Hi friends! My therapist gave me homework this week: write down my wins. This will not surprise most of you, but I constantly have the feeling of “I should be doing more.” Anxiety fueled by living in a capitalist society? Possibly! Well, probably. Of course, I am critical of what I count as a “win” having been raised with the idea that something like an A- is not a win. So I’m trying to acknowledge and celebrate things that are wins, no matter how “small.” For example, we are almost halfway through 2021 (how????) and I am almost halfway to my reading goal for the year:
Another win is that I have been able to wake up early to take my wife to work each morning this week. This is actually a gigantic win because I am not a morning person in the first place and my meds often make me super slow to get going after I wake up.
Today I want to talk about our responsibility to take care of ourselves with regard to mental health. Specifically our responsibility to ourselves to heal or at least, work on healing.
Before I begin, I first want to acknowledge the lack of access to many resources such as therapists and the luxury of time to talk to a therapist if you even have access to one. There are so many barriers to access the resources, help, and support it takes for a whole healing process. Your healing process isn’t any less valid if it is supported by books from the public library and free online resources. We all have limitations to work within, some more than others.
The trauma that has caused your current distresses, your anxiety, your depression, your anger problems, your negative behavior, is not your fault. I’ll say it again: the trauma is not your fault. But the healing? That is your responsibility.
In Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson, the author uses a really great analogy to describe our responsibility to fight white supremacy. I find that this analogy also works for today’s newsletter. When we buy an old house from another person, we aren’t responsible for how it was built; however, we are living in it now and we are responsible for fixing the leaks, keeping the yard clean, etc.
So too with our trauma. We are not responsible for how we were raised or for how past friends or romantic partners or teachers or bosses negatively treated us; however, we are responsible for healing from that trauma. We are worth healing. We are worth being our whole, healed selves. Our loved ones, too, deserve for us to be healed. I find over the years I have surrounded myself with people who are taking care of their own shit and I distance myself from those who are not. The fact is, no one can heal you but you. We cannot force our loved ones to heal and to address mental health issues just as they cannot force us to do so.
At some point, we need to take responsibility for who we are now and not continue to blame bad behavior on our family, our exes, our old bosses, etc.1 At some point, we have to let go of our trauma, and that can be really fucking scary because it can be terrifying to try to find out who we are without our pain. We won’t magically heal without doing the work.
It is our responsibility to do the work.
That’s it for this week! You can shop any books I’ve mentioned in this newsletter at my affiliate shop, The Infophile’s Bookshop, and support independent bookstores. If you want to send me some snail mail, you can find me at P.O. Box 21481, Oakland, CA 94620-1481. If you want me to send you some happy mail, feel free to give me your address.
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In this I am not talking about white supremacy and systemic racism, though some of what I am talking about does apply to generational trauma to a certain degree, in that we should do our best to address it in ourselves and work toward healing if not for ourselves, then for future generations.