I’ve been thinking a lot about Arielle’s episode on our podcast, Out of Queeriosity. I was tying it into my favorite topic right now, Non-Binary Thinking and how it’s affecting our future.
I am beginning to see more grey in my life, less black and white. Things that I saw as absolutely black (and “wrong”), I now see on a spectrum where what I perceived as black, I can now see is clearly charcoal.
For example self-love and self-harm. When looking at either of them in a vacuum, without the context of the other, we see simply two opposites. If it’s not self-love, it must be harmful to oneself, etc.
However, when we’re able to see both on a spectrum, that is where the magic of self-awareness really begins to take shape.
An act of removing absolutely all restrictions on eating and drinking could be seen as self-harm. How can you keep it together without knowing where the boundaries are?
Put that same act on the spectrum of self-love, removing those restrictions could be the highest form of self-love through expressing unconditional trust and support, with a self-love that doesn’t need to be “earned”.
Recently I was preparing for surgery and about three weeks before, began a regimented anti-inflammatory diet. This could have been a mental breakdown in the making, given my past with disordered eating and self-harm. However this time my entire focus was to SERVE my body, to provide it with the best input I could possibly give it. The gnawing buzz in my head of restriction and perfection simply wasn’t there. Within three days of beginning the SERVICE mindset, my body responded with improved health.
The main difference I observed is that I wasn’t striving for a “better version of me”. There wasn’t an awareness of lack, of a reality in which I’m not good enough and need to overcome. None of that was there. I think I got to a point where I just truly loved who I am NOW and wanted that version of me to feel as good as possible.
Many of us are chasing the same feeling of “completeness”, of “good enough now” in our sexuality. For most of us, this creates a need to deconstruct internalized homophobia, as well as compulsory heteronormativity - both huge undertakings that require resources of time to research and process, as well as enough emotional and financial stability to undertake the deconstruction. The messy middle is aptly named and healing affects everyone around us.
As we walk that individual journey, what are some acts of self-love that allow you to feel the glimpses of “enoughness” while you’re wading through the “messy middle”? A few of mine are:
I fight patriarchal values and thinking all day long, both in running my own business and serving as a nonprofit leader. By the time it gets to dinner with my kids, I have no nuance left. The spectrum is gone. If my teenager wants to prove their point with me, they have to do it in the most conciliatory way possible or they just get shut down.
It has been a powerful act of self-love to draw such a distinct boundary with people whose relationship feels tenuous (as with all teenagers). And have they walked away in frustration a couple of times? Sure. Has my heart responded with warmth and fulfillment because I protected it with a strong boundary? A million times yes.
And there it is, what could be considered an act of self-harm, to sabotage my tenuous relationship with my teenager. OR could be an act of self-love to protect my mental health at the end of a draining day. Both are valid. One, at this time, leads to a greater expansion of identity and fulfillment.
That’s the one I pursue. What act of self-love leads you to those feelings? Drop a comment below!