I don’t know about you, I have a hell of a time remembering to practice self-care, and I’ve heard the same from a lot of the people I interact with online. Many of us spend a lot of time and energy online fighting for causes we care about at the expense of our mental and physical health and while we know that we need to pause and do things that are just for us—things like social media breaks, playing with the dog, listening to music, or just DRINKING SOME DAMNED WATER—it can be really hard to do so.
That’s why I created SELF-CARE BINGO!
It’s like an act of self-care I can share with all of you. Yay!
The symbols are intended as prompts. For example, I live in Seattle, so there are many days (weeks, months) when getting sunshine is just not in the cards, but I can get outside and breathe some fresh air or use my little full-spectrum light thingy. Not into knitting? Do the craft you love. Already hugged your dog today? Tickle your cat or throw a ball for your ferret. The possibilities are endless!
I’ve got my SCB card printed out and ready to mark up even as I type this. See?
Let’s do some self-care, people.
PSA: Abusive commenters will be deleted and banned, so kindly piss off in advance. (Comment Policy)
Guest post by Lenora Davis
[Note: Trigger warning for rape.]
I can’t remember what was worse: the denial or the guilt. For months I walked around numb, refusing to acknowledge what had happened, refusing to give it a name, to refer to it, because once I said it, it would become real.
The day that he raped me was the worst day of my life. He dehumanized me, he made me feel little and helpless and vulnerable.
For years, I carried that burden with me. I felt it above me, lingering, knowing that in all possibility it could fall and crush me beneath its weight. It could break me and render me incapable and lifeless. And some days that was exactly how I felt. I felt as if a part of me was taken, and I couldn’t pinpoint what it was or where it had been taken from, but I knew that I was missing it. Some nights I awoke in a cold sweat with my heart pounding because he’d penetrated my dreams; the one place I had found solitude had been invaded. I knew I had to do something to reclaim my mind, body, and soul.
Seven years later, I see the road I have traveled since that day that has led me to where I am now. It has not been a straight path. There have been twists, turns, dead ends, and horizons. It has been a long journey. Some days I felt alone, others I felt as though I was with a procession. I look at the woman I have become, the woman that the journey has turned me into, and I realize that the greatest strength has come from within me. Yes, some days I fought to put my feet to the floor and leave my bed. Some days I spent minutes crying before leaving the house. Some days I felt as though I was on the brink of absolute annihilation and that I was only a shell, incapacitated by my memories. At first, those days were frequent. I often wondered if they would ever stop, if I would ever begin to feel human again. Then one day I would wake up and feel the sunlight on my face and the coffee would taste sweeter. I would laugh. I would put on lipstick and not worry about being seen. I would make myself known.
This intermittence continued for years. Finally, the good days began to outnumber the bad. I began to love myself again. After years of blaming myself and hating myself for what I now realize was no fault of my own, I began to understand. We live in a rape culture. And although the media and society would have wanted me to believe that I deserved blame and disgrace, I slowly began to comprehend that those feelings were unjustified and unwarranted.
I began feeling the blood course through my veins again. I became able to shape the person I wanted to be. I began to feel both alive and infinite.
He took something from me – that is true. But what I have built, reclaimed, and created is bigger and more vibrant. It makes me want to live, love, and hope beyond my wildest imagination. If I ever have a daughter, I will teach her to love relentlessly and infinitely, without fear. I will teach her that yes, there are bad people in the world, but there are also good people who will listen to you, nurture you, and just be there some days when you need to cry, or laugh, or be still. I am eternally grateful to those people in my life who have, over the last seven years, watched me heal and offered themselves to help in the process. I will teach her that you are always stronger than you appear, and that nobody has the right to make you feel small without your permission.
To reclaim what I lost and to truly heal, I began writing a letter. I began writing without an addressee. I just began writing.
So to whoever is reading this, be you a survivor, a friend of a survivor, or another beautiful soul, I hope I have given you something. I hope you have read this and felt a little more at peace with yourself, or that you feel the strength to begin your own journey. I hope you find anything you may be searching for, and that you possess the love and optimism to carry on and know when you have reached your destination.
