Trigger Warning: I will be mentioning sexual assault, rape
Today Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testified about the "alleged" assault she is a survivor of by Supreme Court Justice nominee, Brett Kavanaugh. He "allegedly" assaulted her at a party while they were in high school. The length of time between then and now is irrelevant. He claims he doesn't remember the way she has re-told the chain of events, and why would he when he wasn't the one harmed? Don't we as survivors tragically remember the worst days of our lives in explicit detail long after the sun has risen and set many, many times? How many of us have to see our abusers keep their jobs and their public respect when we've seen what they're capable of?
When I turned on the live feed, seeing her sitting at the table waiting to testify made me cry. I thought of her bravery for doing so, and I thought of all people who have tried to confront their abuser, who have tried to tell someone to help ease the pain of it, and especially of those who keep in inside for fear or shame or a multitude of other emotions. I am this person.
Because, yeah, #metoo.
A few years ago I shared my story of an incident that happened to me at Baylor while I was in school. The first time I shared it I explained I never told anyone because I knew no one would believe me, and even I knew I couldn't do anything to help myself. The overall feelings of helplessness, bitterness, guilt, rage, worthlessness, fear, and like no one could ever truly understand or help, bore down on me for years. As "Cranes in the Sky" put it so perfectly, "I tried to drink it away, I tried to dance it away, I tried to change it with my hair. I tried to work it away but that just made me even sadder. I slept it away, I sexed it away, I read it away."
I was sexually assaulted again a few times during this period of running into walls and finding only myself.
None of that filled the void of confronting myself and allowing myself to feel all of these things. I had to stop using unhealthy situationships disguised as balms and tequila shots disguised as bandaids to ease the sting of my supposed failure and weakness. I channeled my rage to finding ways I could warn others and ensure abusers and rapists faced, at the least, a public form of accountability through shame and ostracizing from the communities they frequented. And it hurt much more when people came to their defense or gave them space to occupy where they could likely harm more women. Their clout meant more than the truth of those who survived and were tired of feeling unsafe.
The truth was and is that I always had power, and it's more than ok to process everything I feel, no matter how conflicting or scary, in a way and timeline that worked best for me. There was a quote floating around online that says, "healing is nonlinear," and I like to remember that on days like today. I finally now feel like I've healed enough to not let these feelings control my energy.
One practice I want to share with you who are reading this and feeling the same, who have maybe cried today, and the last year, too is one that has helped me gain closure and empower myself.
Whenever I have unresolved feelings with someone or someone has hurt me, I write a letter to them. I try to put all energy I've felt about them into this letter. I end it with, "I release you from me. I release myself from you and this energy. I promise to work to be better after this release." Then I go outside and I burn this letter while I pray and repeat the last lines to myself. And I let it go. I often still have lingering feelings after this ritual, but I have noticed the act of doing it helps me feel more in control of my life and how I respond to triggering things henceforth.
I wish you all love today, and every day. I believe you and I stand with you.
Yesterday, I went to a class at the Latino Collection and Resource Center about the power of autohistorías via embroidery by my dear comadre Bonnie, my amazing friend Sarah, and one of my favorite poets/writers, Laurie Ann Guerrero. I got to sit with Rebel and Agosto while we learned, did an activity about using our power in mantras/affirmations and learned how to embroider!
In my free time, I haven’t stopped stitching since & have looked up new techniques to try. Hopefully I’ll get better at it, but right now I’m really enjoying being present, focusing on one task, and allowing my mind to slow down and be deliberate.
I chose “un día a la vez” because it’s a line from a song I remember my abuela singing a lot growing up. Taking things one day at a time is a mindset I’m trying to center so I worry less and enjoy my life as it’s happening. My therapist told me depression is rooted in the past and anxiety is worrying about the future, and I’ve seen how that appears in my life sometimes.
As someone who enjoys planning (yes, a bullet journal post is coming soon) and likes to daydream into the future, I often find myself worrying about things that aren’t real yet to the point it’s unhealthy. Practicing embroidery has helped me already begin to slow down and focus, while everything else melts away.
I’m excited to continue practicing and can’t wait to hang my first creation, “un día a la vez,” as a reminder to take time to be deliberate, present, and allow myself time to be a work in progress.
I'm going to admit something that may shock some of you: I absolutely loathed my Government class in high school and skipped it every change I got. I only passed by the good graces of my teacher, who was honestly, pretty cool. (Thank you, wherever you are!) At the time I was aware of social issues and deeply wanting to make the world a better place, but connecting that to politics at any level was not even on my radar. Learning about branches of government and voting and blah blah blah was something I could not have cared less about! I know many, many of you felt or even still feel the same. I don't blame you! Civics is something that often isn't taught in an engaging manner or even highlighted as something important.
2009 (when I was a senior in HS) was a LONG time ago, it feels like. Obama was still President and a President, at least, with class and decorum! The world wasn't a complete dumpster fire like it is now! Following 2016's political cycle many people, especially, thankfully, young people became exponentially more interested in the political process.
This year's elections (called mid-terms, because they happen mid-way of a president's term in office) are especially important because they determine who is in Congress - aka 1 branch of government that helps determine extremely important things for us citizens like what laws are passed, if we go to war, etc! In 2018, 35 of the 100 Senate seats are up for grabs, and all 435 seats in the lower House of Representatives are up for election! Democrats will need to regain majority of both houses in order to control the legislative agenda, block Supreme Court nominations (Kavanaugh would wreak havoc on basic rights many have fought and died for, and would serve for LIFE) and block Trump's xenophobic/racist/backwards tirade.
YES, THIS IS A CRITICAL ELECTION.
However, many folks still don't quite understand the ins-and-outs of making our voices heard through the voting process. I have to regularly look up voting laws, dates, and candidates.
So I've tried to make it easier for you - here is a quick list of steps and resources to take, along with some important dates to remember!
Am I registered to vote?
Great, you're registered! You can early vote any time in person beginning Monday, October 22 until November 2. November 6 is Election Day and the absolute last chance you have to vote.
STEP 2 A
Register to vote by October 9! There are several options to do this (although it SHOULD be automatic when you receive your license, but I digress): Where to Register To Vote
Once you're registered, look back to Step 2!
Side note: I will be at La Botánica on September 23 from 12 - 6 pm registering people. Come by if you need to register or change your address!
Find who is running to represent you in Texas: General Election Ballot
Then research your candidates. This is my current favorite website to do so: VoteSmart.org
Don't let other people determine who your enemies are. Decide what matters to you and how candidates have a record of actually supporting what you need or believe.
Now that you're registered, have your proper forms of ID, and know where to go, make plans and go VOTE! Take your friends and make it a fun thing to do before you grab dinner or drinks. Share your pictures with your "I Voted" stickers, and let everyone know voting is important to a healthy democracy.
Keep up with my musings about political chismé, life, my relationship, food, San Anto history, my dog, and everything in between.