Welcome, You Who Were Not Allowed to Matter
Welcome, neglected children. Ghost children.
Welcome, you who knew no limbic rapport with mom. No steady eye contact to nourish your constancy, nurture your: “I exist. I matter.”
Welcome, precious Black Lives.
Welcome, survivors of neglect, of abuse, of attachment trauma.
Welcome to the ghost people, slipping by unnoticed.
Welcome, you who were marginalized, invisible-ized, genocided, institutionalized. Welcome, you who were enslaved.
Welcome, you without a home; welcome, you who are not home in your body.
Welcome, autistic people, borderline people, dissociated people.
Welcome, communities that never knew collective limbic rapport, warm eye contact from outsider-oppressors. Your humanity, unacknowledged.
Welcome, children of parents too pressed by life and death struggles to give their babies limbic rapport, nourishing eye contact.
Welcome, disembodied ones; forever denied your matter.
Welcome, all. Let us begin.
What Would You Like Me to Know About You?
I am quick to despair.
It seems I do not leave a trace:
I phone and my call is not returned;
I text into a void;
I email but my no one responds.
Long, pervasive silences.
People are busy, overloaded, overwhelmed, forgetful– I know that.
Still the silence erases me.
Without frequent contact, without memory cues;
I forget who I like;
who likes me.
When my voice is not heard;
my eyes are not met;
my touch meets no resistance;
I leave no trace.
I forget myself, my accomplishments.
The sounds I make, the words I write, the work I do.
No legacy is built.
No home, no security.
Our actions leave no impression, not even on us.
We forget our history, forget what we won;
Forget what we lost.
Forget how we shaped the world.
We stand on the rooftops, holding handwritten signs. Waiting for mercy. Or death.
Our voices are not heard, our eyes not met, our touch meets no resistance; We leave no trace.
Why not give up,
settle for less than nothing?
Thank you for telling me your truth, your struggles;
What Do You Want To Take Away From Our Work Together?
What Do You Want to Feel, to Be, to Do That You Cannot Yet?
What I Want to Be:
“I want to be real.
I want to exist.
I want to matter.”
What We Want to Do:
Love and be loved
Meet and be met
See and be seen.
What I Want:
I want to want. I want to know what I want.
I want vision. I want eyes alight with vision.
Such good things to want!
I am here to be your ally.
I want you to have all this–become all this.
The first step is to visit your story/stories of origin.
We were the disembodied hands, attending your every need.
Oldest daughter, family drudge, I existed to serve.
We were kidnapped, taken to residential “schools,” where they erased our words, our selves.
I cried, but no one picked me up.
We called 911, but they never came to our neighborhood.
I did not bother them, hoping for some crumbs of love.
We were put away in camps, far from anyone’s eyes.
They never saw my gender. No matter how clearly I revealed myself.
We were put away in reservations, far from anyone’s eyes.
My father wouldn’t meet my eyes. Unseen, I did not exist.
We were put away in prisons, far from anyone’s eyes.
I stopped breastfeeding; I could taste her resentment.
We were put away in institutions, far from anyone’s eyes.
They told me I was a burden. So I made myself small, transparent, silent.
They could not see the unique beauty of our minds.
My mother could not reflect me back to me.
Everyone saw the video, but it did not matter. Not one cop was convicted.
Did no one see him or hear his cries?
[Those uniforms contained bodies, bodies that bruised his body, stopped his breath. Why didn’t those bodies perceive his flesh–his matter?
How did they lose their senses? What makes an ear, an eye, a nose disregard another being’s matter?]
My father could not reflect me back to me.
Economic refugees, climate refugees, we sought mercy. The only refuge you allowed us was to hide for the rest of our lives.
When I made myself invisible, I didn’t get hit.
Colonizers could not reflect ourselves back to us.
(The land they colonized was “uninhabited.”)
A whisp of myself, I make no matter.
Immaterial ghosts, we do not matter.
And now, here we are (here we are not).
Thank you. Thank you for letting me witness your truth.
Now it’s time to name the adaptations, the survival strategies your ancestors developed. Claim the superpowers you birthed in your personal hell.
OLD SOMATIC SHAPES
How Did Trauma Shape You?
How Did Neglect/ Attachment Trauma/ Exile/ Solitary Confinement/ Cultural Genocide/ Existing-only-to-serve-others Shape Your Body/Behavior?
I learned to serve, to appease, to erase my self.
We answered to the names you thrust on us.
I learned to pretend, to pass, to blend in.
We learned to perform, to entertain, produce.
I learned to ask for nothing;
to ask most gently, charmingly, most patiently for food-air-water-space—
–We never asked for space;
we learned to do without.
We met our needs with sawdust and imagination;
We dreamed other worlds.
I learned to wait ‘til my mom got home; wait for scraps of food and attention.
We taught our own babies to wait.
I taught myself not to cry.
We mourned, we honored, we buried our dead far from your desecrating eyes.
How we made it.
How I survived.
How our children came to be.
Thank you for telling me your stories.
Thank you for letting me see you.
I see you. I hear you.
I sense your body asking, “What does it mean to matter?”
Such a good question, body! We will set about finding out.
Next month, Part 2: Honoring & Befriending Our Survival Strategies.