want to and that is okay. It is okay to want to preserve your well being instead of engaging with someone else’s process, especially if they have hurt you before. But I have already seen the amazing ways that femmes have shared stories of pain with me, including the pain I have caused them. These femmes are strong and brave and help me know what to look for in trying to be stronger and braver also. They will teach me how to work through this and I think that is a beautiful thing.

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Sitting with women

I sat with a dying woman today at work. She wanted to get out of bed and outside in the sunlight. I put her in a wheelchair and took her outside and sat with her. I asked her about her life before hospice. She told me she was a bus driver and before that her a truck driver. Her father was also a truck driver. She hoped that he was proud of her. She told me she didn’t know why she kept waiting for him to visit, he had died 8 years prior. I think she missed him, and maybe she expected him to pick her up soon, from this life. She told me about her two children. She said she never even wanted kids but it happened and she liked them. She chewed on ice and I asked her if she was anemic. How did you know, she asked. I told her and she said she was going to learn a lot from me. I told her I hoped we learned from each other. My heart filled with joy.

Earlier I was sitting with another woman in the living room. Three women with amazing voices came to share their voices and spread some love to the residents. They sang the most beautiful songs and this woman began to cry and sing along. My heart filled with joy.

I was touched by two beautiful women today and I wanted to write this down so that I can look back on these moments and remember a day that seemed quite ordinary but touched me deeper than I would have expected.

The Rape Talk

When I was young my mother had “the talk” with me. I had my first boyfriend and even though I was too young to be having sex I was having sex anyway. She sat me down and talked to me about her first sexual encounter.

“I was raped.”

She told me that it was by someone she knew, someone she had trusted, someone her family knew well but she wouldn’t tell me who. She told me that even though she was raped very young she didn’t lose her virginity until years later to the man who would she would marry at 15 to get out of her house.

Rape was all around me but I didn’t know it yet. My mom having this talk with me was introducing me slowly to what it would mean to be a woman. All of the abuse and sexual violence that I was going to be threatened with, already threatened with although maybe only somewhat aware of this threat at this time.

It was in my family even though we never talked about it. It was with my boyfriend even though I wouldn’t call it that for years. Most women I know have been assaulted and the word rape is not always used to describe that assault.

Rape.

Such a word that is meant to mean something so specific that it actually becomes almost useless. A man rapes a woman when he forces himself inside of her against her will. What about all of the other times that men forced themselves on me but did not penetrate me, is that rape? Yes, well if he forced you to have sex against your will then yes but only if you said no. What about the times I said yes but he took it too far, is that rape? Well now we are getting a bit blurry but if you said no at some point and he kept going then it is rape. What about when I never said no but I didn’t want it, is that rape?

My mother did not want it. I don’t know if she said the words or not but I know she did not want it. This man asserted his masculinity on her the only way masculinity can be asserted – violently.

My mother passed down her rape story to me, her rape trauma, but she also helped me with other aspects of my sexuality as well. She helped me understand my body and whenever I had questions she was always open to hearing them. She taught me that sex isn’t one way for everyone, that I should enjoy sex and that I should figure out what works for me in order to enjoy it. The talk isn’t just about rape but also about breaking from the ways that we are told to think about our bodies in relation to men. I appreciate her for that more than anything. And one day I ever have a daughter, I will have the talk with her too.

Twenty-Two; an open letter to my sister

Sister,

you recently turned twenty-two and i felt a sudden responsibility to write this to you as you have become a woman separate from me.

i can remember the day you were born. i was so excited to have a little sister and i told all my classmates and teachers, even the teachers that weren’t mine, that on that day i was to be an older sister. i felt much responsibility over you and felt that i had things to show you and to teach you. you were too young to learn them just yet and i was too young to know how much you really would need to know to be prepared for this world.

i did, however, teach you many things – i taught you how to walk, i read you many books, i watched your favorite shows, and as you got older i would help you with your school work. i also began trying to protect you from this world. i tried to shield you from our parents fighting and the dysfunctions of growing up in that household. when you left my life at age ten i was so conflicted by the different feelings i had. i was so sad that you were no longer going to be a center piece in my life, but also relieved that after so many years the woman who tortured me for most of my life was finally out of my life for good. i won’t say more about this here, but if you ever want to talk about this stuff we can.

