Sunday, December 26, 2010

Wounds Beyond This Body at This Time

This week I finally got a proper diagnosis for my stomach issue. It is IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). The good news is it won't damage my body in any permanent way. Also good is that contrary to popular thought, it's not diet related. What sucks is that this condition stems from my levels of serenity (or lack thereof) and stress. My specialist and I discussed things and we both agree my ways of coping with my anxiety need additional care.

I've worked so damn hard to be okay in this life. The last few years I've been doing so well that I have virtually felt unaffected by my childhood drama. I thought I was healed. Over it even. The last 17 years I have spent dealing head on with my own addictions, have gone consistently to therapy, learned to believe in and love myself and have gotten rid of toxic friends/lovers. So why is it I am still plagued by anxiety to the point of severe physical episodes?

For quite a while I've felt this stomach thing was closely tied to self care and something emotional. Yet I hoped in the long run I could take a pill or not eat a certain something and all would heal. The specialist said I need more therapy and to incorporate in my daily routine more calm, more peace of mind. It's true I don't meditate much but I walk every day, pray, go to recovery meetings and have eliminated destructive thinking. But I still need help. I'm still struggling. This realization is disappointing. It's even harrowing to a degree. Yet I know beneath it all is an opportunity to finally jump off the precipice and be who I'm to be.

Oddly I watched the movie Precious for the first time today on Netflix. An hour later I had to watch it again. This movie is in similar film categories as Antowne Fisher and Glitter (don't laugh that movie is very beautiful & emotional), because they're about people of color who have to overcome personal demons to belong to themselves and blossom. I own the other two movies and they always make me cry and make me grateful. Precious will indeed be added to my DVD collection because unlike the other two movies, I really feel this film told my story in more ways than anyone in my life really knows.

There are so many wounds. Many have healed and I am grateful for the many people in my life who have supported and believed in me. Yet there are wounds that I think have still not been welcomed internally. Wounds I've kept hidden from my general consciousness because I never saw them really addressed by anyone anywhere in others. This doesn't mean that they haven't, I just have not seen it until this film.

Here's an example. In Precious there is a scene where the title character is getting ready for school and as she looks in the mirror she sees a blond and typically pretty teen girl reflected back, rather than her own reflection. It took me several years before I really "saw" myself in the mirror. It was not dissociation as disease, it was what happened because the world I lived in did not reflect the beauty of my brown skin. Darker skin meant something deeper than being unattractive. It meant not being enough in flesh and soul. Think I'm being dramatic? Take a recent comment by musician John Mayer as an example of why a young woman of color may feel the way I did.

"And Kerry Washington. She’s super hot and she’s also white-girl crazy. Kerry Washington would break your heart like a white girl."

When the whole Playboy interview debacle happened in February of this year most folks focused on Mr. Mayer saying the N word. However his comment above is far more telling. Douchbag or not John Mayer said what is still commonly thought among all kinds of folks, white or not. That a woman of color is almost as good as a white woman. That if she's pretty enough and smart enough she and sassy enough she could get a (white) man and maybe even hurt him. That she could be like a white woman, any white woman. But, you know, not an actual white woman because they're, you know, better. We can speak of equality all we want but this attitude still pervades in America, so why would a young woman of color want to see her own face with its brown hue in the mirror.

There are other wounds too or me reflected in the film. My mother and father both had hard times in childhood too. I don't want to speak for them and I certainly couldn't for my dad since I have not seen him in some 28 years, but I know they struggled or are still struggling with demons. And they carried the pain of their fathers and mothers, and on and on. We all do in some way I believe. Yet if you are Black in this county the burden is colored with a particular shade of pain. So much of where our people are at today is because we were not allowed to be in our own bodies and there was a costly price for loving ourselves in our dark skin. Even when slaves were "free" a Black person had to, yes had to, look down when speaking to a white person. A Black person had to speak differently and act differently or they could get killed. One moment of misinterpretation and your hung. This was not just in the South but the North too. During the Civil war Black soldiers fighting for the North were not considered capable fighters by the white captains.

This kind of hate, loathing even, does not fade in a generation or two for all involved. A basic unspoken tenant now is that people of color are not quite as good as white folks. Try to get anyone of color or not to admit this, and watch the flat out denial or the seat squirming. No one wants to stop and actually examine their hearts. But the film Precious did in a way that resonated so deeply for me that I am touched to my core. Without the history of racism demonstrated, the affects of decades upon decades of subjugation were displayed in the account of one fucked up family and one tender teenager.

Race is just one aspect of the film Precious, as is my own struggles in life. The abuse, neglect, low self esteem among other things, don't haunt me the way the used to, but I finally have to concede something within is still untapped and needs healing. If not I'll keep going to the hospital in excruciating pain. Clearly I don't want that. Tonight I'm grateful for watching a film that helped me get a little more clarity on the healing that is in store.

Photo from Morguefile.

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