First, the depths of our feelings.

This message is incomplete and it is the best I can do, in the midst of seeing back-to-back-to-back clients today and trying to do my own grief work. I know it’s imperfect. And I know that it centers whiteness in many ways. I am white and I’m grappling with the role and work of white people in this time.  I hope you’ll forgive me. And I hope you’ll join me tonight for two embodied yoga spaces to explore this together. I need you. I’m with us.

5:30 – 6:45 InQlusive Yoga – open, all-levels yoga for everyone
7-8:30 Yoga for Queers and Misfits – all-levels yoga for LGBTQIA+ folks
Both classes are at Forest Hills Clubhouse, both are donation-based. Full details here.

This is a powerful and potent time for our community, for this country, and for our world.  It is essential to hold space right now for mourning and grief.

Last night was a victory for white supremacy, for misogyny, for xenophobia, for anti-Black, anti-Brown, anti-worker, anti-woman ideals. The very ideals this country was founded on.

We cannot dismantle the master’s house using the master’s tools.  The revolution we so desperately need will never EVER come from the structures of power within this country. We have to take the time to really mourn the loss of this.  We have to decolonize our minds and hearts and accept the truth of what is: there is no such thing as a post-racial society; the US is as steeped in racism as it has ever been.  There is no such thing as a post-sexist society; the US – including and especially white women in the US – are as invested in misogyny, patriarchy and sexism as ever.

As a white queer person, as a therapist and a healer, as someone committed to anti-racist practice and pro-worker and pro-immigrant advocacy, I see so clearly how this is a result of generations of unresolved trauma.

This past weekend, I was facilitating a workshop on healing as a way of supporting longevity and sustainability in our work, and one participant mentioned that it feels like we are all trapped in an emotionally abusive relationship.  And indeed we are.  We are attached to and entrenched in a dynamic in which we keep choosing the devil we know…we are so conditioned towards the abuse, violence, and trauma that most of us have known on a very intimate and personal level for a long time, that we are consciously and unconsciously reproducing those dynamics on the societal level.

These things are related. We cannot continuously suffer at the hands of patriarchal and white supremacist violence on the daily—without addressing the roots of our own suffering—and think that somehow as a nation we will all know how to “make the right choice” on (s)election day.

We cannot continuously numb out to the very real, corrosive, and toxic effects of white supremacy, misogyny, rape culture, classism, disaster capitalism, anti-worker sentiment, anti-immigrant sentiment and then think that somehow we’ll be awake and alive enough to know how to “make the right choice” on (s)election day.

It is because we have been mired in cycles of oppression and violence for so long that we can even somewhat tolerate things as they are right now. Before today things were awful for so many of us. And we found a way to cope, best we could.

I feel so tempted to say to all of us, ‘do what you gotta do to get through this time.’  But, as someone who has explored the dynamics of addiction and recovery, of self-medication and self-regulation, of trauma mastery and trauma healing, I actually cannot say that. I don’t support that carte blanch right now.  Because I think that it is the result of our numbing, of our continuous inability to look at, to turn towards, to face full on the legacies that live in us and through us that have gotten us to this point.  This is especially true for white folks.

No.  We cannot numb out. We cannot self-medicate this away. We have got to start/keep learning practices which allow us to be fully and completely awake to the realities that we’re in.  Generations of unresolved trauma have gotten us to this point.  We have got to break those cycles.  Those of us with the skills and the tools are obligated to use them RIGHT NOW to see this and face it.

Even in our grief we must also be vigilant and not let our pain and horror be an excuse to fuel greater division and further separation.  We’ve got to be clear who the enemies are: white supremacy, in all its forms; capitalism, in all its forms; misogyny and patriarchy, in all their forms; classism and anti-worker mentalities, in all their forms. We’ve got to use our growing sets of tools to be more choiceful – to respond from the highest in ourselves to the highest in others…not react from places of fear and stoop to the lowest common denominator of what our species is capable of.

As we shudder with the inexplicable capacity for causing collective harm that unexamined white/male/wealth supremacy thinking causes, we also quake with determination to stay the course of collective liberation.  This path of freedom invites all of us in–EVERY SINGLE ONE–and does not allow room for separation, isolation, for hate or fearmongering or the reductionist idea that one more violent, racist, patriarchal, white supremacist policy will make us safe.  Only we can do that, and only when we’re in our fullness.

Contrary to how many people approach it, grief is not an illness–not something to be cured from, to power through, or to let pass.  Holding space for grief is an essential step toward making meaning out of these important experiences–as well as minimizing the corrosive effects that unattended grief can bring. And this new grief touches on and unearths old grief, which swells up in powerful and sometimes immobilizing waves. Now is the time to hold each other tenderly. Now is the time to bear witness to each other’s humanity however it shows up: grief, rage, sadness, fear, anger, numbness. Now is the to time to keep breathing, together.

If we move too quickly, we’ll miss the opportunity for deep transformation that this pain can offer us.  If we pretend like this is just another election, or just another disappointment, and “keep it movin’’ then we’ll miss a precious opportunity to recognize what all has been lost.  If we don’t mourn the depths of this, we’ll keep moving forward as it what has been lost is still somehow on the table for us…it still available to us.  There is no going back.  There is only making peace with what is, and working towards what is now possible at this crossroads.

We can do this. We are stronger together.

About bienestarte

Patty Adams is a bilingual clinical social worker, as well as an experienced yoga teacher and anti-oppression trainer. She is devoted to intersectional organizing, liberation, holistic healing arts, and wellness.
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