When I was in my 1st year of law school, I was very active on LiveJournal. And when I say “very active,” I mean that I posted a blog entry at least daily, if not multiple times per day.
Truthfully, I miss the platform terribly — not just as a repository for my thoughts, but because of the intimacy that it fostered among the people who used it. We weren’t resharing memes. That wasn’t a thing yet. We were actually sharing important, unspoken parts of our selves.
And, in that vein, when my boyfriend at the time asked, “You know, you can write in a private journal, right? You’re aware that’s an option?” I responded with an “of course.” But the truth was more complicated than that. The truth always is. Unspoken was the thought, “But what’s the fuckin’ point?”
I recognize that some people believe that I “overshare” from time to time. Occasionally, I’m one of them. But they’re missing out on a couple of incredibly important beliefs that I hold dear. The first is that we are all one being. And by “we,” I mean everything and everyone in all of time and space. And by “one being,” I mean the divine. By that logic, I’m always just writing to myself. Separate consciousness itself seems like some kind of cruel parlor trick necessitated by material form.
To be frank, it is my greatest hope and belief that my experiences enrich more than just me, and that by taking the time to write and to share, I empower those thoughts and experiences to be internalized by others in a way that helps them have a different understanding both of their existence and existence on the whole.
At the same time, I recognize that, all metaphysical bullshit aside, the “other” is a reality of life that can’t be escaped. Just like we all have an inner critic, being one with an outer bully doesn’t make them any less dangerous.
(I also would like to take this moment to assure you, dear reader, that I’m not high on anything right now. I’m 26 weeks pregnant and almost painfully introspective. While I miss the help with managing pain and PTSD, I’ve made it 6 months without weed, and I’m low-key proud of myself for it — both for putting this child’s needs first and for regaining a certain amount of endurance for being uncomfortable.)
Recently, I erased all traces of this blog from my Twitter account after a friend got doxxed by neo-nazis. These douchebags have made her life a living hell because she had the unmitigated gall to complain about being discriminated against by Uber drivers because she is disabled, in a wheelchair, and with a service dog — while also being a well-educated, non-binary, loud, feminist Jew. I wanted to loudly support her, but I found that I couldn’t. I was afraid for my family’s safety. And I loathe that in that quiet, I let the fascists win.
I contemplated taking this blog down entirely. To be honest, the only reason I haven’t taken it down at this point is that more than a handful of friends and loved ones told me that it would be a shame to do so, and I still hope that Past Rae’s words help some folks in some way.
But I find it hard to write here, recently. It’s easier to share memes. It’s easier to post a one or two line response to an article talking about how ICE standards are meaningless or to remind friends sharing information about the atrocities in our concentration camps that they have been going on for over a year now, while nearly the entire American public has had so much shit political news thrown at them daily that they can’t possibly have the mental or emotional bandwidth necessary to carry this pain with them all the time. Especially not when there ain’t shit we can do about it, and the Supreme Court is busy affirming this sort of racist, classist behavior.
So, I’ve been minding my hula hoop — focusing on self-care and then on care of my family and then on care of my friends — before contemplating trying to care, in earnest, about anyone else. That is, until earlier today, I came across this meme, and realized that despite all of my silence, I still have quite a bit to say, and quite a bit of self-care that I’ve been neglecting.
I shared the above meme this morning, when I read it — and my comment was simply, “Sometimes that someone is yourself.”
But what I wanted to say was that reading that short paragraph simultaneously shattered me and helped me find the strength in the ways that I’ve already rebuilt.
See, recently, I’ve been gutted about not being who I thought I was going to be. Past Rae had a lot of ambition… and beyond that ambition, she had a crazy work ethic. When I think about how I would spend 3-5 hours a day practicing multiple instruments while at Berklee, I sort of blink in disbelief, especially since reading music is so hard for me nowadays. When I think about how I would read a minimum of 300 pages a night of SCOTUS opinions or explanations in treatises while in law school, my brow furrows. When I remember the nights I didn’t sleep while I was working on business plans and making websites for people in order to make a semblance of a living on my own, I shake my head — because compared to all of those Past Raes, I feel like I am almost intolerably lazy and entitled now.
Except, that I’m really not. I’m on 24/7 as a stay-at-home mom who is homeschooling a gifted 4 year old and gestating a second child. Nevermind the “living with multiple chronic illnesses” bullshit. A healthy Rae would still be valuable in this situation. More than 5 times more financially valuable, according to Salary.com than healthy Rae ever was in the workplace. The only real difference, I imagine, would be that all the trim in my house would be painted to match, my son would be in more out-of-the-house activities, and the clothes might be folded. (I say “might” because I honestly think that in all of creation, the idea that folding and putting away clean clothes is necessary for a person who almost never leaves the house is some kind of perverse cultural torture.)
I’ve found that I somehow manage to negate all that I do unless I have documented it… and even then, I brush it aside. And really, I think that’s the only way I was able to achieve all the insane shit that I did when I was younger, too. I remember, when I was applying to college, when I printed out the list of all of my extra-curricular endeavors, my guidance counselor laughed and didn’t think it was possible for any one person to do all those things, let alone to do them while maintaining a 3.8. I really think the trick is not to think about it, and just do as much as you can with the opportunities you’ve got.
And in that line of thinking, these days, I rarely if ever take the time to mourn the old me. Or to mourn my hopes for who I’d be. It feels too much like pity, and I have yet to see the value in it. I think the years where I was actively suicidal were all the self-pity I can handle. Maybe that’s what grief looked like for me. *shrug*
Either way, I worry about how my son or my daughter will see me as they grow up. I think any parent does. And I hope that they are able to see that no matter what life has thrown in my way, I’ve done my best. That even yelling into the void of the internet about suicide is better than following through… that resilience is a skill paid for, dearly, by pain and persistence, and that grit is a trait you can only build up by facing disappointment again and again… and the same is true of compassion.
Anyway, this was a long ramble, and I’ve just about lost the thread of where I was going with it, except to say, if you’re struggling, please keep it up and look for the value in it. And if you’re not, enjoy the short respite. It doesn’t seem to come frequently in life. You don’t need to judge yourself, especially not for your feelings, and insecurity is just what ambition looks like when it’s mixed up with fear. You’re more than enough, exactly as you are, at every moment — even your worst ones. You’re doing the best you can. We all are.
Remember: if you can encourage others, you can encourage yourself. If you can love others, you can love yourself.