learning myself


things that used to scare me no longer scare me. i never wanted to be led by fear. however, that’s a lot of how i lived my life and easily explains why i’m a late bloomer.
i started a little later than most because i had my own plans and vision of what i wanted.
as i look back, i’m thankful for my upbringing and the values that were instilled in me. i have both my parents still and family i am able to talk to for processing.
you see, i’ve been learning more about myself and how the patriarchy influenced and effected my life over the years. there are a lot of people out there who think i hate men. on the contrilly m’frilly.
i love men.
i esp love Indigenous men. well, most of them. some of them are hot garbage and i don’t respect them. in fact, there are a lot more of the ones i don’t respect than those i do respect.
when i went back to read some old drafts and finished a post about Father’s Day in Indian country, i did it thinking of my mom Sarah, and my dad Robert, and my Pops, aka Big Ron or Papa. they had a much harder upbringing than i did. i just want them to know today that i finally understand. i think?
as it is, my parents were young when they became parents themselves. 18-19 is young in my opinion, esp back then.
thinking back reflectively, alcohol was a big part of their young adult lives. and today, practitioners in healing, have found those who endured substance abuse usually begin by talking about suppressed emotions or memories.
as my parents recall, they had lived their early years with their parents or grandparents on the Rez. and for school, they were sent off to boarding schools.
my mom, from central agency, and my dad, from western agency, were both sent off to boarding schools and did not understand how it would affect their roles as parents later on.
my mom, a beautiful young woman was a basketball star who had dreams. my dad, the same. it’s how they met when they were on relocation in California.
they met in LA after my mom had split w my Pops who was then a young, aspiring bass player and entrepreneur. my mom, fresh off the train from Diné Nation was in for quite the roller coaster when she fell in love with my father. as i go through family photos and see both of them at such young ages, i can see how they were attracted to one another. my mom was a beautiful Dine woman. and my Pops was a handsome Nimiipuu man. sometimes i can’t believe it. they were beautiful to the eyes and i know i get my looks from both of them.
as my mom, a Leo the lioness tells it, she was in love with someone who promised her a house with a white picket fence. my Pops, a Sagittarius, was on one of his many adventures when he fell for a beautiful Dine woman in an era when Red Power was alive. before it really ended, i came along.

as my mom talks story about her younger life, i immediately think back to what i was thinking when i was her age. i surely did not want children and wanted to travel the world at 19.

fast forward to when she met my dad, Robert. it was after my Pops left and my mom, a young mother, was trying to figure out what to do when my dad came along. when she met my dad she was vulnerable. she took some beatings and talked a lot about how my Mexican sitter, Mrs Hernandez, was the one who helped her get out. she feared for her life and wanted a safer life.

listening to the pain in her memories helped me to understand with compassion. not all relationships are what they appear to be.

