Sunday, October 15, 2017

Latinx Heritage Month: #FemmeInMourning 30

I've written so much about the process of losing myself in the shapeshifting grief, the experiences, the coping, the loss of so much. This post is a reminder that when you come back to yourself you are not like you were before this all happened.

I've lost more of myself and have been shook in a way I didn't expect. I've been so confused and having limited clarity and wild experiences and long times in the bed just thinking about death, dying, cannibalism, fear, mourning, survival.

I came back to yourself eventually. I may not be the same,  I may not know who I was and need to ask myself "who do I want to be today?," something I wish more of ya'll would ask yourselves, it really gives you a period of time to just take a breath.

I came back and I'm not the same, and I'm still here.

I'm still here.

I'm still here. Today. I'm still here. For now. I'm still here.

Read post 29 here.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Latinx Heritage Month: #FemmeInMourning 29

Making choices is a challenge in the middle of all the grief. When you come out of it and get clarity from time to time you spend lots of time processing and figuring out whats the best choice. Maybe that was all the virgo in me, but I still can't make decisions at times.

Most of my concerns were about how other people would receive or experience the decisions I made. Decisions were things like what to get at the grocery store for guests, where to go for dinner, what to order to eat; really basic and regular decisions.

Then there are the other decisions to move, make/end friendships, quit jobs, reexamine fertility, and the like. I worried so much what other people would think that I packed up my apartment and moved to another coast in less than 2 weeks and didn't tell many folks about the move. I worried about what people would think of my work if I quit my job to take care of myself and my grief.

Then it got to a point where I HAD to make the final decisions about something and each time I did I chose myself. I asked for the exact help I needed and the advice that was required and I made decisions that benefited me and only me. Many of those folks who I was worried about for a moment don't even contact me unless they want something from me. Most of those folks have no idea how to be friends for a variety of reasons. That's their problem and not mine.

I learned that choosing myself was easier than I thought. Choosing myself meant instant gratification.

Read post 28 here.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Latinx Heritage Month: #FemmeInMourning 28

This post is about cannibalism. It's a longer read.

There came a time when I craved the act of sinking my teeth into someone's flesh, feeling their blood and fluid (spit? sweat?) drip down my chin and neck and me wiping it off with the back of my hand to have a smear over my face. I wanted to sink my teeth into: masculinity, freedom, and into myself.

I'm still in that time and place.


I don't know when exactly that time came. It was after the skin hunger consumed me. After the numerous failed attempts to find lovers. After the consistent and frequent "No" I heard from friends who couldn't imagine a "homieloverfriendship." All the "no's" that nobody teaches you to value or appreciate when they talk about "consent." All the "you're so beautiful and amazing and it's intimidating to date/fuck/play with you." The "we can play/fuck/date in 8 months!" All the ways people are scared of touch even by people who they claim to love and want to experience love from. All of those broke me all over again. And again. And again.

And I pieced myself together through a curiosity and fascination with cannibalism. I watched my favorite TV show Hannibal, about the life and times of Hannibal Lecter; a show so decadent! I had homegirls who welcomed this curiousness and welcomed viewing of other cannibalistic films like Raw and who shared blogs and images with me. Homegirls recommended books to me too, like Delectable Negro: Human Consumption and Homoertocism in US Slave Culture by Vincent Woodard.

When I finally went to the doctor during my grieving and they checked my blood sugar that had elevated so much because I had been constantly grieving, consuming soda pop to feel the "burn," and just not having anyone show up to help feed me something other than a bodega sammich and gummie bears and reeses peanut butter cups, I had to start testing my own blood sugar levels on my own. This requires needles and a stab to your finger to get the blood drops on the thing to measure levels. It all made my palms sweat and still does. And the first thing I do after I get that bit of blood on the thing is suck the hell out of my bleeding finger. I suck hard too. I like tasting the blood a bit. Just a taste on the tip of my tongue. It reminded me I AM ALIVE. It's not the same as the blood that flows from my core once a month, that blood has a different consuming desire.

