With the last days of 2016 upon us, we are taking a look at our most popular posts of the year. This year we worked tirelessly to love ourselves more radically and deconstruct all -isms we face. Thank you for joining the conversation and we can’t wait to kick off a radical, unapologetic 2017!
But as I look at my own patterns today, and to my community of oppressed people, I see everywhere the need for a radical self-love school more and more: I see friends who cannot get out of bed to feed themselves, but will get up to help someone else. I see activists who throw themselves so fully into the struggle for liberation that they neglect themselves and their loved ones. I see myself falling into the familiar grips of co-dependence, of loss of self, too often.
Each of us who struggle with co-dependence fear turning inward because we are terrified that the hole in our hearts – often a product of childhood and emotional trauma – can never be filled.
But what can I do – me, not anyone else – what can I do to fill myself up?
10 Ways To Know When Love Isn’t Love: “Stay Away From People Who Make You Feel Like You’re Hard to Love”
I was raised, taught, and socialized to believe that love is pain. That love is unfair.
Raised a woman, I was taught, socialized — brainwashed — to believe that love means sacrifice. That as a woman I must martyr myself. That as a woman my value comes from martyring myself to the highest bidder, even if he endeavors to own me, even if he never tries to see past my fuckability, or most importantly, how good I make him look, how much my perceived “worth” can reinforce his masculinity.
This means that I did not recognize the toxicity of my own abusive relationship.
I cried almost every other night, I dreaded sex, I policed my own behavior and presentation to best serve his interests, I catered to him, and I scavenged up every scrap of affection he occasionally bothered to throw my way in return, and to me, that was love.
Frequently when desirability gets brought up as a point of conversation, it gets interpreted as boiled down to an individual experience or merely about the frequency with which culturally ugly folks have sex, or the access to sex partners we have which is certainly a part of the conversation but it is not the conversation. This becomes an easy way for folks to shut the conversation down, by framing us as somehow ungrateful or greedy or demanding or entitled and obscuring the larger cultural forces that shape, ingrain and institutionalize our desires.
But our desire and desirability is not just about who we do or want to have sex with, or who or how often people want to have sex with us. It informs how we treat people in the larger world.
I went out with a friend who is a woman and also fat a few weeks ago. The person behind the counter was a very thin gay man who, I felt, was visibly and obviously made uncomfortable or disgusted by my size and actively avoided making eye contact with me, or looking at me at all during our entire transaction. My fatness has trained me to gauge other people’s reactions to my body, to see where their eyes go– whether they make great efforts to avoid mine, or linger a little bit too long as they slowly read my body was silent disapproval. I notice. When we left, my friend commented on how cute and friendly he was to her, and I told her my experience with him. She was offended on my behalf and asked what I thought about his character as a person– as if I thought he was an exceptionally rude or terrible person. I just responded that his actions were totally unremarkable, that they were perfectly common and absolutely in line with social power.
In order to continue producing high quality content and expanding the message of radical, unapologetic self-love, we need to build a sustainable organization. To meet these efforts, we’re thrilled to share the launch of our #NoBodiesInvisible subscription service. This service will provide our community with access to additional content and rewards for your monthly investment in furthering our radical self-love work.[Feature Image: A drawing of a person with short dark hair. The drawing shows their head and shoulders. The background is green stripes. Source: pixabay]