Of all the guidance out there about how to live your life I think  “love your body” and “love your self” are the most useless. If I wake up in the morning and say to myself, “alright, I’m going to love myself today” what follows from that?

a) eat an Egg McMuffin meal, which I love

b) eat kale and eggs, which is alright, I don’t hate kale and eggs

c) smoke drugs, eat everything: the most exhilarating option

What’s the self-loving breakfast option? The one I’ll enjoy the most is the drugs and eating everything. Sure, I’ll feel groggy when I wake up from sleeping off those choices, and I won’t get anything else done that day. Nor will I enjoy the bloating and sleepiness that inevitably follows the Egg McMuffin meal. But a whole life of kale and eggs? Is that self-love, kale every day before noon?

I’ve been told a lot this week to love myself. On new year’s I took a ritual bath with that intention, prayed a couple of rosaries, lit a black then a white candle. The intention was that this year I will love myself.

Last weekend, before the week of being told to love myself, I had someone go into a lot of detail establishing all the ways I was an awful person. It was a relationship ending sort of freak out. But I do think it was a freak out- I think this person is in an exceptionally hard place, soul-wise, and they lashed out and I made myself vulnerable to being the closest target for their lashing out. I heard recently when lifeguards approach a drowning person they approach feet first, because if you let a drowning person grab your arms and torso they will take you down with them. I didn’t do that at all with this person, and so I got some rough feedback from them about who I am.

This week I got told to love myself. My lack of self-esteem was diagnosed. But when you love yourself what are the parts you prioritize? How do you love the part of you that would like to wake and bake and binge eat? How do you love the part of yourself that would eat only kale if that meant you could lose thirty pounds? How do you love the part of yourself that can withstand, comfortably really, a person going into detail about how awful you are because it’s nothing you haven’t considered at length, nor are you a stranger to being told you’re a monster? How do you love the part that is monstrous?

What has my online presence been except a series of lessons regarding how to get comfortable being told I’m a monster? So has this been self-love or self-harm? Were there parts that were self-love and parts that were self-harm? Was it all experiments? If I tell you this about myself, and you react strongly, is that good or bad for me? Can it be good for me to have you freak out and understand I can be ok while you freak out? Can it be bad for me to have you tell me what a saint you perceive me to be?

What makes waking up feel lighter? What makes it easier to stand up straight? To concentrate, to focus, to lose myself in interesting papers, to look forward to my plans for the day?

I’ve always believed happy people were kind. It’s easy to be kind when you’re happy. So I’ve steered away from a lot of careers after beginning them because I looked at the people who had been doing them for twenty years and they seemed unkind and unhappy.

I think the most important thing detransitioned people can do is find out how to be happy. We don’t need to save people from their own judgments about what constitutes self-harm or self-love in their lives. They get to answer that question for themselves. It’s their right to answer those questions themselves. Going through the struggle of answering those questions is the most valuable part of the struggle.

I pray a rosary everyday. It’s nutty how effective praying a rosary is. If you are ever in a circumstance where you think, “this is it, the final disaster I have been moving towards since my sad, dumb birth” you should pray Hail Marys. Telling you this might make you think I’m a wingnut who hates gay people. Tell you what: I think the Virgin Mary cares a whole lot about the wellbeing and happiness of lesbian women. I think some of her very favorite people are lesbians.

(Well I think every single one of us is a favorite of hers. I think she loves each of our specific winding paths- our nuttiness, our drama, our struggles, our victories.)

Yes, this is my particular craziness. The practices I use to get through my days don’t have a logic to them. I pray my rosaries, the Virgin Mary always comes through, I hang out with mostly lesbians, they always come through, I read papers on disassociation and self-harm, those papers always come through too. There are some connected themes across what I love, but there’s no ideological order to it.

Should you pray rosaries, hang out with lesbians, read papers on disassociation and self harm? On one level I do recommend all of those things. I think that’s the recipe for a great day. On another level, you should find your own stuff: the kinds of prayers that work for you, the kinds of people that work for you, the kinds of interests that work for you.

A psycho-analyst would see the usefulness of a fixation on the Virgin for my psyche. A mother figure who can provide corrective experiences of unconditional love. I see that angle, and it’s not the angle I believe in. I’ve just been in too many bad situations and had too many miraculous outs provided to me. But again, this is my stuff. It works for me. I’m not saying it should be your stuff.

I don’t tend to engage with trans media on the internet unless there are articles and essays about detransitioners. This is in large part because that’s not my community anymore, intentionally so. So I just find engaging with detransitioner blogs and videos and zines more fun. More fun, more interesting, more emotionally impactful: I just like engaging with what women who have had this experience produce. I don’t like arguing about our existence, or our intentions, or who is funding us. (Direct Loans are my funding source.)

I wish I knew how other people should live. I really wish I knew exactly how I should be living. I wish the Virgin Mary would send me a meal plan, and a daily schedule, and that every day I would know, hey this is self-love, hey this is self-harm. Supposedly if you do a lot of yoga and pray and meditate those answers will start coming immediately because your intuition will get strong. I want to believe that about the universe. I want to believe all the answers are around my solar plexus, and if I just work loose all those muscles that have been clenched since childhood I’ll be able to get all those good and true messages right from my gut.

If She sends me the meal plan I’ll pass it on. Until then good luck to all of us. Try to unclench your gut. Eat right.

 

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