el día

quiero ahogarme en tu aroma
en la armonía sutil de tu día
me gusta imaginarme a tu lado
viajando contigo
mientras que superas los obstáculos del día
no puedo estar contigo,
pero al final del día
eres mía
Eres la mujer que devoro
cada pedazo consumido por mi boca
y el suave movimiento de mi lengua
te tienes paralizada
sin control de tu cuerpo —
tembloroso
bajo mi cuerpo
excitada

tu piel
ay, el sentido de tu piel contra mis labios me hipnotiza
me desenredo con cada beso de tus labios
y de repente
todo —
todo de mi vida complicada
es claro
el misterio,
la melancolía
que me ha atrapada
por tantos años
se transforma
en algo verdadero
enfrente de mis ojos desenfrenados

terminamos el día feliz
nuestra respiración sincroniza
mientras que nuestras piernas se entrelazan
y rápidamente nos dormimos

el aire sofocante
llena nuestras pulmones
hasta que la luz del día nos despiertan
a empezar de nuevo

❤ E. Rodriguez

04.2016

 

from heartache to happiness

Today my staff meeting made me so proud to work for the place that I do. This organization is such a breath of fresh air in comparison to my last job. A coworker of mine, who is incredibly inspirational and who I am in awe of, shared a research project that she has been a part of since last December. The research centered on how identification as a member of the LGBTQ community is related to risk of suicidality in youth. The study researched kids in NYC public schools. The statistics she shared were staggering, although as she stated, not surprising. 7.6% of youth who identify as straight reported having suicidal ideation in comparison to 26% of youth who identify as gay. This study outlines that suicide is the culmination of a series of complex interactions involving socio-cultural, bio-psychosocial, and environmental components, often called risk factors. It looked specifically at sexual orientation/Youth who identify as GLBT, and bullying as additional factors for risk of suicide.

We began to talk about our different experiences working with youth who self-identify and/or the conflict they are having in identifying as LGBTQ. The conversation led to each of us sharing stories of the cultural and societal pressures that prevent students from identifying and the fear of being harassed, isolated, or hurt for coming out. It is really something amazing to be able to sit with a group of people who can have an enlightened conversation about these realities. A conversation where they not only acknowledge what the student experiences, but also what they experience as therapists in relation to those students and their own experiences growing up.  It is beautiful to be able to do this. I stayed pretty quiet throughout the conversation and just listened to them expressing what comes up for them in these sessions, how they want to help these students, and groups they want to start in their schools to support them. It was really just an amazing conversation especially in comparison to the place that I used to work.

One of my main reasons for leaving my last job was feeling unaccepted and harassed by a number of my coworkers. Numerous comments were being made and people began to give me dirty looks as well as cut communication with me upon learning that I identify as lesbian. I tried to ask my manager for a training for our program on microagressions and the LGBTQ community because technically it was a “safe space” and these comments were beginning to really get to me. When she asked me why I gave her several examples of things that people have said to me and other behaviors that I had been experiencing in the office. My manager made one complaint to HR. The complaint that she made had nothing to do with me, it was an example of a conversation I overheard about a coworkers feelings about the transgender community. When I asked her why I was not interviewed about the complaints she said because I was not involved in that conversation. When I asked her why she did not report the other numerous instances that I was personally made to feel inferior, separate, and otherized she said, “Because I did not think they were significant.” A few days later I decided to report my manger to HR. She was violating the anti-harassment policy by neglecting to report all complaints made to her by an employee. It came down to the simple fact that she does not have the right to determine what is significant or not to me. And also, believe me, when you have a coworker that qualifies compliments to other female staff when you are around by gesturing toward you and saying, “Not in that way” on a daily basis, its fucking significant.

The complaint I made against my manager was not taken seriously for even one minute. The head of HR actually said, “Well maybe it is my age, but when I hear the term girlfriend I think about close friends not dating.” They literally laughed at me in the HR department and my program became intolerable. It was truly a hostile work environment. My manager completely overwhelmed my case load and then accused me of not logging enough therapy hours in my 6 month review which happened just a week after HR closed the complaint due to lack of support of my claim (see the investigation consisted of an interview of me where I was repeatedly laughed at and my experiences were minimized and an interview of my manager…I guess that seniority wins). Even when I proved otherwise and that I was actually way over the average number of hours required per therapist they kept me on probation. I knew they were trying to push me out, but, by that time I was already planning my exit.

For me, coming from such an incredibly hostile work environment, that was anything but a safe space, to one where I can find support, care, intelligent, ethical, and forward-minded coworkers is a blessing. I was lucky to have one person at my old job that I still consider a dear friend who helped me survive that horrible place day to day, but here I have several people who respect me as an individual and do not judge me or offend me for who I am. I genuinely feel so fortunate to be working with people who accept me as I am. People who support both my personal and professional happiness and well being.I was lucky and the harassment and heartache I suffered in my last job brought me to a place of happiness and support.

We need more of these places in the world. We need to help lower the statistics of LGBT youth, and all youth, all people, who contemplate suicide because of a cultural and societal hate toward who they are as people whether that is based on race, sexual orientation, gender, religious beliefs, ethnicity, or ability, etc. Tolerance is not a difficult concept. We can coexist, we must learn how to coexist.

