Saturday, September 30, 2017

Latinx Heritage Month: #FemmeInMourning 16

With my skin hunger constantly growing and my desire for impact play with someone who cares for me and wants to see me survive not available, I had to find coping mechanisms as none of these needs were being fully met.

One of the things I did is a longtime act that many folks who have cravings for things like nicotine practice. I put several rubber bands on my arms and would pluck one as I needed sensation and touch. I would move some of the rubber bands up my forearm for more sensation or more sting.

The thinner rubber bands leave a sharper sensation, similar to a riding crop. The thicker rubber bands leave a deeper impact that is not as sharp, similar to a paddle. These rubber bands left some marks that were red and lasted at most an hour, depending on how often I plucked these rubber bands. Sometimes the red marks turned purple or deeper red and that made me happy.

When there were deeper reds I would push my finger into them to feel the ache. To feel something other than numb. I walked around with these rubber bands on both arms and no one asked or really noticed. The plucking of rubber bands was an easy and accessible way to cope. To feel. To remember I can now control the amount of pain I choose to experience and how much and often I wish to mange however I choose.

Read post 15 here.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Latinx Heritage Month: #FemmeInMourning 15

This post is a hard one. Mainly because I don't have the language to adequately explain exactly what this experience is/was/will be. The term that psychology and health providers are using for this phenomena of the need and desire for touch as "skin hunger."

Skin hunger shows up differently for a lot of people. When you are grieving sometimes people only offer one type of contact. However we all know what it feels like when our bodies go without touch for extended periods of time. Now amplify that by infinity and then shrink the access to almost zero. It's one of the most overwhelming experiences. It's incredibly lonely.

This is another experience folks who have lost a mother have experienced almost exclusively. This is the cellular part of the grieving. The part where you realize how the first relationship on the planet you had is gone. This is hard to explain because skin hunger is really about the nurture part of our lives and also stops when it becomes too sexual. Folks don't use the term "skin hunger" in the psychology field because it's too close to all the ish that is going down with discussions of "sex addictions." I mean what do folks call it when your largest sensory organ goes without and why sex got to be its own category?!

Our sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems are SYSTEMS in our bodies! They communicate in our bodies with our respiratory system, reproductive system, digestive system, etc. These all play a role in human sexual response. If the autonomic nervous system, which manages our unconscious actions (breathing, sweating, etc.), is ignored, so is the sexual pleasure.

The skin hunger conversations also focus on "how great a good hug feels!" Which is great until you realize you are a 6ft tall fat femme who doesnt have many tall peers to hug. See hugs from shorter people are so uncomfortable at times; for both of us. I'm sure folks don't want to smell my armpits and I'm sure they don't want my their nose slammed against my chest (unless they into that). See grieving and knowing there's at least a foot difference between you and the person hugging you means I didn't take the time to bend or contort my body too often to comfort others. I needed comfort that could hold my frame. It rarely came.

I have no solutions on what may result from all of this. I've only experienced the drop of not being touched as often as I needed. I would pay for massages with a body worker a homegirl suggested in NYC once a week for the first six weeks of my mom's death. To this day when I visit Emily in NYC she finds the parts of my body still holding the grief: that joint where my ring finger on my right hand is holding grief, the part of my hip, the section of my neck and head. I did the same as often as I could in New Orleans with my homegirl Aesha. I remember showing up to her studio a few days after mami's death day first anniversary and crying hysterically that I just needed her to touch my face during our massage. And complaining we don't live in the world where I can get the healing touch I need.

Then there's the "meaningful touch" part that complicates so much. For me I didn't want just anyone touching me. I wanted people who cared for me and who understood this ache and imperative need to survive to touch me. When your folks are tapped out this gets really hard. I had two lovers who were complete strangers with me for my first six months after mami's death. They helped and required too much care for my tender heart. I sought lovers, partners, and cried over the fact that I live in a world where people are so fearful of touch and can't imagine fuller relationships of homieloverfriends.