listening to her share her story broke my heart at times. i also felt a lot of emotions and realize i took on her pains and carried them. i felt an internal struggle. i felt a dislike for both my dad and Pops.
but, like the inquisitive natured child i was and continue to be, i had to hear all sides of the story. you know that saying, “theres always two sides to a story?” well, i listened to each one tell me their rendition. and it was over this last Christmas when i realized they were just too young to understand big parenting responsibilities. and they each did the best they could with what little they knew.
its wild, but im also glad i heard and listened to each of them. it endeared me to them even more and today im thankful for them. after all, they brought me into this world and also helped me to become who i am.
it took me a long time to forgive both these men who have since that time realize they could have done better. which goes to say, it is entirely possible for men to relearn how to be in relationship with women.
as the story goes, she split and my dad searched for her and finally found her. i know the man she described. at that time in his life, he was beginning on an unhealthy path. he never admitted it to me but he did stop drinking when i was 30 and although the violence stopped, the anxieties and triggers lingered.
i finally understand.
i get it.
as i have gotten older I understand my parents a little bit more. my dad was, as we say in Diné, “hush’ke.” he was strict. a disciplinarian, authoritative, and controlling. it felt like i was suffocating at times.
the kind of childhood trauma i experience was related to his going to boarding school and much later alcoholism. years later we got to talking and we were able to find how behaviors linked to my grandpa who used to beat my grandmother surfaced. and interestingly enough we also learned when grandpa did those things, it was usually when he was under the influence. it took years, two generations later actually for us to learn this and break from it.
over the years, i’ve heard guys make comments about women having daddy issues. mostly, what i have come to learn is these men usually have some of their own mommy issues. but that’s another story.
what i learned is that my dad’s overly protective nature made me live in fear and walk on egg shells at times. i know that i don’t like being around people who are under the influence of alcohol. they become different people and are possessed by the spirit of alcohol in my observations and i been researching this all my life.
it took me a long time to understand why things were the way they were. a lot of the unlayering work and therapy taught me to find a root cause of why i married a man and had my youngest with an alcoholic.
it has made me rethink a lot of how sheltered i was and how we don’t realize traumas can also lead us. without realizing it until much later. it was emotional chaos and emotions fly high.
when i think back on it, my childhood was pretty good. my fondest are cherished memories of my grandparents and great grandma Sophie. neither of them spoke English and when i had to communicate with them i spoke Dinénglish or used hands and eyes a lot. i have a cute and funny story of me as a little girl who couldn’t talk to her three grandmothers. i told them with my hands that great grandma had gone off to the trading post. my grandmothers loved telling that story.
as i think back, thankfully, my childhood was safe thanks to my bi’zhi (paternal aunt) Mary. im thankful for her. she and i talked over holiday too and she had shared she didn’t know my dad’s alcoholism had progressed.
one time he told me this story of how he didn’t like his dad for beating up on his mom. id look at my nahlii lady and she was such a dignified Diné woman i could never see what my nahlii’man did to her. she was kind, compassionate, generous, and a loving Virgo.
as i thought back on it, i thought my nahlii man was the coolest grandpa around. he had jokes and was always teasing. he wore brown polyester pants and black felt wide brimmed hat like Billy Jack or Diné hastiiw wear. he also used to carry around chili in his shirt pocket. if the chili wasn’t hot enough, he’d break out with his own. i learned about hot chili from him and why today, i literally have hot sauce in my bag (swag).
thinking on our Diné kinship and clan way, my nah’lii lady and i could tease about my grandpa being my boyfriend. it is a way relationships to family are established and teasing culture was created purposely.
as i recall, my nahlii man teased me about marrying a man with a beard. he’d tell me, “he’s waiting for you down at the trading post, i can take you down there.” not only did that scare me, i’d tell my nahlii’man, “tell him i said, ‘no.’
as i recall, even then i was a rebellious and willful child. when he’d come back from the store he’d say, “he’s asking for you.” in thinking about how messed up the patriarchy can be, i’m thinking back to the old days when little girls were married off at young ages. my grandmother was 14. as you can tell, instilling the fear of man began at an early age for me.
my little mom, or shi Bizhi, my dad’s older sister, helped raise me after my mom and dad split. my mom eventually remarried and lived in Phoenix and me my dad lived with his sister in a small Rez community.
visiting my mom was nice, but i bonded with my dad and aunt. she was comfort and meant safety for me. she was safe and did not drink and taught me a lot being a Diné woman. she took care of her grandma, and as i think back, my great grandma Sophie was a great influence in our home.
my biizhi was strict at times but as i think back, it was because she wanted to protect me as well. they’d tell stories of what men would do stealing girls and she had this fear at times. so much, wouldn’t let me play sports because it meant riding the bus home late with boys and god forbid there were boys on the activity bus. my dad on the other hand wanted me to play sports so he pushed basketball and running. as overly protective as they were i naturally learned to fear.
as i think back, the bus ride from Kaibeto to Page was 36 miles one way. i had fun and never had any troubles with boys and had some pretty cool memories. we had one of the coolest bus drivers who was named Mr. Adakai. he spoke pidgen English and always had a smile for us.

as i muse through this time, reminiscing and thinking back on where i have come from, its amazing. like seriously, this has been a journey indeed.

