Your crazy is showing. You might want to tuck that back in…..
This is what my coffee mug has printed on it. I thought it was a good reminder so the investment into a coffee mug I did not need was still a good investment. Its the little things in life, right?
And the little things have all been collecting in boxes and bags in my utility closet, waiting for the right time and the right home and the most heart warming recipient of my well intended hoarding as if I were the right person to judge who was deserving of such cheap treasures from me. Today, after getting some other life organization in gear again, I finally said enough is enough and called around to find out where I could re-home these little things that would otherwise end up in the garbage. What were these little things? Hotel toiletries. I hate seeing waste and they take forever to become unusable. I have been warehousing them in boxes in my closet from my and other friend’s hotel visits like a child would collect shiny baubles and shells along their adventurous journeys outside of their familiar homes. Over a year? Two years? I am not even sure how long I have been doing this, all with the best intention of dropping them off to a shelter for better recycling and use. A battered woman’s shelter was my first and exclusive choice. I kept meaning to take them there and I kept dropping new sample size toiletries into the collection and I kept reminding myself to call and see where I could take them until today. I finally called and because we are a few months ahead of Christmas and it seems that everyone has a well meaning heart when it comes to women and children (or we have a lower than typical domestic violence population seeking emergency shelter here, for various reasons), they have an overflow of these items already and cannot afford to overstock extra because the holidays are coming and everyone suddenly remembers the throwaway families they had been blissfully unaware of the entire year prior to Christmas.
I was referred to a homeless shelter as an option that might make use of them. I avoid homeless shelters because of the religious hostage situation they always seem to represent to me. If you have ever volunteered there, the expression “sing for your supper” is in full application here except it isn’t singing, but praying that is required of you.
The God Squad wants you to know they care and they aren’t the least bit ashamed of shoving it down your throat with that cheap sandwich and cup of coffee you aren’t ashamed to ask for. I am a spiritual person, don’t get me wrong. I know, as much as any of the well meaning church folks who show up to volunteer there how important it is to have a spiritual compass in your life because when the lights go out in your life, having some kind of spiritual something to fall back on is the equivalent of having a flashlight in your pocket. It isn’t much but when you can’t see where you are or where you are going, having it to navigate with can save your life, or someone else’s. Believe me, I get it. I am, however, of Buddhist persuasions and anything worthwhile that actually improves your life doesn’t have to be aggressively sold to you. It will sell itself by its living testimonies and results. Buddhism has been around this long without the sales pitches or holy war conquests because it works. It works so well, it doesn’t need a PR force to sell it or a hostage situation where the most vulnerable and needy don’t really have a choice in participating.
I found myself asking why I was so originally insistent on this being a domestic violence emergency shelter? Why did I think I was ever in a position to judge who was worthy of anything given by me if I truly intended this as charity and goodwill in spiritual service? Was the point of charity that I was able to give it or was charity a vehicle for my vanity by discriminating who was worthy of my hoarding efforts and who wasn’t? Why did I need to decide who would receive this when God or the Divine Order would just as easily put the person who most needed – and therefore deserved – my charity right in front of me? When I called the homeless shelter, they were thrilled that I had these sample size toiletries to give them. They were not overflowing with them and yes, they were in need of them. I was so ashamed of my conceit in avoiding taking this to them sooner that I am writing this blog post to try and make sense of myself.
Each thing is a testimony of your desire for some kind of momentary pleasure to keep you from suffocating under your own despair or a testimony of the very apathy that is suffocating you with every passing moment between. We see hoarders as the ones who have given up completely, lost in the chaotic sea of their fears, depression, impotence and disorganization. Laziness becomes lethargy, and lethargy becomes abject apathy. The filth of their surroundings is a measurement of the level to which they have stopped caring about themselves or seeing themselves as worthy of something they might not even be able to identify anymore.
Hoarding isn’t limited to indiscriminate objects or junk. We can hoard toys, objects that have sentimental value, clothes, food, weapons, and even money. When we are collecting and warehousing things for the sake of having them, we are now hoarding for the same reasons as the clinically diagnosed “hoarders;” filth and obvious self loathing, optional.
It is all coming from a place of fear and scarcity. A place of hanging on to a part of your life that you can never get back and refuse to let go of. A place of being comfortably paralyzed by your own anxiety and depression. When we let go of these things and purge, or give away to new owners things that are useful but not useful enough to us – we take a leap of faith that the space we create from their absence will be filled with something better and more worthiness inspiring in us. We move from being terrified that we will never be worthy of more than material comforts to protect ourselves with and/or judging if other people are worthy of our charity to a place where we open up and say, “I trust.”
Whether that trust is in ourselves, or a spiritual force that gives our life meaning, purpose and direction (especially when we have lost them) is a personal determination. What remains true is that this requires putting our trust in something greater than the physical world and much less measurable or definable. We must put our trust in something that requires our belief in it. And that is the most difficult part, of all.
Today, I am taking a box of hotel toiletries to a local homeless shelter to donate and suspending my desire to decide who is more worthy of it than someone else. It is not my place to judge the recipient of charity. It is my job to find it within myself to offer charity in the spirit with which it should be delivered. Its just a box of little things. And like any good hoarder, it had become a mountain of little things that I had all the best intentions for, but was paralyzed about doing anything with because of matters of worthiness. I thought it was the recipient’s worthiness that was the issue but looking at hoarding anything for what it is, maybe it has been questions about my own worthiness too.
