OK the title might be misleading. We’ll see by the end of whatever this is that I’m writing.
You first need to know that I’m a drink-and-a-half and a bowl into this day already, as I’m sure many of you might be when you read this.
I wanted to write a poem.
I tried to write a poem.
I have all these creative ideas swirling around in my head about what I want to say; sometimes about how I want to say it. But sitting down and actually trying to get it out is… challenging. Why write when I could watch the Spring Baking Championship, you know?
It’s hard getting words to form the way I want to right now. I have the creativity, I just don’t have the means to wield it. Some of you might be the opposite. I think it’s just important to recognize that there is no right way of doing this isolation thing. We’re all doing the best we can.
Although, I will be brave enough to say that being fatphobic is never okay. Especially right now. As my pal Kristen Padayas said, “If you are a thin person & you are talking about how you are trying to stop yourself from getting fat during quarantine you sure are letting your fat friends know how you feel about their bodies.”
I already know how the world feels about my body, I really don’t need it from the people in my network or circle of friends.
And maybe that’s it. Maybe that’s the reason why I’m not hating my body as much as in ‘The Time Before’. (I’m itching to find a cool term regarding our pre-Covid world).
As soon as this started to get serious for us here in Tkarón:to and we all went into isolation, I immediately began to keep watch on my mental health, which included asking myself “are you withholding food?” and reminding myself that “it’s ok to miss a day of dance workout.”
I went on the defensive and tried to get ahead of it right away, because I know the history of my mental health and how unstable or unpredictable it can be at times.
I’ve spoken with many other folks who have similar mental health challenges as I do: trauma anxiety, PTSD, social anxiety; folks who have grown up in crisis. The majority of us are doing alright because right now, in our own spaces, we are in control. The world out there in “The Time Before” wasn’t built for us. It’s always been difficult to exist in and find anything that resembles self-love.
I grew up fearing for my life and the life of my sisters and Mother every day. Every. Day. I didn’t know if we would live to the next because I truly believed that my Stepfather was capable of killing one of us. When I had Cancer, one of my immediate thoughts was “I’ve been through worse.” WHO SAYS THAT?
I’ve been hospitalized more than once. I went through periods of time in my life where I couldn’t leave my house for months. Agoraphobia is described as “a type of anxiety disorder in which you fear and avoid places or situations that might cause you to panic and make you feel trapped, helpless or embarrassed.”
That is literally the list of the world outside my safe space.
I went through a period of time where I was questioning my anxiety. Why am I so scared to leave the house all the time?
And I mean all the time.
In The Time Before (it’s official now, that’s what it’s called), I had to literally talk myself into opening my door and launch myself up and out. I had to take a deep breath and convince myself that it was going to be fine. I’m not sure when this started, but it’s been going on for a long time. And I couldn’t figure out why.
It came out in a therapy session that it was really my fear of judgement as well as the fact that due to my identifiers many people in this world want me dead and that fact is not lost on my anxiety. On numerous occasions, people out there have felt compelled to tell me how they feel about my fat body. The ambivalence the world feels and the injustice that happens when an Indigenous woman is murdered is a deep reality. And femme folks are always at risk. So … it’s an interesting thing to realize that your anxiety may be based in reality. And then there’s all the aspects that aren’t real as well.
This is all to say that having to stay in my home… is… not that much of a problem for me. The lack of touch and being near my loved ones is a whole other matter that causes me much sadness. The reality of this situation is also quite devastating. However, in my own case, here, solo in my basement apartment, I am okay.
In the poem I tried to write, it said:
Here, I am trapped with myself
As if we’re two prisoners sharing a cell
Who have been at war for a
And that’s true. That’s how it feels. I have been socially stuck with this person (me) in physical space for nearly two months now. Someone who I don’t always get along with. Someone who I often hate, but try hard to love. Someone who on good days, we love the shit out of each other, but bad days are bad. Someone who I’m in a toxic relationship with.
But I think … over time – we’ve grown to really, deeply love each other.
Something changed and now I can wake up and look at myself in the mirror and say “Girl, you cute this morning.”
Or when dancing in my kitchen, I think, “Damn you’re sexy.”
Or when I Netflix and chill with myself: I bought a fantastic new sex toy and I never know when the mood is gonna strike me, but we have fun.
There’s just something about being your own partner – especially in isolation – that feels right and good.
The more I find ways of loving myself, the more I want to take care of myself; the more I think “I should feed you, you’re hungry. You deserve to eat. You deserve delicious things. You deserve to feel good.” It can be hard to think about one’s self when the world doesn’t want you to feel that way. We should be loving ourselves and talking to ourselves the way we would the person we love the most in the world. But it’s not easy when our brains – another self that we must contend with – have so much pain they’re working through and they take it out on us. It’s day by day. It’s one body part or personality trait or ability at a time.
We all need it right now.
In Anishinaabe teachings, we have 7 values (Humility, Honesty, Truth, Bravery, Wisdom, Respect and Love). I’ve always felt like Patience should be added. (Someone talk to the Grandparents!)
Patience is what we need to get through this.
Patience with the world, with each other, with ourselves.
But I know that nothing is easy.
Nothing in this world is easy when you’re not born with exuberant amounts of privilege.
We can only do what we can and do it from our hearts.
But month by month, we can wait and hope that the sickness begins to lessen and that they find a vaccination.
Week by week, we can wait and hope that people will start wising up and make better choices.
And day by day, we can wait and hope and learn to love ourselves a little bit more.
What else have we got to do?
Spring Baking Championship is almost over.