The past week has been a pretty introspective one. I’m continuing to work on expanding my repertoire of self-care techniques. As I mentioned last week, I signed up for a three-week intro to yoga class, because it’s about damn time I started taking better care of my body. That started on Saturday. It came with the bonus of giving me free access to all of the other basic yoga classes at the studio for the duration of the three weeks, so I did yoga twice over the weekend, and am much less sore than I expected.
I’ve been continuing to try to reincorporate meditation and tarot into my daily routine. It’s been an anxious week, but I’ve been trying to give myself space when I need to in order to focus on my breathing and ground myself. This, along with yoga, has made me very conscious of something I was only dimly aware of before:
I am really bad at breathing.
I’ve never had a huge lung capacity, but wearing a chest binder for five years did me no favors in that regard. Today marks seven months since I had chest masculinization surgery, but even though I haven’t been binding for months now, I haven’t gotten out of the bad breathing habits my body developed over those five years. When I try to breathe deeply, I find that it all feels stuck high in my chest. Belly breathing is a mystery to me. I can visualize how it should work, but in my body, it’s not. At least not yet. So that’s a major piece of grounding that I’m going to be focusing on for a while, I think.
It feels like my life is taking a very meditative direction lately, and my initial reaction to that was to feel guilty: after all, there is so much to be done, such chaos in the world around me that needs to be confronted. I brought this up in therapy on Sunday, and my therapist pointed out that self-care is essential to resistance. Resistance is in large part about stamina, going in for the long haul, and that’s not possible if you don’t take time to dig in and build a solid, sturdy foundation for yourself.
I still feel guilty, but I recognize the truth there: I’m no good to anyone if I’m not taking time to take care of myself. I’m acutely aware of the privilege I hold that allows me to take that time. I hope that I ultimately use that privilege for good.
I’ve been trying to get through each day by way of to do lists the past couple of weeks. Often, they go something like this:
- Organize request list at work
- Do songwriting homework
- Look for new therapist to help with anxiety management
- Remember to eat actual meals (like a normal person)
I’m trying to stay on top of things at work (because I just accepted a promotion that takes me from direct user support into project management), and that’s a struggle. I’m also trying to stay on top of my social media engagement and news intake (because I don’t want to be paralyzed by the deluge of horror coming out of D.C. these days), and that’s a struggle, too. Self-care fits in there somewhere, which isn’t any easier than the rest of it.
I’m tired. This level of anxiety isn’t sustainable. I’m doing everything I know how to do in order to manage it, but I’ve never had such a prolonged, physical reaction to anxiety before.
And I’m not just anxious. I’m also increasingly angry. I have always had a strong, ingrained sense of justice and fair play (Hufflepuff FTW!), and this administration of rich white folks walking all over every marginalized group they can reach is maddening. I will never understand why it’s considered okay to sacrifice people in the name of profit. I will especially never understand the people who are supporting this and still claiming they have the moral high ground, but that’s perhaps a post for another day.
I would love to hear what all of you out there in the great wide world of the interwebs are doing to manage your own anxiety and anger, or even better, how you’re channeling it.
Well, folks, it appears it really is happening. Tomorrow, a thin-skinned, grossly underqualified, misogynistic, xenophobic nightmare is being inaugurated as President of the United States of America. I’m terrified, and I have relatively little to fear. I have spent a large portion of 2017 in denial. I have not been good at getting off my ass and doing anything about the growing nausea and terror within me.
I plan to join the Women’s March in Chicago this weekend. I’m overwhelmed by the idea of marching with that many other people, but I’m going to do it anyway. And after that? I’m going to look for ways to get involved in local political movements, because that is where you and I have the most power.
If you’re feeling hopeless and paralyzed, I get it. I’m struggling with the same feelings, and it’s really, really hard to push past that. But we owe it to ourselves, and to our fellow human beings, to try. It may feel like the apocalypse is imminent, but all signs point to this being a reality that’s going to be here for a while, so we need to do what we can to keep fighting. I’ve decided that giving up is not an option.
I’ve seen a bunch of helpful and empowering articles and videos around the internet the past few days. Here are a handful of them: