say what you mean, vol 6

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

Two very important things have consumed my thoughts the last few weeks…

1) How concepts like self-care become trends which strips away the substance behind it. I hate trends, and I hate being ignorant to trends.

2) How dating is the hardest thing I’ve ever done because it requires two to tango. Unfortunately, I’ve gotten real good at being alone and independent. More unfortunately, I actually like the idea of sharing a life with someone. Most unfortunately, that requires communication, vulnerability, and risk. Oh shit…

So please bear with me as I attempt to combine the two.

I haven’t been supporting myself in the best ways. I’ve been doing things new to me that I thought I was ready for (ahem, dating). Isn’t it funny how you think you can “prepare” for something you have no control of? At least with dating, there are a million variables at play and you are at the mercy of another human. It doesn’t matter how many books or Google articles you read about the damn subject. If you enter any sort of relationship not ready to say what you mean and mean what you say…you’re fucked. Or you’re at least going to have a very hard time getting what you want.

Dating has sent my anxiety into overdrive. But it’s NOT the people I date who are responsible for my anxiety. The minute we blame others for our emotions we can no longer own our experiences. Can we all agree that we need to take personal responsibility for our feelings and reactions? Do we always want to be playing the blame game?

This is where self-care comes in. It’s clear that new experiences, like dating, trigger my anxiety. Anxiety is a major red flag that I am not paying attention to what I need. Since I am human, I do my damnedest to suppress my anxiety, which never works, and soon I have entered “the hole”. Then you’re doing everything BUT the things that contribute to your well-being. Things like writing weekly posts about supporting yourself. Sigh.

Self-care asks that I prioritize my wellness and my values. It’s not a fancy trend so we can sell more buddha bowls and increase the number of hot yoga studios in the world. Before writing anything else about self-care, I needed to understand it better, especially as a white girl.

Self-care is first, a radical and political statement. There are things to consider about race, gender, and class. I am going to continue to practice self-care, but my antennas are up. In the meantime, these questions are a beautiful reminder of how we can navigate our feelings. From the activist and writer most associated with self-care, Audre Lorde, adapted from Lorde’s ‘The Cancer Journals’ by Divya Victor

audre-lorde-hires-cropped

What are the words you do not have yet?

What do you need to say? List as many things as necessary.

What are the tyrannies you swallow day by day and attempt to make your own, until you will sicken and die of them, still in silence? List as many as necessary today. Then write a new list tomorrow. And the day after.

If we have been socialized to respect fear more than our own need for language, ask yourself: “What’s the worst that could happen to me if I tell this truth?” Answer this today, and everyday.

I”ll be thinking about these questions this week with an open heart and mind. I’m also going to be thinking about how to avoid all the holiday treats that magically appear this time of year. But, I definitely WON’T be thinking about failed non-relationships (UGH) or dying alone. Nope, not at all!

P.S. Here are articles that focus on the history and political statements behind self-care…

Love and support to you!

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