listening into the aftercare


graffiti of a face in profile over a flower, next to the words, "mil maquinas jamais podran hacker una flor"Good Monday morning to you. There’s freesia on the table next to me, yellow and purple-blue, brightly outlined against an orange wall — they’re caught up and held by a spent glass candleholder with an image of Ganesh pasted to it, Ganesh writing in a long tablet, Ganesh the scribe, the remover of obstacles. This morning it’s bright outside the window, the traffic is just picking up, bringing Monday all the way into the house. The sparrows, some with their bright red heads and chests, flit up to the bird feeders. There’s fragrance all around me — freesia, body, morning, jasmine tea. How are you holding into this Monday?

I am thinking this morning about voice and song and the body’s wisdom. I am thinking about visibility and exposure. After a month of posting every day about the most intimate workings of myself, I am in a place of replenishing — I find I don’t want to be at the blogs. I want to be writing, but I don’t want everything of me exposed for awhile; like cuddling hard into the sheets after a particularly intense orgasm with a lover (right?) — sometimes, after everything blows open, and we just want to be covered for awhile until we feel right and safe and whole and in our skin again.

This last ten or so days has felt like some necessary aftercare — I didn’t know what would get opened for me during a month of blog posts about orgasms and masturbation and trauma. Why would it be surprising that there might be some intensity, that I might find myself, on the other side of those 31 days, depleted and in need of some tending?

How do you do self-aftercare? As survivors, I think we push ourselves a lot, don’t we? We go and go and go, one experience one task one job to the next. This is hard to get into today — I stop, look out the window, am learning this new keyboard, keep my fingers aboveboard. I listen to traffic, watch the empty parking lot, look at the color and flowers and quiet morning around me. I listen. That’s a part of this replenishing, a part of this aftercare.

Haven’t I written over and over, here in this very blog, about the deep listening to that ┬ávoice inside that says what it needs, what we need, what I need? About listening and acting on the invitations, desires and demands of that instinctual place in me? How do we learn to trust that voice? And, then, too, here’s the question that came up for me this weekend in conversation with some new friends — how does this voice learn that it can trust me again, that I will pay attention to what it has to say, that I am worth reaching out to? How does that voice learn that I won’t betray it again with my ignoring, my shuttered promises, my stoppered ears?

I’ve noticed, since the end of May, that my inside self wants me to get quiet, wants me to pull away from the performance and exposure of blogging–not forever, but for these few days. What happens when I listen? I read books and rest my fingers, I scribble hard on the paper, I go for walks, I do other work. I write into what it felt like to come every day for thirty-one days (except the days I couldn’t) and share how my body both opened and closed over those days. I think about how I was indoctrinated into this sort of self-scrutiny when I was living in my stepfather’s house, and wonder how what I’m doing now is any different from what he demanded? Can I say that I’m acting consensually, completely out of free will, and not out of some place of trauma rehearsal? What is free will anyway, in the aftermath of hatred and violence? How do I know what paths my fingers are tracing here on my body, on the keys, in these posts, in this sharing and what I call truth-telling? How do I know I’m not just doing what my abuser trained me to do, on a much more public scale?

The only way I know that I’m acting out of agency and deep self interest is to stop and listen to that place inside. I create the space to listen. I stop running, stop working, turn off the computer, turn off the radio. I go for walks, for runs, I talk to friends, I write in the notebook, I go to the beach, I run errands, I tend to my dog and home, I do laundry and wash dishes. I take care of the other parts of me, the other parts of life, that need taking care of. And in that other being-in-life, the voice in me that is hungry, the voice that knows we were always free, she can sing. And in the quiet and the not-spinning, I can hear her. I can learn her words, my words, my melody. I can find the harmonies, find my way back to these pages with the understanding that what I’m doing here isn’t what my stepfather wanted from me at all.

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Thank you for the quiet voices that you let live inside you, that you listen to, that you tend to and feed, that you let tend and feed you. Thank you for your gentleness with your sore and fragrant self. Thank you on this day for your words.

 

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