Motherhood is exhausting. It is a never-ending cycle of caring for other humans. Humans who go from helpless animals to smartass animals to adult animals that need to borrow $20 you know damn well you’ll never see again. Motherhood is even more exhausting when you’re doing it solo, even if you have what you thought would be a partner in the parenthood struggle.
For 13 years I cleaned butts, scrubbed vomit out of couches, answered the rapid-fire questions of growing inquisitive minds while trying not to completly loss my cool because “mom, why” must be some form of psychological torture; all with little to no assistance from The Ex. There were moments of helpfulness that usually came on the heels of hours of nagging, threats of divorce, or us having an audience he wanted to impress.
Even though there was more joy in my mothering when I finally decided to officially do it all on my own, instead of spending another decade begging for help, I still found I had moments of wanting to resign from motherhood. Moments where I wanted to hear “why not one more slice of cheesecake and a double shot of that tequila” instead of “mom, why can’t I poop out of my mouth”. Moments where I was sick of cleaning something or explaining something for the 20th time that day.
Moments where you long to resign are scary because they can breed resentment. We all struggle with those moments. I struggled with one of those moments this morning.
After the Monday that began too damn early and seemed to never end, I settled in for a night cap and proceeded to binge watch The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel because I needed the laughs and the solitude. After four episodes of relating to Midge way more than I thought I would, I dragged myself to bed.
A few hours later, there stood before me Stormageddon. His stomach hurt.
I had two thoughts as he stood there. The first was, “well that’s what fucking happens when we’re picky at the dinner table” and the second was, “I don’t get paid enough for this shit”. I rolled out of bed and got him sorted while the feelings of resentment and exhaustion began to simmer under the surface. I wanted to cry. And I wanted to scream at my hormonally unbalanced self for wanting to cry. Seriously though, who else in their 30s is fucking confused about what their body is doing?! None of this shit was covered in health class, which would have been helpful! Instead, I lay in my bed fighting tears, anger, and crafting my “I quit” letter when a little voice comes from across the hall and another voice comes from across the bed “I got him, you sleep”.
I will admit I suck at remarriage. I’m bitter, demanding, and have zero idea how to let someone help me raise a family because, I have zero experience with someone genuinely wanting to help me raise a family. I laid there unsure of what was happening and running through my head all the times The Ex had said he would help and then held it over my head. Then I heard vomiting and the mom guilt replaced all the “I quit” feelings.
We must be there for our kids at every single moment, right? If we’re not we’re failing them, we’re abandoning them.
That little voice in my head that tells me I’m not doing enough is partly thanks to society and partly thanks to The Ex. And as the urge to run into the bathroom and do the mom thing kicked in, the words “It’s OK buddy, I got you” poured from the bathroom. So, I laid there and listened as The Bearded One reassured him that it was OK, explained why our throats hurt after we throw up, and even taught proper vomiting techniques to minimize mess.
Who does that at 5:30 in the morning? Morning people who are fathers do that, apparently.
I continued to listen as The Bearded One tucked Stormageddon back into bed and found that when you carry the load of parenting with someone who wants to carry it with you, the desire to quit diminishes. Will I still have days where I tell myself it’s five fucking o’clock somewhere as I uncork the wine? Absolutely. But the more this guy who looked at me and my brood and said “I volunteer as tribute” continues to show up for us the smaller my fantasy wine cellar gets.
So, to all the moms who have a partner occupying the space next to them every night I challenge you to put down your resignation letters, cork your mom guilt, and let him take over sometimes. And if you find that he won’t, then I encourage you to consider letting that dead weight go.
Because at 5:30 this morning my son learned that men can, and should, be there for their kids too. That men clean up vomit without bitching about it, that they can show compassion, and concern, and help you feel safe. That men support their partners and recognize when they’ve reached their breaking point and don’t guilt them for being human and needing rest. My son saw an example of healthy involved fatherhood that comes from a place of enthusiastic choice instead of resentful obligation. And at the end of the day I think the best gift we can ever give our children is the example of healthy relationships and the courage it takes to move forward when those relationships aren’t present.
