The Roar Sessions: Mindy Tsonas

mindy3New Moon Howl 
by Mindy Tsonas

The end of one cycle, the beginning of another. Isn’t it always the way?

It is fitting that today’s Aquarian New Moon is about experimenting and experiencing new ways of becoming, to embrace the discomfort that will carve new pathways into being.

It’s about devotion to always seeking your Roar and finding it deeply embedded within that space between comfort and friction. What is a roar, but an overt feral claiming? A way for others to hear your voice, but more importantly, a way for you to acknowledge your own life force behind it. To project your roar you must fully commit to the release, one hundred and ten percent, along with an unwavering belief in its trajectory… I am here. This is me.  

For many years in my work I stood in the crowd waving my arms, jumping up and down thinking, “Look over here! Hello!” My roar unsettled me, scared me even. I knew I had things to say, but I was afraid people might not want to listen, or even worse, that they would judge me. My voice lay quietly beneath my breath as I sought the safety of circles where I could mostly blend in rather than dare to put my own naked heart on the line.

I hadn’t yet learned that all the power lives inside the vulnerability. It took an earthquake inside my own world to fully understand what that kind of authenticity really requires.

When I came out to my husband in 2010, twelve years into our typical suburban ever-after marriage, my Roar was born. The lesson continues to be, the more I let go of holding back the more soundly and far-reaching my truth can reverberate. Truth is connection. Truth is intimacy. Truth is touching and illuminating the place from which your Roar arises.

I know now there is an achingly unmistakable difference between knowing who you are and speaking it out loud. Also, by working towards one, it inherently strengthens the other – truth finds voice, voice finds truth – a virtuous circle of love and light. Open dialogues build bridges of dimension and reciprocity that would otherwise never exist. Being seen and heard affects your story in the same way it did Dorothy the moment she stepped into Oz. It is an invitation, an invocation to full-on technicolor living.

This New Moon asks you to make peace with discomfort. To feel it, not fight it, and see where it might push you to rise in beautiful ways you never thought possible. Because your Roar matters, if for nothing other than the extraordinary gifts you’ll receive from allowing your own fierce vulnerability.

I assure you there is nothing more compelling or incendiary.

Ahooooo!

**

Mindy2Mindy Tsonas is a Wish Alchemist, a maker of creative mischief and sexual revolutions. She writes, paints, and conjures both the tangible and intangible to manifest meaningful conduits of connection and healing. Coming out inside of her 12 year marriage changed everything. Now devoted to wildly trusting her own true desires, she gathers women inside this magical kind of transformative core intimacy leading the way to daring new places of personal discovery. Follow her work and adventures at www.mindytsonas.org.

**

The Roar Sessions is a weekly series featuring original guest posts by women of diverse backgrounds and voices. Read them all

Out, Outter, Outtest

garnet

Dina Lewin Feller | BlueNoemi, Tel Aviv

In part of the dream,
I came out.
Or should I say
came outter,
or would it be
more out?

I was out already
but there was another
frontier of outness,
outdom, outisity,
outensity. And I

took it for myself,
stepped from
some smaller
safer place
of seen
into more seen.
Seener. No sooner

did this happen
than I stood
before a wall
where before
there had been
a door. I knew

exactly where the lock
and key had been
and pushed,
punched it
with my right hand,
hook snagging
on flimsy material,
something like
insulation. A poor

excuse for a wall
but no matter,
I walked around
anyway
and into the next
room over
with its display
of denim for sale.

Had to cut my jeans
off my body —
I’d outgrown
that pair, couldn’t
even shimmy them
down, too tight,
constricted.

Then I was wearing
the sexiest lacy
numbers and trying
on rings, one, two,
the most
beautiful stones
set in silver
I’d ever seen.
Fit for a queen.

Outter than out,
figuring out
what to wear,
what would fit
and would become me
as I became
something bigger,
more beautiful
than I’d been,
making all the outer

layers
match
the largeness of my
inner outness
now even outter
facing more
outward all over
and again, as if
for the first time —
and
if you’re the betting type —
not the last.

**

If you liked this poem, check out my books, “Don’t Miss This” and “The Inside of Out” (both under the name Jena Strong), for sale directly through me as well as on Amazon. Read more.

