Disappearing Acts, Unreciprocated Interest(s) & Other Rhythms to My Blues

22 Sep

On the crevices of my thirty-third year if you listen hard enough and look long enough you might hear the rhythm of my blues.  This is not a blues to sashay to– but rather one that leaves you listening to your heartbeat, while sitting on the floor legs folded, with crossed arms and neck pushed back, eyes closed.  This is the kind of blues that leaves you unsure about life and reflective about the ways that life folds in on itself after a while.  This is a Nina Simone-like blues.  A fear of being alone-type blues.  A blues that sustains and suffocates at the same time.

As I sit here I imagine myself fully strong and round and rise to perform myself accordingly.  In reality, this week especially, I have been struggling, disappearing on myself the same way others have seemed to vanish from my life, silently but intentionally, and without warning.  I had imagined these blues would be different, the post thirty blues, unrelated to the things that marked the ambivalence of my twenties.  Instead I find these emotions are inextricably linked to the past.  My blues are still sometimes about the ignorant acts of white folks in the south, the fear of abandonment and loneliness, the residue of bad choices and regret, the rejection and unreciprocated (and unexplained) interest of romantic possibilities, the insecurity of not being/having/becoming enough, the pressure of performance on my job, and in my life.  This, as they say, is not supposed to be my life.  I had imagined it different, post-thirty, as if I would miraculously wake up with all of my shit together, and all of my issues in order.  Instead I trade war stories with friend girls about broken hearts and hurt feelings when sex is intermittent, love is underrated, dreams are drowned by disappointments, and the expectations and random requests of others outweigh my time, energy, and interest.  My unintentional blues and forced celibacy come back at me like unintentional celibacy and forced blues.   These are grown woman problems. 

But I walk around, thick thighs and wayward hips, back tall, chin up, eyes open, just like my mama taught me, acting like I have it all together when only me and my big legs know it is a lie. A performance.  A walk that reads as confident.  A smile that looks the same whether I mean it or not.  Truth is, I have gone eleven days without smiling… on the inside.  I told my homegirl it was probably just post-birthday blues.  The fog of reality we settle into after the euphoria of waking up into the first day of another year of life.  My life is vibrant and predictable and beautiful… I am not ungrateful… but I don’t know what to do with the sadness that reverberates in my life like rhythms.

There is sadness in the world made manifest through the perpetuation of –isms and ignorance that I face on a daily basis, sometimes within inches of my own life’s breath.  There is unjust justice that snatches away the innocence of life by those whose skin color and gender make them constantly in the wrong place at the wrong time (#wearetroydavis).  There is the discrimination and disrespect I oftentimes have to negotiate in classrooms with white men and black women, respectively.  There is sadness.

Then, there is sadness of the spirit that lingers like cigarette smoke and stays wherever it touches for days, sometimes weeks, until I have the energy, focus, and mind to clear my head space.  The sadness of knowing that despite my best intentions (and other peoples’ misgivings about my abilities and availability) I am not superwoman (or strongblackwoman), and holding it together for everyone else’s benefit is an exhausting, oftentimes unreasonable endeavor.  There is the sadness of feeling inadequate and replaceable.  There are the multiple memories of mistreatment and the embodied memory of pain.  There is sadness.  And sometimes sadness is inevitable.  And perhaps instead of concentrating so much on pushing it away, I should pull it in.  Embrace it.  Utilize it. Co-create with it until the blues slip away, to keep myself present, so that I don’t disappear. 

There is power in my blues (sometimes), untapped potential, reservoirs of resources and creativity.  Maybe instead of chasing my blues away I should invite her in for a while.  Have a cup of hot chocolate or a glass of wine and patiently pay attention to her.  Hear her words, heed her warnings, and listen to her rhythms.

I think I will make myself comfortable until the season changes.

24 Responses to “Disappearing Acts, Unreciprocated Interest(s) & Other Rhythms to My Blues”

  1. Charlotte Young Bowens September 22, 2011 at 6:09 AM #

    This blog post was so evocative and healing and laced with just enough sadness to remind me of my own mood that lingers just below average. Thank you for this self reflective and soft-spoken sermon, it spoke to me at a time when I need something to listen to. Thank you for sharing these profound and magical words. Peace and light.

    • imedia99503 September 22, 2011 at 9:47 AM #

      At 33, the year of my sexual peak sadness invited herself in and stayed for six years and Iooking back, I wished I put her out long before she left on her own. That was 19 years ago and at that time I was sure I’d have the loving and stable relationship my parents generation had. After all my father had told me how I’d meet the one.. blah,blah,blah and happily ever after. That did not happen and even worse I had to give up the idea of linking my happiness to this childhood fantasy. It took me too long to assess the statistics, to actually realize that there were three generations of women in my family without partners. And that I was not alone in my lost expectations. At 52, I look back at the ones that thought I was not the one and rejoice in knowing I actually ended up better without them. Let go of the sorrow move on to tomorrow.

