I am excited to officially share the link to purchase Fuego: A Quarterly Zine by Breath of Fire Latina Theater Ensemble. Please check it out. So much talent and hard work went into the production of this. About the zine: Fuego! is a collection of short plays and monologues that are a result of three years of transformation during which Breath of Fire has reemerged into an organization that serves as womb and incubator for underrepresented voices in theater. Your purchase of this collection supports workshops that bring seasoned writers, playwrights, and actors to facilitate high quality theater making workshops for local Orange County residents at no cost. No one is ever turned away for lack of experience.
When I was a kid I used to not recognize myself in the mirror. I would get so consumed by my emotions and the ones of others I would legit have out of body moments. I looked it up recently and this is something called dissociative disorder. I didn’t know this behavior wasn’t normal until I laughed it off once in my early 20’s and a friend reacted with concern and told me to be careful and ground myself physically on the earth. I also think I take pictures of myself sometimes to remind myself I am flesh and bones. This is just one of the many symptoms I’ve experienced in my life. Long after experiencing traumatic events I have felt like there is something wrong with me. I thought, "how could I not see all the wonderful things happening in my life?" and "Why is it so easy for me to focus and even obsess on the negative?" Added to the recipe I’ve realized survivors guilt is real and it comes with ugly self-sabotage and negative self-talk like: “I’m not worthy” or “this is too good to be true”.
Surviving any circumstance that is traumatic can cause lasting results for the mind and body. Circumstances that can be traumatic are: serious accidents, sexual abuse or assault, physical abuse or assault, emotional abuse, domestic violence, neglect, community violence, political violence, school violence, forced displacement (1) ext. Even after surviving these events there are things, places and even people that can trigger that painful moment. Triggers are moments that “cause[s] your brain to believe your body is experiencing a threat, even if you are perfectly safe.”
I must preface this with saying there is absolutely nothing wrong with surviving. If you are reading this and surviving I want you to know you are amazing and I am so happy you are here. As a survivor of violence I know it takes a lot and I commend anyone who is surviving any kind of violence at this moment.
There are many ways people cope with the discomfort of surviving. If you have ever met someone whose knee jerk reaction is to complain, sulk, or get angry and doesn’t seem to shake it off, it’s because it’s familiar to them. It’s what they know how to do & it gives them a sense of familiarity. It’s survival mode. It’s kind of like the hamster in the hamster wheel. It isn’t comfortable at all, but it prevents them from actually acknowledging that there is something wrong.
As someone who has experienced this, I can attest that it’s exhausting. With time I’ve realized the patterns I kept repeating were kind of like my auto-pilot. If it wasn’t one thing, it was another thing. Same lesson, same tactics, same results. I had to hit rock bottom and seek a a therapist who told me I was allowed to make mistakes but growth would only come from making different mistakes, to begin to understand I had a part in how my life would be. Healing is a choice and a commitment that is 100% not what the self-care marketing industry wants us to believe. On this journey of healing I’ve found many forms of art practice. Last year I found a wonderful virtual space called Winter Tangerine where I took part in a week long writing workshop on finding my joy. It was difficult to write about joy for a whole week for some reason. This is when I started to ask myself, what’s the difference between surviving and thriving?
As I see it now, it’s understanding the value of living a full life because I don’t have to be or do anything different to give myself the best chances. I understand that not every day will be superb or horrible.
Surviving is getting through the day. Surviving is defending your freedom to exist. Surviving takes agility and endurance and patience. Surviving is a necessary step and it is a difficult one.
But thriving takes another level of discomfort in many ways, because it takes stripping oneself of coping mechanisms that helped with surviving and filling in those gabs with new habits. That is no easy feat! What I'm finding in my research and practice is we cannot thrive alone. We need one another to embrace one another, to hold each other accountable, to ask for help and to strive for a better future. Surviving, as I am learning, is a condition of capitalism. We are all trying to survive and stay afloat on an individual level. Thriving, is something that is counter-cultural. Thriving takes community and trust and imagining a future for ourselves and one another.
Thriving is participating in co-creating the life we want. Thriving is seeing the potential in what is. Thriving is realizing there is no mistake because.. You were meant to be this magnificent, amazing, silly, wonderful human being. Thriving is finding your joy, and spreading that as far and wide as possible.
I am not ashamed that sometimes I do the bare minimum to survive, but at the end of the day, I choose to make space to plant a seed of freedom. Whether it's through meditation, dance, taking vitamins, listening to music, reading ext.
This playlist I call: 90’s Baby is just one tool to replenish my joy. How about you?
A few resources I want to highlight:
I’ve been listening to a podcast called Pink Lemonade Podcast where in about 10minutes Whitney sums up plenty of wisdom and anecdotes. I recommend listening to the one about self-respect.
You're invited to enjoy poetry & spoken word at LibroMobile for the chapbook release of XIcanx Affirmations by Iuri Morales, a chapbook on spirtual affirrmations and femininity. I am honored to participate as a feature poet. This is a free event and ADA accessible.