Happy Birthday, Deborah

Deborah with Rufus (r) and Buster (l)

Deborah with Rufus and Buster

Minimal Circus
(She who taught me to “listen hard” in the tradition of Anne Sexton and so many others before us. I slipped this poem under her screen door on a late-summer night in 1996 — and share it again today on what would have been her 66th birthday.)

One night let’s invite da Vinci and St Francis of Assisi
to drink red wine from half carafes,
sit by the fire in this glacial room
where the soul of the world’s in orbit,
try to forget that each gift could be the last,
Do anything to stave off the inevitable:
Store evaporated milk in reusable cans,
keep pens and paper and candles at hand.
Late, when the guests have passed out, let’s drag the dead
weight of distraction from the living room chairs
and wait for the night to cease, for day to end,
for time’s implosion.
It’s a private affair—
the uninvited do not even perceive the web
that cradles,
the host of characters at the table,
the guardian spirits lurking,
the unlocked doors of time collapsing,
the fire of dreams, the disguise of flame.
They can’t fathom the orgies and nectar flowing
around this house some mornings,
the bands of birds here, plump and raucous,
who are memory, who are greed.
Brother, father—
The men who did not know her yet
Carried her body across this field
Where my house now stands. She hovers.
The bell counts.
She was called back. I was called forward.
Wearing cotton tunics,
let’s stand on a cliff beneath the watery sky:
clasp hands, swan-dive.
We who go like spies through the world—
we can be the winning pictures,
the lost negatives, the grateful scribes.

101 Blue Hills Road

Me and Deborah, 101 Blue Hills Road, late ’96

Miss & love you, Deborah. Happy birthday.
February 6, 1950 – April 10, 2009

I’m Calling on You First

JenaWho feels this way some days? Tired laced with sad and a side of headache?

Who gets your attention as tonight’s wind took mine, when the lights flickered and the whole house shook and the power sputtered and paused, making us wonder if we’d lose it for good or if the old pines all around out room would take the roof out and us under it?

Who wants a piece of cake? It’s baking now and who knows that feeling of wanting to eat the whole thing alone but in fact given the choice I’d rather tell you to pull up a chair and hand you a plate?

Who catches your reflection in the gusts? Who lights up at the prospect of prayer? Who out there finds that just plain weird? Who wonders about things like where the fox hides out in the storm? Who wants to sit here with me, reading poems in the dark?

Who needs to step away from words for a while, and who needs a bridge and who a rope and who a snack and who a miracle and who an unopened envelope and who to hold on a little tighter and who to let go a little sooner?

Who finds death a kind of caveat?

Who finds birth and broth and breasts and beating hearts to have so much in common?

Who gets way to hung up on technicalities and who gets off on them without a single fucking consequence?

Who writes the rhetoric and who tears it down and who cares if it’s good, just write, that’s right, that’s my gospel along with the secrets the rabbis kept and passed down through hidden groves of old-growth trees across the fields of so many centuries?

Who would like to take a stab at this riddle? You, there? You who always sit in the front row, you who sit behind that tall one in the back? I see you, you know. I’m calling on you first tonight. Pick a question and tell us your answer in a dream. We’ll be listening.

