it’s hard for me to admit that it’s taken me this long to be honest with myself. for three years i’ve been in this work, and it feels like a major blindspot that i am just now realizing my why – this why is one that i didn’t know i was hiding from myself.
in reflecting on the prompts, i came across a quote from my journal from a few months ago. while processing a dream in which my desire to be given love in any form was shown, i wrote “what if i valued my spiritual self as much as i longed for my material and physical self to be valued?”
i know why i struggle with self appreciation and love: for many years of my life, i spent time carefully figuring out how to make others happy – which, in turn, lead me to learn how to make people like me, how to make them say “yes! great job emily!” if they like me and they like what i do, they’ll be happy when i’m around and they’ll be pleased that i’ve done so well!
i can recognize that this was a form of survival thinking that came from my childhood – my mother and my sister dealt with mental illness, and i felt that i had to be strong for my family.
so, why am i here?
i feel that it’s the right thing to do. but, what does that say about how i feel about being here? sometimes, i feel that it’s an obligation, not necessarily done out of what i thought was the goodness of my heart, but rather, to look good.
LOOKING GOOD STRATEGIES. INTERNALIZED RACIAL SUPERIORITY.
i hesitate to share these thoughts. i don’t want to retraumatize black and indigenous people of color who have already experienced white women who pretend to care, to come from a place of disingenuous intentions, or who don’t see themselves clearly enough to know when they’re hurting someone because they have the privilege of getting by without accountability.
i think it is interesting to see how i pretended to myself in order to dive deeper into looking good.
the question of how i have grown, though, is evident and relevant here as well; i think the reason that it took me so long to see and finally admit this to myself is because i am working toward self-acceptance, and with that, honesty.
i will also allow myself to feel courageous. i still remember a day in 8th grade history class when, the white female teacher demanding that someone volunteer a guess, i froze, my hand ready to raise into the air, but my gut saying “no, if you’re wrong, that would be the worst thing ever.” the fact that i feel very wrong at not having been able to see this truth about myself, but i will share it, shows that i can forgive myself for the moments when i was too afraid to try, and i can do better now. i hate being wrong. that is my IRS, but it doesn’t have to who i choose to be.
instead, i am learning to love myself, even when i have to admit hard truths. i know that by doing this, i am reclaiming my humanity, and allowing others to have more of theirs as well. it’s not necessary for me to pretend to be someone i am not in order to make other people feel good. i have to love the part of myself that is struggling to accept that the more i choose to please others instead of myself, the more i lose myself. the more i feed into a system of oppression, proving our worth, racing to nowhere. even when the way that i am choosing to look good is by being a part of antiracism activism.
it doesn’t feel like this means that i don’t want to be here. i’m trying to trust the process of seeing what shows up, accepting the possibility that this may not be the right time, but also giving this new awareness space to be. i’m reminding myself that my sense of timeliness in figuring this out is yet again, a facet of IRS.
i do not have to prove that i am worthy of being here. i just have to show up, and keep showing up, not only for the people in this group, but for myself. because i am human, and that means that i’m worthy of being here, as long as i can continue to look for and see that humanity in myself and in others.
“what if i valued my spiritual self?”
i’ve been learning more about my strengths that we found in YROL yoga teacher training. 3 of my top five strengths are relationship building strengths. two are executing – achiever (no shock there, hi timeliness) and restorative – i like to fix things. i wonder if my restorative strength, combined with lack of self appreciation, makes me think that if i can fix racism, i will finally be worthy.
what i have thought a lot more about is how my strengths of empathy, harmony, and connectedness make me focus so so so much more on building relationships with others than with myself. add in achieving, and i now understand why my main motivators are succeeding at helping people.
i want to spend some time focusing on helping myself instead. putting myself first. it feels so foreign, and also so corny. but i want to push back and say, Emily. you deserve to love on yourself. i have said this before, but i can’t name many action steps i’ve taken to hold myself accountable to helping myself. a couple, sure, but more often than not my instinct to help someone else is stronger, and without me realizing it i’m back in the pool of IRS.
i’m scared to push ‘publish’ on this blog. what if i wrote something wrong? i’m learning that i can’t control what anyone thinks of me. i’m learning that i have a hard time believing that people reading this blog don’t want to tell me i’m wrong and make me feel small, but want to encourage me and hold me accountable to the things that i’m saying.
if i want to love myself, i have to truly go do it. i have to show up.
it’s hard for me to write this and trust this part of the process – the part where I’m honest and know that I am safe. likely because, without self acceptance, i don’t believe that anyone else can accept me.
that’s some victim mentality IRS right there.
here are some affirmations that i will say to myself to work on this acceptance.
i am not perfect.
we are all impacted by racism. we have to keep working on it together.
i don’t have to always look good. i can’t control every outcome, but it can still be okay.
i don’t always have to feel comfortable, but i am safe and loved.
i’m not in this alone. i am apart of something greater here.