michael, may you now be at peace: a reflection (no. 10)
i feel that in my talking/writing to you, this is helping me feel better. i still feel an extremely deep sadness (and a significant amount of disbelief), but in speaking with you it is helping me come to terms better with this acceptance stage. i am still not able to really listen to your music right now, or to watch too many of your videos... i want to cherish what you have given to the world but i still need some time.
i woke up today with your spirit on my mind... yesterday i kept waking up every hour... i know you are still amongst us, overseeing us. because you have not even gotten to rest yet. no one will let you rest yet, eh?
every aspect of our lives lends a learning experience. as for me, i must say i truly wasn't open to the full range of things i could learn, or even be, until i met you. i thank you for allowing me to further open the doors of self-discovery and realization. i must thank you for letting me know i really wasn't alone in my pain; and that it was truly possible to be able to heal from that pain. you may not have felt you were able to find a space in which to heal, but i must tell you that in meeting you a lot of old wounds were opened that i had closed up for years, and i was forced to face the ultimate decision to either continue the cycle of (self) violence or allow others into that space of pain, with the possibility that they may help me on my healing journey.
it's been a long road, dear teacher, and this learning experience has been extremely difficult. but i know it's not through. in all of the struggles i have had in these past couple of years, and throughout my entire life- in the struggle to just get up in the morning to face the day... in the basic struggle to just not even want to live- through your transcendence i realized that i MUST live. if you have taught me anything, it's that we all share pain on varying levels, regardless of species. we are all just tiny beads on this large weave of a planet. in all of our degrees of pain we need to be patient and share the gift of empathy. in meeting you, my relationships with children have gotten better, and i have learned not to hold grudges. i've acknowledged that my anger is temporary, and i should allow it to happen, without remaining there.
i am still learning about issues of intimacy. i have difficulties with it. what i want and expect is different from most people i know, so i struggle with it. i struggle with it like you did, teacher, because we have both been hurt by people who were supposed to love us. i have learned to forgive, but i still am grappling with letting go, on a relationship level. because 'letting go' symbolizes a sort of extreme rejection for me.
as you know, the 'adult world' is a cold place. i have been fortunate to be around people (adults) who employ a childlike spirit, without shame... but what about that 'outside world' i have been mulling over these past days? i dread going there, teacher... i know you did too... in this 'adult world' are too many distractions and not enough wonder and loyalty...
with all of this, in your transcendence i have learned that i would like to keep your legacy of life alive... i want to show the world what you have taught me. i want to show the world that it IS possible to heal... and that we really COULD change the world, just like you said.
this fact was none more poignant today, than when i spoke with my niece... she cried to me on the phone, as she told me of how her grandmother/my mother closed herself off, locking the door... saying she does not want to speak to her. she said many other things, teacher, but in my nieces tears i recognized the pattern that was instilled in me. i remember what tiffany said to me the other day, how i shut people out by initiating conversation that may be out of place for the mood... this is my way of protecting myself.
but in knowing my mother LITERALLY shut her granddaughter out of her life, if just for a few minutes, in realized that i could not let that cycle of violence continue to children anymore... and i have to look at how i'm contributing to it myself. my sister is making the best efforts to make sure her daughter will not internalize the same type of violence that was brought upon us as children. my niece's tears brought me back to my own tears as a child; where my mother shut me out as well, with the calls of 'ugly' and 'worthless'... does this sound familiar, teacher?
the one gift my mother did bring my sister and i throughout all of this pain was the gift of music. in her pain (and massive fights with her husband) your music was played. in the interview i did with my mother for the book i was writing on you, she said that she did see some of you in herself. i think people dealing with pain and histories of abuse could recognize others going through it, no matter the geographical distance.
and throughout all of your pain, this is the one gift you wanted to give to people. you wanted to tall your stories- OUR stories, through your art. but people did not listen. and thus this cycle of violence, to children and ourselves, continues. you wanted to use music as a healing tool, but at this point you must realise, my dear teacher, that in terms of the way the world is working that isn't enough. self-reflection is also crucial to this experience. and i sincerely wish you had an opportunity to know what that felt like in this life, in your physical manifestation.
and in learning more about your pain, i became more open to my own. and our pains became intertwined. i knew something had to be done. but i struggled with knowing what that was. some would say therapy is the answer, but it requires more than that. some would say prayer, but it requires more than that as well.
and in these last couple of days, i got it.
this is what you wrote once, teacher: "In spite of the risks, the courage to be honest and intimate opens the way to self-discovery. It offers what we all want, the promise of love."
i thought i WAS being honest, in all my opening up to people about my experiences and finally discussing my pain, making the assumption that that was all a part of my healing experience. but if i am going to be truly honest with myself, i need to breathe.
in this grieving period, TWO people have told me that i needed to breathe. i never realized i was holding my breath that much. but in holding my breath, i know this is my way of suppressing something, to not allow all of the vulnerability to set in. because if i breathe i am going to just let it all out, and never stop crying. and i am more afraid of that than i thought i actually was.
even with all the crying i have been doing, i still was not breathing. this was just so impossible to register.
i have begun crying all over again... this is the reason i've chosen to take my life each day by the moment, because i never know where i am gonna be with this... i get so confused in this world, because i am told on one end that the grieving process should be as long as i need it to be. on the other end people seem un-phased by the grieving, and think it should be over.
but i cried as i saw your performance, yet again, of the one you dedicated to sammy davis jr... and yet again i realised those words belonged to you too... for if you were not there, dear teacher, i'd not want to open the door to see more of the possibilities. if you were not there, my and other generations would not be able to see the fragility of humankindness through one person, who seemed like he had it all, but needed as much love and care as the rest of us. you did indeed take that hurt, and that shame, and you fueled it into your art, in order to tell a story. i just want you to know that in my grieving i am still listening. and that, just as you said to your creative elder, i am here... because you were there.