The Roar Sessions: Indira Ganesan

You Remember
by Indira Ganesan

Indira-moonYou remember to take it back, but not until you are sitting in detention.  Your anger has lasted that long.  When after gym, someone peeked over your stall while you were changing your pad, already feeling clumsy and inadequate and wanting to speed up the process, you shouted.  The girl wanted to know who was in there, and maybe she was looking for her friends but found you, back when there were no quick adhesives but the flimsy elastic band with hooks, the threading through, and now, a privacy violated.  So you hurled back some words.  Did you really say, I’ll get you, when I come out?  I’m going to get you; did you say that?  Like a gunslinger?   Because when you did come out, the matter already forgotten in your mind, because all that apparatus occupied you, and you were washing your hands, the blows came.  One after the other, from the girl, her friends, and there you were, getting beaten up, and you were told, when the teacher separated you, that you started it, because you did.   You were marched to Room 4, someone, the principal, had the two of you sit there in quiet.  And you apologized, you said, I’m sorry, because you got scared, you recognized the consequences, and how your parents would most likely be called in.  The girl didn’t answer, already sussing out what a weak-willed girl you were, teacher’s pet, but all that happened was that you were let go.  Was this in junior high?  Yes.  Were you twelve?  And later, in the staircase, the friends tried to trip and shove you and succeeded, and a teacher intervened, this time, making you blameless.  And you thought that was the end of it until the spring, walking home from school with a friend, you laughed at someone and some other girl thought you were laughing at her, and began to punch you as you walked away.  You did not resist or taunt, but kept walking, and she kept coming at you, punching your back, and you thought it would stop, but she kept coming and coming, and hitting and hitting.  Your back flinched in anticipation, but the blows came as surprises anyway. And your parents when they heard thought it was time to move from the neighborhood and buy a house, and though by the next year, the girl who was a friend said to you and to the other girls, though you didn’t know that, said so-and-so doesn’t hate you anymore, and that meant that something had shifted.  But you moved anyway, the plans having been made.  You loved your friends, you knew some from third grade, but mid-term, you moved to another town.  You weren’t innocent: you had been in fights before that gym incident, but only one, with a bigger boy, though you were a girl. But then you tamped it down, refusing to be angry, for years and years, but it all came barreling out one year, when you were mad at the world and the world, curiously, wasn’t mad at you, merely baffled. Life intervened, and the years went by, and though you still have a temper, you try not to show it.  Did it really take menopause for the roar inside of you, the hurt roar, the angry roar, to transform?  You still try to balance the need to voice your opinion and diplomacy, and your roar comes and goes, and if you are lucky, finds itself on the page. It awes you still, the roar of a woman’s voice.  You are still amazed at the power of a woman’s roar, even those of the girls from so long ago.  Because it seems you were all fighting for a chance to be heard. Just the other day, a woman let open her mouth and sang into a stairwell, making the walls vibrate with sound.  You stopped, listened, half-afraid for her being reprimanded for singing in public, but she just continued, full throttle.

**

IndiraIndira Ganesan is the author of three novels.  Her website is www.indiraganesan.com.

**

The Roar Sessions is a weekly series featuring original guest posts by women of diverse backgrounds and voices. Read them all

Naming the Bones

bones

Don’t worry, the earth isn’t flat
and we won’t fall off
if we keep walking
No, she said,
the earth is blue
and the whole thing is a love song
Did you just make that up?
No, Paul Simon–
But I trust him.

Me too,
I said, then curled my bones
into hers even more
under so many blankets
and slept, sure I’d remember
these lines when I woke,
that the words wouldn’t
be swallowed whole by the earth
then sealed over,
never to return.

Sure enough, after our late-morning
nap, I did forget. The earth
still wasn’t flat
and the deep sleep with her
was a love song to sleep,
the sadness seeped away
for now into the sheets
and the soil
where dreams do the toiling
sometimes on our behalf —
they can be kind that way
and sometimes a torment, too.

But the words, those lines I was sure
were perfect? Gone.
She took her call and I ate
a cold taco in my pajamas,
thinking, not thinking.
Did some reading
and called it work.

Then they came back —
the earth is not flat —
and I sighed with relief
that now we could keep walking,
knowing our bodies will not fall
into nothingness
like a child’s existential fears
but rather grow full
and empty
and bloom and wither
like the blue, green, round body
that gave them here,
that somehow, without explanation,
made us walk just so
into each other’s arms.

**

Gratitude to Alisha Sommer and Robin E. Sandomirsky and the 7-day gift of liberated lines FLASH :: amplify. Today’s prompt was “naming your bones.”

The Roar Sessions: Meg Casey

Meg3

Seedlings Emerging

Unburying My Roar
by Meg Casey 

Once upon a time I buried my roar.

I grew up in a fiery home—where we laughed and yelled in equal measure. We could fight with the best of them—loud and explosive with sharp edges.

That’s what I thought it meant to Roar and take your space.

As a young woman I began to question this way of relating. It left everyone a little raw and shaken. What’s more it didn’t work outside my family, I had one too many experiences of losing people I loved when my Roar expressed herself this way. I wanted to be loved. Better to be nice I thought. Do the laughter—not the yelling.

So when I went off on my own, I was determined to hide my Roar away, lest it would hurt others—lest it would hurt myself. I was convinced I could be light and joyful and kind and bury the Roar I thought was so ugly. The only exception I made was social justice work and I devoted myself passionately to The People, standing up for others as though that could equate to standing up for myself.

