I guess this has officially become a monthly newsletter because that’s the rate at which my brain is working to produce sentences these days. Speaking of my brain and these days… a quick pregnancy update: We’re in the third trimester/home stretch/return of all the shitty symptoms of the first trimester plus round ligament pain which legit feels like someone is punching me over and over again in the groin. Yaaaaaay. For no one who asked, baby is now a “summer cantaloupe” which sounds HUGE to me considering last week he was apparently a pineapple… This pregnancy app is absolute trash. I also feel high most of the day. I’m making up words (I’m in a “perpetualex” state of confusion which is what happens when the words perpetual and sex have a one-night stand). Oh… and the world we’re about to bring this baby into? IT IS AN ABSOLUTE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE.
Which brings me to this week’s post… I don’t know about you, but I can say without a doubt that I am feeling majorly depressed right now. Not to be confused with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) a significant condition that impacts mood, behavior and physical functions over a long period of time. The feeling of depression I am experiencing right now is a temporary state of heaviness that feels intense but usually passes with self-care, walks in nature, connection with others and….time.
I guess one could say that this pandemic/panini coupled with the 2020 election, white supremacy trending and ongoing climate disaster, etc. etc. was obviously going to set us all up for the most frigid 2021 winter. We’ve all been operating in survival mode for the past two years mustering up everything we’ve got to get out of bed and onto zoom, and I think a lot of our systems are going haywire trying to figure out what.is.happening.now?
For anyone who is feeling at this very moment like “actually, things are pretty great!” please stop reading now. I want to say I’m happy for you, but I’m mostly concerned because you are using some grade A denial techniques that are bordering on delusion. Things are not great. They are the exact opposite of great. If you live in the United States, the future is looking real, real bleak for anyone with: ovaries, a pulse, parental duties, non-white skin, non-binary identities, compassion for the environment, love for others, and so on. I’m not going to get into the details of the political nightmare that is happening right now, because honestly I haven’t had enough time to process it. But I can say with every cell in my fast-growing body that this is some M.Night Shyamalan fuckery.
Where do we go from here???
Something I’ve been thinking a lot about recently is the universal depression that many of us seem to be feeling, as we pretend as though we are not still in the midst of all this horror. You don’t really have the luxury of pretending the pandemic doesn’t exist while you’re pregnant, so over the past 7 months (!) I’ve become problematically intimate with feelings of isolation and ongoing grief. I have grief for the friendships that I’ve lost since the start of the pandemic — the ones that just couldn’t withstand the distance (physical and emotional) of two years apart. I feel sadness for everyone around me who is affected much more deeply than I am by the false promises of the 2020 election. I’m pained by how difficult it feels to show up for each other in a meaningful way when we can’t even show up for ourselves right now. I’m upset by the brutal reality that many of the (white, cis-het) people I love and care for are still able to unconditionally love America, because America unconditionally loves them.
My dad and I recently picked up an ongoing debate we’ve been having about the American flag that he and my mom put up outside of our home in DC after the January 6th insurrection. Waving next to a Black Lives Matter flag, my parents feel that these two flags are sending the message, “Black Lives Matter in Our America.” While I can appreciate the sentiment and the intention with a gesture like this, every time I look at those two flags next to each other outside of our home, I feel so… embarrassed. Sure, part of it is just that the flags really don’t go with the rest of the house’s design aesthetic, so I just feel like they’re taking up unnecessary space. And that the American flag has, in many ways, become the official flag of right wing conservatives and I’m kind of just like… okay cool, you can have it! But all of this is what I keep telling myself when I don’t feel like putting in the emotional labor of really addressing my feelings. So here goes it: I’m upset because those two flags waving next to each other remind me of all the frustrating contradictions that I feel in my life.
Those two flags wave outside of my family’s large, beautiful home in an upper middle class neighborhood of Washington, DC. The kind of home that shelters Black people, but still ascribes to a patriarchal system of power where my father, a white man, is in charge of the finances as the sole bread winner of the family. With my two adopted sisters growing up in that house, our home is one where those who inhabit it are both pro-adoption and pro-choice. It is a home where the concept of family expands beyond blood relations, and yet, there is a practiced mantra of family of origin over everything. It is a home where there are paintings of Black people in every room of the house, yet the majority of guests who enter the house and comment on those very art pieces, are white folks.
And then, there are the actual flags. I do not feel represented and supported in that American flag. I feel like that American flag is pressuring me to express a sense of pride in an America that only protects mixed people who *choose a side* a side that keeps us subordinate to whiteness but always striving for proximity to it. That flag tells me that to question the basis of that flag’s symbolism is to be ungrateful and un-American. That flag tells me that life is either stars or stripes, and leaves no room for the way I see the world - with squiggly lines, vibrant colors and spaces in-between.
I used to think I was represented by that BLM flag, however, these days I’ve been questioning my affiliation with it. These days, I mostly feel the BLM flag’s performative gesture of ally ship that reminds me of all the ways I’m constantly pushed to adhere to a specific stereotype of Blackness to get anyone to acknowledge I just exist. And even then, I only half matter anyways. I recently came across a meme that said, “Isn’t it ironic that all of these BLM flags are hanging up in places where Black people used to live?” When I see the BLM flag waving in neighborhoods like the one I grew up in in upper Northwest DC, I’m reminded of the bypassing that takes place during the gentrification process — as Black people are continuously displaced from their homes and replaced with a small sign of their significance in their absence.
I want to go on, but I’m also tired so I’m going to pause there for now. Where am I going with this? I’m not really sure. Do any of us know where we’re going with anything, these days? The point is: I’m not going to stop thinking about these things and questioning them, even though it feels like a losing battle. I refuse to stop challenging an American ideal that my parents and many in their generation have ascribed to that just doesn’t sit right with me. To find love and compassion for those that I also vehemently disagree with and hope will change their ways. To continue checking in — with myself, with others, about our emotional wellbeing and where our heads are out. To help create a world for my future child that is not so terrifying as this one.
with love & horror,