Copyright(c)2019 Rayven Holmes
“Sometimes the hardest part isn’t letting go but rather learning to start over.”– Nicole Sobon
Six months ago I did something I swore I would never do again, much to my and my close friends surprise. I signed on the dotted line and became someone's wife once again. And while everyone gushed and fawned over us, I found their joy failed to penetrate the recesses of my heart which left me sad, angry, and confused. There are a barrage of personal questions after a marriage, “are you changing your name”, “are you going to have a baby together?”, “how does your husband feel about x, y, and/or z”, and with every “no”, “what does his feelings have to do with it”, or eye roll I dished out I found myself wanting to scream and run away.
Adjusting to a person in your personal space all the time is hard enough without the intrusion of society and their opinions and desires. I’ve found the transition from singledom to holy matrimony to be far more emotionally tumultuous the second time around. I know what marriage entails and I knew how I felt after my first go around, so I figured I could totally handle this. I was wrong. Generally speaking, I can and am handling marriage. It’s work, as it always has been and always will be, but a second marriage opens a Pandora's box of emotions I wasn’t ready for. And frankly, six months in I don’t believe I’ve even scratched the surface of them.
We all go into the phases and stages of our lives with varying degrees of expectations, these expectations are rarely based in reality because we form them from a place of hope and childlike fantasy. I knew going in that marriage is work, always and forever. What I didn’t expect was how much of that work would be processing my own feelings of grief and anger over having to start over again with someone who hasn’t had 15 years to craft a Rayven strategy guide nor the cynical bitterness of a failed marriage under their belt.
I didn’t experience a honeymoon phase this time around. I went from nervous laughter and smiles in wedding photos to sitting in a ball on my couch at two in the morning wondering if I should cry or scream. I have a good mate this time around and he genuinely wants us to work together to build a legacy that will last long after we've both parted this life. Whenever we discuss our future life together, in my head I see my two paths in the woods. On one sits the life I built during and after my first marriage. On the second road sits the foundation for this marriage. The grief and anger seep in when I remember that I have to tear down those old buildings so I can collect what’s salvageable and then begin on the new building. Brick by brick, I have to start over again.
I hate starting over. I’ll admit it, it’s not something I’m a fan of. Why? Because not only do we have to give up parts of our life we enjoyed but to some degree when we start over we must also own up to our failures. A number of my close friends and family will climb upon their soapboxes and proclaim that I didn’t fail in my first marriage. It wasn’t my fault. I, on the other hand, prefer to use the soapbox for kindling and pray that the fire manages to burn the what ifs and could have, would have, should haves from my mind because we all play our parts in the success and failure of our interpersonal relationships.
I failed at marriage. Then I spent the years that followed relying on myself to survive and when I was really lucky to thrive as well. While I had always depended on myself, during my singledom I also learned to love myself despite years of self hate and a closet full of horrible coping mechanisms. I had failed and started again, on my own terms, with all the bitterness necessary to ensure I never had to fail again. And then with a few simple words spoken in a friend’s backyard I put myself back in the firing range of failure.
I learned, as I spent the first month navigating a new marriage, society, and my own emotional baggage, that I’m not alone in my remarriage grief and anger. These feelings permeate across race, religion, orientation, and possibly gender (though to be honest I’ve yet to ask any men). These feelings cut right to the heart of our humanity, desperate to be loved and to belong yet shackled by our own fears, desires, and shortcomings. The grief and anger crawl into our hearts and challenge us to jump towards our tomorrows even if we aren’t sure the parachute will open.
While I’ve attempted to write this piece in my head for the past few months I’ve also struggled with the direction to take my public writing. There are a number of pieces that I’ve written over the past few years that have never made it on this blog for one reason or another. Usually, because I wasn’t emotionally ready to share it. While I haven’t reached a state of equilibrium, and I probably never will, I do want to share more. When I started blogging nine years ago it was a way to share my little slice of the world and the ramblings that rolled around in my head. Over the years, I polished the image of the homeschooling military family doing their best to bloom where they were planted into my own sweet delusion. I did such a fantastic job that everyone was shocked when that image blew up and that “perfect” family turned out to be another dysfunctional statistic.
There won’t be a perfect family this time around. Some days there won’t even be an OK family. So far in life I’ve learned the only guarantee I can make is that things will change and that it’s far better to be transparent than to live in denial. Life has changed. I’m no longer doing it all on my own, and that carries with it its own set of pros and cons. Sometimes I’ll share them. If you relate to them, great! If not, well I’m not cheesecake, I can’t make everyone happy.
