Staying current or staying sane?

My Facebook feed is home to a variety of perspectives; some of them I applaud, some of them I disagree with, some of them are full-on triggers for all things negative in my head and sometimes my heart.

Today someone posted an article about the rights of EU/UK citizens and Brexit, I read the article and then I read the comments section on the post. The person who posted enjoys discussing politics on Facebook and is rather good at it. One of the comments, however, displayed one of those opinions that trigger me. Out of respect, I cannot copy and paste it here but the contents of it essentially said that UK citizens in the EU contribute to the economy, whilst EU citizens in the UK are merely here for the money, competing for limited jobs and using the UK’s under-pressure public services.

Nobody replied to this person and I considered it for a moment but what do I say? How do I say it? Am I allowed to say it?

I don’t know how to engage in conversations about migration where people have opinions such as the one above. I haven’t learnt to distance myself from the issue – I cannot stand back and discuss like my acquaintance who posted the article. I just sat there and felt hurt. I told myself off for letting this person hurt me, this person who is a “friend of a friend” (on Facebook!). My insecurities, my identity issues rush to the surface when I read things like these.

You see, I want to be a well-informed, open-minded individual who is not afraid to hear other people’s opinions. I also think it’s important to challenge people’s views if you don’t agree but when it comes to migration, I am at a loss. I am a migrant, I will always be and when accusations of job-grabbing, public service-draining, etc. fly about, I feel like I am the one being accused. Now I know that people who know me don’t see me that way and I know that because some of them have told me. “No, it’s not you, it’s those other people.” And I know what they mean but it still pisses me off. It pisses me off because what they mean is: you look white, your accent is not that offensive to my ears, you have a job, you don’t dress a certain way (and by that they mean that I’m not a Muslim woman in visibly Muslim clothing), you don’t seem foreign (most of the time)…

Mental health and newsfeeds

When I talk about triggers I mean things that really hit me emotionally. I used to have depression and these days I feel fine but there’s always the chance that it could come back. I have the odd moment where I feel so overwhelmed that my heart starts racing and I just sob – like this morning at my desk. Winters are hard because of the lack of light. The referendum last year was hard because I felt like I wasn’t welcome. My newsfeed is hard because people say things about “the other” without thinking that someone in that group will read what they say. Do they say it to hurt? Do they want to offend people on the “other” side – that other religion, that other ethnic group, that other gender, that other sexual identity…

There are definitely people who make their points with a degree of decency and respect – they make me think and that’s good. But so much of our media, and that includes social media, is full of poison or what I perceive as poison. This is not about one comment on one post on Facebook. This is about what the most popular newspapers publish on their pages and websites every day. This is about the conversations I overhear on the bus. This is about hearing “for the many, not for the few” and having a suspicion that ultimately you’re not included.

Maybe I am too sensitive to certain things – I am sensitive when it comes to migration. I struggle to see where I belong in society because to some extent what defines who I am is that I migrated. The first few moves were out of my hands and then I made the decision to move here and I stayed.

So what do I do? Do I engage and challenge and argue? Do I read/listen to different perspectives on sensitive issues even though they might open up the gates to a place I don’t want to go? I am terrified of depression. It is the ugliest place I’ve ever been.

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I spill colours.

I am large
with expectation.
My belly is round,
hips full
swaying from side to side
caught in the rhythm
of the Pacific Ocean.

I spill colours on the pavement
I forget smiles on the metro
I’ve shed memories on the train
worn trainers to work
unfriended people on Facebook.

I am loud
with laughter
opinions
thoughts
criticisms
and sarcasm

I dissolve, sometimes
I shrink
so others can bloom
be heard, be happy…

There is fire in my eyes
Spanish sunshine on my skin
A mélange of colours in my hair
ComPassion in my veins –
Relentless strength.

Recovery/Relapse

You remember learning to be kind
and more patient
with yourself.

Some days seem too steep to climb,
others are smooth.

Some days you worry too much –
what will they think?
how do I look?
why am I crying? hurt?

Some days you like being here,
others you wonder why it doesn’t all just end.

Some days you worry about sliding back
into the whirlpool of twisted thoughts
and knots and aching limbs
and shifting ground…

Some days you miss sitting in that room
opposite a sweet, yet distant, lady
who asked you tough questions
and helped you feel understood.

Some days you wonder whether
you’ve recovered.

What is that anyway?
Recovery.

Walking.

Bustling streets;
you rush
though there’s plenty of time,
you’re not meeting anyone in 10 minutes.
Nobody’s telling you to hurry
yet you speed up,
dodging tourists that stop
at every corner
to take pictures of the sights.
They pour out an endless stream of opinions and random facts about this place.
You try to walk past them.
Quickly.
Nervously.

It’s so painful to walk sometimes!

You gather impressions:
People eat, love, laugh, argue…
You rush.
Because somehow they will notice
that you want to walk slowly,
that you want to take your time
in getting where you want to be.
And that is outrageous!

I have to move,
I have to go.
Go, go, go!
There is no time.
I’m late.
I’m always late.
I’ll be told off if I slow down.

They will say:
hey you! Schiet op! Don’t slack!
Get over it already, it happened years ago!
Your body is fine, use those legs!

There is no time, you think.
Somebody is watching
and making the clock tick faster,
louder.

As you try to keep up
you grow thorns
and curl inward.

You speed up
trying to get it sorted.

Until one day
you fall.

On the ground you remember:
It is OK to walk slowly.
You might need help for a while.
It is OK to walk slowly.
Some people won’t understand but
it is OK to walk slowly.
And some people will remind you that it is OK.
It is OK…

– Yessica Dædalus, 2013

Groen.

 
 
Train journeys on rainy afternoons;
The perfect setting for reflection.
The world has turned green in
my absence.
Flowers, though,
are taking their time.
It’s only a season of life
Only a season in the valley;
A season
Soaked in green
Groen: beautiful, rich,
everlasting green.

_________________________________________________________________________________
Viajar en tren durante tardes lluviosas
es perfecto para reflexionar.
El mundo se ha tornado verde
en mi ausencia.
Las flores, sin embargo,
se están tomando su tiempo.
Es sólo una temporada en la vida;
a season, like the rainy season
Sólo es un tiempo
en el valle.
Tiempo
teñido de verde:
hermoso, interminable
verde.