1) I once upon a time read an article on successful copy writing and it said lists ARE AWESOME TRAFFIC DRIVERS.
Okay, all joking aside, self care is important, and I suck at it. So, like most things that confuse me, I am going to spend some time writing about it. Because it’s only a quarter to seven in the morning and if I try to call anyone right now they’d probably not be my friend anymore.
So, three followers who aren’t me, you may have noticed I was gone for like two weeks. I’ve been buried in real life struggle and joy and exhaustion. Mostly exhaustion. I felt like I had lost all meaningful control over my life and in the face of that despair it was really hard to shift my brain into gear and write about things which I honestly do not have a great deal of control over. I do not have control over cultural body shaming, slut shaming, rape culture, trans*phobia and homophobia. None of us, individually, have control over that. There is no single switch anywhere that even the most powerful person in the world could just flip and have all this ugliness go away.
I’m sure as fuck not going to manage it with a fucking blog.
Changes to cultural issues like these happen with glacial slowness and it is always a collection of factors which contribute. You have to change the dialogue, and by changing the dialogue you change the language and when you change the language you change minds. I like to think that this blog can be a teeny-tiny piece of that process.
In order for that to be true I have to keep up the chatter; I have to keep talking and I have to continue to refuse to be silenced either by direct aggression or by the million tiny cuts of the struggles and indignities of existing in the world. I need tools to overcome the exhaustion that is the perfectly natural outcome of existing in a world which is trying to kill me, a world in which I have to fight for dignity and respect constantly. I need self care.
I totally suck at it. I mean I spectacularly suck at it. I am hard on myself. This is not always a terrible thing. I push myself to work hard and achieve; I push myself to be better. I want to be a better friend, a better advocate, a better writer, a better person. I try to demand better of the people around me, but in order to do that I feel that I must also be demanding better of myself, always.
And when I fail on occasion to be better, I kick myself really hard for it. And it isn’t healthy all the time. It frequently sends me into self-feeding cycles of despair and hopelessness. I feel ineffective and invisible and idiotic and I despair that I will ever be anything else.
Which is probably the most idiotic thing of all. Because if I believe anything at all, I believe that doing what you can, when you can, from a place of compassion, understanding and just a touch of practicality, can, in fact, change the world. Yes, glacially, but the changes are there. It’s there when I get a friend to stop telling misogynist jokes; it’s there when I talk about the rape culture with friends who would really probably like me to stop talking about the rape culture; it’s there when I demand respectful treatment from those who would disrespect me based solely upon their perceptions of my body, my gender, and, from those, my worth. Even when I do not change someone’s mind I have still planted something there. There is a thought in xir head which would not have been there had I not spoken.
Which is why it is so important to keep speaking.
How? There is no magical map to keeping your energy up in a fight that isn’t merely endless but pervasive. There are no front lines in this fight; there are no lines. For those who are subject to oppression it’s life itself that is a fight. At least, there are no obvious ones. This isn’t World War II with a home front and a war front and honky tonks in between to get a little R&R before going back to fighting the good fight.
You have to build those spaces yourself. You have to draw your own lines, create your boundaries and defend them without reservation. When the whole rest of your life is the battlefield, you have to create your own home front.
Which is why I spent yesterday cleaning my room. Seems like a totally banal thing to do, but my room was a wreck. I hadn’t really finished moving into my new space (still haven’t, but I’m working on it), but because I live with two roommates who aren’t exactly staunch allies I need my room to be my haven. I need a space that is away, that is mine and that is accessible to me whenever I need it. I needed to clean my room, move my furniture, think hard about what it is about a space that makes me feel good, safe, comfortable and restful. I needed to spend a whole day thinking about what it is that I need in order to take care of myself.
Not just because if I wear myself out I am no good to anyone and cannot fight for my causes, though that’s a good reason too. I needed to do it because I deserve my own care and affection and attention. I am worth the time it takes to make myself happy and healthy and hopeful.
It is good to fight. I would not be me if I did not fight. But that is not the only reason to take care of myself. I should take care of myself because I deserve it.
And so do you.