A blog by Amanda Alcantara

Friday, June 27, 2014

transforming silence into action

Hi there,

Thanks so much for reading this, for visiting my blog, for the minutes that you're lending me and my words.

I've been writing a long essay for the past 2 weeks on how women are taught to relate to men. On the effect that growing up in a machista society can have in one's soul. On the effect that telenovelas that show rape and violence against women as flattering can have in one's psyche (from a very young age). I've written about how my obsession with boys dates back to my earliest memories. About how being constantly reminded of the lack of a male figure in my household and the need for a male figure in order to have worth became an obsession in the environment that I was in.

I've been writing about how a recent breakup can push my already high level of anxiety to the edge of almost falling into abyss. It was the trigger that made everything that I was suppressing burst. That experience made me realize that pleasing men takes up too much, too much, space in my brain. I've been wanting to reflect on the roots of this obsession so that I can uproot it and plant a new tree. I essentially want to be reborn again.

I resorted to feminist thought years ago because I recognized the power that existed in sisterhood and the need to protect each other as victims. And transforming was beautiful. I felt valuable, worthy, beautiful, powerful. I was so powerful. But this transformation is often a process of regurgitation: our bodies will reject it when it is being fed with so many other things by so many other forces. Our bodies will reject it because it has already been polluted with left-over destructive principles.

My therapist says that self-destructive behavior is common among women after ending a relationship. And learning this caused me so much more pain. My sisters also suffer for this, and I can't imagine seeing someone I love feel as low as I do now. I never imagined that I would be here: unable to live with my anxiety and resorting to medication, as my therapist told me, because I "deserve to be happy". Because I deserve to feel intelligent, talented, beautiful, and important again. I deserve to know that I have value and that my life has value.

Asking for support has been a painful and embarrassing process. We're constantly told that being strong is a virtue. But what happens when we're taught that being "too strong to ask for help" is actually a good thing?What happens when we need to support just to validate ourselves?  Through this I've realized how little people I have to go to. And once I go to those few people, even fewer will respond. It's almost like a filter. The fact that my perspectives on life and my views of religion (I'm agnostic) have changed so much have made it even more difficult. As a close friend told me, "those who don't get it are there, and those who do get it aren't there". That same close friend has been talking me through my depression almost every day, and for that I'm so grateful.

I read a quote recently, "It isn't healthy to be adapted to a society that is profoundly sick". I'm surrounded by people who resist adaption, and there is beauty in that. It is a community that is constantly transforming and finding ways of healing ourselves while collectively building to the find remedies to the problems in our society. One of those problems being patriarchy and machismo.

The title of this post is "transforming silence into action" because I was mostly inspired to open up completely and write about this by Audre Lorde's essay "The Transformation of Silence into Action". In it, she writes about the fear that keeps us in silence about our experiences. She says "Your silence will not protect you. But for every real word spoken, for every attempt I had ever made to speak those truths for which I am still seeking, I had made contact with other women while we examined the words to fit a world in which we all believed, bridging our differences." My long essay on machismo will be coming eventually, but I needed to put this message on my own emotional and personal health out there first to recognize that my story as it is right now still matters, and to acknowledge that it is also shared by others.

I don't want to be too afraid to ask for help. I don't want to be too afraid to become more radical. I don't want to be too afraid to speak up. I don't want too be afraid to reveal myself anymore.
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