The Light of Empathy

Today I am over at Red Tent Living magazine writing about empathy, poetry workshops, and vulnerability. This event took place last summer, after making a mammoth move back to the U.S. from the Dutch Caribbean where I was living with my husband and three littles while he attended medical school. Life was complicated, and I wasn’t sure how to feel about it all and who to trust with my story. But, what happens when we show up as our actual, broken selves, offering the beautiful gift of our realities to each other?

Here is an excerpt from the article:

The downtown central library in San Antonio is lovingly referred to by locals as the “Enchilada.” The color of its skin can only be likened to the chili con carne sauce draped over a steaming plate of enchiladas. There are multiple floors to this library and extensive collections, and the most recent addition is a Latin collection. Recently this new wing hosted a poetry workshop led by a Latina poet named Carolina Hinojosa-Cisneros, a writer I had come across while living in Saba. I fell in love with the timbre and viscosity of her language while listening to a podcast as I cleaned the kitchen before bed. Her imagery was like a meal.

My first poetry manuscript had just been picked up by an independent publisher in West Texas. I had written the entirety of it on Saba, detailing my Caribbean experience in verse. Now that I had left my exotic life of adventure to live in suburbia’s guest room, I worried poetic inspiration would no longer flow through my veins. What would I write about? Materialism? The Concrete Jungle? I was unable to access my heart; it had been traumatized into silence. I felt a splitting of myself into the highly functional “necessary” self and the wounded, unspeakably sad, and exhausted self. The latter was inconvenient and prone to random outbursts of rage.

When I arrived at the “Enchilada,” I parked and walked briskly to the workshop, clutching my bag near my side. Although I was eager to learn something new, I had qualms about showing up. I didn’t want to answer questions or get to know anyone. My life was way too complicated for pleasantries. I carved my way through the steaming humidity and into the shock of cool air, past the library’s circulation desk.

I grabbed a seat towards the front, observing Carolina, sheepishly meeting her dark eyes as she smiled to welcome me. She seemed luminous, completely open to the souls of others, while I carried the narrative of a heavy life I could no longer bear, iron clad around a once soft heart. After a few introductory remarks, she instructed us to stand altogether in a circle to do a connection exercise…

*Read the rest of the article at Red Tent Living

*Photo by Jane Palash on Unsplash