September 14, 2019 8:00am Transcript
Hi it’s Zen
And right now I’m in a parking lot at Mountain Park Park in Lilburn waiting on a Tinkergarten class to start today that I’m going to be going to with Iyla, Rohan, Elowyn and Nes later today. Those are my niblings and my younger sister. I’ve been up since 6 am in the morning, and it’s 8:24 right now.
The past couple of weeks have been absurd in how chaotic and tumultuous they’ve been. That’s the first thing I need to stay. Yesterday was a harvest moon on Friday the 13. Right now we’re at the end of the first week of September [actually second week, it was early]. And Good Grief. Right now a lot of my family is homeless, injured, houseless, uninsured. A lot of things are going on. About a week ago my Roger had a car accident and injured their foot and has been in the hospital and in recovery until their surgery the day before yesterday. And yesterday we, myself, Clark, Sam and Ryan helped them get up two sets of stairs, well really 3, 3 sets of stairs to get to their bedroom with very limited leg mobility. So it was…it was one of those things that felt supremely daunting. And it’s kinda what I want to talk about in my little journal entry for the day.
After the experience of being so overwhelmed trying to provide care for so many people who need housing, who need …just emotional support for with the hard shit they are going, who need healing of all sorts, who are in the middle of CA processes either as people who’ve done harm or people who’ve come forward with the harm and need support. There’s been a lot of pain that I’ve gotten to hold very closely over the last few months.
And what I’ve started to find and what my work in creating the TJ collective has really shown me is, burnout is a fact of our culture. It’s an epidemic of our culture. And like most traits..most maladaptive traits, it seems to be pretty related to trauma. And burnout, one of the traumas it seems related to is this idea that if you ask for help and the help is not enough, then you’re the problem. So people do tend to ask for help for a little bit. But if they ask for help and they are let down, they experience other folks not having the capacity frequently enough and they frame it as being let down. It becomes harder and harder and harder to coordinate for assistance to ask for help. And that contributes a lot to burnout. Even for people who are very mindful, who are taking care of themselves. Who are all about their self care, who are thinking very intentionally about their healing. There’s only so much we can do on an individual level. And that’s…for me at least that idea was very terrifying when I started researching burnout back in June of this year because I wanted to prepare for the community accountability processes I was hoping to support in. and I knew that the work was going to be heavy. Everything I know about harm has prepared me for that much, and I also knew because of the harm we were handling, it was likely I’d be trigger…multiple times. That my capacity would vary a lot because of my own past and how I relate to this kind of harm. I felt that it was important to try, though. And setting myself up as a system instead of as an indivudal who would just push through and just get by through brute force, through y’know “character”, that sort of individualist idea that no matter how battered & broken you get you can heroically stand the trials of whatever it is that you’re trying. I didn’t think that heroism would serve the people I was trying to support, and it definitely wouldn’t serve me. So burnout is one of the things I looked into very deeply before I really starting this work. And one of the things that was very important to me in addressing an underlying complicator in what I was starting to see as a necessary measure to account for burnout was I had to let go of a lot of the ideas that are deeply informed by individualism and capitalism and white supremacy. And that thinking of myself as both more powerful as I am, and less powerful than I am. And what I mean by that is not seeing myself both a part of collective and at the same time seeing myself as responsible for the collective. It seems like something that really serves the status quo. It makes us less effective if we see ourselves in this way where we both to both save the world and not be a part of the world.
So what I started to unpack for myself was the deep need that I had to becoming more comfortable with collective care and for collective effort and how to hold space and how to navigate that and how to be attuned to when I was resenting things that came from not working very well in spaces with other people. I didn’t want to feel dependent. So I started to think about what interdependence looks like…and what it could do, what it could do for movement work and for myself and for my family for all the people I was looking to support.
