Sometimes it feels like one has to be strong all the time. For the marginalised of this world, even existing in a world that wants to squelch us into submission can feel like a fight that we must be armoured for at every moment. It can be even worse for those of us who have made pushing back at the system our business – we feel that we must make that call-out, we must stick our heads up above the parapet.
But we have to remember that we’re people. And people are unbelievably strong, but people have needs too. People are vulnerable. People have limits. People are worthy of having those needs met, and that includes us as well. We have to take time out for self-care.
Sure a lot of us would like to be the tireless warrior, calling out every piece of kyriarchal bullshit that shows up on our radar – I know I would – but it’s just not possible. And it’s not practical or useful to push ourselves beyond our limits, into unsafe territory on trembling legs, fighting on even when we’re exhausted. We deserve to take time out for self-care, to spend time recharging the batteries – and we must not feel that we have to apologise for that.
Many of us have been socialised into thinking that our worth lies in what we can do for others. It does not. Our worth lies in our existence. What we choose to do with that existence should be up to us and us alone. To repeat the old mantra, self care is a radical act; and personal autonomy and a sense of personal worth is the very thing the kyriarchy most fears. If we are caring for ourselves, we are showing that we believe we are worthy of care – and that is anathema to the kyriarchy. It will twist and lash out, trying to force us into again driving ourselves into the dust, but we must remember that we are worthy of care, and that the fact that we place a value on our own wellbeing is a finger stuck up at the kyriarchy’s definition of us as worthless.
The biggest battlefield in this fightback against the kyriarchy is the hearts and minds of people, ourselves included. The kyriarchy is incredibly hard on our hearts and our minds, and we must not feel guilty for retreating when we are wounded even if it feels as though our absence will allow the kyriarchy one more stronghold. There is always another day, another battle, and it is better to curl up in the dark and lick our wounds out of existence before facing them than continuing to fight and burning out.
We are worthy – of care, of peace, of rest. We should not be shamed for retreating, for falling, for being wounded. It is a mighty, terrible foe we face, and we are brave and strong for facing it. We are people, and people have needs. We do not have to be a tower of strength all the time, and our very retreat to care for our marginalised, oppressed, wounded selves is resistance.