Things always get rough when I'm bleeding from my core. I crave touch so much more. I've spent the last few cycles isolating myself because there is no one to touch. There are no outlets for this type of grief. This type of touch and experience for me isn't present in too many places. And I'm fucking exhausted hearing "no" and having to ask and advocate for myself and all the things. I'm tired of being my own top and topping others if I do get some tail (which isn't often because lots of people don't find grief and mourning erotic). T.I.R.E.D.

I'm supposed to check my blood sugar at least 3x a day. I only do it in the morning. Sucking my finger three times a day would be SO MUCH.

I'm already consuming parts of myself. While I remain without lovers or any touch beyond a hug, those who have never experienced this life in this way (grieving your mother, grieving alone, grieving with limited community, grieving and isolation, grieving and no touch, grieving and no sex, grieving constantly) have a lot to judge me on. Folks happily have judged me during this grief. Those folks still have their mothers alive. IDGAF. I laid in bed plucking my rubber bands, listening to my erotic death and dying playlist, daydreaming about being touched. I started to bite and suck on my own arms. I gave myself bruises with my mouth that nobody ever noticed and if they did they never said anything. I watched how long my teeth imprints would stay and how long they took to fade. I took inventory on the bruising of my body and the blood raising to the top of the layers of skin. I debated taking fotos of what I had done and share it under the #FemmeInMourning hashtag. I didn't do any of those.

I did this routine often. I still do this when it gets real rough. Rough is my usual these days.

Folks who know me well know that I talk about how big my mouth is all.the.time. My mouth is huge and a blessing (and no gag reflex!). Yet, it's a challenge to find folks who have as big a mouth as me. Folks with smaller mouths who are into your girl mean that I get a lot of their nose or chin in my mouth. I'd have to shrink some of my best features to accommodate them. I've been shrinking myself for years for others and this grief didn't allow for any of that! Ive felt like Ive been eating people's faces the entire time I was making out in this life! When I find someone with a mouth to scale that's closer to mine it's MAGIC! It's MYSTICAL. It's exactly what I need to experience. My last lover with a big mouth like mine was in 2006. I last saw this lover January 2016 and I spent the majority of our time together just feeling the glory and vibration we created as our mouths and tongues and bodies remembered each other. Kissing and making out for me is a full body contact experience. This I'm reminded of when I have someone with a comparable mouth to mine. I don't remember or feel that way with someone with smaller mouths. They don't get full body contact.

Rememory in kissing. In consumption.

Today I'm not chewing on anybody other than myself which is more like a sucking of a finger. But I'm hyper aware when a part of my body brushes against someone else by accident or forced shared space. It's often my forearm or hip brushing someone else's body part that probably doesn't get touched too often in public. A side of the hip, front of the belly, side of the breast,

What I'm realizing now is this desire, craving, it's about consumption without a doubt, and it's about consumption to be fueled and energized. Consumption to stay alive. Consumption to remember I'm alive and fighting to stay here.

Read post 27 here.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Latinx Heritage Month: #FemmeInMourning 27

This post is one I'm writing not only for this practice or to share, but especially as a reminder to myself! This is the lesson I have taken so long to learn. Each time I need to learn this lesson I've pushed it away. The more I did it growing up the less and less the lesson showed up for me. Now, as an adult I need to really learn this lesson.

The lesson is patience.

I'm not super impatient, but I am very much realizing how my resistance is rooted in having limited patience. I think a lot about how fast I move to make things happen. People know that when I'm on their team and side, shit happens and gets done! I'm a mover and a maker and a creator. I rarely ever agree to something I cannot follow through with. I take pride in knowing my word and reputation is rooted in my verbals and non-verbals matching.

Yet the patience I'm talking about is the patience with yourself. With this grieving and mourning process. Today is my first day out of my home since Sunday night at 8pm. It's Thursday. I got to be patient with myself even when it means isolating myself and hibernating for an undisclosed amount of time.

All I wrote for this entry in my journal was "be patient, clarity will come."

