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I’ve been thinking of starting a timebank. It occurs to me that money would help. It occurs to me to apply for grants, and for 501c4 status. 
It occurs to me that grant money can go towards paying whoever sets up and manages the website. Maybe Jason. He should get paid for his labor.

It occurs that I could pay myself for the time I put into building and growing this–copywriting, website building, official paperwork, intro sessions.

It occurs to me that I should be payed for my labor. I see my friends do professional “favors”–that is, labor–without pay.

Yes, I believe in the goodness of volunteerism and “giving back”. But, I am giving. I have chosen to be underpaid in order to do biomedical research. I am giving, time and, in opportunity cost, money, livelihood.

I am giving enough. I deserve to be paid for my work. 

We’ll get grants, and then open the timebank. We will not allow exploitation of our own labor. 

I have posts to write about healing out of depression. About dealing with depression. I’m behind here. You’ll have to forgive me the order.

I’ve been getting depressed at home. I’m lethargic in the morning. If I’m there in the afternoon, I crawl in bed sometimes. It’s all I want to do. Good for getting reading done, but not for much else. It’s hard to leave in the morning. And when I walk home, when I am that block from the door, I don’t want to go home.

The other night, out walking in the cool dark after an argument, against the wall of my vulnerability, when he texts me asking to come home, I say I will. I purposefully don’t look at street signs, knowing I’m closer to home than I want to be. I walk slowly. I walk towards home–I said I would–but I follow the letter of the law. Back up this way, even though the other way would be a little quicker. On my block, I walk slow as a crane. I pause outside for a few minutes, finishing the conversation on the phone, not wanting to go in. I went in for him.

I know what this depression is. I can trace it. I have traced it, simply by being with myself, watching what is happening.

I am trying here. I am doing the only thing I can do: telling my truth, saying what doesn’t work for me, saying and asking for what I need. And asking him what he needs, trying to do what he needs, trying to divine what he needs and how he feels–

And it doesn’t work. It is not working. I am still not getting what I need. He still does things that are just not okay with me. I can’t give him what he needs, because it goes against my needs, or because he doesn’t know enough to tell me, and clearly divination is not my calling. Or my damn job.

And so I feel powerless. I am ineffective. Not as a state of being, but here, in this relationship, at home. I am ineffective. Doing what I can do isn’t affecting the change I need.

And that lack of power, that lack of agency, influence, makes me feel helpless. And depressed.

 

And I think: no wonder I was depressed as a child. My childhood was a state of powerlessness. I was powerless to meet many of my own needs, emotional, relational, physical, educational. And the people around me weren’t overly concerned, or attuned, or noticing me. I got what I got, and I had no agency in it.

Or maybe I would’ve if I’d tried. If I’d felt allowed to say I needed something, or complain in a serious way, or ask for something. By the time I can remember, I had learned not to.

I tried to stay out of trouble. Not to earn love, but to avoid humiliation, and more shame. I did more or less stay out of trouble, but. But. There was nothing I could do to make them love me. That was clear. I felt for a long time, in some implicit way, that that was my own flaw, but I still didn’t have any sense I could do anything about it.

 

I notice that when I work on the timebank project, I’m energized. I’m passionate about it, and I think I can pull the damn thing off. It is not just the passion that is energizing, but the sense of agency, the sense that I could achieve something great if I work at it.

 

I hate the term “empowerment”.  Empowerment is a feeling–you feel empowered. This is different than being powerful. And I wonder, empowered to do what? There’s no answer because it’s about feeling, not action. I am not interested in empowerment. But I need power.

It was harder this time last year. I was thinking about the different scenarios, looping on them, researching diagnoses and treatments. I was panicked, and so terribly alone.

This time, I’m not thinking much about it. I’m panicked, but it is not cognitive. It is mostly all physical. This has happened with other anxieties over time–the anxious thoughts have diminished or stopped. It is not cognitive, it is not in thought, it is not about storylines, it is in my blood, in my body.

My body is panicked. And exhausted. I distract, and numb. I am on my own, and I had a couple minutes tonight of feeling terribly alone, but mostly I have felt a different iteration of it that is being on my own.

…And then he messages me, and I feel alone again, because he isn’t here, because he can’t deal. Or doesn’t know if he can deal, or whatever.

What would I recommend? Know the outlines, but don’t research too heavily until you know for sure. If you need some idea of your next steps to feel comfortable, get some idea. Know the contingencies or back-up plans. Actually, do this either way, because if you get bad news, you may be too panicked to do it. Have some bearings in place.

Don’t loop if you can help it, but if you are looping, you probably can’t help it–at least I couldn’t. I distract, I numb. Those things help a bit. I recommend them.

I wish I weren’t doing this alone. The sense of it, looking down the corridor of my life, is waiting rooms and no one else there. That sense is not just my sense tonight. A sense is also not a truth.

From Julie Holland in a conversation on NPR about her NY Times op-ed “Medicating Women’s Feelings“:

If you want to feel better, you need to get better at feeling.

and

Feel to heal.

The Buddhist line I’ve heard is:

The way out is through.

I open a book of poetry that I bought sometime in the last five years but haven’t read, and there is a piece of handmade paper, greeting card-sized, a letter–undated, undated!–to an old lover.

It was a letter about him haunting me, about falling asleep with the memory of his mouth on mine.

