learning to put myself first

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” – audre lorde

i’ve been thinking a lot about self-care and what it means to be assertive with others in a kind way that still allows me a modicum of dignity. and i’ve been thinking about how easy it is to always work in the service of someone else’s feelings when i think i have a lot at stake and to neglect my own or keep giving so many chances that forgiveness is rendered meaningless.

mostly i’ve been trying to be gentle with myself, to acknowledge when i hurt or feel loss, but to keep going and learn from that. i’m considering what friendship means, where my weaknesses are as a friend, but also what my dealbreakers are when it comes to someone’s behavior that makes me feel poorly about myself. i’ve come to a place where i don’t need a friendship so badly that i’ll accept someone’s shit over and over.

i have a long way to go when it comes to listening to the people i love, staying engaged with what they’re doing, and not talking at them. i’m working on it.

i’ve been trying to go to bed earlier. i’ve have taken care of some health issues, have been more organized at home, have been reading more. i’m trying to spend less time on social media, but specifically facebook, recently. i’m not always successful with that, but i’m going to keep trying because, honestly, sometimes it really makes my heart hurt and makes me feel more alone and separate.

sometimes being single is really difficult. i watch my friends date and i wonder what’s wrong with me that no one’s really been responsive to me on dating sites or whatever. i feel lonely; i want someone to do things with. but a lot of time, i’m also okay with being on my own. i’ve come to appreciate my alone time to do whatever i want and the freedom that comes along with not having to consult with a partner.

whenever i hear the voice in my head start to tell me i’m worthless, i try to counter it with some sort of action that makes me feel good. i’ve been hearing that voice a lot recently, especially about my body. i don’t like it, because in the end, it just makes me inactive. i don’t enjoy wallowing like i used to and so i avoid it whenever i’m able.

all of this to say, it’s a process i’m undergoing and i’m going to keep working on it. because i’m worth it. because understanding myself is important. because i deserve better. because i’m not at all the failure i think myself to be. because i love hard and i’m loved as well, even when i can’t see it. because it’s a political act to enjoy yourself and your own time when everything says we have to be connected to people and media constantly, and because single women are considered spinsters and washed up and i want to undo that message in my own head. because it’s survival.

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learning to put myself first

the emotional labor of love

there was a meme that a facebook acquaintance (a woman i think is rad) posted earlier in the week that i attempted to make a thing on my own wall. one person was to post the meme, and then someone else would write something they loved about their friend and then post the meme on their own wall, with the hopes of setting off this wonderful chain reaction of love and admiration across facebook. the OP got a lot of well-deserved, awesome comments.

after i posted it, my good friend T reposted it and found that the majority of her respondents were women. out of maybe 6 or 7, only 2 were men. she reflected that perhaps men are reluctant to post things like that because they’re socialized not to feel their feelings nor to express them to women, especially female friends who are partnered. this began a brief dialogue between the two of us about doing the emotional labor for men in our friendships and romantic relationships. it got me to thinking about my own relationship patterns.

i wrote this:

yeah, it becomes a thing where you start sorting out and explaining and untangling and guessing and armchair-analyzing. i am, quite frankly, worn out on this. i think i need to move into a place where i SHRUG when men expect me to drag their feelings out of them and help them sort through. it’s one thing to ask a *friend* to do this *with* you. it’s another for it to be the expectation.

to clarify: this tends to be an A-1 issue for me in romantic situations or situations that could go that way. friendships with men that are clearly platonic or that are more surface don’t seem to be as tricky for me, but i think that’s because i’m able to draw a firmer line.

then i remarked that this seemed like the beginning of a blog post. 😉

i discovered sometime last year that my tendency in romantic relationships is to take on the majority, if not all, of the emotional work. this is particularly true at the beginning of a relationship. i spend so much time and emotional/mental energy trying to sort out how he might feel about me, what i might mean to him, where he might see things going (if anywhere), making excuses when/if (more likely when, in my case) things don’t quite gel or he acts in silly, thoughtless ways. it is exhausting work, trying to figure out where you stand with someone and doing most of the communicating.

