Writing with Heartache

In this week of Valentine’s Day—a week when I’ve been teaching bell hooks’s Feminism Is for Everybody; sharing love notes that amplify hooks’s words; and meditating with students about love as action, commitment, and a call to authenticity—I’m sitting with heartache.

Heartache that gun violence continues unchecked and that proclamations of love are flooded by the pain and fear of regular, normalized, and numbing violence.

Heartache that a series of online and phone conversations all concern bullying in schools—bullying of kids because of marginalized race, gender, and other social identities.

Heartache because this talk about bullying reminds me of my own experiences with Valentine’s Day and the hurt associated with not getting cards from classmates and of classmates playing hurtful jokes on others (that is, bullying) via the exchange of Valentines.

Heartache that enduring violence—in youth and adulthood, through actions of Othering and extinguishing life—dig in deeper and deeper scars, deeper and deeper trauma.

I take this heartache and choose to feel it.
To acknowledge and not deny it.
To speak it aloud.
To share that it’s here, calling for healing.
To learn from its wisdom.
To commit, again, to love.

Committing again to love—love for justice—I sit with adrienne maree brown’s “Love as Political Resistance: Lessons from Audre Lorde and Octavia Butler.”

https://www.bitchmedia.org/article/love-time-political-resistance/transform-valentines-day-lessons-audre-lorde-and-octavia
brown calls us to action:

“This Valentine’s Day, commit to developing an unflappable devotion to yourself as part of an abundant, loving whole. Make a commitment to five people to be more honest with each other, heal together, change together, and become a community of care that can grow to hold us all.”

Sitting with heartache, I say, YES! I make this commitment toward growing spaces/communities “to hold us all.” Especially now as we’re asked to confront ever-increasing violence, may we invest in collective healing toward collective liberation.


This post is written by Beth Godbee for Heart-Head-Hands.com. For more posts like this one, you might try “Swinging from Sweet to Sour,” “Holding Space and Being Present: Two Resolutions Following the Las Vegas Shooting,” or “Today Resistance Looks Like …” Please also consider following the blog via email. Thanks!

Author: Beth Godbee

I’m an educator living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with connections to many places, including East Tennessee, Atlanta, and Washington, D.C. I write from my identities as a white, feminist teacher and researcher; reiki and yoga practitioner; hiker and vegan. My deepest commitments are to equity, justice, and peace. These commitments lead me to write about intersectional identities, embodiment, power, and rights, among other matters. In this blog, I document my ongoing efforts, struggles, and attitude of “try-try again” to align with these commitments.

8 thoughts on “Writing with Heartache”

  1. You touch many tender chords, Beth. That we would have this school slaughter on Valentine’s Day and the first day of Lent is overwhelming on so many levels. You mention the hurt that children feel (you, me) when we get excluded, when the Valentine hearts aren’t enough to reach our own. I am making in my mind for you this moment a small sweet valentine with lots of vines and leaves and flowers. A garden for your flower heart.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Beth, I am today in Florida, in the middle of a poet-in-residence week with 100 Thousand Poets for Change. I was in Gainesville yesterday, when news of the shooting broke. I feel the emotions you write about here. And I feel a need to act (even though I soon will be going to Canada, and then back home to Israel). Discussing this (latest) horrendous shooting, my hosts and I thought up the idea of a national strike centered on schools and teachers, an American Spring. We started posting about it, and I’ve seen now that someone else is calling for a strike, too.

    We must speak it aloud, as you say. We must act. #NationalSchoolStrike #NationalStrike.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Michael, Thanks for sharing your experience and the calls for a national school strike. YES to taking some significant action: a strike, walk-out, and more … There’s so much broken. We need some serious interruption into systemic, everyday violence. We need some serious visioning for a more equitable and just future. I really appreciate you writing, and I send many good wishes as you keep traveling and thinking about making change locally-and-globally. ~ Beth

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks, Michael, I’ve been following this march take shape and discussions/debate about other actions planned through the spring. I imagine a single day’s march will need to be extended into a fuller strike, but in the meantime, it’s good to have this plan and to see students leading the charge. Sending many good wishes! ~ Beth

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