When i turned 40 (end of 2011), my commitment was to unpack and clear away the baggage from years of moving it from this place to that place; locking it behind this door then that door. Most of 2012 was spent doing that. What i didn't anticipate - because i simply didn't give it much thought - was the extreme depth i would be pulled to reach the deepest, longest growing roots. I didn't realize how nuanced the pain from trauma was until i invited it to surface for release. And in this process of release, the comfort junk-sold-as-food brought me was tremendous, although i realized it represented a nuanced expression of trauma...that of anesthetizing myself from the heavy emotions that arose.
And so the process continued - facing the sexual abuse; facing the ways i caused harm to myself and others; facing the mistakes made along the way with my daughter/mother/sister, brothers/nieces/nephews/ aunties/grandmother/etc.; facing the heartache of abandonment by the paternal side of my family and the association of that abandonment with race/racism because they are white; facing fears about being fully who i am and being authentic in all situations; facing the ways that i have valued the lives of others more than i have valued my own life; facing the feelings of unworthiness i have carried around my entire life...feelings that have deepened and expanded for decades and found their expression in the mental, emotional and physical torture and name calling i directed toward myself. And also, celebrating the successes, acknowledging the contributions to the lives of others, affirming the beauty and love around me, honoring those whose work and lives have made mine possible...Yeah, 2012 was quite a year.
The year following my 40th birthday, which included most of 2012, was an amazing year of release.
- I released my dred locs after 10 years of cultivation. These companions held such memory, such magic, such protection...but it became time to grow new memories. We bid our farewells with love.
- I released the pain of rejection from my white family for the last time. In 2012 i saw them for the first time in 26 years. Seeing them, being in their presence after all these years reminded me (in a way that brought closure) that family is cultivated with those with whom you share love/care - whether they are related by blood or choice. Somehow after looking into the eyes of each person and not seeing or feeling any interest in my life or who i was as a person, and being treated with kindness afforded a visitor (like a friend of a daughter), brought the closure i needed to a whole host of concerns, hopes and questions.
- I released the anxiety around the various identities that i walk with, including race, sexuality, class, culture, and so on. But specifically, i released the anxiety associated with my concern about what others might opine about who i am.
- I released the remaining baggage of multiple experiences of sexual abuse. While i had let some stuff go in the past, it has been in the process of digging deep with Sista's i know - also harmed by men in their lives or strangers - that helped me work through the remaining stuff i was holding onto. I've come to value that in relationships (including marriage with a man or woman), we can choose to share intimacy or not...that just because people are married, for example, does not mean either person is obligated to have sex - if i can be real about it. In other words, sexual intimacy is a choice not an obligation, committed/married or not.
- I released the many and varied feelings of unworthiness. This was a big one that required some deep digging, but as this one was being released, many related anxieties/pains were let go too.
So 2012 was significant in many ways and it ended with a 10-day silent Vipassana meditation course (http://www.mi.us.dhamma.org/). Though challenging in many ways, it was instrumental in providing nutrient rich compost into the spaces left by the year's uprootings and laying the foundation for a strong new calendar year.
In looking forward to 2013 and continuing in my 42nd year of life, i look forward to greater alignment in thought and deed, stronger spiritual practice, deepened resolve and discipline in carrying out my life's work, and greater love and patience with myself and others. Concretely i intend to write more frequently, publish my next book, move into a house with a yard for a garden, run a marathon, meditate consistently, release excess weight, and live a lifestyle that reflects love for all my relations.
Wishing all a powerful and meaningful new year.