I’m Here. I’m Queer. And I Just Want To Grieve.

I wish there were a moratorium on political discussion following tragedies like Orlando so that for one fucking, goddamn moment we would all just have to be with our grief and sadness together.

Yes, the things that contribute to this will need to be addressed: the hypermasculinity and homophobia, the cults that, regardless of religious or political faces, convince people to do horrendous things, the access to weapons and how we screen people seeking them or screen what people can obtain, and most importantly, the continued struggle for basic civil rights of oppressed people.

We cannot sit idly by, unresponsive to the rising mass violence or to the targeting of minorities, but we shouldn’t use our response to distance ourselves from our pain, to bury our wounds under a body-guard of anger, because they will only fester.

One thing I’ve learned about grief is that it makes it SOOOOOO hard to think rationally and make good decisions while it is still fresh. There’s so much anger at…literally everything in grief, and it doesn’t make sense and is so hard to control. Little annoyances, daily tasks, they just become daunting.

The LGBT community needs the safety and space to rage and cry and curse without having to be on guard for people exploiting us either financially or politically and without having to worry about whether our expression of that rage and grief is rational enough for a serious conversation.

Yet we are called on, by each other and the rest of the world with all their varying pet agendas, to set aside the purity of our emotions and enter into an immediate chaotic search for “solutions”–anything that will give a false sense of safety.

People want to use our own fear to divide us, inhibiting our ability to hear each other and see each other.

I wish we understood that first we need to mourn and come together as a community and as human beings. And the rest of the world needs to hold space for that. Mourn with us, sure, but more importantly guard our right to mourn. This should be a sacred time for us, separate from what is to come.

Then, after we’ve had time to let the rawness of our grief settle, that’s when we need to come together as activists, politicians, voters, and citizens to figure out what our next steps are.

I’m not saying don’t politicize what happened because that would be impossible. But I am saying to stop trying to exploit and co-opt the emotional process. We can all argue over the political meaning of this massacre later. Right now, let me fucking grieve for what has happened to my community.

 

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Falling Apart is a Delicate Art

I’ve lost a lot of people over the years, but over the last couple of weeks I’ve been contending with a loss I haven’t experienced since I was a child—that of losing someone who is dying.

Much of my healing since leaving the cult has been centered on learning how to grieve, but I’m finding that the grief of death is an entirely different matter from the griefs I’ve experienced before. Rather than the emotional turmoil being spaced out over years as my subconscious gently guides me from layer to layer, they’re all there at the same time with an intensity that is nothing short of breath-taking.

There are days when I’m okay–when the routine of life makes me feel like I’m practically normal. I laugh, catching myself off guard. I get excited about my upcoming school year, work on crafts, and enjoy being with friends and chosen family while the pain of my heart recedes into the background for a time. I welcome those days because they help me get through the others, the days when I’m not okay–when I cry and rage and hide in bed, watching Netflix until I can’t feel anymore.

On some levels, I feel as though I have been building up to this moment, that the purpose of my life has been to learn how to grieve increasingly devastating losses.

Society tells me to buck up, hide my tears when I go into the grocery store, and tell people “I’m fine” when they ask. “Be strong,” they say. “Keep it together.”

Society is not comfortable with grief.

But I know better. I know by now that shoving down the sadness doesn’t make it go away. I know that putting on a brave face only helps to isolate me in my sadness and that trying to escape from the intensity of my emotions creates a recipe for crippling depression and stagnation.

So I surround myself with those who can tolerate tears. I allow myself to be utterly shattered. I am not interested in looking functioning right now. To what purpose? Because I think that others might be uncomfortable with the snot dripping down my nose and my red, swollen eyes? My grief is not about them.

Being shattered doesn’t mean I stop living. I am intentionally living each moment of this process, allowing myself to feel it in every corner of my heart.

“Grief is about letting yourself be destroyed,” my therapist tells me.

Her words offer the relief of permission, but I know there is a truth even deeper than that. I will be destroyed whether I wish to allow it or not, but surrendering to the destruction allows it to be a gentle annihilation. Over the last year with my physical therapy, I’ve learned that when there is pain, the best response is to release into it. Surrender removes the edge of resistance, allowing the pain to ebb and flow naturally.

When people tell me to “be strong,” I want to tell them that I am strong. Crying and “falling apart” aren’t signs of weakness. It takes strength to allow myself to be consumed and know that I will resurrect in the end. I am strong enough to feel the devastation of love.