self-care vs selfish

April 4, 2011

I have been talking to everybody about How to Say NO: The “B” side to self care since Julie mentioned the article to me a week ago. While there are points I would tweak a bit (for example, “1.   Always say “no” first.  Do not allow “yes” to be your default answer.  It is easier to go back later and say yes, than it is to go back later and say no.” I would change this to “Always say maybe” I find that after I say “no” it is difficult to go back on) This article has been a good jumping off point when discussing making myself a priority, both emotionally and concerning time commitments.

I mostly have these discussions concerning business and the article focuses more on saying “no” to project/business commitments, but I think it lends a possible framework for interpersonal relationships as well.

JRae contacted me last night to say hi and to ask if I wanted to read her zine rough drafts.  We have not talked in a couple years and I thought maybe she was mad at me.  There is no telling why or if people are mad at me, so if there are prolonged periods of silence I assume the worst.  But people get busy and often I give people the unintentional silent treatment because I am daydreaming about something or someone else.

For a long time I have known I do not belong in Chicago.  LB argues with me that places are pretty much all the same, but I feel places foster certain attitudes and norms.  I always felt like Detroit had a real sense of community and JRae echoed that belief in pretty much the same words I have used in the past to describe why Detroit is so awesome.  Crusty drunk punks, anarchists, hipsters, garage rockers, art punks all hang out together.  Everyone hangs out together and supports each other.  The level of that support can dip and wane (and even sometimes be negative) but it is there.  JRae also pointed out that people are more invested in the idea of accountability.  This is not necessarily a conscious decision, but one born of necessity.  We are all in this together so lets try and do it right.

I have also been talking to an old roommate of mine from 764 Channing, Jenny. When we lived together Jenny would sometimes sleep for days on end.  We could always tell when she was depressed because we just wouldn’t see her for a week.  We could also tell when she was feeling better because she would embark on the monumental task of cleaning her room.  She painted the room the color of tangerine and mint shurburt.  Jenny is one of the funniest, smartest girls I know and is about to move to NYC to further her stand up career.  But talking to Jenny has made me feel sad.  She asked me about a mutual acquintance who supposedly lives in Chicago and I suddenly thought about all the shitty things that have happened here in the past two years.  All the people I have met who seem really fucked up in irreversible ways.  I am so not perfect.  I am an unrepentent shit talker and often hate people first before giving them a chance,  but some of the stuff I have witnessed I have to blame on Chicago.  It hurts me to think that this is just the in-and-outs of humanity.

I noticed a big batch of white hair which is a different texture than the rest of my head.  My mom did not start going grey until her mid-50s and she had to live with my father and “deal” with the death of my brother.  True, I am a high stress person.  I give myself terrible migraines and I ground through one mouth splint in two years.  They are supposed to last five.

What we do: we just blow each other off.  we give up when times are tough.  we blame other people for our own failings.  we ignore self care.  we point out each others mistakes.  we don’t give others a chance. we judge.  we are self involved, self interested, narcissists.  we do not play nicely with others.  we are fucked up.

LB sent me an email and the phrase “We are not meant to abandon each other” stood out.   Since moving to this town I feel nothing but abandoned.

At least I have discovered how to forgive, if not myself for my many failings, at least the people who have hurt me.  “We are all broken” is what they say at church.  Our brokenness is our distance from “God,” our distance from each other.


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