Rayven Holmes Copyright(c)2018
“A bitch is what they call a woman when she no longer has the patience to deal with the bullshit. A bitch is what they call a woman who serves a hot a plate of rejection to any man who isn't worthy of her attention. Men who call women bitches for calling them out on their shit are bitches themselves.”― R.H. Sin
Several posts on this blog deal with healing or the long, often dark, road of healing I find myself stumbling through. I’m still struggling to find the right words to describe various aspects of that journey, this is in part to me wanting to maintain a sense of peace between The Ex and me. I’m aware that several the views I get on my little slice of internet real estate come from women he has some sort of involvement with. Their views turn into questions that they end up fielding to him leading to long text messages about how I’m still the source of all his problems. Wanting to ensure a smooth and joyous transition from solo co-parenting to blended family life when I got married this past May *it was a beautiful wedding and I promise I’ll write about it before the year is out* I made a personal decision to bite my tongue. It was for the greater good. I was right back into old thinking because I forgot that people don’t change who they are on a fundamental level. They may grow, but that takes work and it’s obvious when it’s happening. Sipping the greater good Kool-Aid had me thinking I could be friends with someone who routinely disrespected me for over 15 years.
We’ve all done it before. Attempting to keep the peace. To build bridges. We get so busy attempting to lead a round of kumbaya on the life raft that we ignore the asshole eating all the rations. Then we’re left floating with only a ukulele to eat and a poorly sung tune in our heads wondering why we didn’t see what was right in front of our faces until now. I’m the idiot on the raft with the ukulele, except I’m done singing. I’m done with locking every useful pieces of writing on healing and growth into Pandora’s box for fear it may disrupt the delicate harmony that is only an illusion anyway.
Over three years ago I wrote about the illusion of perfect. And even as I step firmly into the next season of my life, I’m still plagued by the notion of maintaining harmony and that perfect illusion. The only way to really break the cognitive dissonance I’ve swam in for years is to climb out of the pool and compare the illusion to reality under the harsh light of day. That’s hard and painful, but it must be done.
In the illusion, The Ex sees me as a person worthy of dignity and respect. We’re able to be friends and his priorities center squarely on the happiness and well-being of our children even when it stretches beyond what would bring him happiness. In reality, he still views me as an ungrateful unbearable bitch that wakes up each day hell bent on making his life difficult by attempting to hold him accountable in his role as a father and a human being.
In reality, we can never be friends. In reality, any moments of harmony are fueled by selfish desires and far too many streaks of niceness on my part that even after nearly two decades of the same behavior I still can’t seem to shake. In reality, anything I do that is not done to directly benefit him makes me a bitch for all seasons.
In the illusion, that realization doesn’t bother me. In the illusion, I am untouchable. In the illusion, I am healed.
In reality, though, the illusion is a lie and that word still finds a way to cut open all the wounds I have spent the last three years painstakingly trying to heal. In reality, the voice that has told me everything is my fault and I’m failing at all the things still gets in. In reality, I want to throw things and scream because why the fuck is that voice still there. How much more therapy and red wine do I have to go through before I’ve permanently hog tied and duct taped that fucker out of existence?
In the illusion, that question has an answer. In reality, I know that question can never be answered. Like the steady hand of depression that voice is always waiting in the shadows, looking for a wound that didn’t heal quite right.
While I could end this post on that note, I won’t. Why? Growth my friends. That painful never-ending process of becoming the best version of yourself. It tells me I can’t end it there, because while I know my demons live in the shadows I’m not afraid to face them anymore. I greeted assurances that I was a bitch with hopes that he receives a clearly much needed hug. I bare my scars for The Bearded One *blog name for the new husband* so he knows the landmines that will dot the landscape of our lives and can help me tear down the wall I built up around my heart, because stumbling through the dark is far more enjoyable when you have a hand to hold.
There is still growing and healing that needs to happen. And while the illusion can be nice, hell even palatable at times, reality has red wine and cheesecake, so I might as well get comfortable there.
Rayven Holmes (c)2018
In response to another day in the patriarchy, women have taken to changing their profile pictures on social media to a black box theoretically removing themselves from society in a poor attempt to get men’s attention. I have feelings about the whole situation. Yes, my cold dead heart still has feelings and none of those feelings are in support of silence. I find the whole notion that if we disappear men will suddenly ask “what the fuck is going on” and take notice of our pain to be poorly thought out and laughable. They want us silent.
