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?
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.