  2. lisa September 22, 2011 at 7:03 AM #

    this post resonates with me in a way that i cannot explain.

    I give thanks to the author who eloquently summed up my post-thirty blues, as well as my continued state of frustration that lingers at the “unjust justice” system in america.

  3. LPH1908 September 22, 2011 at 8:23 AM #

    Preaching. . . .

  4. B Perez September 22, 2011 at 9:14 AM #

    I just turned 30 on September 15th. I am having my own form of post-birthday blues. Thinking about all of the things I should have had by now (PHD, career, etc.). I think we have to sit in sadness so that we can really unpack the root of it. You are absolutely right there is power in our blues (and sometimes there isn’t).

    Thank you for your courage and honesty.

  5. Desiree September 22, 2011 at 10:28 AM #

    YEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSS. Damn.Thank you for documenting this experience-it absolutely mirrors my own. I appreciate your honesty and willingness to give voice to the post 30 blues. Your emotion is entirely appropriate especially now, in the aftermath of bearing witness to the unjust killing of Troy Davis. These are feelings that I often and scarcely allow myself to fully experience let alone articulate all the time. The past few weeks, these past few months even, I have moved in and out of similar sadness and for almost all of the reasons you described. The reality of it-the heaviness, the weight of keeping silent (willingly or out of habit/circumstance) the sharpness of the pain that exists between the blank spaces of an ordinary day…the pain of remembering and forgetting more and less of who you really are…takes a mighty heart. Cutting out dialogue that involves the veracity of our emotions and their ability to intelligently inform any sort of inclusive discussion of our experiences as feminist thinkers, is a unfortunately, common practice that sells all of us short. Emotion-driven, yet intellectually delivered…this mastering of the heart-head connection is essential. When I can manage to separate my feelings from the facts, to see the ways my anger, grief and rage are tied to the stories I tell myself (about my story), and to the individual and collective stories of other women, I find that our emotions are powerful receptors, tuning agents, satellites-broadcasting something significant about what we are seeing; what we are living and how these private moments of reflection-these ‘solitary’ journeys can inform change and transformation within us, between us, and in the world we live. Thank you for this. This is beautiful and very inspirational.

  6. Elle September 22, 2011 at 12:21 PM #

    I really appreciate this post. One of the hardest things for me to do was acknowledge my own saddness and loneliness from not having my blackness loved intimately in the way that I always dreamed. I thank you for publicly displaying your courage to face the loneliness. I wish my closest friends and I could have read this years ago when we were drowning in please-love-me sex and in tears of sadness when the doors closed behind Mr./Ms.nonreciprocity.

  7. Tasha September 22, 2011 at 12:48 PM #

    I cried when I read this…tears of recognition as your words sum up the thoughts and feelings and realizations that have hit me this past week from the acute awareness of the injustices in this world both personal and judicial. As I approach 33 in less than a month, your words sound so much like pages from my journal as though you’ve heard the personal dialogue I’ve been having with God, my friends, and myself lately. I don’t know how much comfort there is in knowing you’re not alone, as it doesn’t necessarily cure that sadness from feeling like somewhere along the way you lost pieces of yourself (at least that’s how I feel), but I definitely feel you on this piece. I’m not one to usually send wishes of “Love and Light”, but I think I’ll start because God knows we all could use some of both.

  8. Asha September 22, 2011 at 2:45 PM #

    Thank you so much for this beautiful post. Reminds me of a Bebe Moore Campbell title, but your blues are like mine and so many other women of color in our generation, our expectations shaped by a public culture founded on our fragmentation(s). I am so sorry that you are sometimes sad and so grateful that you shared with us. I hope you know that you are not alone, that we are all phone calls and emails away, and that perhaps our blues can dance together and dance the hell away.

  9. Sol September 22, 2011 at 9:33 PM #

    As we collectively reel and regroup from last night’s tragedy, this post reflects the personal fallout of the political and legal travesty of Troy Davis’ death. Thank you. This blog and the CFC’s work are sources of healing and safety in a messed-up internet.

    So please deal with the “sitting on the floor Indian style” piece — what do you mean by “Indian”, considering the land we are on? I’m interested in eradicating all stereotypes, not just the ones that apply to me.

  10. Listening September 23, 2011 at 6:02 AM #

    You write, and my heart stops to listen. Never stop.

  11. natasiarose September 23, 2011 at 9:13 AM #

    Beautiful post.

  12. Mari September 23, 2011 at 10:38 AM #

    beautifully honest. raw. a delicate symphony that says that for us, for women of color, poetry is not a luxury. you were a vehicle of the Universe and I am grateful that you were responsible to that opening of yourself, in the deliverance of such feeling, and unfeeling.

