Ah, self-care. A fundamental aspect of revolution, according to Audre Lorde.
I see too many activists who put themselves last. The movement comes first, then a myriad of relentless obligations ranging from childcare to paying bills to unpaid service to personal demons and petty attacks. Not enough hours in the day.
Sleep. Nourish. Love. Those things must come first. They are as practical as the legal, social, cultural fight.
“My liberation will come in two ways — from fighting external oppression and from breaking my own chains, my internalized oppression. And for me, taking care of myself in a loving, gentle way is a big part of that fight. I am not really free until I am free in all the ways that really count. I want women disturbing and disrupting. We have to nourish ourselves before that can happen.”
Nourish ourselves. Nourish one another.
Therapy, exercise, nature, warm baths, kindness, family. Those things must be first and foundational for all members within your activist community.
I look at that list I’ve just written. I miss out on a lot of that. I’m starving here on this island.
Look back to the indigenous traditions of your culture. Decolonize your mind. Spiritual survival must come first. Sometimes we have to take the time to remind ourselves of the necessity of protecting ourselves.
I’ve seen too much dysfunction and destruction in indigenous communities here in three short years. It’s heartbreaking. We must focus on social services, must confront the hegemonic systems of oppression that keep people trapped, and must encourage one another in receiving counseling, therapy, and medication as necessary.
Suicide rates are sky-high on Guåhan. We must not ignore the mental, emotional, psychological unraveling of indigenous people. We must not downplay or brush aside suicide threats or bipolar disorder or severe depression or self-mutilation and self-harm. These are fundamental “dis-eases” which must be addressed and taken seriously by family and community.
No one wants to confront these issues or talk about them. They are so pervasive. They have touched my life, wounded me deeply and bitterly, by contact with others and by personal experience. Please, don’t ignore intergenerational trauma when it surfaces in your circles. If you know someone who is bleeding to death, get them professional help. Don’t look away or pretend it isn’t happening or imagine that you can play doctor. This is our human obligation.
When we do not care for ourselves and one another first and foremost, we destroy our selves, our families, our intimate relationships. We make the choices that destroy and wound and betray, rather than the choices that heal and love and protect. We diminish ourselves in distance and deceit. And ultimately, we erode the movement. Without love at the core of this movement, it will die. I mean love in its genuine, truest sense.
My heart is broken over this. Bleeding out.