NOTE: This is a long post. Either skim read the bolded portions, or read the whole thing in chunks. You’ve been warned! :p
The last time I wrote a post on this blog, I was single, childless*, living in the Boston area where I’d lived all my life, working two part time jobs, and throwing my all into any and every sewing side hustle I could manage.
Today, I’m a single parent of a delightful baby I will call Lady James (or Lady, or LJ, etc) in online settings, living in semi-rural Georgia which is completely foreign to me, unemployed, and not sewing. You could say a lot has changed, but if you ask me, the thing that matters most remains the same. I was an angry woman in Boston, and I’m an angry woman in Georgia. My rage is, and always has been, what fuels me.
I’m an emotional person. I do feel more than rage – sadness, fear, lust, envy, vulnerability, shame, and more all make regular appearances on my emotional landscape. But my rage is the emotion they all come out of or lead into. For me, there is no feeling that doesn’t pass through rage. When I was a little girl, angry at the unjust world in which I lived, I acted out. Yes, me. I did. I argued, I yelled *at adults*, I had physical fights at home, I created enemies, I threw things and ripped up things and cut things. In hindsight, if I’d been born ten years later to American parents, I might very well have been diagnosed as having oppositional defiance disorder. Happily, my rage was never pathologized, but at some point in my childhood/adolescence I realized that my rage was interfering with my desire to love and be loved. So on my own, I began working on it. Since I was a child, I did what was in my power to do – I ate it.
Eating my rage had two major consequences. Firstly, I no longer expressed my rage – even when it was a valid response to abuse or disrespect. Secondly, I binge ate 100+ pounds onto my body in the span of a decade. (Everyone has their ‘how I got fat’ story; that’s mine.) But that’s not the important part. The important part is that I’ve spent over half my life swallowing my rage.
I miss Boston daily, but the longer I’m separated from my life there, the more I realize how shitty I was treated by various people and organizations. I mentioned in my last post that I want to start discussing Issues on this blog; moving forward, I intend to explore the mistreatement and what role I had to play in it. What relation does this have to sewing? Ooh, I’m so glad you asked.
One of the side hustles I’ve long dreamed of is teaching sewing. Over the years since I finally got good at it, I’ve seen beginner blogger after beginner vlogger teaching some seriously wrongheaded sewing techniques, or teaching techniques without explanations because they themselves don’t understand why they do what they do. It is an affront to my love of excellence. It makes me angry. So I’ve wanted to teach, to set the record straight, to explain, to lead newbies away from false prophets and through me to the real pros (not me, hah). Then I saw that to teach, I had to have the right photos, write the right things, have the right lilt in my voice, and do just the right amount of clumsy humble bragging. Listen. I never actually dealt with my ODD. It’s literally inside me, in the form of unexpressed rage and ever multiplying fat cells. I can’t do anything ‘right’. I must go my own way, or not at all. So I chose not at all, and monitored the scene to see when it would warm up to a mouthy, angry woman with terrible pictures.
That day has not come.
Instead, I’ve seen – with joy, and a bit of insecurity – that the online teaching scene has exploded in diversity and youth, and even the quality of information has improved. (But there’s still a lot of crap out there…) As things changed I felt less useful, less valuable. I felt like I had nothing to contribute to the teaching scene because everyone is doing it better than me and there are plenty of black women out there teaching now, and fat women, too. So what do I have to add? What do I have to offer?
After several months of reflection, I think the thing I have to offer is the thing I’ve been swallowing all this time: my rage. My fueling, driving, anger that powers everything I do, all the decisions I make, all the values I have, and all the plans I lay. Nothing comes out of me that doesn’t go through or come out of, that rage. But I’ve never really shared it. So how could anyone know me? Trust me? Follow me? Like me?
In real life, I’m a hard person to like. My energy is loud, my mind is made up, and I’m always right and have to have the last word. But I have friends who love me. As messy as I am. I even have a most stalwart best friend, who most days I don’t feel like I deserve – but will never let go, because she’s too wonderful
for an Aries. Why do people like me in real life? Because of my rage. It comes out when I’m being pushy, when I’m being stubborn, when I’m arguing my point, when I’m beating the dead horse of a conversation that won’t end until I say it’s over. They see my rage and understand how it makes me, me. So they have the necessary information to decide they like my crazy. But online, I’m sanitized.
NO. MORE. No more safe online Ebi. My parents always say the internet is forever; anything you put online will live on forever and ever. If I’m going to be immortalized in bytes and tranfer protocols, I want my legacy to be accurate. And if I ever want to try my hand at any sewing side- or main-hustle for real, I’m going to have to be real. Let you in. Share my true self. Because without the real me, there’s no reason to follow my small, dark photos or my hyper detailed instructions, or anything else that comes out of me. If I’m not going to be real with you, someone else will, and you will (and should) follow them instead. So from now on, here’s real.
Now, what does this mean in practice? Off the top of my head, here are some changes and ideas I’d like to share:
-longer blog posts, because I am a wordy person and not a photographer (well, not a good photographer)
-more explanation of my feelings and how they lead to my actions, as sometimes it can be hard to follow what I’m doing without that information
-talk about craft world things that piss me the heck off, especially fake ‘ally’ people/organizations
-SEWINGGGGGGGGGGGGGG…plans. Haha! No, but really, I have a lot of sewing of all kinds and in all phases I want to share on here
-free sewing lessons. I’d love to get paid for what I know because Lady needs new shoes, I need Pirellis (yesss I just massacred some 50 cent lyrics, evs) but I’ve not given anyone enough reasons to do so – perhaps honesty and free lessons can do the trick!
-expanding my scope beyond garment sewing to quilting and other crafts, for both me and Lady James
-resume sharing my music/media inspirations
Whew! That’s a lot! I hope you took this post in chunks, because it’s long but it’s important. Thank you SO MUCH for reading Making the Flame – whether this is your first post or your fiftieth post, I appreciate every second of your busy life that you spend reading my words. <3
*The fetus inside me was literally alive and kicking, but I feared it wouldn’t come out of me intact. So I didn’t really consider myself a parent until LJ came out and survived about a week outside the womb!