And because my situation supporting my friend recovering from surgery. It seemed very very easy. They expressed a lot of gratitude in receiving care but for me it felt very much like a naturally emerging characteristic of just loving this person. So I wanted to spend time with them, and so when they needed help moving from one place to the other, getting food, having water, having some cuddles or conversation. None of those things felt like work…and I hadn’t have minded if it had felt like work. But I wanna call out that it felts so effortless to me. And when we needed help getting them from the car to their bedroom that was up 2 flights of stairs, or really 3 flights of stairs, I…it didn’t cost me anything to ask for more help until we had enough until we could do it safely. It turns out that I reached out to Clark, who reached out to Sam, and on of Clark’s friends reached out to her boyfriend (Ryan) and all of these people showed up and got this done, that seemed dangerous and impossible and very daunting.
And it seemed obvious in that case, right. Where we couldn’t do it alone, we needed more people. And when we couldn’t do it with 2 people, we got more people, and when we couldn’t do it with 3 people, one of which was a nurse, we just got 4 people, and that was the number we needed. We were able to get it done, and we got to see the relief of seeing them in their own bed for the first time in over a week. And none of that felt shameful, right.. Needing more help didn’t feel shameful at all. And receiving it as amazing as it is because of the culture that we’re in…a culture where labor is expected to be earned, deserved or transacted for, it fills us with gratitude when we receive the care that we need. And I don’t want to discount an opportunity for gratitude. But what I have been feeling consistently over the last couple of weeks is how incredibly low I feel the bar is set for providing care to each other. And I think individualism has run amok in how we experience care relationships with people in our lives. With our friends, with our partners with our dependents of all sorts. And I want to get into a better practice of believing and practicing and decolonizing myself. I want to believe that nurturance culture is powerful and is one of the many ways forward for me. And that it’s very important for building transformative justice spaces and practices and cultures of accountability. I think that accountability and nurturance go hand in hand. So I guess what I wanna leave this little journal with today is:
When you’re asking for help and maybe receive a response, somebody agrees to help you and it turns out you still need more help..my avoidant tendency, my avoidant attachment, still to this day when I’m in that situation where I made myself vulnerable, I asked for help , and the help was not enough is to turn away from help. I’ll say “Oh, it’s fine. I can figure it out on my own. And after I do that [ ..my headphones were telling me I had notifications and I lost my train of thought here…]
I’ll turn away from help, and this small part of me resents that that person wasn’t able to help me enough. A much larger partof me resents that I needed help in the first place. And I feel weak and I feel foolish for making myself vulnerable, ‘cause my problem still hasn’t been solved. And now I feel weak and that’s where I stop. I struggle, and maybe I’m able to succeed, but I suffer through it. I also internalize this message that when you need somebody they won’t really be there for you or they won’t be enough. And that’s one of the most damaging this that still happens in me when I’m with other people. And I’m starting to be able to identify it. What I want to do is move away from that avoidant individualist story and simplify things a little bit. And this is something that I learned from my nibling Rohan who is almost 3.
They were climbing a rock wall at a park in Pine Lake [, Ga]. And when they were on their own they climbed the wall by themselves, I watched them, I was watching very carefully because it looked terrifying to me, and they made it to the top. I watched them climb it three or more times before I was nearby. And when I was nearby and they went to go climb it again they asked for me to hold their back. And there was a part of me that was just so moved. Not only had she done this many times, fearlessly, successfully, but there was a part of her that asked for help not because she was weak, but because I was there. Because it gave us a chance for connection. It expressed that she trusted me. And it made me feel like we belonged. That we belonged together. And that we had each other. And that’s why she asked for help.
So now, I am starting to approach help a little bit more like Rohan. And now, instead of [asking for help and feeling like a failure when I need more help] or feeling weak, or like I don’t deserve to ask for help in the first place, or like I need too much help or like I’m too much…I want to decolonize myself from that story. I want to reject that story. And I want to feel Rohan’s story.
When you have the chance to ask for help, where it might help, even if you don’t “need” it, ask for it. If that’s not enough help for you to succeed, ask for more help. And keep doing that until you’ve succeeded.
And that’s nurturance culture to me.
K! I’m gonna try and take a nap for like an hour before this Tinkergarten class, and I hope everyone has an awesome day <3