All posts by Jessica Sahlstrom

I am a white cis-gender able-body woman working and living on the traditional territories of the Songhees/Esquimalt First Nations. I am a student, writer, support worker and researcher, Auntie, God-Ma, friend, feminist, sister, daughter. My work is focused on trying to find hopeful and positive forward-moving methods of connecting across our fields of difference; my mission is to live fierce. And, quoting Vanessa Ratjen, quoting some person I think she met in an airport, to be polite as fuck. "When we choose to love, we choose to move against fear, against alienation and separation. The choice to love is the choice to connect, to find ourselves in the other" -bell hooks.

This is how you feel.

This is how you feel:

You sit, lay, stand– still.

You cross your arms over your chest and squeeze your shoulders.

You say, what happened to you was wrong.

What happened to him was wrong.

You breathe in as much love as you possibly can.

You breathe out everything you are afraid of.

Then you scan your body for pain.

And you send oxygen to that pain until you release it through breath and tears.

Trust that when you breathe into your pain, and release, you are moving through it– trust that everything that hurts you so much right now will hurt you less with tears and time.

Trust that you deserve to feel this, and move through it, and live better because of it; one day at a time, until one week at a time, until one month at a time, until one year at a time (L).

 

For S, J, E & C.

That hollow part in your chest will one day make you so strong that fleets of white men armed with things far worse than guns and grenades will be stopped—

You will yell, be still like Max from where the wild thing are and no one will hurt you like they hurt us.

Onward and out.

 

Get on with it

This is where I stop. I don’t move my feet a step further. I ground down, deep. Deep into the earth because if I step closer toward any direction, I risk never being able to reroute myself.

This is where vines emerge from the earth. Stunned, I watch as they move between my toes, in line with my feet’s tiny bones, knotting around my ankles, applying pressure at my knees, knocking me down.

This is where, if I don’t move, regardless of the outcome, I will stop being able to feed myself. I will try to eat the vine. And the vine will keep me alive, but not living.

This is where no one shows up to cut me free.

This is where I wait until my nails grow long, long enough to cut through that which is holding me down.

This is where I dig into the dirt with my hands and pull out the roots.

I leave them behind me on the road in the hot sun, with nothing left to nurture the diseased parts.

No one is coming to rescue you from the circumstances of your life. You are your greatest resource; your energetic system holds all you need to get on with things.

So get on with things.

Compassion for the Shadow and the things unseen

Shadow Self

Not all beings deserve compassion, but the thing is, most people do. Most people aren’t horrible; they’re just humans learning how to be themselves in this world. And they do shitty and sometimes hurtful things along the way.

When I am compassionate, I can work toward forgiveness; and when I forgive, I can let go, and that helps me move more freely and honestly in this world.

I am compassionate; I forgive; I let go.

On being Othered

When I spoke of my things you always gave me that look like my life was trivial and something a little bit cute.

You demonstrated this when you said small words in reaction–

like, “Hmm, yeah.”

And, “I’d like to just live like that.”

As if my life is a fantasy available for you to escape inside of.

I suppose that’s what we do, isn’t it? Voyeur into other people’s lives and imagine living inside a different world. But it’s something else when your life is made smaller and less-than. Like my simple working-class woman life of doing nice things for poor people….

Assessorizing over top of trauma

The pathways in my brain are blocked by teeny tiny triggers

Like men with beards and small eyes and glasses

Like men who play badminton

And the guitar

And tell erroneous stories and use words wrong

Leaving me far too ignitable and excitable

While also malleable and unmoveable

At sudden and unexpected times.

I think of my body as able

I think of my legs, which are run-able

My feet with toes that are extendable

My arms, which are liftable

My hands, which are flexible

My back, which is bendable

My brain and my spine as connectable.

My body looks available

Especially when I’m clad in

Headbands and hats and earrings from 1982.

Last night I wore a red blazer

Over top of a cut-up I heart New York black tank

I tied a neon green head band around my head,

making visible the excess strands of ribbon,

A silk-like crescendo down my chest.

I wore jeans with holes created over time—

None of that mass-markets vintage-like bullshit.

I wore my brown leather shoes I got at a second-hand store.

I painted my nails pink.

I wore this ring.

And let me tell you about this ring

I bought for fifteen dollars

At the campus bookstore—

The shape of it reminds me of tree roots

Extending deeper and deeper into the ground

Connecting with new roots

From other trees,

Sharing water

And nutrition.

I trace my fingers across the ridges of the ring, breathing in and breathing out.

I ask myself, what feeds me?

When I’m frozen with anxiety,

When I’m driving down the road.

He is everywhere in the corner of eyes—

All of the time.

on being an alcoholic

“I was a big drinker at the time. I would drink every day. I would drink alone. I thought the whole concept was so fucking cool. A great deal of what I wrote on Born to Die is about these wilderness years. When I write about the thing that I’ve lost I feel like I’m writing about alcohol because that was the first love of my life. My parents were worried, I was worried. I knew it was a problem when I liked it more than I liked doing anything else. I was like, ‘I’m fucked. I am totally fucked’. Like, at first it’s fine and you think you have a dark side – it’s exciting – and then you realise the dark side wins every time if you decide to indulge in it. It’s also a completely different way of living when you know that… a different species of person. It was the worst thing that ever happened to me” -Lana del Rey