today, i have relationships with each of my parents. i enjoy listening to their stories with and have found inner peace. i place myself in their shoes and realize my parents did the best they could with what little they knew. boarding schools really ducked with my family.
when thinking back on life, Frank Sinatra sang it best, when he sang, My Way, and da’gum, i understand.
my relationship w my Pops has blossomed and at times he’ll tease and calls me “Whiskey” because much like whiskey, i can be like a strong shot. for those who are alcohol free this reference is probably an unhealthy metaphor and i make no apologies. my family lived through some tough times.
throughout the years, i see how not many people have both their parents. after visiting with them and watching them get old, it gets to me. i have forgiven them and love that they are still here with me.
my parents, the old Sagittarian rolling stone and fiesty Leo the lioness, are most definitely an interesting couple in my life. i also have my Dad, a Cancer, who raised me. these humans in my life are who helped me understand men a little bit more. not even mentioning my uncles on both sides of my family tree.
ppl who think i hate men got it all wrong.
i don’t hate men.
i just don’t like some of things men have gotten away with over the years. and the patriarchy has been around for thousands of years, not just the Euro settler construct of the last five hundred years. i’m talking archaic times to what some patriarchs call the old times or “old way.”
i’ve been living with this for a long time. i can share what it’s like. first off, even men with daughters still struggle with their human ego side. after reading, witnessing, and experiencing the patriarchy i know that i am a survivor. those who get offended at my critique of the patriarchy, are mostly men who don’t realize or believe they can be an enemy to women. the word misogyny speaks loudly.
with the whole #MeToo and #MMIW movement, it’s still possible to meet men who think there is nothing wrong with being with or pursuing a someone who is 15+ yrs younger.
what’s interesting about this is if a man is in their 60’s and fancies a 40 something woman, it’s different. how so? im still trying to figure out why. now it seems like we’re getting into human biology.
although my Pops explained it clearly, “she makes me feel young again.” i dont quite get it. what i do think is that older women just don’t gaf about dealing with a man’s bs, so they will bounce whereas a younger woman will “take it.” believe me when i say this, it took all the life to not say a damn word when i heard that.
what ive come to understand is that, men seem to want the younger woman and wish for something new. it happens. and in a wicked sort of way. somehow women also desire younger men. i chuckle and sometimes laugh out loud at how cruel and wicked of a game the creator plays with that.
in the end, all’s fair in the game of love and war. based in my experiences with the patriarchy, both my parents have lived their lives and now i’m living mine.
i find peace in helping others and showing younger generations that there is an alternative. our lives aren’t meant to be like our parents. we can actually create and make our own pathways on this life journey. and when doing journey work, it is easier said than done. things that i normalized were not okay and creating spaces of safety for children is paramount for me.
i love working to help protect the children where i can. it’s one of my life calling and have learned, the very wrongs that i want to help correct. learning to also acknowledge how i participated naively, and the times i looked away and my silence was complicity at its finest.
judging by media posts of the Indigenous Peoples March and the Indigenous Women’s delegation to the Women’s March during #MLK has given me life. it shows me who i can work with, and to also speak up.
the voices of the generation who are speaking up and against the violence against women and girls is not a new story. it’s just now being spoken up about. as we also come to light and see the hard realities that come through we must also begin to do the work.
because i have men in both side of my family who are respectful of boundaries, are sober, and have healthy relationships with women, i understand their role as protector and guide. as warriors in the true sense of practicing peace, safety, and guidance for our young tells me there is still hope.
in my own way, i’ve learned there is always another side to the story of the patriarchy; and it’s usually from the female matriarchal side. one side of the story that has never been told due to settler colonialism.
the men in my family are getting old and my compassion and pity for them has grown. they realize the “colorful” life they led was not okay and the things they did they are paying for it. it really is true, when you hurt a woman or child, you pay for it with your life.
as Indigenous people we understand that also means spiritual repercussions as well. avoiding and not doing anything to help protect women and children is a responsibility we can not afford. we have come to learn through ancestral stories that our ancestors would disagree and not support the violence. and when reclaiming Indigenous knowledge systems, following ancestral teachings requires a kind of humility which allows us to acknowledge behaviors we commit.
over the years i have learned to forgive myself for things i did not say and should have. on both sides of my family tree. i am aware i have family who would never admit to saying or doing anything disrespectful, hurtful, or vicious. i accepted the apology i never received and learned to grow past all their hurt and unhealed pain.
one of my favorite uncles is my uncle Lew. he once told me, “You got to let go of all those rocks sister. lighten your load and let it go.” it took me years to get to this place and it feels amazing.
now the work begins.
i have learned to be more patient and gentle. in self healing, working with family dynamics can be tricky. im thinking about a meme, “if you think you’re enlightened go spend time with your family.” that is probably still one of my favorite memes. it teaches me more about humility and how i can always use the help and prayers.
this blog thoughts out loud is about memory recalls. not some hateful spew. it’s a genuine and cool outlook and view i’m sharing as i came to finding inner peace on this day especially.
at this tender hour writing seems to help. i have been reading more about feminism and learning to self identify as an Indigenous feminist. i still have more work to do and realizing it is layered work.
i’m really thankful for the women. esp love the agency of the millenial generation of women, men, and LGBQT community who are speaking up, out, and against behaviors that can be violent, life threatening and addressing issues related to misogyny.
there are so many ppl to name and all i can think of right now is the Indigenous Womens’ Resource Network and Native Youth Sexual Heath network both are great resources for more information on critical concerns of how to unlearn and understand more of our own learning, unlearning, and relearning as Indigenous people. another organization doing good work, i am also thinking of Native Wellness Institute.
there are more and these are just the ones that popped up off the top of my noggin. ill continue working through my life’s journey at a snails pace.
happy Friday yall, and thank you for journeying with me. kind regards and peace.
Categories Indigenous

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