One homegirl who has this homieloverfriendships told me it took her years of asking people an hearing rejection and now she's living the life she wants. She lost her mom over a decade ago and it took her almost as long to get to where I want to be right this second.

There's lots of healing work in the grieving process. Finding people to help assuage your skin hunger are rare. When you find them hold onto them!

Read post 14 here.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Latinx Heritage Month: #FemmeInMourning 14

Part of the side effect of the IDGAF space grief brings you to is the difficulty in making decisions. There's some saying that you make the large life decisions quickly and take more time making minor decision. Perhaps this is based on going with your instinct when you are given an opportunity.

I've learned that it is a challenge for me to make decisions about everything at times. I struggle with deciding what's for dinner, which route to take, what chore to do first, which person to text next, all so much! It was hard making decisions. To the point that when something felt good I just went and did it.

Like moving to New Orleans for four months to see if I wanted that life for me or if I wanted it only with my ex. It was sometimes easy for me to see how I didn't have a particular experience that would help me make a decision so I had to first get that experience to make a decision. That's how I ended up making the decision for a four month stay, then packing up my place and making a cross country / cross coast move.

And yet, I still can't decide what to wear, when a good time to say something may be, or how to best recycle something. What I've been able to do is focus on top 3 options and hope someone else makes a decision. There's so many decisions we have to make as we mourn, it's easier to let other's make a decision, especially if it means they understand how decision-making is a form of care.

Read post 13 here.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Latinx Heritage Month: #FemmeInMourning 13

I learned how to ask for what I wanted. This was beyond what some may be thinking. Grief allowed me to hone in on the ways I was communicating what I needed.

People always say they want to help you or let them know if you need anything! And my response is "I always need something." Basic living and daily acts were a challenge and they still are because when you're lounging in your bed butt naked all day thinking about death and dying you don't eat much you don't always shower and you don't do laundry or much else besides scroll social media bc it makes you feel a safe distance from being social. This shit is rough!

So I made lists of what people could help me with and allowed others to pick and choose what they could offer. I was too exhausted to say yes or no I just needed the ish I needed to show up so I could access them.

Making lists was exactly what helped me and it's what I tell others to make when they are grieving. Here's a list I made early. And here's a handout I use and have on my refrigerator. Best to complete it when you're feeling supported.

These things made it easier for me to get what I needed and to be clear about it all. This is what helped me stay alive.

My List (I removed people's names)
Consistency and a schedule and dates bc wtf is time?
Money in cash (t $500 for PR until new bank card comes)
Airline miles (flight to/from PR:NYC 2x)
Airport rides (to/from JFK ~65$ each way)
BK to BX rides (until it’s safe to go home and leave T’s)
Weed (Reina has tincture, high CBD to calm me the fuck down)
Beach trips (Rockaway, LI, etc; others to plan and just take me (Sara)
Better Health Insurance (therapist, bereavement help)
Alzheimer’s gene testing
Cocoa Butter
Good travel water bottle (keeps cold for hours)
Laundry (done/folded/put away)
Dark sheets (mascara stains)
Food (delivered via Seamless: Riverdale Diner; Bunni Deli; that pizza joint)
Food (grocery shopping: ready to eat foods bc im not cooking, cereal, fruit, PB, granola, nuts)
Food Dates (spicy not sugary sweet)
Dante to do my hair
Ouidad hair conditioner
Service Top
A handler when I’m in public or at new places (I got lost that time in CI)
Figure out a line to tell people and practice it (my mom died march 1 and I’m struggling)
Water in fridge
Coke (to feel the burn)
Metrocard (monthly)
Taxes help (Nick, inheritance, mami’s house, etc.)
House cleaning (sweep, mop, dust, bathtub, life)
Energy work (Jini)
Stationary (love letters, thank you cards)
Stamps (Love, POC)
Travel cords: phone, computer
Tampons and pads
Someone to shave my legs (service top?)
Waterproof mascara
MAC mascara primer
Tissues (soft not w lotion)
Wipes (everybody’s hands dirty in NYC)
Consistent Frequent Lovers over 30yo (wtf am I still quarantined bc of t?!)
Help packing 
Help sorting
Help trash shit I don’t need 
Donate ish (how to get the dontions to sites? 
New pillows (mascara stains, firm/full)
Music (that missing DOOM album, Mariah Carey remixs, da brat greatest hits, vico-c
1.1.17 I NOW NEED:
Rides (stop being embarrassed to ask)
Grocery store rides (not always need to be social)
Dental help (pull this tooth, crown, implant $4k)
NO more tinctures w/o instructions
Update emotional emergency plan