In an interview, Mr. Shapiro said, “If the point of a safe space is therapy for people who feel victimized by traumatization, that sounds like a great mission.” But a safe-space mentality has begun infiltrating classrooms, he said, making both professors and students loath to say anything that might hurt someone’s feelings. “I don’t see how you can have a therapeutic space that’s also an intellectual space,” he said.

This is a really interesting piece, and well worth reading. The language of trauma has it’s place and it’s important uses, but it seems to be leaking out. Trigger warnings, for instance, came about for people who may be triggered into a trauma state–not to mean, this might make you a little uncomfortable. That definition of “being triggered” as going into a traumatic flashback (of memory and/or emotion) seems to be getting looser and coming to mean, “having an uncomfortable response”.

Similarly, “safe spaces” have their place for people who are traumatized, or perhaps for anyone who is up against things (I’m thinking of Sarah Ahmed here) but the idea that a college or university should be safe is again this leaking or loosening of trauma language around discomfort.

I’ve thought about this because sometimes people refer to my bookclub as a “safe space”, or of that as a goal–and it is *not* a safe space. It is a space for open, respectful conversation and dissent, and it cannot be both safe and open for discussion of dissenting views on some of the tough topics relevant to women and women’s well-being–like abortion and reproductive health care; sexual and social well-being, and gendered violence and sexual assault; race, racism, and intersectional feminisms; and so on.

Our discussion guidelines–which are a work in progress–include suggestions meant to keep conversation civil/respectful, and not inadvertently raise emotional temperatures through common dialogueing tactics (i.e. ” Generally, it will be most effective to speak from your own experience, and to ask others to speak from their own experience. Avoid asking others to speak as representatives of groups of which they may be a part.”).

My working attempt to deal with the issue of safety and trauma, is the following principle, “Self care: This is a place for open conversation and respectful dissent, and some of the topics we address may be emotionally challenging at points. If you need to step out for a few moments, or leave, in order to take care of yourself, please do so.”

A member suggested the terminology of “brave space”, and pointed me towards some interesting resources. But, I’m not using it. I want us to be willing to be uncomfortable as part of every day conversation, not only in a  special or particular space.

The refusal, especially among liberals, to believe that pornography has any real relationship to sexual violence is astonishing. Liberals have always believed in the value and importance of education. But when it comes to pornography, we are asked to believe that nothing pornographic, whether written or visual, has an educative effect on anyone. A recognition that pornography must teach something does not imply any inevitable conclusion: it does not per se countenance censorship. It does, however, demand that we pay some attention to the quality of life, to the content of pornography. And it especially demands that when sexual violence against women is epidemic, serious questions be asked about the function and value of material that advocates such violence and makes it synonymous with pleasure.

–Andrea Dworkin, “Pornography’s Part in Sexual Violence” in The New Terrorism

Karen Young:

Depression hurts, but it makes sense. It’s a creative, adaptive withdrawal from a world that feels painful to be in.

I “broke up” with a friend on Tuesday, and this is the kind of thing I like about myself–that I actually had a conversation with her instead of ghosting her–and also a thing that makes me wary about myself.

I need to be thoughtful to avoid is crashing all over people in the name of Honesty. I need to not value the sense that I have done right so much that I am honest when it inflicts unnecessary pain.

I never used to have this–it was all stomach aches, and whatever compulsions pulls you away from stomach aches.

 

I’m thinking about it this week because I “broke up” with a friend a couple days ago. I wasn’t nervous, I didn’t spend more than a couple minutes just before thinking about it or how to say what I needed to. I just went, and we talked. She didn’t handle it particularly well, and told me why she thought I was wrong–which is not an appropriate metric in the land of, this is what I’m looking for right now, and this is what I’m needing in my life, which is not the land of right and wrong–and I explained, calmly, and then let it be. After telling me why I was wrong, she asked about what she had done wrong, which was nothing at all, which I had already told her. It wasn’t working, and in some way, some young way, she thought one of us must be wrong.

 

We parted with her, I’m sure, still thinking I was unfair and wrong, maybe wondering if she had done something wrong. And that bothers me a little–I had the impulse after to write a long email explaining that it’s not about right and wrong, though I had already touched on that in our conversation–but I didn’t act on it and the impulse passed. I did what I could do, and there’s nothing else to be done. She’ll figure things out in her own time. And that is okay. Committed action, nonattachment to results.

 

And then this morning, I left after a brief conflict with J. We parted ways unresolved, and I didn’t like it, but I wasn’t panicked as I would’ve been in the past. No stomach ache, no nausea, no feeling so bad I felt compelled to make contact. I wanted to ask for some reassurance, I wanted to hear something from him, I wanted to know that it was okay–but all those things were at tolerable levels. I bought a hot chocolate and watched half an hour of Parks and Rec to calm down more, and then went to work and got stuff done. I want to take care of myself–which means not folding or brushing it aside when something bothers me–more than I want to be close to him. In the long run, and in the moment.

 

And I’m thinking about why this used to be so dramatically hard, and painful. It’s about attachment wounds, attachment hunger, the Trauma of how I grew up, and the fact of my aloneness now. What’s changed is my slowly deepening commitment to myself. What’s changed is my slowly deepening trust in myself and my perceptions and emotions. What’s changed is the depth of my knowledge that mejor sola que mal acompañada.

 

Maybe, too, it’s about having healed my attachment wounds a bit. Maybe, it’s about having built my endurance for conflict through repeat, repeat, repeat.
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