Canoeing Along the Stream

28 Apr

I have decided to start writing here again.  If for no other reason than I am in the midst of writing my dissertation and this seems like a productive procrastination exercise that actually allows me to continue on my journey to once and for all completing my doctorate.  See, my dissertation topic is near and dear to my heart – it looks at how foster care placement affects the sexual health behavior of youth.  My first job straight out of college was as a foster care case manager, and all of these years later, I wonder whatever happened to all of the youth and families I was honored to have encountered.  How an often broken system that is meant to provide security and safety, actually may have caused more harm.

On to my own childhood.  Join me on this canoe navigating my stream of consciousness. So I grew up in a mostly Latino neighborhood in the south east section of the Bronx.  Almost all of my neighbors were Spanish-speaking, and my household was no different.  In fact, I did not really learn English until I started kindergarten.  I am now 46, but like Matryoshka (those Russian nesting dolls – the ones you open up and you find continuously smaller ones inside of each other) – there is the little Me inside of Me.  She is with me everyday, and it is up to me now to nurture and care for her.  I am her parent now.

For some reason, I have been plagued by a recent NPR piece I heard one recent morning.  It was about a documentary (The Devil and Father Amorth) the director of the movie The Exorcist made about a real-life exorcism, performed by an Italian priest that recently passed away.  (see information here – but be warned.

Anyways, when I was a small child I was convinced that I would become possessed by the devil.  Why?  I do not know if there was any one real reason – probably a few pieces to this puzzle.  The context of my cultural and historical background, going to Catholic school, catching a glimpse of a commercial for The Exorcist on TV, having a ridiculously sounding Catholic name… See, I am named after one of the Archangels, and for those that do not know, the devil, or Lucifer, was the fallen Archangel,  And what was this horrible thing that poor Lucifer did to warrant such a sentence into the depths of hell?  To dare to question God.

As I have been one to question authority, even as a small child, well…you get the picture now.  The odd thing is that I always sort of felt compassion for Lucifer.  In kindergarten (again Catholic school) we had coloring books depicting passages from the Old Testament.  In those pictures, the Devil was not this ugly scary creature.  Just a really sad looking angel. 😦  Eventually, the anxiety of becoming possessed passed, and I would not have such thoughts as I would fall asleep.  Instead, I was thinking about my latest crush.  More often, I was thinking about when I could finally get out of dodge, on my own, and be independent.  I often fretted about my studies and grades, as a scholarship would be my ticket out of my neighborhood, out of the city, and on to college.  I was a pretty good student, actually, but always anxious.  But one night I did have an amazingly vivid and odd “experience” – I hesitate to call it a dream, because it felt so real, so sensory and tangible.

I was in my bed and the way my apartment was set up, the light from the hallway was on and shed a certain amount into my bedroom.  My bedroom door was open, and I was in bed “sleeping”.  I suddenly felt as if someone had sat down at the edge of my bed, at the bottom towards my feet.  I felt the weight.  I opened my eyes.  There was a tall man dressed in dark clothing, like a suit, with a wide brimmed dark hat.  Think Nick Cave (who I love, by the way, but still.

The figure leaned over, and even though he should only have reached my mid-torso, all of his sudden his face was right up against mine and he said, “you will be possessed by the spirit of a skunk.”

That might sound funny, because it is.  But skunks are smelly and people avoid them and run scared from them even though they are pretty cute creatures in my opinion.  I was petrified.

Fast forward to this week.  I was at a directors meeting at work.  Now – if you ask me to pitch up at an early morning meeting, when I have been working quite late the night before, and on the agenda it says “internal communication issues, concerns, and how they impact our work,” and you ask for participation….well, I am going to answer honestly, authentically, and participate. I am going to speak my mind – clearly, professionally, and respectfully as an adult.

Let’s just say my contribution was not well received.  Let’s just say that I was not supported.  Let’s just say that folks did not appreciate being called out as adults behaving badly, regardless of their own little Matroyshka that they are not caring for adequately, compassionately, or with nurturing intention.

You know what?  I am AOK with being a skunk.  An adult skunk.  And I am not possessed by anything other than my convictions and sense of what is just in this world.






One Response to “Canoeing Along the Stream”

  1. LolaUncorked June 8, 2018 at 12:52 am #

    I went to Catholic school as a child and I can totally relate to a lot of your feelings about Lucifer and saints and angels!!! Thanks for the like! Good luck with your dissertation !

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