Kupuna Rain

So I’m feeling depressed and I don’t know how to deal with my feelings so I’m going to write about them.

I’m sure I’m not the only person who feels this way, but I don’t seem to fit in anywhere. I feel like I’m looking for others to accept and love me, but it’s never enough to fill the void left by me. Because I don’t love myself very much. I’m learning to, but I’m very much a beginner in that field.

Ever since I was so little I remember wanting to please people in my life. I wanted to make them laugh, I wanted to watch the smiles on their faces and hear them laugh. And that’s not a bad thing, but it has begun to consume me from the inside out, physically manifested in my anorexia.

And I keep thinking over and over “This has to change” but even though people change all the time, oftentimes those changes don’t come easily.

When I’m trying to live a day-to-day life that’s even halfway normal I lie to myself over and over again. I tell myself that I can’t do things. I cried over a burrito a few days ago. I was just standing in front of the machine trying to choose something and my restrictive-type eating disorder is jerking at my puppet strings saying They don’t have our safe food. They don’t have the turkey ham cheese sandwich on wheat bread. You can’t have that . You can’t have that, fatty. And I slammed my fist against the glass and bit back tears. I bought the damn burrito but after I put it in the microwave I just lost it. I was pacing back and forth and thinking I have to eat something. Just something. I don’t want to black out in my next class. I don’t want to go back to the hospital. I can’t go back to the hospital. Just one burrito. And my eating disorder was screaming back I can’t handle all of the things you’re throwing at me! I can’t push back any harder! We can’t do this anymore. The perfect grades the perfect relationships the perfect Samoan speaking the perfect emotional balance damn it we can’t do anything right! Just stop eating the food and maybe the PTSD stuff will leave us alone for today. Please.

That’s one facet of how I got to have anorexia. I was having flashbacks and nightmares 24/7 (and it’s markedly better now, just to reassure you, even though it’s still hell) and they made me sick to my stomach. It reinforced self-hatred towards my body coupled with a fierce desire to become un-woman. It reinforced the compulsion to run from my brokenness as if I could ever escape from the dark shadows of my past. No matter how far I run, I will have to live with myself.

I will have to live with the emotions I have nurtured with my self-hatred, constantly in conflict, vile, thorny, weeds trying to choke out all the light and life in me.

In other words, I have to live with my past, my present, and my future. The way it is. Those weeds are already there and now I get to rip them out and try to nurture the garden at the same time.

I’ve talked about loss before but today I kind of want to talk about loss of self. I feel I have wasted so much of my life throwing myself into others values, not thinking of myself, the never-ending mormon martyr. That is not what I want today! And yet here I am, skipped two meals, depressed as hell, fighting back tears, and avoiding going home to be by myself. But that was after I went to halau this morning, after not kicking out the man and his girlfriend who were sleeping together half naked outside the door of my BYUH HOUSING room, after going to Kahuaola (the taro patch the Hawaiian Studies program at BYUH cultivates as a great outdoor classroom) and doing service with a ward that just happened to be there. Without eating my breakfast. And then after that I talked to someone about the differences between Polynesian culture and American culture in the context of my recent difficulties with the Tongan boys.

I felt so overwhelmed because when he explained some things I realized aue, I have really made some big mistakes. But I didn’t know they were mistakes, and noone told me. If I had a Tongan boyfriend who was emotionally obligated to help me when we had a little intercultural tiff, I would be shielded in his affection for me. Anchored. But as it is even though I’m friends with many Polynesian people, I’m not close enough to any of them for them to even try to explain. They prefer to cut people off when it gets uncomfortable, without even thinking that it might be a cultural issue and not another issue.

I passed by the guy I had the issue with today and didn’t even look at him. I felt like I couldn’t. What he did was worse than a slap across the face. And the worst part is that because he wouldn’t take a few minutes to find out what was wrong, nothing is fixed. He doesn’t even comprehend the effect he had on me.

I realized that a lot of them don’t. They love to laugh and joke about everything and everyone. They don’t realize that in my culture, a lot of the jokes they tell about me, are destroying me from the inside out and sabotaging my chances of making healthy social connections. To them it’s just fun. To me it’s unkind and very, very hurtful.