To see the kids/babies (learn to tell them apart)
Touch/affection in all the forms (there’s no backup plan)
Service Top
Avoid Papi and Linda
Explore new neighborhood
Heal this knee (wtf happened? Pool time to stretch? arnica)
Fitted for new bras (grief changed my body)
Wtf am I going to do for mami’s birthday? 1/6
Get out of bed (make work/play dates w ppl)
2.22.17 I NOW NEED: 6 days to 1 year
Lovers how to find them when no energy to court or search or do the bs logistics to get some tail
Impact play/experiences/reminders (rubber bands)
The ocean
Eat better food
Drink much more water
Tell people when you want to hurt yourself every time
Remember people love me and want to help
Dead Mother’s Club Members to contact
Figure out Dead Mother’s Club homies in NO (so far I’m only motherless of crew)
To learn to drive!!!
Decide am I moving to NO
Better sunglasses to hide puffy eyes (not red like before puffy around)
Reminders to bathe, brush teeth each day
Death and dying playlist songs (Rosana may know that song “happy bday I hope you die”)
My face touched
Someone to talk to about my dreams/fantasies
Plan for my skin when it feels its on fire
Ride to/from airport 
NYC return plan 

Read post 12 here.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Latinx Heritage Month: #FemmeInMourning 12

I became really good at saying and asking for what I needed when my mom died. I have been pretty solid in directly communicating. A lot of people don't like this communication style. I learned a lot of people also think they have capacity to give you what you need, but actually they don't.

This is a hard place to be. Because you can see how someone wants to help, that intention. Yet, when they cannot do what is needed or requested they end up requiring care, care that I just don't have the capacity to offer or provide. We are both in need.

Sometimes people like being needed. Other times we feel good when people ask us for help because it's our opportunity to give them a gift of allowing them to care for us. Both of these are legit in their own way and at their own time. Yet, when people say they can bring you food, do your laundry, clean your tub, drive you somewhere and then don't and cant find a proxy, it really fucks you up. It also really made me reexamine my ideas of consent. Because if you're asking people for things they get to say "no." And sometimes our homies don't feel solid saying "no" to us when we are in such a tender state. Consent is still there. And holding that boundary for others may still feel too much when they can't hold it for themselves. It's so much energy to care for others when you are so clear you need to be cared for and need and want it. Being cared for by others was the life saving care I required.

I'm here because people care for me and cared for me then. It's ok to say what you need and ask for it too. It's also ok to remind people of that and that your capacity is minimal for their bs trickster tactics. This may be so much easier when you are emerged in the numbness of grief and the state of IDGAF is ever present than how it may feel reading it now.

What I learned in seeing people who said they could but couldn't is thank them in an internal way, for me it was positive self talk about our relationship. Thing's like "They really love you and want to show up and it's hard for them now, it's not about you;" and "They got out of bed, showered, put on clothes, got on the train/car, and came here to have breakfast with you. If that's all they could offer that's enough because they are still here too!"

If I want others to recognize my human experience of shock trauma grief and mourning I got to recognize their human experience too. That, I feel, is as much compassion as I could muster. Reminding yourself people are human is a great coping mechanism.

