Sleeping under my skin
are traces of shadows left behind.
My steps echo of the past,
and ring of moving forward.
My jaw is set against my own questions.
I try not to pay attention to what I tell myself
most of the time.
On the plains, where the sky marries the land in a sunset ceremony,
the souls of my ancestors bled and died.
The ghosts of real people,
whose descendents sleep in the beds of backhanded poverty and abuse,
whisper from the grasses…
as the wind slowly sweeps across the Ft. Peck prairie.
Scars of the past manifest in the shadows that follow me,
My heart is in the sky,
in the dirt,
in the green of the earth,
and I am torn.
I am a child of warriors dead and gone,
of generations of glorious women silenced.
My soul roars in tired revolutions,
quieted by necessity.
I have not disappeared.
Based on what I have written in this blog so far, it may seem as if I am living in the past. I spent most of my twenties doing that, and I am ready to move on. It is important to me, though, that I share some of the struggles of my own family’s history because one thing that I am going to focus on in my writing is generational growth of families. As my kids got older and the focus of parenting my children began to shift from chasing after them to make sure their physical safety was intact to having to provide insightful, emotional and intellectual guidance to a human being that is dependent upon that advice for formulating their own view of life – well, I found myself grappling with whether I really had what it took to do the job.
Most of my life, whether conscious of it or not, I have been waiting for a moment to come. A moment where I can lift my head proudly and say “Ta Da! I did it! I am an ACCOMPLISHMENT! I always knew it, but finally, HERE is the validation. Case closed, let’s all go home.” Call me skeptical or whatever, but I am starting to think there is never going to be a line for me to cross that means I’ve got everything handled, I’ll do the right thing, and I’ve learned everything I was meant to learn.
For so long, I have resisted the urge to pursue my desire to write because I was waiting for that moment. In the back of my head I have been asking myself what gives me the right to say anything about the world? What have I done that makes it alright to express my opinions about my experiences in life and expect that others will read them, much less have any respect for them? I haven’t made a fortune, conquered face-to-face enemies, survived disease or direct tragedy. I haven’t won any awards or accolades from my community for efforts towards the greater good. I haven’t even made it past an Associates Degree in college or bought my first home. It could be said that in actuality, I have accomplished very little. This view did not lend encouragement or confidence to my ability to help my children be successful.
With a lot of support and over time, I have come to view myself as an accomplishment in existence. I exist, and I put my best effort into making it a good existence. I have overcome many things in my own life, and, despite what you might have read so far, I am product of people whose existence has led to the generational growth of their families. In light of the challenges that various people in the history of my family have faced, the fact that I am here IS an accomplishment. That I am happy, that my kids are happy and growing into functional, healthy young adults serves as proof of that. The fact that I have found someone who loves me and has participated in a 16 year marriage with me (despite knowing me better than myself) speaks to the notion that even when you can’t see the best in yourself, others probably do. My first words after he proposed were, “You don’t even know me.” But he did, and he still does. Growing up, I had discarded the notion true love was real. Ironically, the Universe decided to gift me with it, and I have been learning a lot about the reality of loving ever since the day I met him. Surely he saved my life, and I let it happen despite my disbelief that I deserved or could handle having such a gift.
Something about growing up impoverished and desperate made me afraid of failure and I no longer want to engage in the process of sabotaging myself so that nothing else can. I no longer want to destroy my own efforts out of surety that I am going to watch them crash and burn a fiery death no matter what. I want to stop dragging the chains made of what I haven’t done or had, or what my family couldn’t do or didn’t have. My parents didn’t parent, but they broke cycles, and for that I will always be thankful. I know there are a lot of kids out there that are the same kind of kid that I was. Based on that, I assume there are a lot of parents that grew up like me and haven’t learned to see the cycles of behavior that trap people into generations of dysfunction. I hope to bring that forward in this blog, and especially focus on the effects of cyclic dysfunction on Indians in America. There is a lot to that, and even though I am no research scientist, I think I have things to say that might make some people stop and think. To me, that would be an accomplishment ~ not the “accomplishment of all accomplishments,” but still one to be proud of, and one worth trying for.
Food for thought and a prep for the next post: The US Department of Health and Human Services Office Of Minority Health: American Indian/Alaskan Native Profile