  13. Anna Renee September 23, 2011 at 12:55 PM #

    Very evocative and emotional, but not so much so. It’s filled with wisdom and realization with a tinge of hope and acceptance.

    My sadness came from marriage. I’ve been married since I was 20 and a day, and now separated for the past 6 months. Marriage and relationships are HARD work, and have nothing to do with the fairytales we/ve been told about it. Why society tells these Santa Claus stories to us is beyond me. My own mom never told me these stories of happily ever after, but I still picked them up from the surrounding society.

    I had two husbands, both with their human issues that clashed with my human issues. This is truth. But the fairytale grabs you in a chokehold and you have to fight it, to make it let you go. The blues is the realization, that truth telling girlfriend that gently yet firmly tells you you don’t need the fairytale, and leads you away from it.

    ANITA BAKER, our 80’s Sarah Vaughn teaches us in her song Fairytales—

    My story ended with me deciding to lock my troubles out, literally. I changed the locks. When I did, I exhaled and am STILL exhaling 6 months later, not because I found another man to fill emptiness, but because I am FINALLY FREE to create me! I’m an unfinished painting that I now have time to work on! JOY!! At my age 50 and 2/3yrs, I can’t begin to tell you how joyful I am. I can’t fathom having a husband at this time. Maybe when I’m 60. Call it selfishness, I don’t care. I’m just sayin’.

    So sister rboylorn, yes, have that hot chocolate with your blues, but consider that you may be in your best, most creative, most rewarding season right now.

  14. radicalhope September 23, 2011 at 4:51 PM #

    No one’s life turns out exactly the way they expect it to. There are just too many variables at play and change is difficult and takes time. This existence is a mix of suffering, joy, and the stuff between those two, for everyone, even if they don’t admit it in public. Make sure you give yourself all the love and care you give others. By the way, that post The Joys of Being A Black Woman changed my life. I am rereading Sula and I see so much good along with the sadness in the book. Eva’s ingenuity in building her own house and how the Suggs took care of Eva’s children is blowing my mind. Thanks for helping me to see how amazing black women are.

  15. Deb September 24, 2011 at 6:30 PM #

    “There is power in my blues (sometimes), “

    No Lil Sis – ALWAYS! – so hang in there, mkay?

    For you: http://youtu.be/Xqm1sT1ujf4

    (I love you young sisters at “Crunk” – I really do!)

  16. fabugirls September 25, 2011 at 9:17 AM #

    This was so beautifully written. It meant a lot for me to read this at the end of MY hard week. It puts a name to what I’ve been feeling. It’s always important to share what you’re feeling, you never know who else can benefit from your thoughts

  17. Dee Robertson September 26, 2011 at 4:36 AM #

    Loved the blog–so powerful and true, especially for us in our forties…just taken back by the phrase “sitting on the floor Indian style.” Being Indigenous, it’s difficult to hear these common phrases reinforced with life and meaning. I don’t know that sitting cross-legged was ever “Indian style.” 😦

  18. rboylorn September 26, 2011 at 7:38 AM #

    I want to thank everyone for the positive feedback, energy and encouragement. Reading your reactions to my experience, seeing that they so closely resembled mine, was a comfort.

    I also want to apologize for the word choice that offended some readers. Oftentimes, my writing voice borrows from my childhood vernacular. I have Native American roots and a consciousness of difference, so please know there was no maliciousness or disrespect intended in my words.

    The text has been edited.

    • Dee Robertson October 3, 2011 at 5:23 AM #

      Thank you so much for your immediate empathy and understanding. I, of course, knew there was no bad intent. I love your writing and will/would continue to follow you, no matter. It’s so wonderful to be understood, though. You made me feel “real” and whole with your thoughtful reaction and action. Much peace and blessings to you.

  19. Elaine Bishop October 1, 2011 at 8:52 PM #

    Everything that I did not have the words for was expressed here. I turned 30 in Dec. 2010 and I had this period before and sometime after of thinking about the past, negative thoughts and the disappointments in my life. I thought I would be in a different place in my life. I realized that I spend all of my twenties “holding it together for everyone else’s benefit” and ignoring what I needed to do for myself so that I could grow. Although I have these moments of feeling inadequate, I think of the many accomplishments that I have experienced. The thought of having the opportunity to achieve more in the days, months and years to come, keeps me focused on my future. Thanks for sharing this because it was helpful and powerful.

  20. Deb October 2, 2011 at 1:05 PM #

    Elaine Bishop…As I suggestted to rboylorn – to you: “..hang in there, mkay?”

    Again – for her, you, and all of my sisters similiarly situated: http://youtu.be/Xqm1sT1ujf4
    And this too! ” :-): http://youtu.be/VQc3PjGsUp0

  21. Shannon Anne Carter October 10, 2011 at 4:13 PM #

    Oooooh, somebody done ready my diary. This was spot on. Things I haven’t been able to express, I read here. Thank you sista.


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