"When we are loved we are afraid
love will vanish
when we are alone we are afraid
love will never return
and when we speak we are afraid
our words will not be heard
but when we are silent
we are still afraid
so it is better to speak
we were never meant to survive."
-Audre Lorde, A Litany for Survival
I have had the overwhelming feeling of "not being enough" for years.
I didn't always have words for how I felt, nor did I even know I felt that way, I just always had the feeling that something was wrong with me. Anytime a relationship didn't work, or a first date didn't call me back, or I didn't do well at work, or didn't perform my best at a poetry reading or with the band, I immediately crawled into the space in my mind that is very lonely and very sad. In that space is where I would remind myself that I'm not enough.
I've written about not being enough before, but, in true Andrea fashion, it takes some time for my words to sink in. Of course I'm enough - I'm more than enough (and if you ask a few guys I've dated, I'm actually too much). With a lot of hard work, I began realizing that relationships that didn't work out (or guys who rejected me) were just a part of the process of dating - of getting to "the One." I began to realize that maybe my work situation was a lot more toxic than I realized and I needed to make a change. Sometimes performers are a little off, it doesn't make that person less of a performer.
Basically, I began to realize I'm human... and at that, I'm not a bad human. In fact, I'm pretty alright. I have never completely shaken the notion, however, that somehow, I'm not enough.
Enough of what? is the question. What is enough? At what point does one feel like she is enough, if ever? Maybe the quest isn't about feeling enough but feeling safe and secure. The quote I used at the beginning of this blog speaks to me on so many levels and reaches into a deep place of hurt and fear. I know that I didn't develop this fear and hurt on my own, and I've long suspected that these feelings existed long before I did.
I am Chicana. Loosely translated, I am a U.S. born citizen of Mexican and Indigenous descent, but that doesn't even begin to describe my identity. My family has been in the same area in New Mexico for at least 10 generations, which means we were here when this was New Spain, Mexico, a U.S. Territory and finally, a state. Ten generations does not mean that I'm of Spanish descent and I reject the notion that I don't also have Indigenous blood, which reaches far beyond the colonization of the Southwest. There is no way that is possible. My grandma was a Genizara - a de-tribalized Indian- from a small town in northern New Mexico called Abiquiu. It is too simplistic to say that the Spanish and the Pueblo Indians mixed and poof! a whole new race of people was born. There is mixing that goes beyond two groups. De-tribalized Indians were mixed and the Hispanos (Spanish) who settled in New Mexico were not pure-bred Spaniards but mixed as well.
De-tribalized. Without a tribe. Many pieces to a puzzle that never quite creates a whole person or a whole identity. I never realized how far reaching my feelings of "not being enough" were, or how far back I can trace them. The feeling of fear that Audre Lorde writes about comes from a place of historical trauma, but in my present-day life, the trauma reaches me and grips me heart. My reality is deeper than a theory. I live with a fear that I didn't welcome but still intrudes in my house. My path has been lined with pain before I took my first step. That doesn't mean it has to continue with me, however.
I traveled to my beloved Bay area last weekend. I was there to visit my dear friends N. and M.T. but I was also there for the sunrise ceremony on Alcatraz Island for Indigenous People's Day aka Columbus Day.
I don't celebrate Columbus Day given his legacy of genocide and other atrocities against Indigenous People. Columbus (and other European settlers after him, including Spanish explorers) is not someone to be celebrated. Going to the Sunrise Ceremony felt amazing. The day wasn't about Columbus but rather the celebration of survival. No one asked me if I'm a whole or a half or an eighth. I didn't have the feeling of being incomplete because I realize my identity is complex, and like my history, it is checkered with pain and violence. There is triumph, however, and survival and the knowledge that we are still here - I am still here.
|View of the sunrise over San Francisco from Alcatraz Island|
I watched the sunrise over San Francisco. It was amazing. I felt complete because I knew why the feelings of inadequacy plagued me. It's time to repair the rips in my soul. It's time to surround myself with love and spirit. It's time to remember my grandmothers. We were never meant to survive, but we did. A Yaqui elder pointed out that the morning star, the moon and the sun were all in the sky at the same time and she told us to make our love wish. I closed my eyes and wished the wish I've carried in my heart for a long time...
To be continued.
Next time: Stop. Cut the Shit.