Read a good poem

Jun 15, 2012

 It's called "The Five Stages of Grief" and is written by E. Ethelbert Miller, director of African American Resouce Center at Howard University. 

The Five Stages of Grief

This has nothing ot do with blackness
This has everything to do with blackness

I could break things
but everything is broken

Maybe I should have left
with the slave catchers

I will die in this same skin 
that I'm living in

Cotton never left the plantation
only my mind did

I've been thinking on this poem, ever since I read it. I can relate to it in a lot of ways. Not just from a racial standpoint.

For Denial - many times we either give too little or too much credence to how outside influences affect our lifes. For the WLS patient it could be "This has nothing to do with food. This has everything to do with food." In reality, whatever the factor, the truth lies somewhere between those two points and it isn't always an easy delineation. With my grief, my mother's death, my emotional instability as of late isn't 100% about her death. But it isn't 100% about her life. She's gone. And sometimes I wish her back but why? So I could be the kind of person to her that I was? That's no good. Or so she could be in pain? That's especially no good. So that middle ground is hard to deal with. It's easier to deny how gray and muddy life can be and assign blame to something we can call concretely evil or wrong.

For Anger - How many times have I felt this way just in the last few months?? Being mad because there's nothing left to break. My life is, for all intents and purposes, a hot mess. I had to give up the home I own. I moved on...nothing. And I spent $10k burying my mother. There is no room for me to fuck up. There's nothing that I can easily "break" that won't severely affect my life in a very negative way. I feel unsafe and I have no way to lash out. I'm basically being forced to deal with all this constructively which makes me angry. I should be able to have the opportunity to zap out. To go crazy. To "lose my head" as my grandma would have said. I should have that right. But I don't. And that makes me angry.

Bargaining - take your mind off the literal sense of the word "slave catchers." There are slave catchers all around us. For me, it's those people who can give up neurotic thought and control and acquiesce themselves to a significant other or partner. I often look back on my life and think how much easier it would have been if I had submited to a man, became his wife. I may not be what I am today but I also would not be alone. I'd have a partner, someone with whom to face life's biggest challenges. But to me that seemed like enslavement. I am enlightened (or at least I tell myself that). I'm liberated. I am INDEPENDENT. But it's all so tiring. Let someone else worry about the bills. Let someone else worry about the day to day. Let someone else think about how the children will get to school or be fed or how the car will get maintained of the lawn will be cut. If I'd been willing to make that live a simple not go after my so-called dreams...I'd have that. I suppose the grass always looks greener.

Depression - This one seems pretty straight forward to me. For the slave it is the realization that you are black. You're born black, you've lived black, you'll die black and you'll never, ever be free. Well...we all have some form of blackness. For me it's food addiction. I am what I am and I'll die what I am. I don't know that I'll ever get the inner peace some of you find from WLS. I don't know if there'll ever be a day when I am free from those obsessive food thoughts. A day when my mind can rest from them. Some days I allow myself to be depressed about that. Some days I choose to ignore it. Somedays I practice denial.

Acceptance - related to the thoughts on depression, for me that could be re-worded to say "Food never left the equation, only my mind did." It's always going to be here. In our lives there's always going to be adversity. There's always going to be some unfair system over which we have little to no control. But notice that last line. "Only  my mind did." That's the ONLY thing, friends, that we ever have control over. We don't have control over other people and things. Insofar as our actions are, in part, in reaction to other people and things (over which we have no control) we don't even have complete control over our own actions. But in the realm of our mind we do have control!

There is a saying I got on a fortune cookie that stands out to me. "In the realm of our minds, whatever we believe to be true either is true or becomes true." You can make the choice about what truth is in your life and you can believe it.

That's what I'm struggling with now. What is my truth? What is the story I'm wiling to tell myself for the rest of my life and can I really, really believe it?

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Baltimore, MD
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Jan 21, 2008
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