“I’ll be praying for you” is so broadly used that folks don’t even really do it, most at least. As a former Christian, I often did generally pray. I asked for God to look over my family, my friends and even for folks who probably will never have an encounter with me. But I often witnessed this as empty sympathy and pseudo humanism from people in my church. The same folks that spread anti queer, transphobic, classist bullshit all of a sudden became the most empathetic person when catastrophes hit these communities.
Overtime, I asked these folks to not pray for me but for themselves. I’m not accepting any prayers from anyone that call themselves a follower of any religion that speaks of loving on the next human but uses the same principles to shame folks who are “the nastiest type of sinners.” Before you pray for anyone, think and reflect about how you can be better person to people before they experience events that are tragic. Think about how you “sending love and healing” is actually belittling them. In a time of need, pity doesn’t do much.
One of my chosen family members Takeallah once said: “I’ll pray for you” means “You’re going to hell but I have sympathy for you”. Ain’t that some shit? The same folks who condemn my “lifestyle” pray for me when I lose a Trans chosen family members to suicide, when Trans women of Color are massacred or even missing because the foster care system don’t care about LGBTQIA+ youth. Wasn’t we faggots last week? Weren’t you the same person mocking someone with They/Them pronouns? Didn’t you try to say that Trans women are men in a cis sexist rant to defend your blatant hate rhetoric. Wasn’t you just praying my gay away last night at supper?
The next time you want to pray for members of a marginalized, oppressed group, also participate in asking these folks what do they need. How about you tell the ignorant folks in your congregation to stop making fun of that one gay kid who loves God just as much as you? Y’all want folks like me to be dance choreographers and music directors for the church but pick on the child that wears his bow ties and switches his hips when they come into the sanctuary. Have more QT folks active in temple and educate folks on how to love them. Let Bi Muslim women be free enough to speak their truth. Hold workshops in your worship space about how you can truly be the best neighbor to someone that doesn’t look like you. Attend Pride and other events to show you want to build community. Make clothing drives for poor and/or homeless Trans folks. Counter protest anyone religious group that targets us. Stop leaders in your religious/spiritual groups that can possibly feed into the extremists fantasies about hurting marginalized people. That kind of power and platform comes with so much responsibility. It doesn’t take extremists much to commit acts of terrorism. We can’t depend on prayers alone. Use your principles to combat hate.
I’m typically a chatty Cathy…except for when I’m in pain.
When I was in labor with my children, I was sooooooo quiet. Labor was painful and somehow I intuitively turned inward to survive it. During my first labor and delivery, I remember my grandmother being very worried about me not using medical intervention. She and her bible sat in the corner. She was present and prayerful and I was grateful for her.
Cedric was right beside me and I recall when the pain got so intense I looked at him and said “I don’t think I can do it!!” He looked back at me and said, “Yes, you can”. I turned inward and I did. I pushed out a 7 lb 15 oz baby boy. It was then that realized that I could survive what was quite surely one of the greatest physical pains that a body can tolerate. I set the terms, no pain killers, a Ghanian fertility doll as a focal point and loved ones present to help me get through. But ultimately, it was me who had to get that baby out of me and had to deal with the pain associated with childbirth.
It was no joke but I felt like a bad ass after.
During labor, it was my silence that was most necessary. I had learned the Lamaze breathing/panting (ineffective) technique, but I just wanted peace and quiet so I could listen to my body and survive the pain. With each childbirth, I refined my desire for intentional silence during labor. I learned Hypno birthing and incorporated affirmations that helped me believe that I could birth my baby. This practice is necessary only because we have been taught to fear our bodies and the child birthing process as well as deny our strength. The hypnotic state was really a deep relaxation and meditative process. It required inward reflection and visualizing a place of peace. Even the verbal prompts Cedric had practiced to help me go deeper into a hypnotic/relaxed state were distracting in the labor process because of my deep desire for silence and turning inward. I needed peace and quiet to survive that pain. No nurses coming in and out poking and prodding, no lights on, no massages. Just me getting through that shit.
Leave me alone.
I birthed an 8 lb 7 oz baby boy that day with very little pushing thanks to a very self-determined little one. By the time the 3rd labor came along, I was skilled at childbirth and also at knowing which conditions were ideal for me. Silence and solitude during labor! I wanted my support system there, which now included Cedric and the boys. I had the boys with a family friend while I was in labor but they were the 1st ones to hold and see their little sister after she was born. Unfortunately, my midwife did not get the memo about my need for peace and quiet and got on my damned nerves the whole time. She could not accept that I was in charge of my birthing process and kept trying to offer suggestions. Irritated the fuck out of me.