Everything our society has done since the dawn of Abrahamic religions has been to silence women and dismiss our pain. Why in the world would they start to care now about our silence when most are still having to be told to respect the person they share their damn bed with? Newsflash, they won’t. I say to hell with our silence. Don’t black out, shout out. Openly share your experiences as a woman at whatever intersections you exist (race, orientation, religion, socioeconomic status, etc.) and like the brave woman who cornered Flake and demanded he look at her when she spoke, do the same to the men in orbit around your life. Demand they stand in your truth with you because you are someone and your life has value.
To hell with their comfort. To hell with their feelings. To hell with our silence.
We have built a society on giving men a pass, allowing them to exist in a world where they are free to lash out and be incapable of self-control while ensuring there is always an excuse for them. I’m sick of that world. I’m sick of listening to excuses that flow out of mouths with a sickening ease that I’m expected to swallow with a smile. I’m sick of shouldering the burden for someone else’s bullshit and inability to grow. I’m fucking sick and tired of being on the other end of a man’s inability to regulate his fucking emotions or to simply grow the fuck up.
With every joke and dismissal of women’s lived experiences that have filled the void around me there is the booming sound of a fist through a wall, of fingers around my neck, of a childhood spent scared of sleep because the nightmares reminded me that no one ever comes when you scream. I’m so fucking sick of living in a world where men can act like a bunch of bumbling buffoons whose voices get to trumpet over ours. I’m sick of our silence ladies and I challenge you all to be silent no more.
Share your stories. Discuss your reproductive health around the water cooler and the dinner table. Demand people look you in your goddamn eyes and hear your fucking words. Share the stories behind your scars both visible and invisible. Do not retreat when the men around you inevitably engage in their dismissive behaviors, instead inch closer baring your scars, the testament to how fucking far you’ve come. When men speak over you pretend you didn’t hear them and continue speaking because your words have value. Live your truth out loud in all its fucking glorious colors. Don’t sit around waiting for them to listen or notice. We don’t need their permission to change the world ladies, we only need our voices.
With all that said, I also understand not every woman can speak because either their safety or ability to keep a roof over their head would be in jeopardy, and that should be openly discussed as well. We must scream twice as loud for all our sisters who are forcibly silenced.
If we have the privilege to speak, now is the fucking time to exercise it.
Grief doesn’t always come from death. More often than not grief creeps in during the everyday comings and goings of our existence.
I've said countless times that I loved the interpretation of the sadness in the movie Inside Out. I felt like it was an accurate, kid-friendly way to break down the stages of grief, the depression that ensues and the light at the end of the tunnel when it's acknowledged and handled.
I loved that it wasn’t a death that caused her grief, but instead a move, or a typical life change, that threw her into grief. Because we often ignore the way change shifts our lives and sends us into those familiar stages.
Those stages don’t always proceed in a nice neat order. Sometimes they bounce around, sometimes we live longer in one stage than in another, sometimes we skip stages. For instance, I tend to skip shock or denial. Whatever happened, happened. I usually breathe deep, go numb, and move on to whatever needs to be down in relation to the change. I prefer to move on to the whole burying my pain, swimming in the anger, and depending on the situation either dipping my toe in depression or diving into the deep end. The anger and depression pools swirl in and out of each other. They're toxic, but they feel like home, so I always linger.
Grief and I, like depression, are old friends so I can always tell when I’m shifting and make the necessary choices, be they good or bad, to deal with it. Self-awareness is a useful bitch to have in your corner. It doesn't mean you'll do better every time, but it will help you see yourself clearly and accept who you are. As I circle the drain of anger, I never bargain because I don’t negotiate with terrorist, I’ve found that a mixture of age and intolerance has made the list of shit libel to set me off varied and long.
Since I’m sitting in the airport with nothing else to do but write, I figured I’d take some time to list all the things that make me stabby because it should be good therapy, right? Well… not really. Instead, I realized that The Ex’s statements about me valuing perfection, and being unyielding or unwilling to compromise on a number of points are actually true. I have a set of values that are essential to how I live my life and who I allow in my life.
