International Women’s Day comes around again. The same articles about ‘we have come so far and there is so far to go’. Who is the ‘we’? Do women need to do more freaking work?
Ok, so I am tired. In myself, from mothering and sleep deprivation, and because of my two conditions, premenstrual dysphoric disorder and endometriosis. Both of which I am realising have fatigue as one of the symptoms which may help explain that cyclical feeling over the years that I know I ‘naturally’ have more energy than I have available.
Both of which, also, have been long journeys through isolation and actually believing myself. Believing that yes, this really is this horrible. I can say it out loud. No-one else will ever feel what this is like, but I can seek support. I can say that that support isn’t freaking working. I don’t have to stick with this practitioner or doctor. I can tell this shame about having a woman’s problem to fuck off.
Long journeys towards articulation and assertion. Acknowledging this shit. Accepting how much of my freaking life they take from me. My time, my energy. Not every moment is gone, but many are just so consumed by symptoms. Still, I have practiced awareness and equanimity and being, while having the symptoms. Which has it’s riches.
I am going to an Endometriosis awareness raising event today. Not where my energy is at, it would like to nestle into a fur-lined cave and wait for this bleeding and repair, repair, repair. But I committed, and that’s also a good thing, for me to commit to getting out of the house every now and then.
This internal battle has not only been with symptoms and how to live with them and find answers or diagnoses or treatment, but against shame and stigma and the confidence to speak. Or, to write. To let my body speak.
So much of it comes from conscious and subconsicous messages that I received as a kid and throughout my life to be nice, not to complain, to be a beautiful performer, that to win at intellectual achievement my gendered body needs to not exist. This is some kind of mix of my interpretation of the messages, and the messages themselves, from school, family, ballet, etc. I interpreted not having fatherly support as having no ground to rest on and admit that it hurt. I interpreted the hushed gossipy way I heard that a woman had endometriosis that it couldn’t possibly apply to me, hers must be unimaginably worse, even though I then endured years of cyclical hell. Even though in that house as a teenager I literally vomited from pain.
Silent curse. This feeling of being born with a silent curse of being female in this world. The fury erupted at this, particularly, when I did some kind of solo performance in drama for the end of high school. In some ways I hadn’t fully experienced all of the weird implications of this that hit once out in the sexual field or whatever, but it’s like I sensed them and wrote this piece just full of sheer disbelief at the task of being female in this world. So much to say, but so much wordless fury.
Every IWD I still have this fury. Every time I flick past news headlines or a share in my News Feed about some horrible fucking abusive, murdering, sexually fucked up man and a woman’s name ending up as a court case title. Daily weirdness and deeply habitual protectiveness when I step my body out of the door.
This isn’t all of my life, this isn’t every moment. My consciousness and intellect and creativity are bigger than this. And it is a mesh that filters the interaction between me and the world, this gender thing, having a body and a ‘self’ that is treated in these weird fucking ways.
I have a baby daughter. She is, of course, miraculous. Funny and alive and direct. I pray that I continue to undo my own stifling as I model living to her. I will physically protect her. Encourage her to speak, swear, be ugly, be funny, be her, be critical, express. I somehow have this task of figuring out gender and housework. When I get some energy to deal with it.
A strange combination, exhaustion and fury. I wonder what will come through the middle.