Thoughts on self-compassion, evolving worldviews, and trauma on January 6th
January 6th, 2022
Today is hitting real hard y’all.
I decided to look back at the me I was a little over 10 years ago after seeing the 10yr challenge posts on social media that a think I kinda missed a couple of weeks back.
This is the little guy I found. This is back when I lived in DC and commuted past the Capital every day for 6 months on my way to work. It’s one of the only photos I have of myself from my time at the White House, and definitely one of the only ones of me inside the West Wing.
It was taken on my first iPhone that I got the year before - fun fact, I rode a bike to Alaska without Apple Maps in my pocket.🤯
It’s blurry because we were pressed for time - we always were pressed for time because there was so much to do - and you can see the smudge from my boss’ finger who took the picture in the top left.
Staff was very insistent that we limit and control our image on social (which was barely getting started back then) and otherwise. There were rules about hiding our badges in public, and guidance about not disclosing where we worked in public. It's easier to control your image when there are fewer pictures of you. I had learned that roughly four years back. This is one of many examples of how there is a natural advantage in PR for those of us who have been self-editing both consciously and subconsciously since childhood. 💁♀️🥲
I was still telling myself and the world that I was straight despite having dated a guy for a few months. I snuck away from friends on nights out to go to gay bars to dance with guys and make out in bathrooms. Yet - I was channeling my best CJ Cregg here, and I definitely pranced around those halls in boots.
I can’t help but examine the differences in how I viewed the world then vs how I see things now.
I stumbled across some writings of mine back then, and they illuminate where I was at. My ideas of freedom, of what democracy was, of who makes up America, and what it all stood for.
So much could be said, but they would all be examples of how small my view was both of myself and others. I was in a lot of denial, but I was also doing my best in a way. I was certainly still hopeful for our future.
I didn’t know how valuable hope was.
We had just repealed Don’t Ask Don’t Tell at this time, and I would have never thought gay marriage would have been legal in my life much less half a decade later. It had only been 4 years prior that I had publicly expressed the opinion that marriage should only be between a man and a woman for an 'ice breaker' at UT freshman orientation. Yet, the first rally I attended in DC was for an LGBTQ+ cause to help out and support my roommate who was interning with the organization involved with organizing it.
The biggest surprise I walked away from that experience at the time was just how human everyone was. The ‘theys’ and the ‘thems’ that made up this ‘big government’ that I was taught to be afraid of. The staffers and minds behind policy that was labeled with words like socialist, communist, and evil because it had the audacity to try to help improve the lives of Americans. How they all had families, how they were doing their best more often than not, how they ate, slept, and shit like the rest of us. 🤠
Today as I sit with the feelings in my body, I am reminded of just how human I am, and just how human the people who view the world differently than me are. I’m reminded that our body responds to stress and trauma both real and perceived and that we can’t think our way out of our own heads.
I think of being able to hug this younger version of me. To tell him that he’s loved and worthy no matter what, and also hear him speak about what people are capable of doing when we love each other.
“Yes child, now come with me and let’s hear the stories of those who are in need of that love,” I’d say, as I lovingly walk with him through his doubts, fears, and judgments.
It’s just a thought, but it’s a nice one and it makes me smile.
If you're looking for some practical ways to handle yourself or other these days, here are some ideas that have worked for me:
1) conscious breathing - 4 counts in, 8 counts out
4) take breaks
5) work with the person in front of you rather than the ideas you have about who they are, or who they should be.
If you'd like encouragement on handling yourself or others in your life in an authentic/embodied way, please reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm happy to set up a 30-minute virtual (or in-person if you're based in Austin) session to hold space.
On me - no charge, then if you'd like to continue work, we can explore what that would look like. Regardless, you are loved and worthy, and I appreciate your support of BNL's mission of sharing stories and creating space by reading.
Finally, if you'd like to share a story of how your views have changed or evolved, fill out this quick story-sharing form.