What I have realized is that when I am in pain, deep pain, I hurt too much to explain myself to others. Cedric was my advocate but we could not regain control of the labor and delivery process. I felt disempowered. I recall that process as my worse birthing experience simply because I felt imposed upon and I was not allowed to just lie there and meditate til that baby was ready to come out. She wanted me to shift positions and just kept talking. I needed to just survive the ugly beauty of my pain in peace. Thankfully, a 8 lb 6 oz baby girl blessed me with another quick labor and put me out of my noise induced misery.
I find myself in pain a lot lately. My current pain is not physical–it is psychic, emotional, psychological and spiritual. It still hurts and it’s hard to explain its fullness to others. I tend to retreat into myself during these times. It’s simply too tiring and painful to try to help others get why and how a happily married, mother of 3 beautiful children with a bunch of sister-friends who owns a home, smiles a lot, and is a professor is dealing with anxiety and life long depression. My support team is ready to help—friends call, family members pray, Cedric does the heavy lifting at home and is the affirming spouse that I need in my life. I am grateful.
But I have learned that sometimes I still have to–need to– turn inward to survive my life. Especially when I feel my survival and joy are at risk or are being threatened. It is how I have survived before when there was seemingly no one at my side (go ahead, insert your “but God” here). Turning inward is how I am still here. I need to time to think, to name my pain, and at times go numb to survive it. Turning inward feels safe in this moment. Being in silent solitude through pain also allows me to spiritually ground myself and to store my reserves so I can tackle life as it is dealt. Living in solitude means not having to explain why I stopped listening to someone in the middle of their sentence, or why I am not feeling happy at “happy” moments or why I am not interested in things that typically bring me joy like socializing and exercising and eases some of the pressure. It means not having to cry in public or navigate answering the dreaded question “how are you doing?”
Prayer, meditation, silence, and out of body robot mode—have helped me survive before, in beautiful times like during childbirth and in horrific times, like during child sexual abuse. I won’t stay forever but this is where I am in this moment.
This is survival.
“Survival in Practice” was reposted in The Possible World with Dr. Nzinga-Johnson’s permission. Readers can find this piece and others on her Blogger.com blog, I usta be monique.
My name is Marci and I’m participating in your blog because I’m sure there are others in the LGBT community who have partners or spouses who have mental disorders and I want to speak on my experience.
My fiancé Jasmine and I have been together almost 7 years and plan to get married next year. She has also been diagnosed with Bi-Polar Disorder (BPD) and Dissociative Identity Disorder (D.I.D). I’m not going too much into detail because then I would have a book. But I will say it hasn’t been easy for either of us. She used to have extreme mood swings where she would be very quiet, very talkative, very silly or very angry and it was hard to gauge who I was with sometimes.
When she was diagnosed, we were able to understand the mood swings better and I was able to tell when she was experiencing a change and act accordingly. Jasmine has alters because of DID so I had to learn when there was a change in personalities coming, the characters of the personalities, how to interact with them as individuals, and when there was a manic episode coming because of the BPD.
Being with someone with Mental Disorders is not easy. It takes patience, understanding, love and compassion. You have to want to be with the person who suffers because you have to deal with the relationship and the disorder at the same time. The road has been bumpy because Bi-Polar Disorder and D.I.D are misdiagnosed and often the proper medications are not given, which adds to the problem.
Both Jasmine and I are now advocates for people with BPD and DID and I support her in everything that she does. I hope this can help someone who has a partner or is dealing with a mental disorder. If there’s anyone who would like to reach out to me and talk more my number will be at the bottom.
I just want to say to women, ‘Be yourself – it’s the inner beauty that counts. You are your own best friend, the key to your own happiness, and as soon as you understand that – and it takes a few heartbreaks – you can be happy.’
–Cherie Lunghi, actress
I’ve been trying to find love for as long as I can remember.
In fact, I’ve been searching since the first grade. I recall a boy in my class named Jeremy blowing kisses at me and giving me pet names like “baby” while I giggle innocently. The excitement and honor of being someone’s beloved is exhilarating for a seven-year-old kid, given the fact that my parents don’t know about my boyfriend.