it’s my own choice to engage with this, of course, and i’ve had to learn how to communicate directly about how i feel and what i need and want, and about what’s not acceptable friendly behavior. being direct doesn’t always feel good. but i’ll tell you what – ripping the band-aid off is much easier than the agony of being treated poorly in the long term. i’ve had situations where later on, i’ve realized just how much of an emotional bullet i dodged because i chose to walk away from people who couldn’t be bothered to be open with me or to respond to my requests for communication.

i’m a pretty intense person – both friend and partner – and i recognize that not everyone can hang with that. i don’t think i’m for everyone. BUT – i also refuse to apologize for my sensitivity and need for honesty. i deserve that as a minimum. i’ve spent a very long time disparaging myself because i couldn’t grow a thicker skin or detach from someone. nowadays i try to acknowledge when and where i hurt and then learn from it and move forward. and i also try to enjoy good times without getting wrapped up in things i can’t control, like any future outcomes.

there’s a lot of personal stuff i could write here, but i’ll just spare you that. you should probably read this article, though. if you want to be a good friend and a good partner to someone, you have to be observant and thoughtful for those relationships to succeed. you have to do your part. you can’t expect the other person to carry the weight of the relationship. if you’re not invested in or concerned with your stake in a relationship- whether platonic or romantic – you end up communicating that in your thoughtless behavior or in your silences. your lack of commitment comes through, even if you think you’re engaged. if your partner doesn’t feel heard or appreciated, it is probably because you haven’t tended to some need they have. or even asked what that need is.

sigh. it’s a hard road and so much of it is wrapped up in feelings of self-worth and identity. it’s been a long process trying to figure this out for myself and it’s still a struggle. but mutuality in all relationships is necessary and it’s what we owe the people we care about.

 

the emotional labor of love

welcome to the working week…

i know it don’t thrill you / i hope it don’t kill you – elvis costello, “welcome to the working week”

i just read this article in the ny times about the business culture at amazon. it seems like it would be exhausting and soul-crushing to work there. it feels like it’s everything that’s wrong with the corporate world in america: more and more and more work required with very little empathy for the employee. sure, there are perks, but they come at a price.

Continue reading “welcome to the working week…”

welcome to the working week…

black lives matter, remembering hiroshima and nagasaki, and some other small bits

some of these articles may be a little less timely, but i’ve read a lot of excellent stuff recently.

last week was the 70th anniversary of the bombings of hiroshima and nagasaki. i’m not even sure what to say. i read a lot of survivor accounts last week. absolutely heartbreaking. frightening. angering. i recommend googling “survivors of the atomic bomb” or something like that. read through what you find. we must remember these stories.

“black lives matter: a new movement takes shape” – international socialist review contextualizes the black lives matter movement. excellent.

Continue reading “black lives matter, remembering hiroshima and nagasaki, and some other small bits”

black lives matter, remembering hiroshima and nagasaki, and some other small bits

anger but hope

i wrote this in another form on facebook, but then commented on jezebel with a very similar thing. i want to share it. i don’t think i’m saying anything new, but i think it bears repeating.

—–

1) i was absolutely horrified by the photo i saw come through twitter last night of the 12 year-old girl who was arrested. i would like to know her name because i feel that we need the names of victims of police brutality. we need to stop making black people anonymous. but yeah, seeing her in cuffs and reading that she told the officers she was scared and they did and said nothing enraged me. we are arresting 12 year-olds and prosecuting *children* as adults. what kind of fucking country is this?!

some troll on my instagram – i posted a photo of her arrest – did the victim blaming thing by asking where her parents are. does that even matter? i went to a sam dubose vigil/march here in cincinnati and there were children who marched with us. children should be brought if they want to come. they need to see what it looks like to exercise your rights to speak freely and assemble peaceably. and it really doesn’t matter what she was doing. she’s 12, for crying out loud! she needed to be cuffed?! if she had been a white girl who got in trouble at the protests – and i seriously doubt the girl who was arrested was doing anything that warranted this – she would have had a police escort home.

