WE MUST MARRY OURSELVES

we must marry ourselves. we must marry our toes, our pockmarked skin, our memories of walking terrified down the halls of our elementary school. we must marry our reflection in the mirror but even more, we must marry the angles we’ll never see ourselves from.

we must marry our eyes-closed, mouth-wide-open laughter, our scrunched-up faces when we’re crying, the face that we make when we’re sleeping. we must marry the version of ourselves that once ran away only to hide by the side of the house and later waited for hours for someone who never came.

we must marry our need to be touched softly and sometimes roughly, and we must marry our unmet needs. we marry the parts of ourselves that are filled with petty disgust and rage. we must marry our wet and aching bodies which are tired and want to lie down in a soft bed.

we must marry our hearts. of course we must marry our broken, shielded, hidden hearts. we must marry our jilted and embarrassing hearts which seem to ruin many evenings. we must marry our bruises and stray hairs which clog the drains.

we must marry our disguises. we must marry our ways of pretending we are not hurt when we are, our distrust of authority, our pathetic submission to people who intimidate and beguile us. we must marry our willingness to say no and our struggle to do so.

we must marry our continuous contradiction. we must marry our good intentions and our intentions which disregard the feelings of others. we must marry our self-centeredness when our shame shrinks our vision and our absolute grace when we are naked and generous. we must marry our moments of stepping into electrifying unpredictability and somehow doing the best thing.

we must marry our desire for comfort, our best and worst fashions, our second and third overdraft fees, our accidental destruction of what was otherwise a perfectly lovely meal.

we must marry ourselves after smarting off to the receptionist who didn’t deserve it and our tiniest, quietest breaths which fog up the window as we stare out at the city on our way home.

we marry our kindness to animals as well as our indifference to the suffering of the world. we marry our cynicism, the fact that we have accepted half-lies as a part of speaking truth, and we marry our idealistic disillusionment.

it is easy to marry our dreams and we must marry ourselves when it is easy. we must also marry ourselves when we have not slept, when we did not do what we said we were going to do and we are paying dearly for it. we must marry our long, long process of healing, which is also called remembering, which is also called a life.

we must marry our ideas about what a good person looks like and our failure to resemble that image. we must marry ourselves as if there were no other option and yet we must acknowledge our choice. we must marry our inability to define care and our attempts, which drill through like repetitive violent baptisms, to express our love for others fully so that we may rest well and be emptied.

we must marry ourselves now and for good, and we must never stray, though we will stray, and we must never leave, though we must. we marry ourselves the way a bird marries the air, the way a newborn grabs the giant finger of its mother.

we are afraid of disappearing and yet we are disappearing. we are afraid of being alone and we must marry ourselves there. beneath and beyond where we marry another, we marry ourselves. we must marry ourselves.

YOUR BODY IS NOT A MACHINE

your body is not a machine.
your body is not obscene.
your body is vital,
is a circus of survival,
it is not virulent or violent
unless it believed
it had reason to be.
your body will protect itself.
your body is worthy of protection.
it is not unprofessional,
not confessional,
not a prize
for someone else to earn
or a lesson
for someone else to learn.
your body is birthright,
is high noon and midnight,
your body is madness and sanity
playing under a canopy
of full harvest moonlight —
your body is yours
and your body belongs
to the rich, wild march
that rolls each body up
from the mud of potential
into the form of this,
or this,
or this,
until finally the skin retracts,
til we remember our way back —
we come home every time
we come back to the body.
do not wait, little animal.
enjoy this body now.

WHITE MALE TERRORISM & MENTAL ILLNESS

regarding the question of whether White Male Terrorists are mentally ill —

even if the individuals committing these acts of terror experience mental illness, that doesn’t mean their behavior is random. no illness exists in a vacuum, not even mental illness. health and disease are culturally-informed.

cultural issues ARE mental health issues. just as diet affects our physical health, culture impacts our well-being at every level. it informs our notions of what is or is not normative behavior. it encourages certain ideologies which create and perpetuate certain forms of disease.

our understanding of mental illness is rooted in a deep misunderstanding of the mind. we assume that the mind is separate, as if our thoughts and beliefs are somehow floating disembodied outside of the rest of our experience, but they aren’t. our mental health is directly tied to our physical, emotional, sociological, cultural experience.

here are the mental health issues relevant to the discussion of mass shootings:

1. toxic masculinity
2. white supremacy
3. the trauma inflicted on the rest of the population

END THE WAR WITH YOURSELF

shame is a war we fight with ourselves.

it’s a way of saying “no” to our experience. shame is more than a feeling, it’s a habitual action which makes us repress our feelings, doubt ourselves, struggle to make choices, and leaves us feeling like an unwelcome guest in our own bodies.

shame says:

my feelings are wrong, so I’ll turn away from them.

my instincts are wrong and cannot be trusted, so I’ll let others be the authority.

my beliefs are wrong, so I’ll hide the way I see things.

even my pleasure is wrong.

above all else, shame is rooted in the belief that we’re deficient, flawed in some intrinsic way. we come by our shame honestly, but it can undermine our ability to experience anything freely or fully.

end the war with yourself — start by turning your attention, with kindness and curiosity, toward whatever you’re feeling right now.

give yourself permission to have the experience you’re having. dream yourself into the belief that it might actually be the exact right experience — that the way you feel, think, and exist might make perfect sense.

try on the notion that how you’re showing up in this exact moment might be a reflection of not only your inherent innocence, but also your deep and permanent belonging in this wild, messy world.

YOU GET TO FEEL SHIT

you get to feel shit — end of story.

you get to feel: excited, horny, scared, embarrassed, proud, like shit, like a million bucks, angry after you said you weren’t, grateful for people who hurt you, grouchy with people who’ve helped you.

you get to feel unprepared for daily life, scared for “no good reason”, scared and somehow also ready to go.

you get to feel unsure of yourself, get to feel impatient, get to feel content with circumstances other people think are not enough, get to feel tired, get to feel restless, get to feel longing when others tell you to be satisfied.

you get to feel exuberant and overjoyed. you get to feel as excited about ripe strawberries as you want to. you get to feel all of it.

yes, you’re still responsible for your ACTIONS, for the way you express those feelings — we all are. but no one gets to tell you that your feelings are wrong. NOPE.

feelings are not a pathology, not a sign that there’s something wrong with you. feelings are not “unprofessional”, and they don’t come out of nowhere.

even when they’re signals from some deep inner knowing and not directly tied to your outer experience, your feelings are trying to tell you something — listen to them. even when other people won’t.