The thing about Roars—they are not easily quieted. No matter how much I tried to be nice or good or vent her steam at protests only, Roar made herself know. She showed up from time to time as whiny frustration, a tearful vent, leaking out around the edges of the container I in which I imprisoned her. Sometimes she showed up as explosive rage—blowing the lid right off, as I railed and screamed so disproportionately and unreasonably, a thousand stifled cries riding on this one forbidden expression. Whenever Roar showed up like that I would collapse in shame, for hours or days.

I mistakenly thought that enlightenment would come through suppression of this Roar and so I wielded meditation and breath, positive thinking and compassion as weapons, so determined I was to force the rising pulse back down, to stay sweet and kind and lovable.

This path cost me. It cost me dearly.

It takes a lot of energy to try to hold in a Roar. It’s exhausting and ultimately depleting. I got sick. I got tired. My body strained from the effort of holding it all in and I began to suffer from migraines and chronic fatigue.

And worse, without my Roar I was vulnerable.

What I didn’t realize was that my Roar was my protection. My Roar was what would allow me to stand on my own two feet and be safe in a world that is not only heartbreakingly beautiful but can be unfathomably cruel. When I stopped listening to my inner Roar, scolding myself and begging myself to be more compassionate and forgiving, I left myself wide open to injury.

For Roar is the fierce rising energy that shows up when things aren’t right, She says, “NO! ABSOLUTELY NOT! YOU MAY NOT CROSS HERE.” She says “BACK AWAY—THIS HURTS”. She says, “ THIS DOES NOT WORK. SOMETHING NEEDS TO CHANGE!“

What’s more, Roar is the energy that moves us when we feel stuck—that propels us out of whatever situation no longer feels right. It is the rising power of springtime, the little green sprout pushing up through frozen soil. Roar is an assertion, a vision, a new way of doing things. Roar is not just the NO—it is the power—the force needed to create the new possibility—the burst of strong wind that will transform it all in an instant.

I had cut myself off from all that power. When my Roar did try to show up, she was just an echo of herself. All the force of the rising depleted by my resistance. After a temper tantrum or a tearful vent there was nothing left – everything spent in the expression and I would just curl up into a ball soothing myself until I could convince myself it was all just fine and that I was just crazy.

After a series of brutal boundary crossings left me raw, shaken and emotionally bloodied, I thought I would never feel safe again. I felt broken open but not in the good way. Insubstantial and slipping away. Lying in that deep dark and hopeless place, the message came loud and clear: In order to save myself I had to unbury my Roar. I had to reconnect to that fierceness that I had long denied.

Yet oh how I resisted. Some ancient voice kept telling me if I that if I connected to My Roar, if I set boundaries, if I stepped up, I would face certain annihilation or abandonment. I was terrified that my Roar would not save me—it would undo me.

In the midst of my fear, I whispered to a friend, “I am so afraid I will get in big fucking trouble.” He looked at me, right into my broken wounded bleeding mess of a soul, held my hand and compassionately said, “Sister, you are already in big fucking trouble. Look at your heart. If you don’t stand for yourself – who will?”

And so began my journey to Reclaim my Roar. To invite her out to play, to give her space and to claim her as my own.

When I feel that rising energy I used to call anger, I don’t push it away. Instead I listen. Sometimes my Roar is faint, like a whisper straining to be heard. At other times it rushes up quickly like a volcano, scary and fierce. I don’t try and breathe it away. Instead I breathe so I can stay until I can hear my Roar clearly and know what needs to be done.

What must stop?
What change is needed?
What request needs to be made?
What is asking to be born?

Honestly, my Roar is not always fierce and wild. She is tentative, shy, a little bit stunted in her growth. When she comes out she can be a snippy, a tad bitey. That’s what happens when animals are caged. But I am coaxing her out bit by bit and slowly she is transforming. It’s a life long practice, this rehabilitating my Roar. And it takes a lot of patience and a lot of love.

And what’s happening is nothing short of miraculous—my body coming back to life, unwinding and resting at last after all those years of holding it in suddenly more powerful with energy to spare again. My headaches are nearly gone now and when they show up I know that maybe its time to get quiet and listen again for a Roar that may be buried. I’m connecting to my feet again, more substantive more whole.