Lenora Davis is the pseudonym of a young woman who approached me via the MMAS Facebook page and wanted to tell her story. To anyone reading: please know that you can tell your story here anonymously. Feel free to add it to the comments or let me know if you’d like me to publish it in a post. ~Rosie
From the blogosphere:
Truth: Sandra Fluke and I and a lot of other women want birth control to be covered by health insurance (the same way Viagra is).
Why is this so hard to understand?
I’m in a long-term relationship (i.e., living in sin), but for the sake of argument, let’s say I’m married. And let’s pretend I still have a uterus. And let’s imagine that my husband has an erectile dysfunction issue, or just likes the way Viagra keeps him standing tall, I don’t know, but his doctor prescribes it and insurance covers it. And let’s say I don’t want to get pregnant right now because I’m in my late 40s and it’s just not a good idea at my age. It might actually be bad for me or the baby. But I want to have sex. I want to have a loving sexual relationship with my husband without getting pregnant. And he’s got this raging Viagra boner, after all.
So, here’s my question:
Why should my husband’s desire for an erection trump my desire to PROTECT MY BODY from an unwanted pregnancy when it comes to health insurance coverage?
It’s just not that complicated, people. It’s about health. It’s about the individual responsibility conservatives claim to value so highly. It’s about our bodies and our right to choose when and whether to carry a child within them.
Tell your friends.
A number of critics here and elsewhere have argued that my logic is flawed for a number of reasons. That may well be true, but not for the reasons they state, I don’t think. I’m going to address those now.
Argument: Viagra is used to treat medical conditions unrelated to sex.
Have you watched Ms. Fluke’s testimony? Two-thirds of it is about women with serious reproductive health issues who rely on birth control medication to treat them and the consequences when they don’t get their medication because the insurance they pay for (unsubsidized by their college) won’t cover it.
Argument: Viagra is not covered by most health insurance programs.
I don’t have numbers for the country at large, but I did find this story which speaks directly to the issue of Viagra vs. birth control and the Catholic church, which as commenter Craig pointed out below was behind the original thrust of Ms. Fluke’s campaign. (Pun intended.)
Argument: Viagra is way more expensive than birth control.
Maybe that’s so, but as commenter Mike pointed out, “birth control is far less expensive to the medical system than pregnancy and childbirth.” Not really a black-and-white thing.
Argument: The choice to have sex without becoming pregnant is not a health issue.
Ok, here’s where we’re going to have words. Let’s talk a bit about pregnancy and childbirth, shall we? I’ll just give you a quick rundown based on experience and let the readers chime in on anything I might have missed.
1. Oh, hey, I’m pregnant! I wake up every morning and vomit my guts out while diarrhea sprays out the other end with every heave. I can’t eat until after 4pm or more vomiting and stuff!
2. Check it out: my ankles are swelling, and if I’m not careful, I could develop preeclampsia and toxemia or a blood clot and die!
3. Lucky me! Pregnancy carries the risk that I might develop gestational diabetes which will increase my risk of developing regular diabetes later in life! And there are lots of other things that can go wrong in my body as well. (Good thing I’m not over 35*, or there would be even more things to worry about, and a higher risk of them happening!)
4. Oh, great, there’s this thing called toxoplasmosis I can get from my cat. It can kill me. Whoopee!
And that’s not even going into just how uncomfortable–and even painful–pregnancy can be. For nine months of your life. But I survived it! Now it’s time to deliver.
1. OHMYFUCKINGGOD THE PAIN.
2. There are so many things that could go wrong, and I could die, but I’m in good hands and I’m not thinking about that because THE PAIN THE FUCKING PAIN OH GOD.
3. My water won’t break on its own. The doc has to reach his hand up inside my vagina and prick the membrane, at which time the water WHOOSHES out and the pain…oh, I only thought it hurt before. I’m so fucking scared. I want to go home. As they wheel me down the hall from labor to delivery, I piss myself.