Those values aren’t negotiable. Anytime I feel like I’m negotiating the limits of my values I become annoyed. And when I’m working on grief? It enrages me. I become incensed that anyone would believe they are that special that they get to trump my value system.
While our society attempts to punish us for being unyielding, demanding we compromise in order to conform to its standards, I say fuck that. If you stand for nothing you fall for anything, right? So don't fall. If you have values that are paramount to living a happy, healthy existence, that harm none and you aren't forcing someone else to live them, then do you. We may not see eye to eye on those values but, there are billions of people on this planet and we don’t have to kick it together. Truth be told if I can’t be true to me around someone I’m not going to want to kick it with them, plain and simple. So why should anyone else force themselves to tolerate that which they deem intolerable?
While I do believe we all need to diversify the circles we move through to make us well-rounded human beings, I don’t believe we should ever sacrifice our principles and values in hopes of “understanding” every human we encounter. So, if I cuss you from here to the moon, or burn the bridge that connects us, please take it personally. It means you danced on the wrong side of the value line that I draw between myself and others. And I’m not sorry.
Rayven Holmes (c) 2018
"There were once three brothers who were travelling along a lonely, winding road at twilight —"
People often ask if I’m scared of death, since Atheist don’t believe in an afterlife, and my answer has always been some version of no. After I divorced the idea of eternal damnation, I was quite alright with the idea of death. It was a certainty, and while I didn’t (and still don’t) want it to happen anytime soon to me or those I love, its presence created an odd purpose to my existence. Life has meant everything and nothing at the same time. It is whatever I deem it to be, the legacy I leave behind is my eternal life, and I’ve always labored on the notion that I had plenty of time to carve it.
I was comfortable with the notion that I had time to chip away at my legacy. And then I found that notion teetering on the edge of a bed whose owner looks a whole lot like me and who only made it to 53 before life and death decided to engage in a game of chicken with her existence.
Death never lets us forget that it knows where we are.
We don’t get to collect invisibility cloaks, resurrection stones, or Elder wands. There are no hallows to help us conquer death. There are no disks in our necks or elixirs we can ingest. We can barely conquer life, how grand are our egos that we believe we could ever conquer death?
It will come for us all, with no hesitation. So what do we do until then? What do we do with this one short life? I have asked myself that question time and time again, and even more fervently this past week. Death always lays the groundwork for sadness, fear, and despair when it knocks, even if it’s just opening the door and not taking a soul, but it is us who decides how we tend the soil and reap the harvest that it leaves behind.
It’s up to us to decide if we’ll reap the despair or use the harvest as a catalyst for greatness and allow it to nurture those things we thought we could put off until everything was just right.
So, as the winter melts away and gives way to the new beginnings and challenges of spring, what my friends will you do with this one short life?
Copyright(c)2018 Rayven Holmes
Sixteen years ago I saw my biological mother for what I thought would be the last time. It was a conscious decision I made, and one I've frequently had to defend from “well-meaning” outsiders who didn’t know or even remotely understand the complexities of the relationship between us. Despite the barrage of opinions, I had made peace with the reality that the next time I saw her it would be in an overpriced pine box and I refused to abnegate that peace.
Now I sit the dark corner of a hospital room, as machines beep and tubes dot the landscape that is my mother’s body, and I find myself swimming in the gray matter that is our relationship and the conflict that my previous peace has now brought me to.
I had always assumed, foolishly, that her life would pass unnoticed by me and my children. I’ve worked hard to maintain and build relationships with people who exhibit the qualities I expect in parents and grandparents. Today, though, my children met the woman responsible for my existence. They looked upon the nearly lifeless vessel that housed me for nine months and said “hi” for the first time.
I can justify my decision to live my life as if she didn’t exist. I know exactly why I can’t bring myself to say “hi mom” and take her hand like my grandmother has asked me to do. And while I can, and have, climbed that decision mountain and offered myself up as a sacrifice to the unyielding pain that burns in my chest to prove that I fully support that decision. I can no longer say for certain that it was a good decision.
Yes, it was the right one for me. It is one I would make again. The possibility of what my life would have been if I had made a different choice fills me with more dread than the numbness from nearly two decades of estrangement.
Was my decision a good one? Is any decision ever good or bad? And by whose standards do we judge that?
People are always quick to pass judgment on the merit of our choices these judgments are usually based an individual's happiness in relation to the choice that was made.
