I am in uncharted territory. I feel it even as I claw my way through the haze of anger, passive-aggressiveness, pain, and pettiness. These emotions live in my body. My body has held these for years. They say body memory is the most difficult to re-train. I have to say I agree.
I am in uncharted territory. I am dating a woman. I am not only dating a woman, I am dating a Black woman, my second Black woman in my fifteen years of dating life. That is not all. She is from the same country as I am and we share a common tribe.
I am in uncharted territory. I kick and scream and drag my feet and refuse to acknowledge her presence and help often. This does not feel good when she reflects back what she experiences as I do this. Then I feel shame. Then body memory kicks in and I get defensive and mean. Then pride kicks in and I shut down. I get to stepping. Then I walk.
I am in uncharted territory. She is bold. She is much younger than me. She challenges me to be my better self. She is beautiful and chocolate skinned just like me. She is curvy in the places I am not. I am jealous sometimes. I fall for her anyway. She speaks my politics. She analyzes more than any of the others I’ve known. She says she’s good for me. I know she is; I don’t acknowledge it right away.
I am in uncharted territory. I hate when she ignores me, yet I can’t stand it that I am unwilling to rise to her challenge. I know I have got to rise above my body memory. I go to sleep on the other side of the bed with a gulf between us because we are arguing about yet another issue. She likes to pick the logs out of my eye. I don’t always appreciate it. I curl up in a ball. My heart has never beat this fast and my breathing has never been this stalled. Full of emotion that won’t let go until I acknowledge them. I don’t acknowledge them. They build up. I burst. We argue about everything but the reason behind the bursting.
I am in uncharted territory. We go days without touching. Me avoiding eye contact or giving her the evil eye. Wanting so badly to say, “You have to go now; I’m going to play ball by myself. You are not invited.” Yet something about her eyes stop me. She always returns to talk to my body memory causing shock and confusion and then gratitude. Shaming me into seeing the auto response of the body memory as it gets in the way of this radical love we are creating.
I am in uncharted territory. Before her and before the one before her, they were all mostly white. I’d play the race card in a heartbeat and watch them walk away. I, triumphant that I could play by myself again would watch them walk. Yet somehow this time I don’t want to play by myself, no matter how much and how often my body memory goes into auto pilot and I have to ask for a “do-over.” No matter how much my body memory denies her existence, I keep processing and fighting my demons.
I am in uncharted territory. Although we have lots of similarities, we also have some differences. Like our tastes in music or how she knows popular culture and the lyrics to most songs. And I just can’t be bothered. Or hhow she is confident in her body. Or our levels of cleanliness; her “We can make a cleaning chart;” my “No chica, you clean as you go, so there is no chart.” My rigidity and rule making that threatens to swallow me but rules and rigidity have kept me sane all these years through the chaos that surrounded me.
I am in uncharted territory. I am no longer allowed to cop out and say it’s how I was raised. Or it’s the fault of oppression. I am called to live out my ideals beyond how I was raised. Beyond the body memory. I am called to live this radical love that I claim to want to create. Called to this new way of loving and healing, and being loved and being healed. Called to re-learning respect for my sojourner. Relaxing my rules because I don’t need them for survival any longer. Forgetting my elitist upbringing and living in true equanimity with all peoples. I am called to be authentic.
I am in uncharted territory. Some days this uncharted territory sucks big time and I freak out and create demon stories about her in my mind to make it easy to despise her. Hurt her. Ignore her. Refuse to offer her the whole truth. Yet, she rarely leaves the field with her ball.
I am in uncharted territory. I know this because the growth pains are definitely making me groan. Because I often want to buy her, or me, a one-way ticket out of this relationship. Forget being radical. Forget doing it differently this time. Forget growth.
I am in uncharted territory because I keep trying to come back, and bring my ball with me, and keep the coupon for that one-way ticket because I know I don’t really want to give it to either of us yet.