For me the clarity of the world is what I was completely disconnected from. When I do start to reconnect and pull my head up there's more death, more violence, more fires, more landslides, more flooding, so much more. And that's the life threatening ish, not to mention the petty ish people expect you to respond to for them. The people who expected me to show up and verbally box them were quickly knocked out because I have limited capacity.

This is probably why I've isolated myself at times during this process; I know I can do deep hurt with the truth of my verbal communication. I know how to be so clear and accessible and honest that folks are not ready or that. I'm also not ready to coddle people and it's too much care taking when I got to care for myself!

Sometime the clarity that comes are reminders: you were right to try to keep that memory or reality blurry; you were right to protect yourself in those ways; yet the only way to heal is to go through them not around those painful truths and realities. There's pain here, and hurt, and deep deep loneliness and there is also clarity. It feels like your whole body takes a breath and a sigh and is still here. 

Read post 26 here.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Latinx Heritage Month: #FemmeInMourning 26

I cope often by writing love letters. I was better at this in the height of my grief. I wrote people love letters to stay connected and to crawl out of the deep lonely abyss of grief. Everything about writing love letters I adore! Picking the right stationary, crafting the best message, using the fine point pen, sealing it with a wax stamp, finding the best stamp, and the sound of the mailbox as it closes. 

That sound I miss as there are not as many mailboxes in New Orleans as there are in other places. 

I'm behind on letters. It's overwhelming. Often those who write me I write back. If you haven't written me there may not be a letter for you for a while. If you have hold on! I'm working on it! I try to add something special to my love letters so it's not only a note but something else, a sticker, image that reminded me of the recipient, a recipe for them to try. Something fun and enjoyable.

What better way to remind someone you care for them than using the ways we can connect to send letters that may shift our entire day? That's what happens when I get your letters. Let's do that for each other. Ask me for my address.

Read post 25 here

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Latinx Heritage Month: #FemmeInMourning 25

I got, and get through the roughest times of my grief and mourning because of technology. Texting saved my life numerous times. I just started texting, ya'll. Seriously, I started about 6 years ago in 2011. My first smartphone was in 2013.

When I started to get texts from folks during my mourning I didn't respond to them all. I probably still haven't. Things are a blur still. To say they were is not true, they are less blurry now, but there's still a constant intense blur. I didn't have the capacity to talk to people on the telephone let alone on facetime or skype or a google hangout.

One thing about my isolation is that my vanity is still very present. I don't want folks seeing me post-hysterical meltdown chaotic presentation. It was a huge move to document my crying tail in the Instagram #FemmeInMourning posts I made. Nonetheless, some folks did see me in those times. Anyway, texts became a way for me to still remain social and not have to bathe or put a mask on to act like everything doesn't feel plastic.

We put those masks on for ya'll who are not mourning or grieving in the same way. It got exhausting quickly. It's still exhausting and required because we don't have spaces for non spiritual ritual ish to grieve and mourn. All those spaces are used for ritual in a different way and it rarely was what I needed. Mourning in non-traditional and non-linear ways can be scary. When I wasn't my full present self, like I still am at this time, it was texts that allowed me to respond and share or seek grounding.

Folks have no idea that when I reached out to them what it was that I was really needing or doing. I kept it to myself. I didn't share that I needed specific help. I just sent those "checking in on you" texts to numerous people and who responded responded. Sometimes I got responses quickly. Other times I got responses slowly through the day that I'm glad I was around to respond to.

I still don't respond to texts quickly on hard days. Those days are becoming more limited but also becoming longer in duration. I'm still here so keep texting me.

Read post 24 here.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Latinx Heritage Month: #FemmeInMourning 24

Tell people that you love them.

I can't remember who it was that hugged me each time she saw me and would whisper in my ear that she loved me. The feeling of a warm body against you holding your back and putting their mouth to your ear to whisper how they love you is deep and warm and affirming. I wanted to do the same for others. We all need to be feeling that way as often as possible.

I started to hug people and tell them that I love them. I would do this often, and now each time. Even when I don't hear it back I let people know. It's important to me that they know I care for them so much that it is a form of love. Sometimes I can't show up for us the way I would like, yet I hope people know and remember that I try to find ways to show love to so many people.