2) i see some people in this thread expressing frustration and hopelessness about change. i totally get that; i feel that way often. but i’m here to tell you that BLM and other activists are playing the long game. and history is on our side. the civil rights movement of the 20th century was successful because activists knew they were in it for the long haul and they persisted and pushed. this is what we’re seeing now. the rights that black people gained in the 20th century were not won just because white people found it in their hearts to do the right thing. they were gained because black people and their allies sat in, got arrested, were murdered, sat on buses and at restaurant counters, petitioned, spoke out, educated themselves and others, marched, had dogs sicced on them and were sprayed with high-power water hoses, braved segregated areas, loved each other, sweated, cried, prayed, and demanded. we are seeing this movement gain the kind of traction that we saw in the mid-20th century.

don’t lose hope. that is what white supremacists want. they want to flex for us all and force us to submit.

to quote deray: “protest is confrontation, disruption, the end of silence. protest is not solution; protest creates space for solution.”

—–

i just started reading the fire next time by james baldwin. i figured it’s a good time to finally read it. it’s hard to hold back the tears reading the first few pages. it’s all still true. heartbreaking.

anger but hope

something coming soon…

i took a much-needed two-day break from social media and reading the news. i totally own the inherent privilege in being able to take a break. but quite honestly, it’s not like i stopped thinking about all of the stuff that’s been making me rage and sob; i just stopped feeding it into my brain via media. it helped a lot.

i have a “short bits” in progress. but i’m going to start writing an essay about white guilt. it will probably be awhile before i post it, but my main idea is this: white liberals, progressives, and leftists can stay mired in white guilt and holding themselves personally responsible for institutionalized racism (which is truly only step 1, afaic) and therefore react in a knee-jerk reaction when someone calls them out on being dismissive and racist even though we all are because we live in this society OR they can just shut up, let black people *lead* the movement to save black lives, and give support to the work of their liberation.

btw – in typical fashion, jamie and allison from citizen radio did an excellent segment on the recent bernie sanders/BLM issue. you should go listen right now.

something coming soon…

the world is an infuriating place, so what now?

memoriali can’t say that i know what it’s like to keep watching your sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, friends and cousins put behind bars and/or killed. but i found this gif and i understand a tiny bit of the frustration on dave dennis’ face while giving a eulogy at james cheney’s funeral. (cheney was one of the three civil rights workers killed by the klan on june 21, 1964 while taking part in freedom summer actions.) memorial2

a couple of days ago, i got into some kind of nonsense with a white conservative male who is trolling twitter, specifically the #blacklivesmatter hashtag. when i made a factual argument, backed up by literature from the least biased organization i could find, he replied with some sort of racist graphic, mostly about how liberals cry “racist” when someone disagrees with them. i finally reported him for spam (there needs to be an option for “hate speech”) and blocked him. it was somewhat enjoyable to shoot his vitriol back at him, but ultimately, that’s just a waste of energy. are we really going to change the hearts and minds of people like this? people who are so… dedicated to their hatred and paranoia? i don’t think so anymore. but for some reason, i keep trying…

memorial3every day that goes by, it’s like there’s some new horrible story that i can’t even deal with. earlier this week, the hamilton county coroner determined that sam dubose didn’t have alcohol in that bottle of gin. it was air freshener that’s sold at small neighborhood stores; the people who make it reuse bottles and that one was just still marked “gin.” no words. no words. it wasn’t even open. he wasn’t even violating a law transporting it in his car.

i spend a lot of time these days close to tears – sometimes i can’t hold them back – and raging. just this anger inside of me that feels like it might spill out any time. i’m angry about the assault on black people, on women, on LGBT people, on children, on just… anyone who isn’t a white protestant. memorial4i don’t know what to do with my anger except keep writing and get re-connected with activists here in cincinnati. i have to channel it somehow. i don’t know how the dubose family (or any of these hundreds of families who’ve lost their loved ones to murderers with a badge) is getting through this. their pain must be immense.

 

Continue reading “the world is an infuriating place, so what now?”

the world is an infuriating place, so what now?