It was so interesting the shift that my mood took. I had a wonderful time at halau. I tried to practice being kinder to myself when I didn’t know the motions. The thought would come to mind “You suck at this. You’ll never make night show if you don’t work harder!” and I remembered a quote from Eat, Pray, Love “You must be very kind to yourself when you are learning something new.” So every time I had a thought like that I tried to gently chastise it away and think positively.

I was very upset because my house feels dark and horrible. I had that feeling when I was going to move in but I thought it was because the part of the house I am staying in was really neglected. So then the landlord cleaned it up and when I moved in on Thursday night I was feeling better. I was like oh, it feels a bit better in here now, but there was a lingering feeling, like a cobweb, brushing against my memory, that the first time I walked into that house I had a dark feeling that something bad had happened in that room. And it wouldn’t go away. I couldn’t sleep, it was so bad.

So then Friday night, which was the night this happened, I can’t sleep. I toss and turn with nightmare after nightmare. And I sense people coming into the house and I know there are men and I know they are on my side of the house but I force myself to go back to sleep, knowing that my door was locked. But in ignoring that subtle feeling I put myself in great danger. They had sex right outside my bedroom door and when I woke at 4:00am feeling so agitated about something I saw them lying there on a mattress right outside my door. The mattress I had sat on to do my homework last night. And the feeling of darkness hit me like a physical blow and then I was furious because damn it if you are going to have an honor code, enforce at least the parts of it that involve the safety of your students.

Is it really safe to have a man over in the middle of the night in a dorm full of sleeping girls? NO. HELL NO. I don’t care if he’s the f-ing Archbishop. If you don’t want to get sued for rape, one of the things you can do, is make sure there are no men with access to the girls rooms at night. I mean, grow a brain.

Ultimately yes, it is up to the rapist, whether or not a rape is going to be attempted. But don’t you owe it to the students to protect them as best as you can? And not even going into the fact that that person is not paying to stay there. And then adding in the fact that what if something gets stolen, how can you find it if you don’t have a record of who was in the dorms and when? Isn’t it hard enough when it’s just girls?

I don’t want to go home. I don’t want to lay awake at night, waiting for them to actually start sleeping together, and then call the landlord up. Because obviously, if they aren’t doing anything, I can’t call the landlord unless it’s happening right then, it wouldn’t do any good.

Something not spoken of often, is that in many religions, you can dedicate a house or a building to God, right? You can also pronounce a blessing upon a house to cleanse it and pray for the safety of the inhabitants. It sounds kind of crazy but I can testify that the intention alone that it takes for a good person to dedicate land to the Lord, does affect the feel of a place. The choices of the people living in a house affect the spirit you feel when you walk in.

Some people are more sensitive to these changes than others. I am highly sensitive at sporadic times. My radar is 1,000X more sensitive than most people I know, and that may not be true because part of that sensitivity is an innate pressure not to talk about it. But there are some things I can share.

When I walked into that house, it felt dark to me. I felt like something horrible had happened in that room. It felt like something dark and evil lurked there, radiating all sorts of negative feelings. But when I first saw it, it was physically neglected, musty mattresses, all sorts of obvious signs of neglect. And in my belief, if you neglect a home, it changes the feeling of it. So I decided to ignore my feeling and move in anyways.

The first night I could not sleep. But I have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, so hyper-vigilance is a symptom the doctors actually want me medicated for, but I live with it regardless of what we do so far. I thought it was normal. But over and over again I was woken thinking something was wrong. I made it through the night and did not find anyone sleeping around that night.

This next night I struggle to sleep because that same feeling. I shifted between wakefulness and sleep but with the everpresent feeling of a very real threat. A feeling that something deeply wrong was happening. I knew that there were men in the house. I sensed when my housemates came back. I rationalized it away again.

When I woke at 4:00 am and nearly tripped over his face every alarm bell in my body was still wailing at me to attack, to run, to get rid of this man. Danger. The threat. But I saw something that looked like a bun and it was dark and I wanted to assume the better of my roommates.

I forced myself to go back to sleep, not even thinking to pray about it because I am so accustomed to the feelings of darkness.

And still I tossed and turned. And the next morning, when the sun started to rise, I found them mostly naked on top of a mattress just outside my door. It had been loud the night before but again, I wanted to assume the best of the situation. But if you asked me now… Sex.