4. My vagina isn’t quite big enough for the baby to pass without the delicate skin between my vagina and anus ripping as it is doing now, so the doctor uses a scalpel to slice that skin open and increase the size of my vaginal opening. There is blood. Lots and lots of blood. And then, my daughter is born.
What part of this does not sound like a health issue to you? What part of this does not sound like something a person should be able to CHOOSE?
That’s all I’ve got for now. Love ya.
*I’m over 35 now, but I wasn’t when I was pregnant. ;)
Respectful discussion is welcome and encouraged. When in doubt, see the Comment Policy.
This will be a bit of a rant rather than a well-constructed article. You have been warned. Love ya!
Ok, so, I’m really effing sick of people purposely reframing “pro-choice” to mean “pro-abortion.” In the past week or so, I’ve seen those of us who fight for choice referred to as not only “pro-abortion,” but as “abortion advocates.” Who are these creatures who walk the land espousing the virtues of abortion?” I asked. “I’ve lived half a century, and I haven’t met a single one.” And no one could point me to any. Talk about your Straw Feminists.
Yes, I’m pro-choice. No, I am not pro-abortion. I do not advocate for abortion. I would never tell someone to have an abortion unless I thought that not doing so might kill them. I don’t think it’s something that should be entered into lightly. I believe there should be science-based limitations on when and how abortions can be performed. (I certainly don’t believe that a doctor should be allowed to kill a baby that survives a “botched abortion” — WTF, is that really a thing?) Yes, I know there are people who will judge a person evil if they claim to be “pro-life.” I’m not one of them–I get that some people actually believe abortion is murder. If I believed that, you can bet I’d be out there doing something about it. It makes me wonder how many on the right truly believe this in their hearts; why aren’t they taking to the street by the millions protesting all these dead babies? Why is this more of a political issue than a social one for them? I sincerely don’t get it.
Also, I’d have to turn myself in to the police, because I have had an abortion. I’m not sure I did it for the right reasons, but I do know that I was not in a position to provide for another child, and I believe that it happened so early in the pregnancy that it was not a baby, but a potential baby. And yet, that potential haunts me. Partly because I’m a mother and I know what it’s like to take a pregnancy through to term and give birth. And partly because I have a vivid imagination and can picture what that potential might have become. I’m sad about it sometimes, and I wish I’d been able to choose differently, because it turns out that was my last chance to have another baby. Sometimes the thought of that makes me cry. Sometimes (like, for some reason, when I watched Juno) I cry a lot. But none of this sadness or crying is about the idea of killing my child; I don’t believe that I did. I terminated a pregnancy in the first trimester, and to me, that is not murder.
But there is the potential, and there is the sadness. A few years ago I had a hysterectomy to eliminate the menstrual/ovulatory pain I’d lived with all of my teen/adult life. At that point, I still could have chosen to have a baby. I chose not to. I had what they called the “Blue Plate Special,” which means they took the works (uterus and ovaries). All those eggs…each of them was a potential life, too. Did my surgeon and I conspire to commit mass murder? No. No more than I did when I used birth control to prevent those eggs from becoming fertilized. No more than a man does when he pleasures himself or spills his seed into a spermicide-coated condom.
No, the sadness is about what might have been, but don’t discount it: it’s very, very real and once a woman chooses abortion, it can live within her for the rest of her life. Some might not like me pointing that out, but it’s true whether you like it or not. However, sometimes it’s the best solution to a difficult problem. Sometimes the condom breaks. Sometimes the pill fails. And if you don’t believe that the moment when sperm meets egg is tantamount to a lightning strike from God installing a soul and consciousness in that magical moment, well, then it’s simply not murder. I get that some believe that it is, and that drawing the line anywhere else is arbitrary. I just don’t agree.
And yet, here I am advocating not for abortion, but for options. Women must be allowed the option to choose not to carry a child. Women must not be forced to carry children in their bodies against their will. This seems so basic to me.