Read post 11 here.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Latinx Heritage Month: #FemmeInMourning 11

We had to go to Puerto Rico to get my mom.  I was on a plane by the end of the day to meet my sister. I landed and went to the hotel that I had booked that was across the street from the beach. I had immediately went to the beach to sit and talk with my mom. I didn't realize my bank card had been deactivated because I rarely used it to purchase items as I had purchased most travel on a work credit card.

I had no money and no way to pay for items outside of a paypal transfer. I had also been living at my ex's house in Brooklyn as a man in my building who had sexually harassed me for 10 years started to touch me as part of his harassment and I needed a safer place to stay while I put together a safety plan for my return home.

My ex gave me $500 to travel that day, brought my 5 homegirls who had come by to eat with me and send me off. dinner, and paid for the cab ride to the airport. I reminded myself that there were lots of reasons why my ex and I did not last and there are lots of reasons why we are drawn to each other. My ex shows love via money because that's what is available to give and is easy. We loved each other the best way we could and it just didn't work out.

Traveling was the beginning of my mourning process and it's stayed as part of the entire process. I invited myself to other people's homes. I invited myself to stay with them and shadow them with their everyday lives and daily work. I just didn't want to be alone! I traveled to LA, San Diego, New Orleans, Portland, Chicago, Las Vegas, Philadelphia, Northampton, Atlanta, Dallas, Orlando, Aruba, Houston, Miami, Oakland, Colorado Springs, and Washington, DC.

I wanted and needed folks to take care of me. My friends were generous and shared their homes, beds food, resources, and love with me. I have met children who love me and who I would not have met so young had I not chosen to travel. I've swam in oceans I didn't think I'd have access too and saw night sights I wouldn't have known about had people not welcomed me to heal with them. I wouldn't have had homegirls to comfort me as a cried about talking about my filing for divorce from my ex, or babies to step on my thighs as they learned to walk, or witnessed a homies child learn to swim, or taken a homegirl away from her sabatoged plantation job for ocean healing! In my grief I was able to see others grow from my presence as I grew too. We all connected even if we dont want to be all the time.

Traveling taught me about myself, about my community, and it brought us all back together in a new way. Even though I still cry when I look out and see clouds and me above them, there's a comfort in knowing anywhere in this world I have people who love me. My next stop is welcoming my homies to my home in New Orleans in two weeks! Then planning a trip to Brussels (and Paris and Amsterdam).

Read post 10 here.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Latinx Heritage Month: #FemmeInMourning 10

There came a point a few weeks before the first anniversary of my mother's death day that I couldn't sleep at all. I also had been thinking about death and dying for so many months for hours a day. This eventually turned into a desire to want to not be alone in discussing these topics. So I turned to music.

It started with my own playlist on iTunes. I titled it "Erotic Death & Dying" as I was very interested in the erotics and pleasure of dying. My mother had been naked and held by someone who loved her as she was being bathed. It's such a human and erotic experience, one that shows love in a way that we often summarize as "care taking." Yet I found it to be beyond care taking. She was my mother's death doula and that is an incredible role to fill.

I tried to tap into my mother's pleasure and I found that in music. I then started a Spotify account and created this list again. Here is my EDD (Erotic Death & Dying) Playlist It has a variety of songs about death, hell, dying, and the like. There are dark songs and there are love songs! Everything from Björk to The Ohio Players to Alien Ant Farm and Zap Mama.

This list will keep growing. I like that it begins with Björk's "HyperBallad" where she sings "I go through all this before you wake up so I can feel happier to be safe again with you" and it really touches on how my coping practices became rooted in taking care of myself so I could show up for other people or be social. This is an expanding list. It has songs others have shared as well but not all the ones folks have shared with me! What would you include for your death and dying playlist?

