It’s been an intense several weeks. From the lenient sentencing of a rapist to the mass murder hate crime at a gay, latinx bar, my own rage and grief have been off the charts.
I’ve been writing a lot too. Here. On Facebook. In my newsletter.
As I process and express my rage and grief and frustration with the outside world, I’ve also taken time to slow down, reflect, and look inward.
I’ve been becoming more and more aware of my own actions and complicity in the white-supremist, patriarchal, misogynist, rape culture we live in.
This awareness feeds my rage and grief.
We talked about all of this in our monthly call weekend with the Exploring Our Shadows circle. I half joked that I just fucking give up and I’m going to move into one of the circle member’s ranch and raise unicorns with her.
Because I’m done. Cooked through.
Exhausted to my marrow.
Sick to my stomach.
And as a friend noted, there is no time for this doneness, for this exhaustion, for this nausea.
There is work still to be done. So much work to be done.
So. I down another cup of coffee, take in and let out a deep breath, and remember.
Remember. Who I am. What I stand for. What my work in this world is.
Melanie Dewberry talks about the importance of being named, of claiming our true name for our Self. Her words have stuck with me, swirled within me. Their truth.
I believe in the power of words. In the power of myth. In our collective unconscious and the ancestral history that lives in our body.
I believe every generation has their own stories. Their own truths. Their own lies. Their own unique mythology. These stories are a mix of wisdom from the elders and their own new found wisdom and truths.
My generation, growing up in the 1970s, had Wonder Woman, the Bionic Women and the Six Million Dollar Man, and Charlie’s Angels. These were each mythological beings that we could relate to, aspire to. They each fought for justice and freedom for themselves and others. Yet they were each still not quite whole, still very one sided and flat. And then, in my mid-20s came Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. And well, I felt, finally, the mythology for my generation, Generation X, had been born.
How does this tie together?
We’ll get there, I promise.
Back to naming.
My name, Gwynn, given to me by parents, is a good name for me. It means light, fair, blessed, holy. I have dark eyes and hair and always took the definition of “light and fair” to mean that I was a bright light in the world who believed in fairness and justice. This definition goes with the traits of being a Libra (my sun and moon signs). I made the meaning of my given name fit me. I didn’t allow it, even at a young age, to not fit me.
And yet, this name is not complete. My parents did not give me a middle name and so, before I married my husband and took his last name my initials were GR. Not quite complete.
Then I married my husband and took his last name, moving my maiden name into my middle name slot. And my initials magically became GRR.
Ahhhh. That’s more like it.
GRR. Yes, that is fitting. Everyone who realized my new initials, my new name, commented on how fitting it was for me. And yet, I felt it was still not complete.
Stay with me…
In the Buffyverse (which includes the series Angel) I found my names, my meaning. It wasn’t Buffy. While she is a great archetype and fully human in her god-likeness, she never clicked as me or mine. Instead, I found Illyria (last season of Angel), Sineya (the first slayer), Dark Willow and Light Willow and I am some swirled together combination of these four. A first, an original, an old one. A leader. A warrior against darkness and evil. Overflowing with rage and grief and love. A destroyer. A creator. A mother, nurturer, teacher, guide.
In these moments of wanting to run away and raise unicorns, I remember this. Who I am. That my name is GRR and sounds somewhere between and beyond a howl and a roar and a wail.
So even when I am bone tired and want to quit and give up and run away, I know that is not who I am.
I cannot run away from injustice. I cannot sit down and shut up and continue to allow the world to keep on keeping on by oppressing and murdering and raping.
I cannot turn the other way. Not even to myself. Especially not to myself. And when I learn or realize or unpack another layer of how I have contributed to this fucked up world we live in, I make repairs as best I can and do everything in my power to do different.
This doing different means to continue becoming more and more self-aware. To continue recognizing the ways I have personally perpetuated the stories of the patriarchy and rape culture to my children, my friends, my world and to do every thing in my power to unravel what I’ve done. To allow the awareness without shame. To allow the awareness with all the rage and grief it needs and deserves.
Recognizing our own parts in creating and allowing and perpetuating this world we live in isn’t an exercise in self-hatred or beating ourselves up. It isn’t an exercise in confirming what a horrible human being any of us are. It isn’t an exercise in confirming how we can never do anything right.
It is an exercise in self-awareness. In remembering. In healing. In allowing.
I am bone tired. I am exhausted from the glib responses of people who claim to be healers. I am sick from the shirking of personal responsibility. I am angry with the constant pointing outward and lack of looking within.
So. Another cup of coffee. Another breath. Perhaps a nap. And then marching on.
This marching on includes listening. Creating space for other voices to be heard. Allowing for the pain to be spoken and experienced. Making space for the discomfort.
Because owning our own shit is uncomfortable. Acknowledging our own participation in creating an unjust world is not fun or pretty or filled with flowers and rainbows and sausages. It hurts. It stirs up all the shit. It forces us to think and then act different. And once we know, once we see, we can’t unknow or unsee. And that is where the true discomfort lives.
Make space for the voices that cause you pain. Make space for the emotions that create discomfort within you. Look within and become curious how you have silenced others, how you have contributed to our oppressive culture. And if the story in your head says “not me,” I invite you to question that story.
Because we can’t be raised in this culture and not internalize its training.
And only when we become aware of what we have internalized can real change in this world happen.
Create space. For you. For those you don’t agree with. For being wrong and making mistakes yourself. For the opportunity and possibility of change, healing, for unconditional love.
(Did you like reading this? If so, I invite you to subscribe to my weekly love letter. It’s filled with goodness and comes out every Saturday evening. You can sign up for it right here.)