What if our choices are neither good nor bad, but a pile of possible feelings that we reach into when it suits our needs?
There are at least half a dozen people who feel strongly that I made a bad choice. Be it my decision to keep the demon that is this relationship caged or to drive here and stare at the void between the two of us. On the flipside, there are at least half a dozen people who believe I’ve made a good choice either way.
Then there’s me. No longer the brash teenager, I'm now a bullheaded adult contemplating my own mortality and what it takes for any of us to be redeemed.
I don’t regret my decision. I don’t even know if I’m sad that my children met her under these circumstances. I’m living in the reality that decisions are neither good nor bad, but instead, they are life’s little purgatories where we wait for the shoe to drop.
And if we're lucky, we don't walk out of those purgatories with regret.
Rayven Holmes Copyright(c) 2018
“You’ll get your moment.”
“A moment? Moments are short. I won’t get any time at all.”
“Time is subjective, a moment is however long you deem it to be because a moment is a segment of time.”
That exchange between my middle son and I took place a few days ago, but it got me thinking about moments. Last year, fed up with never keeping my goal to take a certain number of pictures a day and looking for an easy way to grow the content on my Instagram page I started #Project365.
I wanted to give myself a tangible goal while getting the opportunity to explore a platform I was skeptical of using from a personal and professional standpoint.
I gained so much from the experience, though. I got to tell the story of my year with just the words spoken through the images. Looking back, each one of the photos was a moment in time. Moments of joy and pain. Moments of exhaustion where I’m surprised that I managed to take a picture at all. But taking a photo a day became a habit, this little invisible task on my daily checklist that carried great weight for me. This gave me insight into how I operate and hold myself accountable. Which has been an invaluable lesson as I work to create or destroy personal habits and ways of thinking.
There were also days when I pulled shit out of my ass, a meme shouldn’t count as taking a photo, but I gave myself some wiggle room with screenshots. Which meant I learned to give myself wiggle room without also giving myself excuses. I learned how to turn the camera on myself and love it, even the "not pretty" images. I learned to see beauty in my changing body and appreciate it. I learned to see me and my life and love it for all the things it is and never will be.
I told myself, when I started this journey last year, that I would do 365 photos and then I would be good. As I sit here, 365 plus moments later I don’t want to stop. No, I want to expand. I want to dig deeper and do a bit of experimenting.
For those who have been reading my ramblings since 2009, you’ll know that I don’t write publicly as much as I use to. I’ve beat myself up about it a lot over the last two years as I’ve fought to find the strength to make the words I write scream louder than the noise in my life.
While I would love to say that I’ll do a post a week or even a post a month, I won't make that kind of commitment this year. I won't continue to beat myself up over not doing the things I once did either. My life changed, and so did my commitments, and that's ok.
I can make a commitment to give more life to our moments, though. Allowing my Instagram account to turn into a microblog of shenanigans and new beginnings.
And I promise when the moments in time require more than the 2,200 characters Instagram allows, I’ll write them here.
Until then, this is where you can find us, our shenanigans, and my personal insights: @ravradsolutions
For the newbies and those who like to reminiscence, I will be moving more of my old posts over to this website throughout 2018. So there will be plenty to read and see over the next 365 days if one is so inclined.
or leave your questions and comments below.
But remember, the troll in the dungeon eats all the snide remarks.
Copyright(c)2018 Rayven Holmes
As we move through life, we all collect scars. Some more than others, but scars nonetheless. We all bleed our failures and taste the salty tears of regret. Our flesh burns with unfilled dreams, hopes, and desires. We’re all painted from a palette of brokenness, with shades uniquely our own.
But are these beautiful scars all that gets to define us? Or are we defined by the human the scars left? The strong, resilient, determined, and self-loving human under it all.
Standing in my bathroom, running my hands over the skin that greets this world, I can’t help but see the scars the world can’t see. To me, they are as clear as the blemishes that dot my face. I use to believe that my scars, these beautiful badges of torment, defined me. I believed they were all that got to tell my story. I know now that they don’t. Instead, they are just one piece of a larger puzzle.
An incomplete puzzle that for years has been kept hidden for fear that the scars would distort the image that the world would inevitably consume. But scars are no reason to hide the puzzle, especially when it’s far easier to build it in the light of day. Sitting in the sun to build my puzzle doesn’t mean I have to give the world the power to determine the final image.
