A Field to Rebel by Brooklyn
By: Brooklyn Lindsey
“Resist much, obey little.”
It’s really not the advice I thought I would pass to my daughters when I imagined them before they were born. Even so, as I walked the streets of Brooklyn tonight, a grown adult, wife and mother of two, I felt Whitman’s words as wisdom reverberating as truth.
I think about how I am alone on this sidewalk and how being in my 30’s doesn’t change the fact that sometimes I’m afraid to walk down a street—because words, because eyes, because force. Because, what if…
Brave? More now that I know that I can trust myself.
Obedient? Not always.
I think daughters and sons need to know that there are moments when it’s ok to disobey.
Tomorrow I’ll be home again and I hope that my life and actions teach my children that there is a field to rebel (even against things we have taught you—that your auntie or uncle or family friend is safe, that your situation is good, that you should always keep the door locked and stay behind it. No, there may be a day when you will want to and need to disobey. And, there may be a time when you’ll need to rise up from something difficult too. If…when that day comes.
“I want to be there for you.”
I pick up the writing of this post after a morning run. The app on my phone was telling me when to speed, up, when to slow down, when to be finished. It felt good to run past bridges and people, cultures, and clusters. Forty feet before my return to the hotel I hit a crack in the sidewalk. I fell. Gravity. Shattered phone screen. Embarrassment. Skinned fingers and ripped pants. The app said to “continue to route”. My heart said, it’s ok to be finished for today.
The rules don’t know when you cry.
The rules don’t know when someone else breaks them to hurt you.
The rules don’t know when you’re stuck and without a voice.
But people are able to know all of these things, they are able to listen even if we are feeble and fickle and not so good at it, we can listen and do everything within us to try to understand.
When it comes to considering who is given permission to shape all that I am, I’m learning to resist much. I’ve learned to resist definitions and pressure. Resist pursuit. I know when it’s right to obey or to conform because there isn’t confusion in my gut. And when it comes to who is allowed to look at, talk about, and touch my physical body—that is reserved for nurture, love, care that comes from those I trust—it’s reciprocal intimacy that is safe and valued.
I am suggesting that we give our children fields or space to rebel—in order to preserve the precious and created person they are, in order to protect them, in order to give them a voice, in order for them to practice what it’s like to decide what is good for them and what is not.
I have to give my kids space to fail, to make judgments, to practice doubt so that they will more deeply own their truth.
I sit safely in my hotel room again.
Writing, door double dead bolt. Check.
Writing, from a vulnerable #metoo place.
Realizing that no matter how thick this door is the words I type are en entry point into the public.
My mind shifts back into memories and find a ten-year-old girl who learned that sometimes after locking the door you realize the things you are protecting yourself from are in the room with you.
Give kids permission to break the rules.
Tell them clearly.
Listen. Obey. Love. Repect.
But if there is a moment where you feel within harms reach.
We coach our kids to keep them safe, but we also must give permission without judgment to tell us when it isn’t safe.
“Keep the door locked and don’t leave until I come back.”
My mom and her friend were keeping us safe from danger, but the definition of danger had melted for me. If danger is what is “out there” then why do I feel danger “in here”?
A few different days I told my mom I wasn’t comfortable at our friend’s house. But we kept returning, I didn’t know how to say that it was more than a feeling but a knowing. I feared hurting her if they hurt me.
Fear kept me in the rules.
Truth convinces us that love breaks rules.
I sat with my back turned to a man much older than me, a man I barely new, a friend’s dad who was the nicest. He was fun. He was always home. He made us food. He taught me how to play the card game solitaire. There was trust. But then there was fear, a sick feeling in my stomach, the sound of breath too close to my ears, the feeling of lips too close to mine.
The door was within reach. No one was keeping me from unlocking it. But rules.
As I think about my daughters and the very real possibility that they could be hurt—I think about ways that I wish I could have been prepared.
I didn’t expect to be in Brooklyn last night and today.
I didn’t expect to write about my #metoo like this.
But I resist the voice that tells me to obey—to go out side and take pictures for my istangram account instead of writing about something so important to me.
Instead, with my feet on the soil of my namesake I am saying, there are moments in life, in creativity, in community when we should “resist much, obey little”.
Break the rules when someone tries to break you.
I pray for our sons and daughters to speak when someone has hurt them, that we would have the courage to believe them—and to protect them, even if it seems like “not a big deal”. It should be a big deal to us if it is a big deal to someone who is hurting.
If writing is to enter into the public, then the #metoo’s have come to the brave stage to say with unveiled faces that we are pressing on and providing a voice and a story for those waiting to unlock the door, for those who will face a locked door, and for those who are speaking because of that locked door, for those who might find courage to unlock it, and for those who had no way to unlock it to heal and connect with safety and love.
Telling our stories is one way to unlock the door.
Tempted to delete this and start over, I am feeling dramatic.
My self conscious mind asks if any other voices are needed.
But who reads, who cares, who is ever changed by the shallow places? Who is ever changed by another person being silent with truth?
It’s ok to unlock the door.
My 10 year old self writes rebellion against “respected adults” when they act in disrespectful ways…
“These lips are not yours to kiss.
This body is not yours to touch.
This spirit is not yours to tattoo with fear.
I do not belong to your rules and I do not have to play by them.
I belong to love.”
I am writing so that I (so that we) would have the courage to risk the depths to find each other in them. To risk believing each other when we say, “this really hurt me”. To risk looking into eyes that convey the words of a thousand novels–tears stream silent on cheeks and faces. I’m writing for courage to tell my girls and also boys to resist.
Ask and listen.
What happened to you?
Why did it hurt you?
Thank you for telling me.
You are not alone.
I don’t know what to say, but I will fight for you, for your safety, for your heart.
German Poet- Raina Maria Roka wrote these words over 100 years ago
“You mustn’t be frightened if a sadness rises in front of you larger than any you have ever seen. If an anxiety like light and cloud shadows moves over your hands and over everything you do, you must realize that something is happening to you, that life has not forgotten you, that it holds you in it’s hand and will not let you fall.”
I see us connected, family in that we are human, holding each other in the safest embraces saying, we will not let go.
Even if you break the rules.
We are holding on to you.