I want to assume that I’m wrong. But I had a strong feeling that that occurred just outside my door last night. And for someone who has been raped, the sounds of course would have set off the nightmares.

I went to halau this morning so disturbed but at halau we chant the prayers of ancient Hawai’i that have survived through the line of kupuna. And we dance the stories of Hawai’i. I started to feel welcomed and blessed. The kumu told us that he could travel the world teaching hula, but it would not mean anything to him if he could not teach us hula from it’s roots, from the surroundings of Hawai’i nei.

When I got to the Polynesian Cultural Center I felt most of my distress begin to evaporate as a mist from me. When I am there, I feel at home. I feel belonging.

Maybe for a palagi girl across an ocean from her desert homeland, this doesn’t make sense. Many Polynesians have the idea that unless you are of the bloodline, you cannot appreciate or partake of the gifts of their ancestry. You are a customer trying to buy what cannot be bought.

Many people get creative about reasons I invest so much time into visiting the Polynesian Cultural Center. People do have a vague feeling of the importance of the center, a feeling of welcoming, of aloha spirit. But the students? Many of us take the center for granted or do not partake of it’s blessings at all. There is no place on earth like the Polynesian Cultural Center. In fact we do not appreciate these dedicated places of safety nearly enough. We get so used to the idea that our little Laie bubble is perfect and that there is no danger and we get complacent.

I can tell you right now that rape, child abuse, sodomy, any evil you can name, is lurking behind our doors here in Laie. Just as it is rising in a tide across the world, where the nature of mankind is becoming less compassionate and the love between us waxes cold in the face of selfishness. Just look at how we treat the earth.

She feeds us our every want. We live off of her compassion, as a mother, and we abuse and destroy her. I would even say that mankind has raped the earth, taking without giving back, in an attempt to control creation. We constantly try to outdo her, improve her. We crave the power to be as gods, to make our lusts sustainable when they are not, and that is not without great suffering. We use and use and use until there is nothing but death and violence behind us.

(there is the other side which is compassion and kindness but I’m not in the mood right now)

I am particularly sensitive to the spiritual feelings of places. For me, if a place is not safe, I will feel a violent compulsion to leave. If it is safe, if there is goodness in a place, I will be drawn to it, particularly in times of trouble. The LDS temple is also such a place.

When we chant the oli at Kahuaola- another place that is dedicated (as is the Polynesian Cultural Center) I can feel the air around us change. You feel warmer inside, you feel a sense of comfort, of belonging to something greater than you.

Opposing this element of comfort is a very real element of danger and I counsel you to avoid materials and thoughts of possession and evil spirits. If you believe God is real, you must also believe in the existence of evil. But thinking of these members invites them into your life, your home. So make an effort to invite the good karma, please. Noone wants to see what happens to those who are consumed from the inside out by evil.

Brooklynn’s Handy Guide to Good and Evil

Good- love, compassion, intelligence, wisdom, respect for humanity and for the human body

Evil- wanton destruction, turning powers of sexuality or the capacity of humans to love into tools by which to dominate and to break apart, craving power over others without any consideration for their welfare, selfishness, manipulation with intention to harm, unkindness, greed, violence, desecration and abuse of the human body, abuse of children and the innocent and helpless.

This is spiritual. This is going to get me into trouble with many people. But I’m going to say it anyways because I don’t brake for idiots.

Ancestry. Do you think in all honesty, that the spirits of our ancestors do not remain? Do you think that the world, having life, has no spiritual realm of sorts? Don’t you feel it inside sometimes, a feeling of a greater purpose? We seek out God because without an acceptance of the spiritual element- which in Hawaiian, Samoan, Tongan, and Maori we term as mana- nothing in this world has lasting meaning.

 

I felt a sense of spiritual connection today. An overwhelming feeling of warmth and belonging.

I can’t even tell you how that feels but it overcame me completely, the complete opposite of what it felt like at that house.

Nurture the good in your life and seek out good things to fill your home and workspace with. Nurture your mind and heart the same way with good learning, good music, and all things towards your health.

I have to go and try to take care of this mess. I hope everyone has a good night. Hugs ❤

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