I am learning that my Roar does not need to be loud, explosive or sharp. Her force can be quiet and gently strong. But she needs room and she needs space. She needs to speak her truth, even if it’s not nice. And what happens when she does is a kind of birth—carrying me, my life forward. Each time she arises something new is created, just like spring rising up bursting forth like the crocus pushing up through frozen soil announcing the beginning of my life.

**

Meg1Meg Casey is a mother, a healer, an acupuncturist and an activist  She is passionate about connecting to the wisdom of nature and the cycle of the seasons, and helping everyone discover their own innate superpowers.  She writes to find her way home.

You can learn more about her healing work at Meg Casey Acupuncture and read more of her writing here.

**

The Roar Sessions is a weekly series featuring original guest posts by women of diverse backgrounds and voices. Read them all

Fighting Something Off

xoxoxo

I am fighting something off.

It sounds like I’m being attacked. It’s strange when the “attack” is invisible to the naked eye. The only proof of it is in the lethargy of my muscles, the subtle ache in my bones, the hint of a scratch against the back of my throat. And the sleep. Good lord, the sleep.

Yesterday, after a very full week, I took a three-hour “nap” in the late-afternoon. I ate a bowl of homemade oatmeal with brown sugar and a banana for dinner while we watched the Bulls game and cheered them on through what’s proving to be a difficult season. Then I spent a few hours working in bed. We turned out the light around 12:30am and I slept for eleven hours. ELEVEN.

coffeeToday, Mani emptied out the entire contents of our shared closet and dresser drawers– all of which were overflowing — and while I made and drank my first cup of coffee and washed the dishes I was too tired to confront last night, she heaved a small mountain of clothes onto our bed. We then spent two hours sorting every single article of clothing we own, filled two large garbage bags with giveaways, and pared our wardrobe down to one that is both cute, functional, and manageable.

Our room felt much lighter afterwards.

Since then, I’ve done about five loads of laundry, and we have delicates drying flat and hanging  over the backs of chairs in both the bedroom and kitchen. We’re so thankful our landlord bought that new washer and dryer.

I left the house briefly around 4:00pm to deliver our donations to the Hospice Shop and stop at the post office with some mail to deliver, and an hour later, was already ready for a nap. I slept for 90 minutes or so.

Now, we’ve both eaten dinner. My thighs feel as if I spent hours running, which could not be further from reality. It can only mean one thing.

I’m fighting something off.

We didn’t get a speck of snow here. It’s bizarre, to see photos of a blizzard that didn’t make it this far north, and I’m finding myself remembering blizzards in years past, like the one in 2011 when my kids and soon-to-be-ex-husband were on vacation somewhere tropical and I was home–housesitting actually–and shoveling my way out of a dead-end street that was closed to the main road for two full days after the snow stopped falling. Or the ones in years prior to that, when we lived on a different little dead-end street and the kids went rolling out in their poofy snowsuits, veritably disappearing in the drifts. I remember the workout of getting those things on and off of them.

Now it’s just January. My kids can put on their own snowgear, there’s no snow here, and they’re at their dad’s this weekend besides. I’ve come down from the natural high of my birthday and am looking at the landscape that may not appear to change all that much for the next couple of months, reminding myself that it’s always like this, some variation on a theme of pale, dry, tired, dull, and hungry for color, heat, and warmth.

The main difference? The ease I’ve prayed for has begun to settle over our lives in some ways that feel new. I don’t know how to describe it. It’s something like the brick building I walked by the other day in town, with a wall of windows reflecting another wall of windows, so that I could play with my eyes with what was a window and what was a reflection.

And I dream during these long, deep sleeps 1,000 leagues under the sea, of places I used to live and people I used to know and climbing steep, nearly vertical, hills alone to the most beautiful views — crisp, like a living painting: A group of runners crossing a bridge, snow-capped mountains, hills and valleys. It was really special, a vision.

My desk is strewn with things I’ve printed out to read, in addition to the books on my nightstand waiting for my time and attention: An interview with Vivian Gornick in The Paris Review,  a long and important essay by Patti Digh about creating boundaries, and pages by women who’ve entrusted me with manuscripts and works-in-progress that need me to read not only with my eyes and brain but with my heart.