Read post 9 here.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Latinx Heritage Month: #FemmeInMourning 9

In many communities there are rituals for death and dying. Much of these rituals center around mourning and preparing a body for whatever customary passage the dead are to follow. My mom donated her body to science and to the University of Puerto Rico. It was a small office, everyone had the same telephone and email address. The forms had not been updated in at least 60 years as they asked for information about our four grandparents! In short, it's rare people chose to donate their body like my mom did in Puerto Rico, but she had convinced a man at the hospice where she was at her last years to do the same. He told us this when we went to gather her items.

Wearing black was something I already do as someone in their 13th year living in NYC. It's also somewhat expected for mourning wear. I didn't have it in me to constantly wear black or really think about wearing anything other than what I already had on! Seriously, if ya'll saw the suitcase I packed to go to Puerto Rico when I was in shock you'd know I was in shock! I had polyester dresses and two more bad choices for 95 degree weather.

Anyway, I decided to use the way I adorn and decor my body to firmly demonstrate my mourning. I chose to have "mourning nails." For a year I began to get acrylic manicures with black nail polish only. When I moved to New Orleans, I found two Black women nail artists and the second one, Morgan, I have been with ever since. Thanks to Yvette and her niece who sent me her way. Check Morgan of M.A.D. Nails out!

I love supporting Black femmes making art on a regular basis. Each month I make it a priority to save money to pay for this wearable art. It's been an amazing experience because when folks see my nails I get to share they are my mourning nails. It was a nice subtle way to begin talking about my grief. Art was one way that allowed others to talk with me about death, coping, and hear stories of my grieving process.

My mourning nails were one of the best coping mechanisms I was able to do for myself. It costs money and I happily gave what I had for the services. I'm not sure how much longer I may be able to afford this practice that is helping me to find my way back to myself. It's really been an amazing way to remind myself of the beauty of my grief and the ways I'm surviving the best way I can right now and showing others the same thing!

Here are fotos of my mourning nails and my nails post-mourning, because I've continued them!

Read part 8 here

Friday, September 22, 2017

Latinx Heritage Month: #FemmeInMourning 8

When people die those of us that are left behind to grieve and mourn we find so many ways to cope. One common way is to "look for messages" from those who have died. So many people in my inner and outer circles use this language and thought process to discuss their grief or mourning. They looked to find those signs as examples of their loved ones showing up for them or reminding them they are present in some way in the universe and especially on the planet we find ourselves on.

This didn't happen for me. 

I felt like, and still feel like, the only one. I got mad I didn't have a "sign" from my mother. I got jealous by those who do have signs. I asked questions of them often. I changed my alters in hope I'd get some kind of sign. Nobody ever wants to admit that for some of us those signs never come.

I had friends offer to open up to receive messages and those folks had a LOT of wrong messages to share. Not only do people interpret things differently, yet those who don't understand the work I do, don't understand the ways that the middle passage impacts the Caribbean, who don't know my mother identified racially and passed racially as white and ethnically as Puerto Rican and raised a LatiNegra baby girl. A lot of people don't understand Spanish, my mother's first language. And then other people think their knowledge of spirit work or connecting to the dead outweighs your relationship and your power and your knowledge. Guess how many of those people understand anything about rememory, memory, or colonization. None. They thought they did. They had no clue.

This happened to me again and again. And guess what. No signs came. At least not from my mother.

Signs came to me for me by me and the ways I found the path back to myself. I have so many unanswered questions for my mother, ways she harmed me, and ways I don't fully understand what my leaving at 17 meant for her and her parenting. There's so many parts of me that I know she now may see in the ways I needed to be seen. 

One friend offered to receive some messages from her and share them with me. Shared with me was this: "Her physical form, how you remember her is hard for her to regain. It's a painful memory for her and feels limiting now." This really clicked quickly for me. My mother's last 2-3 years on the planet were exactly what she did not want. Of course this returning to me in a particular way or form or essence on this planet hurts! And just as I believe there is no expected behavior for people who are experiencing shock or trauma, there's no expected behavior for those who have died and left this planet to return to us. 