Each time I chose to send a "you good?" text or a "checking in on you" text that's me showing love. I hope people feel that love when they receive those texts. Sometimes I use these texts as a way to lift myself up when I'm overwhelmed or just stuck in the despair of what is next.

I'm unapologetic with my love because why wouldn't I be? If love is this thing we all are craving and moving towards and grounded in why should I be embarrassed or cover up what I'm experiencing it fully? It's the same with my experiences with grief: I'm not hiding them or embarrassed when they arrive. I chose to love and grieve publicly. That's how this life is going to be and I'm ok with that for now.

Read post 23 here.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Latinx Heritage Month: #FemmeInMourning 23

When the IDGAF stage meets you at your grief a lot of things can become clear. For me I realized the things that I was good at and then I realized the things I needed to do because that's what I was best for. They were not the same things. I was ok with that and I had a clearer focus on what I needed to do.

I'm good, even great, at a lot of things that people need help and guidance with. However, where my life's work and goals are focused upon are not the same as what I'm good or great at all the time because these forms of labor and gifts are essential to my survival. I must do them because they will bring me life and revive me again.

I quit a toxic job led by a white woman who was a second wave feminist and who only listened to other second wave white women. Her white supremacist ways were rooted in her founders syndrome (has anyone written on the toxic levels of founders syndrome for employees and how it is a form of violence?)  I advocated for myself and what I know my worth to be so that I could grieve the ways I needed to without worrying about having to show up for white people to watch me.

Earning the largest consulting contract I ever have happened during this time too. Because I only found myself "working" on what I  knew would keep me alive. I helped to continue to build up WOCSHN and dream bigger when I had the capacity to do so. I poured so much of what I had left of myself into projects that gave me life and allowed others to have a life too.

One of those bigger dreaming moments while I was grieving is coming to life. WOCSHN hosted our first Curriculum Lab on Thursday October 5, 2017 in New Orleans, LA. Ten people participated in the first collaborative POC written curriculum. I created and implemented the Lab and know what is needed for when we do this again in Chicago in January! We will have a curriculum of at least 10 lesson plans ready to distribute in PDF format by mid-November (crossing fingers editing takes time!).

These are the things I need to be focusing on and the ways I can support those in our communities to "put their shit on paper' and get published and paid! Join us in Chicago, see the flyer below!

Read post 22 here.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Latinx Heritage Month: #FemmeInMourning 22

My parents raised us agnostic. They had a very traditional and rigid Catholic upbringing. When they arrived in the continental US they were both shocked when they met people of various faiths outside of Catholicism and Christianity. They felt lied to about there being "only one path."

When death comes religion provides a comforting ritual that your numb and in shock body and mind can easily just follow into the ritual. You know the steps, you've probably done them before or seen them in media. Nonetheless, what I learned sitting shiva with a homegirl several years ago after her mom died was that ritual, no matter what it may include, is comforting at times.

I chose to make my own rituals.

This isn't anything new. So many belief systems have rituals and many of us who fled organized religion still practice ritual. My rituals were about me choosing to stay alive because thinking and talking and dancing to death and dying and the erotic of the state of the body shifting to another space does something. Sort of like knowing you are being called for or by something and you must go and do and answer the call!

I made ritual for all the things that got me out of bed. While showering my ritual became touching parts of my body and really looking and feeling them. I would touch my hands and remember the freckles on my hands are from my mom just as the freckles on my face and shoulders are from her. The body parts that don't resemble my biological families I chose to think of who in our family, which ancestor was enslaved that I resemble the most? I don't know their names and I try to connect with them. I never found comfort or connection or myself in the faces or bodies of family members I grew up with.

When I had the energy to eat I chose to focus on reminding my taste buds what they were missing as ritual. What have my family and ancestors been forbidden to do that I can honor doing now to nourish my body? I did the same with choosing clothing, changing bed sheets, applying makeup, and reading books. I did sex magic again and made fucking others and myself a ritual.