Visibility and support are a huge part of making change for this community and lowering the instances of suicide for our youth. We can help make a change.

someone i used to know

I ran into an old friend the other day. My girlfriend and I were at the gym and suddenly from behind a machine I catch a glimpse of someone I have not seen in probably a year, and that last time was at her grandmother’s funeral, but before that I had not seen her since we graduated high school. See this person and I used to be inseparable. There was a time where her house was my house and where her family was like my family. I would go there and just walk in, but that person seemed so foreign to me now as she stood there across the gym from me. Of course we said hello, we traded pleasantries and then we separated as if we were strangers…and we are strangers.

I don’t know that person anymore and that realization is mind boggling to me. Had you approached me when I was 13 and said that in 13, not even, 5 years from then I would not even speak to this person on a semi-regular basis I would not have believed you. It had me thinking about how much I have changed over the years and how the people that I keep close to me are completely different than they were all those years ago.

I was never the most popular, in fact, I was kind of known as a bitch. That was more due to my resting bitch face than actual interactions with people, but hey, it was high school so there is really no proof needed for a label to be placed on you, but she was my friend. We had been friends for years and had a friendship that far exceeded anything that I had experienced at that time, but as I reflect on it now there was so much unsaid between us. I, and I am slightly ashamed to say this, was a bit of a follower for a while. I just went along with a lot of things, I was lost, I didn’t know myself very well, but what I did know I wasn’t fully accepting of.

I used to try to overcompensate for my “downfalls” and that would mean I was a high honors, sports playing, good girl. My low self-esteem ravaged through my entire life, from my body image to my dating choices to the people I kept near me, my “friends”. As I am older and wiser now I base my self-esteem on different things. I recognize my strengths as openly and realistically as I acknowledge my flaws. I realize now that they are a part of who I am. They make me real and human and that is an amazing thing. Working in a middle school I see dozens of students every day that adjust themselves, portion out the pieces that they think people won’t like, and pretend to be what they think people will. I wish so badly that I could tell them be yourself, love yourself, grow for yourself because all this other stuff fades away in the end.

The only person that you need to make happy is yourself because in 5, 10, maybe 13 years you will run into someone that you used to know, someone that knew everything about the version of yourself that you were back then, and you will realize that you are so much better off being true to yourself, loving yourself, and living every moment. I don’t know that girl anymore, I don’t know how she treats people, I don’t even know what she does; but I know me. I know how I have battled through many things to be my truest self now and that makes me proud, so so fucking proud.

live everything.

“You are so young, so much before all beginning, and I would like to beg you, dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.” – Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke

I was reading through this book this evening and this section stood out to me. I have been doing a lot of intense reflection lately on the growth I have seen in my life. I’ve thought of the never ending change that is so constant that it sometimes takes me in under its wave, trapped in a perpetual tumbling, unable to breathe. My last post was difficult, not to write, but to feel and to acknowledge. My sister reminded me of a time that I felt lost and completely unable to navigate everything unresolved in my heart.

Reading these words I recognized that this was my savior. It was the notion that I could live without the answers to my unbridled anger and pain that eventually was the thing that completely freed me. This concept is not an easy one to put into practice, but it is such a necessary one to integrate into our lives. Both in my personal and professional life I have encountered never ending questions from myself and others about these Things as Rilke refers to them in his letters; Things that enrapture our mind and move us farther away from our paths.

We have no control over what happens to us. The only thing we can control is our response to what happens. If we go out each day trying to control everything, trying to understand everything before it even happens we are not living. We are not giving ourselves the opportunity to grow, which is the essence of life.

I love the final sentence because it embodies the saying that people know so well, “Life is what happens to you when you are busy making plans.” It is this form of “living” that can be termed better as “existing.”  Although we are not always able to understand the whys, what ifs, and other Things in our lives in the moment, with time, they can shape our path, for better or worse, they help steer us, help us grow into ourselves. These unresolved pieces allow us to look deeper within ourselves, to understand better our true essence, and to fulfill the needs of the moment. Leaving us in the present, grounded in the now, living, rather than merely existing, stuck in a sea of questions that keep us tumbling beneath a wave, unable to breathe.

Make the choice to breathe each day, to live everything, that is the point.

filling my cup

Self-care is one of the most important parts of what I do. I admittedly believe in the saying, you can’t give from an empty cup. Lately writing and naps have been my savior, oh and also CAROL. Still I feel completely out of balance and stressed. I have developed a not so subtle twitch in my lip where I constantly bite back. It is incredibly frustrating and also very much so related to my stress level. Although I love what I do, if I am being honest, I have been feeling overwhelmed for quite some time.

Last night I had a conversation with my sister. She is struggling with a lot of emotional stress as of late and when I was talking to her I reminded myself of a time in my life that seems lightyears away, a time where I was as stuck and feeling as broken as she is now. It is difficult to see her like that and also to feel so disconnected because she is so oblivious to everything that I have experienced and how I so completely understand where she is and that feeling. It made me think about my needs and how much I really need to get back to taking care of myself. That may sound selfish, me talking about how my sister’s pain made me think of myself and my own, but it is really about seeing it sitting right in front of you, ripping apart a loved one, that brings it to your personal consciousness.

I advocated for myself today at work. I need a break and spring break is coming at the perfect time. I asked my boss to comp my overtime hours (since I don’t get overtime pay). We had a real conversation and I was honest when I said I need to try and strike a balance between this job and my sense of self. I need time to address the needs of my heart and soul as well as support my family to take the steps they need. I am excited to get back to therapy, to find an inner peace, a balance from the stress, and finally put this twitch to rest. ❤ cup