What does guilt look like to you? To me, guilt looks like a pile of dirty laundry. It looks like a wall half-painted. It looks like an unfinished letter, or a mistake at work. What does it feel like to you? For me it sits in my chest, deep within my core, pulling my shoulders taut and my stomach tense. It makes me want to bury my face and hide from everything and especially, everyone.
Guilt used to be a feeling I experienced all of the time. A year and a half ago I was in the depths of a codependent relationship, and in the midst of a self-esteem spiral. As my relationship ended I put myself in therapy and began putting my mental health and emotional well-being first.
When I started focusing inwards I was surprised by so much of what I found. I felt sick, I felt sad, I felt tired. I hated myself. And for some reason I felt guilty, about everything. As I worked through a lot of those emotions, learned coping mechanisms, and started to re-learn the language I use to talk about my body and mental health, I got really, REALLY tried of feeling guilty.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the care and the emotional labor I perform in my life. I’m glad that I can serve as a resource for the people I love to talk about and work through their feelings, their problems, and their experiences. At the same time, the disparities in the amount of this work I perform compared to that of other people in my life is pretty remarkable.
“Emotional labor or emotional work is composed of tasks that require a high degree of understanding or management of emotions. Women are disproportionately believed to be good at these tasks as a function of their gender, regardless of their actual skill or willingness.” from Geek Feminism Wiki
I use the terms “care” and “emotional labor” interchangeably here. Women perform FAR more emotional labor than men. There is little information about the emotional labor that nonbinary and gender nonconforming people are performing compared to others, which is frustrating to say the least.
As a very specific and intentional life choice I am no longer close to men that are incapable or unwilling to take care with the people around them. As such, I am close to very few men in my life at the moment. What I see is that women and nonbinary people carry extreme loads of both self and community care. We are performing massive amounts of emotional labor, all the time.
TW: Mentions of sexual assault, emotional and mental abuse, trauma, death.
Last week I had my follow up appointment with my rheumatologist. We had thought that I likely had a connective tissue disorder, like Rhuematoid Arthritis or one of the other few hundred diseases of that category. I walked into the appointment excited to get some answers about why I was feeling as bad as I was, and hopefully get some treatment to make life a little easier.
All of my test results came back negative. The physicians assistant didn’t say, but might as well have said “there’s nothing wrong with you.” As much as an auto-immune disorder would have been difficult to deal with, the result of “nothing” was pretty devastating. I thought finally I would be taken seriously.
Ya’ll this post gets really graphic from here on out. If you are someone in my life who doesn’t want to or shouldn’t hear details of assaults I have experienced I would strongly advise you NOT to read this.
Very strong trigger warning for: trauma, abuse, rape, assault
I’m having a really hard time right now. Most of us are. Today in the midst of a highly political and apocalyptic lunch discussion at work I told myself out loud, “there is definitely something happy to think about” to which a co-worker replied, “yeah there’s only 4 more hours until the work day is over.”
What can we find in all of this that makes it possible to get out of bed every day? I am asking you genuinely from the bottom of my heart, collectively, how do we keep going? In the face of the monolith of terror and hatred we’re uncovering (p.s. it’s always been there) and experiencing, how do we keep moving?
I am someone that takes a long time for reflection. I cannot think things through without time and space. I, like I’m sure you all are, am wading through think-pieces and daily articles about the election and the current state of our country. I have nothing to add to that conversation yet. I’m thinking and I’m acting and I’m preparing, but I don’t have anything to write about it. Maybe soon. Today I want to take a minute to reflect on a beautiful hike I had with my friends recently, and to offer you some affirmations for these hard days.
A few weekends ago we did our Hike for Healing. It was cathartic, it was wonderful, it was just what I didn’t know I needed. If you have the time and are able, check out soldiers delight natural environmental area, you will love it. Here are some thoughts I had today thinking about the hike and my life at the same time.
If you were sitting here with me and we were talking about how be okay, this is what I would say to you.
It’s not news to anyone that I am a bit of an over achiever. I do a lot of things and feel constantly driven to do more and to do better. Over the last couple of months I’ve had increasing health issues that sometimes make it harder to accomplish what I would like to. Often, my inability to finish tasks fills me with guilt and anger. This is ridiculous, and I know it. I’m ill, I deserve a break. But it is ingrained in me to work more and work harder, no matter what.
So I’ve been thinking about productivity. What it means, how it matters, and why I find myself caring about it.
I’ve been having a tough couple of weeks on top of working some extra hours for the past 9 weeks while my supervisor has been on maternity leave. So today I’m sharing what I do for self care. Sometimes we think self care is just taking a bath, or doing our nails, but self care is anything we can do to make it easier to be a human, if just for a few minutes. Here’s 30 things I do when I find it hard to keep being.