I never plan these blog entries. I was thinking today as I made a long storytime caption on my last Instagram reel that I could easily write the same thing on a blog and actually be consistent here but then I also know my blog is very slow growing because, like everything else I make, I am scared out of my mind to share it.
I know I have said this before many, many, so many times but asking for someone’s time and attention is so incredibly hard for me. Lately, I have been feeling as if people wouldn’t believe me because of the fact that I have been sharing links and promoting my creations consistently for months now. In the back of my mind I keep self gaslighting and saying to myself “you’re exaggerating and have just been making excuses for years of being a content creator and being a shitty one at that…” The truth is right now I am sink or swim and forcing myself harder than I ever have before.
I have more support than I ever did in the past. I’m trying hard to self advocate with that support behind me. My therapist has been gently pushing me to spread my wings bit by bit since I started talking to her in August 2020. I think it was about a year ago that she asked me to do one small thing for my business everyday. At first it was just make anything at all and let it exist. That still feels like so much, it still feels dangerous. These days since I have no income aside from my creations I have to push harder.
When the naturally low engagement happens my logic says “growing an audience takes time” my inner child/ nervous system/ amygdala says “YOU IDIOT YOU ARE SO SELFISH AND EVIL NOW EVERYONE IS GOING TO DIE” in a very quiet but incredibly intrusive kind of way. The messages that inundate me come in waves and from all directions with little things I see or hear or remember.
Even now as I write this my heart is racing, my breathing is shuddering, my chest is tensing up all because I am thinking of what will happen if someone reads it. I am thinking of the fact that for it to be read I have to tell people it was written and that it exists. Then I am also thinking of the fact that if this exists it means I exist and that frightens me. My nervous system was taught that the best way to avoid pain for everyone is if I don’t exist because then I wouldn’t dare want or hope or need for anything ever.
I learned that being invisible kept Mom safe by the time I was 6 or 7 years old. As Mom fought for my needs to be met as I started going through puberty there were more reminders as Mom advocated for me to have basic needs like bras and clothes. The very public scenes of my father raging at the prices of girls’ clothes started as I wanted to shrink into the hanging shirts and pants in the department store feeling shame that I am not my brother, I have breasts and hips and therefore I am wrong. The guilt of seeing Mom defend me and my needs and being told she’s stupid, useless and garbage because of it made me wish I could run away but my body knew that running away would cause I bigger scene.
The drama of buying my clothes was always after my brother easily and quickly got to pick out all the things he wanted. The perfect shirts and pants, socks and underwear all just a breeze. Dad would sneer and gaslight me implying with looks and tone that I was too capricious, arrogant and snobbish to wear my brother’s hand me downs. Mom, knowing my body shape was different than my brother’s tried to leverage the interaction using her knowledge of cuts, fashion and design saying “those clothes won’t fit her correctly” and that would ignite Dad’s rage and her confusion not understanding why it was so horrible to buy clothes for his daughter.
To this day I fear buying clothes. My whole body feels the weight of those moments. I have emotional flashbacks everytime I look at a new pair of jeans. Thrift stores terrify me as the ease of several sizes of the same item is nonexistent. The effects of those days still hit me but now that I think about it, it was so weird.
The fights happened every year when school started. From when I was 7 or 8 Mom snuck around buying materials to make me bras until my breasts were too big to ignore. There was another memorable fight while we were on a weekend vacation where I ended up sobbing in the bathroom because when my father finally bought me a real bra I outgrew it overnight and my period started being the next badge of shame as it added to ammo to other me and scapegoat me.
It’s been so hard untangling all of these memories that sometimes flood me within a breath in my day to day life. They overwhelm my system when anything hints at “danger” of any of it happening again. As I look back at these moments I remember the strangest thing. By the time I was 12 or 13 I learned to hate clothes and shopping for them felt like a “stupid girl thing,” however my dad suddenly insisted on buying everyone expensive name brand clothes to show off at his new job at a fancy mall department store.
Suddenly it felt like what I had to do to make dad happy was wear girly clothes with name brands all over me and the whole system of rules of dressing me shifted and turned upside down. To this day I have no idea what would have made him happy. What I did know was me wanting to make music wasn’t one of the allowable actions.
Sabi the musician wasn’t even on the radar. I didn’t dare even think to research what being in orchestra or band would take. I barely allowed myself the desire though it was there drowning in shame. Choir was free, choir was easy to do without help… that was until my big chance to be in the all state choir was destroyed by him refusing to buy the t-shirt that I needed for the concert. Mon couldn’t sneak her way to buy those materials and make the uniform herself as she had done before. On top of that, taking me to the practices after-school was the most inappropriate and ridiculous inconvenience because he would have to call off of his part time job at the fancy mall department store to take me. Mom was forced to work there too and he didn’t allow her to take me either.
The music teacher added to my fears as he singled me out because I wasn’t a talented black girl with a voice with soul. I was just me, little brown Latina me, and he didn’t care for my singing he didn’t even look at any of the girls in class who didn’t look like him. The girls who were like him got help to get to rehearsals and help to buy shirts too. I felt like a racist prick that whole year. I felt like shit on a shoe that year. I knew that those kids had parents talking to him about making things happen. I learned I wasn’t allowed to have help. I learned my voice was shit and that my music teacher from primary school probably lied to me.
I quit music that year.
I quietly obsessed over theme songs and anthems from my favorite video games and TV shows. The more I think about it the more I see how confusing it was. One moment Dad seemed to like my affinity to music, like when he bought me my first CD and hinted Mariah Carey reminded him of me when I was in 5th grade, the next moment I was getting screamed at for just looking at his guitar in my parent’s bedroom. Other things like continually asking for help with the hand me down keyboard that my brother discarded on me like I was the city dump. I was constantly promised that one day I would get a replacement AC adaptor. It was “too expensive,” everything I needed was “too expensive.”
I honestly have no idea what kept that feeling in my spirit that music brought alive enough to eventually write my own song. Musing on how lost and confused and alone I always felt some day in the shower, where I felt safe from being heard or seen, I sang a melody again and again along with the first lyrics I ever created. Something in me felt I needed to write ot down.
The trend continues today. Hidden away, in secret, away from everyone my music feels safe. My heart and my dreams feel safe. I feel safe. The problem or I should say the struggle is that whatever part of me kept my music alive knows that I have worth and inherent value and all of me has been trained to drown that out for survival. I am living cognitive dissonance and it freezes me inside and out.
I can say it to you. I can say it to everyone I have ever loved… As I sit in awe of the creation around me, the trees, the rain, the ocean, the clouds, the sun and the stars, the quiet slumber of my emotional support bunny… I see its beauty and thirst to know more. I see the worth of my friends and family, even those who hurt me. I see how every single perspective that can exist in this infinite universe can teach me, move me carrying life and beauty and has a right to coexist in this vast fathomless space. They say to be known is to be loved. I long to know more and connect to creation so I create because I feel alive when I do. I feel like myself when I do. I feel powerful when I do.
Then within a moment I see myself and want to snub that wonder and power and life out immediately. It’s too much, too needy, too weak, too loud, too burdensome, too Sabi… but if I believe you have worth beyond my understanding I must also believe I reflect the same reality. The weight crushes my inner child. I was told I wasn’t meant to be known nor seen nor heard nor loved. I learned I was meant to be abandoned and forgotten. I was forsaken.
I didn’t know what to call that song whatever day it was when I was 15 but eventually the title emerged and now I wonder if it was my battle cry as I strive to rescue Little Sabi who was discarded and left to die.
Here I am…
Thanks for reading, your light and voice matters. Let us know you and your spirit.
Sending you love and peace