I ponder the damage done in the world by people who hate themselves. Mostly because they don’t feel their feelings.
“I think people hate themselves because they do bad behaviors. And they do bad behaviors because they don’t let themselves feel their feelings,” I told Ming. “And that makes them do more bad behaviors.”
Some people believe feeling their feelings is a luxury they cannot afford. Of course they need to entertain themselves, use recreational substances, sedate themselves with psych meds, and avoid who they really are. How dare I suggest they have the time and energy to feel. How privileged and cruel of me, to suggest that.
These are the ways I have a happy, meaningful life.
- ecstatic dance
- abundant sleep and rest
- art making
- abundant pleasure
- delicious foods
- kind spouse
- radical mental health
That’s no joke. It’s a fuckton of work, feeling my feelings all day. If I need to cry for an hour, I do. Resting is a valid activity. Pushing myself to do more isn’t encouraged. How about we do less, and do it well?
Feeling isn’t an emergency at our house–it’s the norm. There are things I do to keep the feelings in motion, like movement / exercise. It’s not optional. I cook almost all the food I eat myself, because I understand how different ways of eating make me feel. Restaurants can’t do it. I accept my emotions and face them.
Being on disability means poverty. There are a lot of tradeoffs. Keeping my responsibilities and as stress as low as possible means my life is different from other lives. But it’s not lesser than. I love this life.
I’m on earth to feel
I’m on earth to feel. Not to make money, look beautiful, have a conventional family, drive a shiny car…. I’m here to feel, love, give, share, and speak the truth.
I was told by a hater that if I don’t need psychiatric medication like they do, I’m obviously much less “mentally ill” than they are–so I should shut my mouth. They imagined me a pampered, sensitive white lady who has some depression / anxiety and isn’t a real “mentally ill” person like them
But they imagined me wrong. I probably hear a lot more voices than they do. They never knew my diagnoses, ACE score, the medications I’ve been on, or the withdrawal I’ve suffered getting off medications. I’m not pampered; I work very hard being who I am, doing self-care and community care all day.
The hater judged me as if my lack of psych meds was about them, which it’s not. My liberation isn’t about shaming anyone.
Reminds me of when people think my vegetarianness is shaming them. If I don’t eat meat and they do, does that have to be about them? Do I need to start eating meat, so they won’t feel guilty? What I do really isn’t about them. If they make it about them, that’s their own guilt, not mine.
By feeling my feelings, I’m an example of another way of being. That can make some people uncomfortable, or they just don’t believe it. Choosing my own values and feeling my feelings seems impossible to some people.
I had to throw out almost all the values I learned in my family and start over. My mom loved me and taught me how to love, and I will be forever grateful to her for that. Love saves my life.
I also learned extremely destructive values in my family.
what I was taught in my family
- women exist to serve men
- women exist to give and give until we die
- abuse is the norm
- the needs of men and boys matter
- the needs of women and girls are an afterthought
- buying things is a valid way to feel better
- money keeps us safe
- the government protects us and is trustworthy
- we should pray asking Jesus to take away our anger, not give us strength to change our lives
- emotions like sadness, anger, and grief are to be avoided at all costs
- denial is a valid way of dealing with illness
- denial is a valid way of dealing with everything
- the pain of men and boys is real and matters, while the pain of women and girls is made up and mostly irrelevant
- being beautiful for men is the responsibility of women and girls
- women and girls should cover up our bodies so we don’t tempt men to violate us
- body hair on women is dirty and wrong
- thin is inherently good
- desserts are sinful pleasure
- food deprivation to the point of self-starvation is a way to have power over our lives
- being dependent on others as an adult is a shameful failure
- disabled people are weak and worthless
- being quiet or alone means something is wrong
I could go on. These values and beliefs are mostly the opposite of what I believe now.
Living in community and being inter-dependent is my goal. I’m disabled but powerful and made of worth. Quiet and alonetime are valid. Denial just postpones dealing with reality and is a waste of time. Abuse is not ok. I exist for myself. The government is for rich people. Love keeps us safe, not money.
choosing our own values
To overhaul my values and continue to reject ideas that fuck me up is a lot of work. When I explain to people that I wasn’t raised with consent or with ideas like “my body is sacred,” they don’t believe me. They say someone must have told me that.
They don’t understand that it’s possible to choose our own values. Yes, many people are taught horrible things in our families about violence, power, gender, disability, food, health, community… If we don’t examine the values we were taught and remake ourselves, how can we be happy? How can we create a happier culture?
Most people see big problems in culture, but it’s easier to donate to a cause than create change. It’s a lot of work to be honest about the errors of what we were taught, then make better choices. Kind of like making better choices about substance abuse, violence, destructive health behaviors, and other self-harm.
- face the truth
- ask for help
- make a plan
- be real
- eliminate distractions
- ask for better help
- create an environment where you can make the change
- revise the plan
Fail, try again, and do the work. It’s hard, but it’s possible. I quit smoking cigarettes, got off psych meds, and stopped showing up for white men who use me. It’s so much work, but it’s worth it.
I notice my feelings, welcome them, feel them, learn their lessons, and move them through. Feelings I don’t need anymore, I give back to Mother Earth. She can absorb them–no problem.
Living without psych meds doesn’t mean I’m not crazy. Truly, I am crazy. But I’ve found a way of being that works for now, without the medication. It’s been about four years now, I’ve been off the bipolar cocktail.
My last therapist told me, “You don’t give yourself enough credit for living without psych meds.” She found it impressive, but I’m not doing it to be impressive. Not for hippie purity, because I hate big pharma, to say I can, or even to avoid side effects.
I’m doing it because I’m strong enough to feel my feelings, and that’s what I’m on earth to do. I have this body to feel pleasure and emotions with, so that’s what I’m going to do, grateful for this human birth.
It’s strange to be thought weak when I’m actually very strong. Other people have full time jobs, children and grandchildren, houses, cars, and photo shoots in dress up clothes with careful lighting where they look like success. They can be legible with straightness, cisness, regular religions, political parties that represent them, and careers that earn them money and respect.
I have none of that, but I can feel my feelings. I’m free, which makes me the richest of all.