And another thing: Like voter fraud, I think the problem of sex-crazed women eschewing condoms for the convenience of their local abortion clinic is a made-up problem. Voter fraud almost never happens, and let me state this for the record: ABORTION IS NOT CONVENIENT OR FUN. If you’re a woman, ask yourself how convenient and fun a pap-smear is, and how often you’d opt for the super-invasive, painful, surgical version over actual birth control. If you’re a man and you’re completely grossed out by the preceding sentence, ask yourself the same question.
Ok, done ranting. I’d love to hear what you think.
This piece is partly based on a comment I left over at Assorted Mundanities and also inspired by posts from dynamic (r)evolution and Martina Reisz-Newberry. Thanks to all of them for their thoughtful pieces on this topic.
When a friend bad-mouths herself, we jump to her defense, assuring her that she’s beautiful, that her ass doesn’t look too big in those jeans, that she shouldn’t beat herself up because she had a croissant for breakfast. We’re always quick tell our friends not to be so hard on themselves, but when it comes to our own failings, be they real or imagined, we cut ourselves no slack. This is especially true when it comes to body-hate. It’s just too easy to look in the mirror and hate what we see because we simply can’t live up to the standards global media has set for us. And yet we try, and we fail, and we look in the mirror, and we hate.
A recent study by Glamour magazine found that 97% of women who participated had at least one hateful thought about their bodies over the course of one day. That’s…let me do the math…yep, very nearly all of them. Another recent statistic showed that 3 of 4 teen girls felt depressed, guilty and shameful after three minutes with a fashion magazine. And many also learn body-hate from their mothers, who learned it from theirs.
Today I learned from dynamic (r)evolution that a website/magazine called SheLoves is promoting what they call a “synchroblog,” i.e., multiple bloggers writing on the same topic, which in this case, is a Love Letter to My Body. I think this is a lovely idea, and you’ll find two great examples in the links above. I also tripped over a post in which author Martina Reisz-Newberry has an unexpected talk with herself in the mirror and walks away with a new friend.
I’m all about the idea of self-love, but like many people, I’m not that good at it. However, this convergence of body love-hate bloggery today inspires me to jump on the bandwagon and, briefly, talk to myself a bit about how things have been and how I want them to be. So here goes:
You and I have been through some serious shit together, and you’ve suffered a lot of abuse, not least at my own hands. I started out taking pretty good care of you, but really you have to credit my mom for that. I didn’t appreciate the whole-grain bread, the sugar-free cereals, the no-soda/kool-aid/crap rule, but I know it gave you a better start than some people have. That’s probably why you held up like such a trooper for the past 40 years while I filled you with toxins, subjected you to decades of inactivity, and generally treated you like you weren’t the only thing standing between me and the sweet hereafter. And all the while I really never liked you. At times I hated you because you were me, and I wasn’t good enough. I said terrible things about you, and I used my anger at you and at me as an excuse to continue to treat you badly. And I’m here to tell you things are going to change. In fact, they already are.
This year I started a garden. That means I’m outside every day moving around in the sun and the air and the dirt and eating whole, live foods that go directly from the dirt to our belly. And when I look at you in the mirror, I see someone who is living the life she wants to live, and though sometimes I see things I want to change about you, I don’t hate the fact that you are what you are. You have changed and changed again and you will change and change some more and we’re in this together, so I’m going to strive to be ok with that.
There’s also the subject of the abuse others have perpetrated against you. This has resulted in a subtler hate that I’ve only recently come to realize has been seething within me. It’s less a mirror thing than just a constant gut belief that you are dirty, bad, toxic…maybe because you’re tainted, maybe just because you’re female. This is the hate I want most of all to overcome because I know it’s not your fault. It’s not my fault. We are ok. I promise to keep that in mind when I think about you and try to turn that hate into love.
That was utterly off-the-cuff, because if I spend too much time thinking about stuff like this I won’t do it at all. I’ll close with the final part of my comment to Assorted Mundanities:
When you look in the mirror, try pretending you’re talking to a friend. Give her a pep talk. Tell her she’s ok. Because she really is.