I had to be reminded that ritual allows for release and also for comfort. I did what I could as I could and it was enough.

Read post 21 here.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Latinx Heritage Month: #FemmeInMourning 21

Grief is a shapeshifter. Keep repeating it to yourself.

Once you get that reality of grief, then giving yourself permission to be living fully in that grief can you get to a space of melting down in public. This may happen more than one may desire, yet it happens. It may be that the big ass Target you hauled your tail to is out of your favorite toilet paper and because you are a bear bottom and not an angel it pisses you off next level style.

I did.

And I lived to tell the story. I learned a new way to give myself permission to show up fully and that was to tell myself again and again grief is a shapeshifter and i am a human being. To meltdown is to be human. To cry as you survive this planet and all the shit that comes with it is some small form of freedom at times. It was for me. To just not hid or put on a show for others comfort was something I allowed myself to experience.

It wasn't always a welcomed response. And I lost some 'friends' over such actions some times yet for the most part the people who deserve and are invested in this full human experience remain. That's, to me, the sweetness of grief and humanity and permission and acceptance.

For the rest of my life I know it will be ok if I meltdown in front of a McDonalds because they don't have a working ice cream machine, or the server thought there's no difference between chocolate syrup and hot fudge, or when you lose your favorite earring at the airport; I'll survive it all!

Read post 20 here.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Latinx Heritage Month: #FemmeInMourning 20

When I landed in Puerto Rico I went directly to the ocean. I sat at the water and spoke to my mother. I walked through the seaweedy water until it was up to my chest and I lifted my feet and let myself float.

I was weightless.

I chose the ocean as my lover. Who else could make me feel weightless during the shock and trauma of the cellular disconnection on the planet? I felt held and protected. Home.

I've always felt this way but this time felt more urgent and grounding in the reality and knowing that this open ocean water is always home and always loving me. Going to the ocean is a coping mechanism for me. It has always been. Something about going to place where each bead of sand and the vastness of the ocean is a reminder you are something smaller in a massive planet yet your shine is bright.

Read post 19 here.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Latinx Heritage Month: #FemmeInMourning 19

There's a theme that comes about when there's grief and shock: loneliness. It's overwhelming. No matter how many folks you are around the deep consuming feeling that nobody understands what this type of loss does is intense. It's a feeling not a fact. Those feeling's matter and so does understanding the loneliness.

It doesn't always stay. Yet sometimes it shows up and sticks around longer than I'd like. My loneliness showed up in specific ways because I did a lot of self isolation. When you have a particular status or role in your communities this gets difficult. I am a founder of two ongoing and powerful projects and organizations. I'm well known in my field, I'm a leader in the sexology field and one of the few women of color who have a comfortable space to hold in our field because IDGAF in the ways other or more green folks may in the field. I've paid my dues and I know the majority of white people in our field are not down to retain or support us so we have to show up for each other.

Then your momma dies and you can't show up for yourself. Even as I type this there is a major conference happening this week. I will have house guests with me for the first time since I moved! I have no food in my home because haven't gone grocery shopping. I haven't cleaned anything other than a few dishes, the tub, and toilet. And I'm already bugging out because I know folks will expect a particular experience with me, yet I'm not up to performing leadership. The fact that I have to walk around with clothes on is foreign to me!

That's why I quarantined myself for so long. It's rare when folks really understand what is going on or even try to. Everybody has their own ish to manage and when they look to you to support them it's a role reversal when you need their support and it's not in a professional way. Those relationships are important and when I think about how I isolated just enough to get by I am proud of myself!

During my first year of grieving I did the following:
1. Traveled more than I had at any other time in my life
2. Secured my highest paying consulting contract with the NYC DOHMH
3. Created and implemented consent trainings for educators in NYC
4. Wrote and completed a discussion guide for the NYC DOHMH Reproductive Justice video (published in 2018)
5. I presented at national conferences my curriculum and work I've created
6. Saved all my money
7. Quit my day job that had a toxic white woman running it who had founder's syndrom
8. Completed a coast to coast move
9. Co-created and implemented my first SAR (Sexual Attitudes Reassessment)
10. Survived.

