I’ve never been good at resting.
At one point last year, I was suffering from pneumonia, and I still had the urge and instinct to get stuff done. My husband practically sat on my chest and ordered me to lay back down. That’s what it took to get me off my feet and not trying to do eight things at a time.
Maybe it’s because I had it drilled into my had that working hard, through pain, exhaustion, and frustration was the only way to be accepted, successful, and strong. A lot of it was unintentional I’m sure, but I felt growing up that anytime I needed a break or a day off that I was chastised for daring to think such things were acceptable.
Therefore, I find myself in the difficult position of desperately needing a break from the world being on fire, but every time I think I’m ready to cut things off for a while, this overwhelming sense of guilt takes over; shaming me for daring to even think of disengaging when silence can be interpreted as consent or compliance.
Speaking out does not come without its consequences, and as much fun as it can be, and as great as the reciprocation can be, it doesn’t come without its toll. For instance, being on the trans rights activism front, it’s only natural that I know other trans rights activists, and a lot of their posts often include the original source of someone saying something horrible about us. Yes, it is often followed by a refutation, but taking in yet another person who doesn’t think we’re people or valid or in charge of our identity is taken in nonetheless, and it gets fucking exhausting to have to justify your humanity to yourself, even when being shown an example of someone else already doing that part. I internalize everything, and it’s impossible for me to see the horrible thing consequence-free.
Combine that on the personal front with being hurt badly in successive days by people in my own life for anything from being dehumanized to shamed for needing some space, and it feels like the world is closing in on me. Like it’s a new age version of Mean World Syndrome,where instead of the media convincing me that everyone is going to get murdered, the people out there who find that action against us justified get their signals boosted constantly; and it seems unavoidable.
I needed to get away from it; that, and putting myself out there to only be called a thing or deadnamed or misgendered constantly, it wears on my already tired and weakened battery. Yet, those who march against all marginalized groups and kill people with their cars to prove it don’t sleep, and silence from white people can be seen as complicity. That line becomes grey and hard to spot, and the right thing to do can be lost between trying to be there and visible and running on fumes, but feeling exhausted, defeated, ineffective, and in desperate need of recharge. I can only see how a majority of people think of me and my community so many times before I need to not see it for a while.
But again, that guilt runs deep. That sense of feeling like resting or needing a break is giving up; it keeps the candles burning late and the car running past the E. It’s an internal vicious circle of horrible, self-defeating inner Monologues.
In the midst of feeling myself hitting another low, I took another self-imposed social media ban, barely a week after spending the weekend in Seattle with my partner the same way. Taking it a step further though, I deleted Facebook and Twitter from my phone entirely, following in the footsteps of someone I dearly love, Eli Bosnick. Though not for the same reason, he’s someone else who puts himself out there boldly, and deals with the blowback as best he can. Yet, like the rest of us, remains human and can only deal with so much negativity and horrible hatred in human behavior.
Sometimes it’s just about learning that the fire doesn’t always need to be put out immediately, but left to be managed by allies who step up in your place. You know, like real allies who aren’t in it for the cookie.
Recording my own podcast tonight, I found myself breaking down at the end while discussing a somewhat traumatic recent event, and I had to ask my cohost if they could edit the show. I couldn’t even bring myself to deal with it on that level anymore. I needed escape from the world; into the arms of my husband, my partners, the innocent eyes of my kids who have no idea the kind of negativity from which I truly try to shield them… and yet, I can’t stop feeling like a failure for it. Nor can I stop feeling one when the next transphobic asshole thinks they’re being original with whatever apologetic they heard from someone else and thought it was brilliant.
I need to fight all I can, especially for those who aren’t in a position to do so, but I’m not in a good headspace at all. Things are getting to me, and even in writing this post with no intention of reading the comments, I’m stuck between keeping it to myself and fearing pointlessness. Or posting it and feeling pointlessness.
Maybe for a while, I need to let the other firefighters take a shift. I’ve been on the call for far too long. But if something is lost in the fire when I’m not there, I’ll never stop blaming myself.
So be it. I’m no good to anyone with a dead battery.