Read part 7 here

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Latinx Heritage Month: #FemmeInMourning 7

As I've shared: grief is a shapeshifter. One of the many ways I had to learn to cope with my grief was to find ways that helped me feel and stay alive. There were so many things and ways that I tried and asked for advice from others. The things that worked for others definitely did not ever work for me. This is why I know it's ok to recognize how grief shapeshifts, how we need to work on suspending expectations for those in shock and trauma.

I'm going to share some of the ways I cope with my grief. Today I am focusing on my coping via sensation. The shock, trauma, and grief is so encompassing and overwhelming that you become numb. I hated being numb after a while. I looked for ways to feel something, anything besides the numbing sensation. It felt so foreign to not feel anything but overwhelming and consuming grief and pain.

I needed to feel other ways and sensations. The most accessible sensation to me, as I am single, no potential partners or play partners (because dating while you are grieving is SO MUCH), was via spices and stings.

I reunited with coca-cola. There was a sensation that made me feel alive again because I could feel the burn of drinking the soda going down my mouth and throat. It made me feel alive. It made me feel something other than grief. IT MADE ME FEEL.

All the while I knew soda in this way was not "healthy" and I wasn't and don't think about health in that sense. I wasn't thinking "these behaviors will kill me" because I have come to a space where I was comfortable with death and do not fear it at all! This is what thinking about death for hours at a time every day may result in, for some. I thought "my momma's dead! So what if I drink this soda today to get me to feel something?!"

It was affordable, easily accessible, and was everywhere I was and needed to be. I would chug gulps of coke to get a rush of the sensation. I would hysterically be crying and tell myself "you can calm down enough to open a bottle or can of soda you can calm down then." Drinking soda at these times became a way for me to get out of the constant pain or numbing impact. Drinking soda again made me social at my lowest time.

I didn't do this all day. This was like one of my back pocket, strategies for coping. I would drink coke when I was needing to be social. I would drink coke when I was at home alone lonely and feeling myself slip. I wouldn't recommend it for everyone of course. Allowing myself one soda a day helped me come back into my body and feel something in a part of my body that nobody ever touches that I was here.  I am here. Cheers!

Read blog 6 here.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Latinx Heritage Month: #FemmeInMourning 6

I haven't had health insurance for 95% of my adult life. When my mom died I had insurance but never went to the doctor because who has that kind of time when you work a 50 hour a week job? When I finally did 14 months later my doctor told me that grieving increases your blood sugar levels.

All the stress and increased cortisol levels means an increase in other ways too: insulin resistance, craving processed grub, and chronic stress which kills people. I did not eat well while mourning. Making meals felt like too much and I needed people to care for me. It's great those first few weeks/months with trauma and shock where everybody shows up for you. Yet, there comes a time when folks disappear and think it's been long enough you should be over things.

Those were times when I just ate whatever was available without real consideration. The grief was too much to make a better decision. And I was only impacting myself. Then as I found my way out of some of the deeper foggy thickness of grief I had vertigo.

And I had a yeast infection for the first time in my life! The doctor told me stress and high blood sugar helps maintain a yeast infection along with other ish that I didn't realize my body was experiencing. So, I had to unlearn all the ways I had taught my body to manage the grief and digest the grief. It took a while and it's still taking time, but it sure beats taking medicine as often as they wanted to prescribe me.

Coming back to my body was an important part of my grieving process, especially as part of the healing aspects of the grief. If you are grieving and it feels constant, drink lots of water. Just do it because it will help keep you hydrated if you cried like I did often. As much as processed foods are craved and affordable, try to mix in a few vegetables or something. Even as I write that I'm like "who the fuck are you to say that to people" but for real baby steps. I started with celery sticks and peanut butter, baby carrots, and when times were super rough I opted for the pizza vs the pancakes because pizza's not that rough on your blood sugar levels and kept yeast infections in check more than those pancakes with coconut flakes and maple syrup do.

