On anxiety, identity, power and struggle

December 31, 2014 3:00 am

I am struggling to find my power.

Struggle not in the way that it can be understood as grasping for air or fighting off one of the increasingly acute, invisible oppressions. Struggle as in engaging in a practice of uncovering. Struggle as in engaging in a practice of REcovering. Struggle – as in the process of reading and writing a text that is so true to yourself that it leaves your mother cold. But because it is this, a struggle, it involves something moving against another – an action, we have learned, creating friction. Which for me can feel like anything from frogs in my throat to a blazing fire igniting all around me, leaving my bed and my sheets as the only safe place from which I practice a paralysis. This I have to actively remember: friction creates a release of energy, this release of energy can turn to flames. If this is true, then I have to also remember that in the struggle to find ones power is the release of energy. Id like to imagine an old tired energy being released for a new emblazoned one, one that feeds me, keeps me worm and gives light. And know that maybe exhaustion is okay, because it is the seeking of this heat that tires.

I once walked into a room of a Great Educator/friend and looked at her shelves stacked with books. In the height of my research and desperation to finish my last papers I passed my hands over the shelves and confessed, “I wish for the power to pick up a book and get all the knowledge it possessed”. Sort of like a contemporary-literary version of King Midas’s golden touch. She looked up at me, mildly disgusted and said, “the struggle with the text is the very point of reading the words”.

The struggle is the point.

So then what is power, how do you know when y(our) struggle has brought you to it, how do you know when you have found it, is it an it, or is it a she, a little girl, curled up inside. The one who never had to seek power, she being the essence of power, was sure of hers. Until one day, she was told little girls don’t keep power in their toes, they hold their breath and cross their legs and wear soft things that cuddle and coo- to no end is their little girlness. How can I/we as the crone to that child find this memory of surety? The irony of this question is that it seems to reign like some misguided vital force through the body – all our bodies.

This doesn’t make the pursuit of your own power any less honorable. It makes it fundamental.

In recent conversations with black men and women about mental health, anxiety and our ability to cope ive learned how dangerous this pursuit is. In fact I’m almost hard pressed to speak to a friend who is not on the brink of or in recovery from a mental, emotional or psychological crisis. I need to know that if it feels dangerous for a woman, particularly a black woman to actualize her full potential, it’s because it is. This is teaching me much. I’m learning that this is why its so important for me, now, to insert myself in my story. I’m learning that it is important for me to identify myself, purely for myself. I am learning that I too will die and when I do it is not my life someone else would have lived, its mine. I am learning that who I am, is particularly important to the balance of the entire world, the global ecosystem of communities is dependent on my/y(our) distinct role in it. I am learning that this is too great a responsibility to give in to the fire of friction. But even in saying this I also know what it feels like to burn. And frankly half the time im covered in wounds and I have no idea what it is I’m doing. Are we/I even asking the right questions? I’m not sure, I just know that I’m not interested in a life where I am everything but myself, and the communities around me have everything but themselves and their/our own agency to create the lives we want.

Hence the struggle.