No, that power rest with me. The power to define who we are lies with all of us.
We are not defined by gods, religions, nor mankind. No matter how hard society works to teach us otherwise. We define ourselves and always should. As we embrace this new season and the change it brings, I challenge you all to define who you are by your own standards and no one else’s.
“Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself.”~ Harvey Fierstein
Copyright(c)2017 Rayven Holmes
Originally published June 11, 2015 at Ramblings of a Dysfunctional Homeschooler. Republished here with minor changes. The message is still the same and unfortunately still relevant. If you want to combat white supremacy and nationalism you must get off your knees and get to work. You can't pray this demon away or ignore it. It's there as brazen as it was in the 50's and 60's. This is America and me MUST do more than offering thoughts and prayers.
Oh America, you’ve provided the world with yet another reminder of your sordid history with terrorism against black people. I’ve explained to a few people over the last six months that while social media has brought to light the brutality faced by people of color, these things aren’t new. No, they are in fact a tale as old as time. My brother and I, as well as everyone of color we knew, grew up being taught how to act just to appease white people. “Don’t say anything too controversial or they may get offended”, “Don’t wear this, style your hair like that, don't do anything that may make you stand out even more than your brown skin does. You don't want to upset them”. I’ve never been very good at behaving in the approved manner. This post will be a glaring example of that. Don’t say you weren’t warned.
Last night, a white male walked into a historically black church in the south and killed nine people. He was given admission into a black safe haven, he was welcomed, and then he did as his ancestors before had done. He maimed and killed people of color. People with ambitions, goals, and families. Stolen from their community, because we’ve yet to address the issues with race that we have in this country for fear of making people uncomfortable. People who look like the man who stole from the black community.
Instead, we hide behind the thinly-veiled lie of colorblindness and prayer. Prayer, America’s quick band-aid. My newsfeed this morning is alive with prayers for the families and community in SC. It’s the ultimate easy button. Why get involved? Why shine a light on the deeply disturbing history of terrorism against blacks, browns, and tans in this country, especially in their houses of worship, when you can just pray about it?
Does prayer actually solve anything though? No, it doesn’t. Let’s look at it from a logical standpoint. By current Abrahamic theology, an all-powerful and all-knowing male figure that goes by the name God controls everything. Everything. From the patches in my yard that are brown instead of green to the results of sporting events. And that natural disaster? God did it. And those dead black bodies staining America’s history, God allowed those too. So, what are we praying for? For him to make it all better? To comfort the families who will forever be incomplete? For blacks to not lose their shit over another hate crime perpetrated against our community?
You can hit your knees and intertwine your fingers all day long. You can fill up social media with quickly pieced together prayer memes and a few sentences between your Instagram photos of your breakfast, but you aren’t actually doing anything. You’re patting each other on the backs for showing concern and then going about your day, while the black community gets another example of hatred to add to the box. And another set of names for the list of brothers and sisters taken far too soon.
I know, I hear the grumbles starting, “But what can we do?”.
Get off your damn knees and seek out ways that you can actually DO something, that's what you can do. Don’t just sit there and say “I don’t know what to do”, look for things to do. If you can find all those cat pictures you share, you can also find ways to break down the centuries-long hate that built this country and is still neatly woven into the fabric of the flags everyone will be waving in a couple of weeks.
Reach out to your local NAACP chapter and other organizations in your community that work with minorities, and NOT while wearing blackface or appropriating someone's culture.
Rally your church to do something other than offering up a moment of silence this Sunday.
Challenge the people around you who will begin the cycle of whitewashing, providing every excuse under the sun for why this happened, instead of addressing the actual cause of it. Challenge the media outlets around you that have, and will continue to, describe the suspect as a “quiet young man who no one ever expected to commit such crimes”.
Call out the glaring inconsistencies in police and judicial treatment when he is ultimately taken, unharmed, and given a supposedly fair trial that will paint him as a troubled young man who made a mistake instead of the hateful terrorist he really is. Even though we all know that if the shoe were on the other foot this is not how things would transpire.
Use your voice for something other than empty prayers that don’t impact the course of our society at all. That's what YOU can do.
Copyright(c) 2015 Rayven Holmes
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