Read part 5 here.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Latinx Heritage Month: #FemmeInMourning 5

When my mom died I stopped caring about a lot of things, people, ideas, and overall ish.

There's something distracting about shock and grief. It's all encompassing and it's overwhelming and numbing. Sometimes you think you can show up until you do and you're like "idgaf about what I'm witnessing bc my momma's dead." At least that's what has happened and continues to happen to me.

I've lost all levels of caring. Today I've healed to a place where I can care enough to pay my rent, shower, communicate as best I can, get some work done, and be social a few times a week. AND THATS ALL FOR NOW!

Well for the most part. I'll share other spaces I'm at in other posts but for now I learned how quickly we realize it hurts too much to care. I say this to folks all the time when they tell me they don't care about something. I say it often to young people. I say it often to myself too.

Now, the idgaf sense of time and place and current events didn't mean I wasn't clear I could hurt others, it meant I didn't care if my curtness was a form of discomfort. And when I did hurt people it took me a minute to realize that is what I had done. I chose to apologize. Others who have lost their mothers who I have spoken to about such instances, decided it wasn't really critical to apologize because real homies understand. Yet not everybody is a homie. Not everyone is really who they think they are, including me.

And when your communication gets tighter and clearer and more direct and you are open about your state of grief and shock, thats when folks are reminded they don't have what they need because you are doing such a good job asking for what you need.

For me, the "not giving a fuck" situation meant that I became a lot more curt and direct in my communication and saying exactly what I needed and wanted. I had no shame and had no focus on privacy or being acceptable in my grieving. Instead I focused on my needs unapologetically. It made a lot of people uncomfortable. Good thing IDGAF.

Read post 4 here.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Latinx Heritage Month: #FemmeInMourning 4

When I lost my mom on March 1, 2016 it was expected as her health had deteriorated quickly from Alzheimer's; the disease that would take both of her parents and one of her older sisters in Puerto Rico.

Even with all the planning and expecting this time to come still fucked me up in a way I wasn't and still am not ready for. During that time, and still today, one of the things I struggled with was my mother's denial of the hurtful, racist, queerphobic, and fatphobic shit she had done and said to me growing up. It was my feminine identity that we still could connect over and her newfound you-don't-need-a-man ideology that guided her last decade on the planet.

Lots of friends gave me tinctures for healing and for my broken heart. It was a mixture of a femme healer, Dacia high.moon.femme tarot reader, and my energy work with my NYC healer Jini Tanenhaus. Dacia came from a visit by way of Utah via San Francisco via Philly to NYC.  Dacia gave me a tincture of Mother Wort and Osha while sharing with me ways of coping and mourning with mother relationships. Reminding me that none of us has only one mother, we must choose to tap into the Universal Mother that holds and cares for us and that we learn to do the same through.

My work with Jini was similar. Jini guided me to understanding that my mother was the one I needed to be the woman I am now. I needed a mom to be hands off and not compete with me yet allow me to grow and be my full self. That is what my mother offered and gave me.

Does it mean I had to experience all the -isms of my moms humanity and what she was/not experiencing-yeah. By understanding the Universal Mother and thinking of what Universal Mother looks and feels and smells and tastes like I've found new ways of loving my mother, loving the mother in me, and loving the mother I've had to become to mother myself.

Read part 3 here.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Latinx Heritage Month: #FemmeInMourning 3

After my mother died I thought about death and dying for hours every day for over a year as I still think about it today. Over 10 hour days thinking about how people die, what our spirits do, how our souls move, what ways I want to die, what it feels like, how do bodies get composted, cremated or something else?!

From all the thinking of death and dying I learned that not too many people have the capacity, ability, or interest in discussing death and dying in the same way. My conversations with others became limited. There are not many things people do when you start to talk of death. It's not a small talk conversation even when it's the only guaranteed part of the human experience. I had to stop dating and was super selective about where I went and with whom I spent my time.