Is there another way?

I need more days, more time. Time is so very fast. I see it in my face and hair these days, feel it in my lower back, and taste it like the elderberry syrup I’m taking every two hours by the spoonful.

I’m fighting something off.

mugI’m tossing the mug that chipped this morning and the shirt that’s stained, both of which carry memories of 20+ years. I’m shelving the unread books and the draining compulsion to try to please everyone. I’m not fighting off age, but I am looking at my kids’ faces and bodies and listening to their stories and voices changing and watching this thing happening called time passing. I’m thinking it’s true, that it speeds up the older we get.

I’m dreaming about babies and beaches and I’m walking past windows within windows. I’m fighting off the urge to wait to write until I have something worth sharing. I’m circling back to where I began, coming here as a place to practice. There is something deep down, and it’s enough, because it’s January, to let it stay curled up like the fox my friends saw when they left my house last Tuesday night after we wrote together.

I hung pink Xs and Os today at the top of our stairs, a cute banner from the Target Dollar Spot and a seasonal demarcation line between the somewhat ratty entryway and our lovely, cozy space. I climbed on a chair and then had one foot on the sill and hoped I wouldn’t slip down the stairs behind me. Then I heated up the defrosted chili and plugged in the twinkle lights and watched a video by Glennon Doyle Melton about “Sistering” in silence because Mani was resting.

You know what? It was beautiful to watch without sound, so much color and love and I wished life always felt like those gorgeous faces and then realized: It kind of does. Sometimes. Except when it really doesn’t. And how both are always true.

It helps to know what’s important to fight off versus what gets admission into your space, your heart, your drawers, your closet, your desk, your days. Yes, Rumi, this being human is a guest house. / Every morning a new arrival.

But frankly, there’s so much we don’t get a say in that I’d argue for some agency, when there is a choice involved, as to who and what get to come inside.

I am fighting some things off. I am letting some things in. 

Might as well make the best of it. Might as well choose carefully and well, when and where we can.

The Best Part of Life by Glennon Doyle Melton from SALT Project on Vimeo. With thanks to Daniel Boylan for sending this my way. 

The Roar Sessions: Maija Beattie

Maija1Roar Louder
by Maija Beattie

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

Mary Oliver, Wild Geese

It was like a sleight of hand. If I was very good, I could keep secrets. I would be so good that I would take up as little space as possible. I would cloak myself in goodness so that I could disappear. I constructed a closet sheathed in goodness, and made myself comfortable inside. When you are hiding, you must be very quiet. Roaring was out of the question.

After 50 years the desire to be free finally overcame the desire to be good. Words pushed their way to the surface until I finally spoke out loud what I had both known and not known: I think I’m gay. It took everything I had to give those words a voice. If you had heard it, you might have said it was still so quiet. But I assure you that it was a roar. And with those words I stood and faced a hurricane whose force would tear the cloak of goodness clean off me and leave me naked, whose force would pick up the beautiful life I’d created and shred and scatter it.

As the cloak was swept way, I would find myself groping for it over and over again. It is so easy to return to the comfort of the familiar.

I worried most about everyone else. There were superficial worries about how the everyday circle of acquaintances would react (not well as it turned out). There were deeper worries about the reaction of friends (mixed as it turned out). And there was the searing ache and guilt about the impact on those I loved, on my family. There was the disappointment I would feel from my parents – how they loved the life I had led. There was the unraveling of my nuclear family and the deep pain I caused. I knew that ultimately I was setting my spouse free, and in fact he found love again. I knew that my children to whom I had happily given my life wanted their parents to be okay, and to be responsible for their own happiness. On the cusp of their own lives, perhaps there was some gift for them in my being true, and in clearing a path for them to do the same.

Even as I write this now, it triggers shame in spite of clear evidence that everyone is doing just fine.

As anyone who has come out will tell you, there is no welcome wagon waiting on the other side. Coming out is simply another step towards authenticity. It is an urgent, often lifesaving step, but it is just a beginning. I remember someone saying in an accusing tone, “well you must be happy now.” In the midst of severe depression, I did not even know where to begin.