I definitely chose some lonely work and it was worth it most of the time. These bursts from conferences are nice, yet overwhelming at times too. Being a member of the Dead Mother's Club and welcoming new members in is rough. And it's also a reminder we are not as alone as we thing we may be.

Read post 18 here.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Latinx Heritage Month: #FemmeInMourning 18

I made a lot of agreements with myself to stay here. To survive this grief that amplified all my feelings. I would do a lot of internal self-talk to figure out what I could show up for that day.

It started with makeup. I used to never leave my house without mascara, liner, and something on my lips (usually chapstick or gloss). When I was grieving and had to show up to work five days later I told myself I would beat my face because then I couldn't cry at work or in front of others. I would hate to have my mascara smear in public like that! Nobody really deserves to see me in a mascara smeared face unless they are really taking care of me!

There were lots of selfies. I started taking selfies the day my mother died and posted them on IG with the #FemmeInMourning hashtag. On March 9, 2016 I posted my first selfie of a full face, red lip, deep black liner, mascara, and it being my first time since mami died I put on makeup. Makeup became the way that I mourned and took care of myself and paid homage to my mami, the first femme who taught me red lipstick is appropriate at all times and a Puerto Rican cultural artifact.

I still believe makeup is a form of media making. I was developing the message of I'm still here. It wasn't an act of covering up my grief. Instead it was a ritual I had developed under my mother's guidance that was familiar and firmly grounded me in having pride in my appearance. Pride even when I was completely destroyed. Pride that I was still here. Sometimes showing up with your grief triggers folks who are ignoring or can't hold their grief. Sometimes people get scared and stare in awe or are curious. Either way I let them have it most times.

Agreements: If you beat your face you don't cry until you are either alone or home!

Read post 17 here.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Latinx Heritage Month: #FemmeInMourning 17

One of the things about not having the skill of driving because it's always had a cost attached to it that you cannot afford is that traveling takes a while. Traveling as in running daily errands. Traveling as in going to social gatherings. Traveling as in figuring out a plan to/from an airport. This was one of the main reasons I chose NYC to live in at 20 years old. Sure NYU had one of the only programs in Human Sexuality in the country at the time, and who doesn't want to "go study sexuality in NYC?" especially since I had been awarded the Token POC Scholarship titled Dean's Opportunity Scholarship.

Here's the thing: when grief comes and all of your homies live in Brooklyn and 98% of them don't visit you who lives in the Bronx unless of course they have to be in the Bronx for work or a paid gig already to consider seeing you, until they realize how large the Bronx is and what they thought was the Bronx is not where you live. The Bronx is massive and I lived off the 1 train in the west Bronx, Kingsbridge, take the 4 train and get on a bus to get to me. At least an hour and a half ride to Brooklyn if I transferred to the A express or the 2/3 express. NYC and a lot of places where you don't have reliable transportation (and busses are not reliable according to all those job openings I've seen...) means travel is intense and sometimes a social event even when you don't want it to be.

I had to remind folks to invite me to things even if I wasn't going to attend. As my grief kept shifting so did my mood and capacity to show up for and with other people. It comes and goes. Right now I can manage to get out of my home a few times a week on my own. Yet I'm not really going anywhere that I cannot be productive because I'm not being productive at home. Plus all this writing I'm behind on doing means I can be social and out/about but also quiet with other people!

The other part is that when I did go out to more social events I had to do it with homies. I needed a handler. Someone who was my point person, who would make sure I had a cup of something to drink and was comfortably situated in a social enough environment watching people and thinking nothing.

Sometimes I had a more present experience, but mostly I still feel like I'm a shell, some kind of person haunting others like a ghost reminding them how fragile we are because if this is how I look and I'm a strong ass broad in all the ways, their tender tails are gonna really get it hard! And sometimes I show up and leave the house to remind folks they too will survive it even if they dread it and we just may have less to offer others.

And other times I feel fuller and can be around more than two people and try to soak all of that experience up. It drains more quickly but it helps remind me what is possible.

Read post 16 here.