The call and response from others is nothing to expect. Death conversations make others uncomfortable. Yet I found comfort in discussing death and limited people were available to hold that with me and process or even listen. So I found other ways to cope. I'll share what some of those are later this month.

What I will say about this reality is that the few folks who do and can discuss death and dying with you will reveal themselves and they will not be anyone you think they will be. People learn about themselves so much through death: what we have ability for, how the depths of emotions are deeper than considered, ways to stay on the planet and not get too lost in the grief (good luck I'll share how I coped).

Perhaps it's because of some other purpose I have in this life, but it was easy for me to go directly to Santa Muerta (view this documentary with English subtitles from Mexico) which I've taught before in other Latinx courses in the past. There's a fear some have with death and dying and yet I and many others around the world find a peace in knowing she exists. I was first introduced to her in the early 2000 as a patron saint for sex workers, someone who helps those who are often ignored/excluded and isolated from society and yet keep our society and economy and mental and emotional health stable! From those who are involved with organized or other forms of crime, people considered "sinners" or hopeless she is the patron saint for and helps usher those of us who have passed into the afterlife.

Read part 2 here.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Latinx Heritage Month: #FemmeInMourning 2

Grief is a shapeshifter.

It shows up in so many ways and can shift and move and morph constantly. And just like yesterday when I shared there's no expected behavior for trauma or shock, there's no expectation of grief. We each have our own way to figure out how we are grieving.

There were days when I went back to work after losing my mother and I was at 10% thinking I was at 40% and being functional. There are things we do but that does not mean we are fully present for them at any point in time. Now, 17 months later, I'm realizing that THIS is what it feels like to be 40%.

Because grief shifts its shape I chose to embrace the chaos. I gave myself permission to slide down the wall whenever I needed. I respond honestly to how I am doing when asked; "my moms dead" is how I usually responded. I learned to ask for what I needed bc sometimes the questions are more important than the answers. Knowing I asked for what I wanted and needed helped me cope with the shifting grief. It kept me present when I was being sucked into a depth of hopelessness and death.

My grief today looks similar. It's honest and full. My grief is gaining satisfaction that I have held it and nurtured it and felt it through and through. And there are still days my grief has me sobbing in bed, missing my mother, jealous of those who have theirs still, and completely fucked up. And I give myself permission to feel this and grieve the life I had and the mother who birthed me.

Read the first post to the series here.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Latinx Heritage Month: #FemmeInMourning 1

It's the start of Latinx Heritage Month in the US. I'm reminded of the ways folks find me. How they found me and know me from decades ago online. And also what keeps me going and what I need right now as I find my way back to myself.

So here we are with me writing a little bit each day for 30 days for Latinx Heritage Month. The theme this year is grief and mourning because that's consumed me so much over the past 17 months since my mother died. It's when I began using #FemmeInMourning. Of course there will be a focus on the AFRX in my Latinx because it always already is present. 

I also need to get back into a practice of writing for myself and my productivity. I think I'll share what I've learned or experience with this grief. The roots of Latinx and AfrxCaribeñx folklore, myth, and ritual are deep in death and transformation. From Atabey to La Llorona to Cemis. 

For today's note I'll start where I already did this month. Yesterday I shared on social media the following: 

"If you think there's expected behavior when people are in shock or trauma quit it bc there isn't.That's the human experience.There's no map."

Folks really expect people who are in shock or experiencing trauma to behave in a certain way. You know exactly what I mean: crying, bewilderment, hysterics. Yes that happens for some and yes that happens eventually for others, but it may never happen for other people in a way you may ever witness. 

Why do we hold ourselves to such high standards when we are grieving. "Holding it together" when every one of us knows our bodies and minds do not have the capacity to hold that type of shock or trauma that is constant and all absorbing. Why set ourselves up to fail or feel inadequate? 

Suspend some of the expectations you have on how people may show their grief while mourning. Do it especially for yourself and your grieving process.