As I began to sift through the scattered pieces of my life, I heard voices and one was more insistent than all the rest. Hers was the voice that would whisper to me ugly words – assurances that I had ruined everything, and that I would be alone forever. That I had claimed my voice, only to remain invisible and unheard. Hers was the voice of the mean girls that slip up beside you and appear to be your friend while they drive a knife into your back and twist it. Along the way I gave her a name – T.

T had support in the rejection of my everyday circle. I slowly realized that people stopped making eye contact, moved away, and rallied around my ex-spouse even though our relationship remained kind. T had support of a few close friends who disappeared into discomfort, judgment, confusion – I can’t really say where they went, just that they were gone. T pointed to these as she smirked – if only you were still good – you get what you deserve.

Allied against T were my few deepest friends, both old and new; the ones who cried with me on their couch, who told me they loved me, who made me laugh, who took me dancing. They tied me to their backs so that I would not drown. They were the voices of sweetness and of tough love. You’ve got this, they said. They believed for me until I could believe myself.

I searched for my own voice. I began to recognize her as one who was tender and strong, who would wrap me in light, take my hand and urge me on. I remembered that she was brave and powerful and loving and so much more than good. I understood that her voice mattered.

The roar that had become deafening at 50 had forced me to say the words I’d hidden for so long – I am a lesbian. And even as I came out, as I learned to say fuck you to those who would erase me, I tried to pay the price of roaring with the familiar currency of being good, of not taking up too much space.

It is slow, hard work to disentangle myself from the judgment — both others’ and my own — to stop fleeing to the safe prison of being good. This is the work of getting up off of my knees to stop repenting, to stop apologizing, and to simply be love. In truth, it will likely be a life’s work for me.

I found my roar, loud enough to claim myself, even later in life. I roared to save myself; to let the light out, to let the light in. I roared to allow myself to love who I love as Mary Oliver would say. I roared to choose life, to choose joy, to choose love. Learning to roar is just a beginning.

It is nearly 2 and a half years later and T still comes to me, though with less and less frequency. She sidles up beside me and sneers: Disappear, she whispers, you will always be alone. It is my greatest fear.

My own voice rises in my heart, in my throat: Roar louder, she says. Roar louder.

**

Maija2Maija Beattie finds joy and discomfort and humor in the vast spaces that have opened up in mid-life. She is committed to exploring new things – even those previously avoided — by which she has found that she is a visual person who loves to paint and find beauty in the seen, that the beauty of the cello can be revealed even in the D-scale, and that she likes cilantro. She holds on tight to her beloveds. She works in non-profit communications and writes words and her life in northern California.

**

The Roar Sessions is a weekly series featuring original guest posts by women of diverse backgrounds and voices. Read them all

The Roar Sessions: Leticia Hernández-Linares

Guerra
by Leticia Hernández-Linares

Salvador Map

Our skin and hair legitimized only by war,
the professor of history explains.

Suddenly I am content rich, boasting validated facts,
dates, and legitimate battles. War as identity–

my expertise, despite my inexperience.
I embody what so many survived,

the only marker despite my distance.
You are the troubled little country

with possible concrete, and civility, to the south.
Born foreign–––to live nationless. If you

are not a refugee, you do not get a box, certainly
not of us. Growing up a body wrapped in two

languages, without singular origin, I often let
the curve and angle of other’s questions

knock me off balance. Steady on the third rail
that no one owns, no one overpowers,

my acrobatic prowess proposes to
surpass cartographic limitation.

“Wars of nations are fought to change maps.
But wars of poverty are fought to map change.”
-Muhammad Ali

**

Leticia HernandezLeticia Hernández-Linares is a poet, interdisciplinary artist, educator, and author of Mucha Muchacha, Too Much Girl (Tía Chucha Press, 2015). Widely published, her work has appeared in newspapers, literary journals, and anthologies, some of which include: U.S. Latino Literature Today, Street Art San Francisco, Pilgrimage, and Crab Orchard Review.  She has performed her poemsongs throughout the country and in El Salvador.  A three-time San Francisco Arts Commission Individual Artist Awardee, she lives, works, and writes in the Mission District, San Francisco—20 years strong.

Visit her website: joinleticia.com
Follow her on Twitter: @joinleticia

**

The Roar Sessions is an ongoing series featuring weekly guest posts by woman of diverse backgrounds and voices. Read them all