so much time has past since then and i have spent most of that time running away from my problems that i have left you behind and you have found your own way without me. it wasn’t the way i expected but now you are such a strong, independent woman, beautiful inside and out. i have watched from afar the transformations you have made and have been so proud of you and scared for you as well.

you are so angry with the world just like i have always been. you seem to be struggling to find the source of your anger and learn to point it in the right direction. that has been the hardest thing for me as well. i spent my early twenties so angry at everything and everyone that i made so many mistakes and hurt many people, mainly myself. i was nihilistic, nothing mattered, i didn’t matter, life had been so hard for me and i began to direct this anger toward myself – i didn’t feel i had self-worth, i didn’t love myself, and i treated myself badly. i looked for love in the wrong places, rebelled against the wrong people, and let my apathy become my guide in making reckless decisions.

i allowed men to feed off of my energy to reproduce themselves. i loved men who loved themselves much more than me and used me to feel important. i spent time with worthless people who felt tall by holding me down. i allowed myself to be abused, to be mistreated, to be torn to shreds. i am a strong woman because of my experiences, but am damaged goods because of them too. i know you are strong and hope you never have to pay that price.

being a woman gives you such an important and beautiful place in this world although it is one of the hardest places to exist as well. we create the world so we have the ability to change it in a way that men do not. plus you are a queer woman which makes things that much harder for you and makes you that much more important. your voice will move mountains and crumble cities. your strength will bring kings to their knees. use this power for good, dear sister. use this strength to make change.

you have always been so strong and so passionate. do not let that anger eat you alive. be humble, be compassionate. understand that you are no better than your ability to relate to people around you. find beauty in things, fight when you must and listen when you can learn. i am so proud of you, my loving sister, for all of your accomplishments and your wisdoms. i see a future filled with struggle as it has always been a struggle for you, but also there is so much potential for greatness in you.

i wish you the moon and the stars, my little sister.

 

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Being a woman in relationships with men

And not the monogamous-y kinds of relationships. What else is there to experience? Is it okay to do this or am I “messing with his emotions”? Am I even allowed to not tie myself down to his emotions? Or if he retaliates against me is it also my fault for not giving him what he wanted? Am I being reckless? And what if I am, am I allowed? Just some questions running through my mind these days..

Thanks, RDL for the share:

And there’s this:

A woman is not a potted plant
her roots bound
to the confines
of her house

a woman is not
a potted plant
her leaves trimmed
to the contours
of her sex

a woman is not
a potted plant
her branches
espaliered
against the fences
of her race
her country
her mother
her man
her trained blossom
turning this way
and
that
to follow
the sun
of whoever feeds
and waters
her

a woman
is wilderness
unbounded
holding the future
between each breath
walking the earth
only because
she is free
and not creeper vine
or tree

Nor even honeysuckle
or bee.

~Alice Walker

A Houston Wobb’s Reflection on the USW Strike

This is a piece I wrote that was originally posted here on the Unity and Struggle blog.

Unions’ power is in decay and lately have been resorting to more creative methods in order to remain relevant. We’ve seen the Democrats putting their money behind the Service Employees International Union’s (SEIU) Fight For $15 in Houston at the same time attempting to “turn Texas blue.” But this dependency of unions like SEIU and the United Steel Workers (USW) on the Democratic Party means they are severely limited in what they are willing to do in the realm of tactics. This along with union density being sharply in decline, as well as union power being undermined by Right-to-Work spreading to states like Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin, means the unions are not up for waging anything close to a class struggle. Instead unions like the USW maintain their position as representing only certain interests and timidly bargaining around them.

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Class Composition and the Theory of the Party, Workers’ Councils and the Social Factory: Notes on Sergio Bologna

Read Bologna’s piece here. This post is a work in progress. I am adding notes as I continue to think through this piece.

Structure of the labour force and political class composition in Germany before World War I:

Bologna is describing the composition of capital, the kind of production taking place in Germany, and the relationship to this and the worker’s councils that developed out of struggle. He explains how the most advanced councils same from the engineering sectors, the most skilled kinds of labor that revolved around the motor production industry which was also responsible for some of the most cutting edge of technological advances in the motor industry at that time. He is working on the question of what is the relationship between the kind of production and workers’ relationship to production, and their developing consciousness. Or more directly, “whether there was any relationship between these workers’ position in production and their political adherence to the workers’ council system.”

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