Fast forward to my adulthood. That giddy feeling associated with having a love interest has never gone away. I still get swept up in the electric intensity that comes with new relationship energy. When I’m with that person, I think about them, their feel of their hand against my skin, the exhilaration that rushes through my body when their lips touch mine as they smear my lipstick. The way we exchange glances as if we’re the only two people in the room.
I love every moment of these encounters, yet hate them at the same time. As much as I enjoy the chemistry I experience when me and the potential partner are near each other, I know that it will dissipate as quickly as it has started. Because once the brain settles and the dopamine decreases, reality sets in and I realize that the person I’ve fallen for is a mass illusion. And I tend to keep it going by becoming some sort of chameleon, molding myself into anything my crush is into at the time—or try to anyway. Regardless of my discomfort, I would just follow their lead in hopes of getting companionship.
An example of this is me trying my hands at “being poly.” I would date poly people—usually someone with a primary partner—and pose as a complacent, open-minded secondary. I’d tell my potentials that I’m willing to work around their time schedule and that of their partner’s. That I’m ok with seeing them once or twice a week and that it’s perfectly fine with them having partners outside of the relationship even though we’re dating.
The truth, though, is that I don’t even have the patience or mindset to be a secondary partner. If I’m going to be honest with myself, I am a very much a monogamous woman. By the end of the day, I don’t even see myself with multiple people (when in a romantic relationship with a poly person, they are the ONLY one I’m intimate with). Despite knowing this fact, I would continue to play this role in hopes that I would get a relationship out of it. Friends worry about me, telling me that it may not be the best idea to date poly men, but I brush it off and assure them that I’m perfectly ok with participating in this soon-to-be dysfunctional arrangement.
Alas, the typical result is my continuously falling for and chasing after the emotionally unattached poly nerdy guy who would rather dip their entire selves into the pool of poly fuckery than establish an actual relationship with me. What’s worse is that I’ve become attached to them within moments of them telling me that I shouldn’t have expectations. Because the feelings are intense on my end still, I do and say whatever I need to in order make them stay. When I don’t get my way, I personalize it, thinking I’ve done something wrong. Or become envious of the person who has the same type of relationship I desire to have. Or depressed to the point of having suicide ideations.
This has happened a few times and the situation begins the same: I develop an instant crush on someone who spend their time with me, tell me what I want to hear, imagine myself being with them even if they’re poly. The raw intensity quickly fades on their end when I express that I will ultimately want more, but continues for me. My stomach is tied in knots as I cry about them not wanting me until a friend acts as a voice of reason, making me snap out of it.
I don’t even know how any of this nonsense started. I DO acknowledge that this behavior is one of the many reasons why I’ve been single all these years. I would drag myself to death hanging on to failing partnerships in attempts to make it work. And it hurts because I feel that I’m a loving and very honorable human being—the type who would give my partner the world—and I don’t understand why the poly men have never wanted to take me up on my offer.
At least that’s the story I’ve told myself.
But it’s ultimately not about them but about how I view myself. I don’t feel…I just want to be seen as a person of worth in the eyes of whomever I’m spending my time with. Time. That’s what this whole mess is about honestly: someone’s time and competing for it. As a child, I would compete with my father’s partners or his need to leave or my mother’s God or her partners. I’d fight as hard as I could, but I’d ALWAYS lose and wonder what else I had to do to make my parents see me. This is no different from me getting involved with emotionally unavailable poly people and swingers. I have often felt that I was competing for time and affection with the other sexual partners, but walking away depressed after losing yet another battle that reaffirms the false belief that I’m not worth the time, effort, and trust needed to build a successful long term relationship. These other people are lovable and trustworthly, but I’m not.
I want to shake this feeling of not being good enough as much as I can and as quickly as possible. Not only do I want to enter a romantic relationship without having unrealistic expectations, but because I’m so tired of this internal struggle to gain self-esteem and conformations from those who aren’t trying to establish a life with me.
Please note, Readers, that I’ve nothing against the poly lifestyle itself, as I’m just speaking from my angle. I know poly couples personally and it works for them because they are wired to live that way. I, on the other hand, have never felt authentic every time I’ve attempted it and find that my experiences with poly have been completely shitty because I’ve settled for less than what I deserved in order to feel loved. But the lifestyle is not the issue, but what it represents for me: the decade long competition to be deemed worthy.
One that I have to walk away and heal from in order to become truly happy.