Providers who are not caucasian spend alot of time navigating a delicate balancing act between doing what will accomplish their financial goals to address pragmatic needs against an audience that is often a direct threat to their very existence (sociopaths, MAGA supporters, misogynists, etc). Choices have to be made and if you want to be successful in this business, you have to know where your priorities are, and which hand is feeding you. They call it ‘branding’ now. In practice, it means that you have to keep your personal principles and ideologies to yourself. Often, this is while listening to someone create alarming cognitive dissonance by forcing you to listen to their rationale for why everyone ‘like you’ (but not you in that moment because they want something from you) is bad, unwanted, undesirable, a threat to civilization, etc, etc, etc.
Have you ever heard a group of grown women in a hen party get on the subject of everything that is wrong with men as their topic of entertainment? These women can be so savage and sincere that if you had a penis within 50 feet of that group, it surely would have shriveled up and disappeared into your throat to hide from the mass castration that was surely coming after the cackling sounds that you are sure you were hearing. Or was it shrieking like banshees? Both? Damn, didnt i have someplace else i needed to be? … Thankfully, we know they don’t mean it, they are just blowing off steam and they still love all of us (female AND male) or we would never make it past adolescence into adulthood. But in that moment…. You know that feeling of trying to figure out how to get through this conversation politely without getting attacked OR being a gender traitor to your own. It feels like that for female minority providers with most of the client pool out there. Except when we are facing someone who really feels the need to share with us that they support a group-think that IS MORE THAN a tacit threat to our existence in practice, this is more than a libido killer. It now becomes a stage performance where our best acting abilities are tested and we are having an active emergency fire drill just in case this becomes a real life-threatening emergency.
I could make alot more money if I played along with the Yellow Fever audience or the MAGA supporting “You’re almost White. You don’t count” crowd. In fact, if i could swallow my dignity and keep it safe in my belly during these kinds of soul destroying encounters, I am told I could make a fortune. So why not do it, right? Thicker skinned, more avaricious or caucasian providers who have had different lives and values never understand why I am so vehemently resistent to inviting more of this into my life. “Its only for a short time and its good money, right? … Who the hell is real around here? GTFOH with that high minded horse shit. … Girl, all men are alike … Its not like you are marrying these guys…This is fantasy. That’s what they are paying for…. Give them what they want. They don’t care what you think… Don’t be stupid….” When it comes to results, these seem to be smarter women than I am. Sensitivity, deep thought and artistic inclinations will only make typical people and the normal world less appealing to deal with. Its all fantasy we are chasing, I suppose. I just wish the fantasies of the audience majority were more congruent with my personal ones, where I could see the same measure of success for being who I am as other providers are achieving success for being who they are not. Maybe I am not such a great actress, after all.
There are no reasons. There are only results. Results never lie.
I struggle to reconcile living this long, and working this hard to finally like myself and embrace all of who I am just to come to a place where my survival STILL means i have pretend that I have less value just to curry goodwill from someone who is taking pleasure in buying my silence for their insults and debasement. It infuriates me because I refuse to believe that all patrons are looking for pez dispensers of blow jobs and 7th grade school level pablum, or worse, that everyone who is looking for what I offer is only ever seeking it out from non-minority, non-provider women. Men whom I will never cross paths with because of education and circumstance. I have to believe this because if this is not the case, I am surely in Hell.
I have not endured, survived and overcome everything I have to remain an unwiling projection screen for lowest common denominator stereotypes, ignorance perpetuated race based fantasies, or conceit driven pity that wants to believe that I am somehow so disadvantaged intellectually, financially or socially that waving their money around at me will purchase them license to be all manner of ugly as their purchased rights. My life might not make sense on the surface to other people but the difference between this and growing up as a vulnerable, isolated and “only/other” female is that now, those characters have to pay for the luxury of enjoying their insulting preconceptions in my company. Even then, there is a limit to what their money can buy.
If you want to spend time with a person who is going to see you as a human being nstead of a walking ATM machine, you cannot approach them while supporting things that are a very real threat to their existence. You cannot ask them to understand your position when you are doing absolutely nothing to appreciate the difference of yours compared to theirs. This is not about apologizing for your existence or things that you had nothing to do with. All you need to do is recognize that we may be living in the same geographical boundaries but in many ways, we may be experiencing lives very differently as if we were from different countries with all the variant considerations in that. Just like witnessing an accident, what you see and what I see are going to be similar and different depending on our positions.
Practice Wheaton’s Law: “Don’t be a dick.” If you don’t understand how to measure the limits of this in action, then perhaps sharing your dick with someone else might not be right for you. Some of us actually like men and want to enjoy them. There will be no enjoying your dick if the person attached to it is a nightmare.
Its the little things, and if we don’t actively decide what to keep and what to move out of our space, we will wake up one day and find ourselves suffocating under a mountain of those little things.
There is a saying in emergency medicine, ‘if you can talk, you can breathe,’ and Its true.
Silence = suffocation.