Thursday, May 15, 2008

Balancing rage and compassion

Guys, I love the internet. Today I came across two articles that seemed totally incongruous and unrelated at first, but actually became a beautiful lesson in balancing the anger I feel when talking about rape culture with the compassion that I feel is a necessary component of creating meaningful change in our often indifferent world.

Jen's amazingly brave post about her experiences with sexual assault and rape culture at Female Impersonator attracted the ever-present shithead: Anonymous Commenter. (Trigger warning, BTW. The post is very graphic, as are the comments.) The comments are nothing unique or special: someone gets defensive about the idea that we live in a rape culture, misinterprets the OP's conclusion that all men are potential rapists as all men are rapists and the rest de-evolves into a big mess of blegh. Same old song and dance.

I get so tired sometimes, you know? Frustrated with the fact that many people (heck, probably most people) don't understand that we live in a rape culture, and that most people victim-blame until the cows come home, often compounding a survivor's stress, depression and isolation.

So today I bookmarked this WikiHow entry: How to Forgive so I can find it again next time I'm in that frustrated, depressed, raging place. I need to remind myself that compassion is just as important as supporting and empowering survivors or engaging in self-care. In fact, reading this article might just be a step in my self-care process from now on.

ETA: As I re-read this, I realized it might sound like I'm advocating for all survivors to forgive the people who abused them, which I am DEFINITELY NOT. I firmly believe that every single individual person in this world knows best how to care for themselves and heal themselves. I connected with the entry's message of compassion, but that is part of my journey so please don't read this as me telling you how to heal.


Kelsey said...

Katie - I so appreciated this blog. I, personally, have been struggling a lot with learning how to forgive or move on from past hurts, so it was good to read the WikiHow entry. I really, really like #5:

"Be compassionate with yourself. If you've ruminated over this problem for a long time, steering this boat into a new direction could take some time, too. As you try to make a new path out of the dark woods of this old hurt, you'll make mistakes. Forgive yourself. Be patient and kind to yourself. Extreme emotional pain has a profound effect on the body. Give yourself time to heal - physically and emotionally. Eat well. Rest. Focus on the natural beauty in the world."

This is something I've been trying to do lately, and it has been hard, but so good at the same time.

Linda said...

thanks for this, Katie. I, too, have been feeling the weight of the world and this work lately - not to mention my own wounds sitting there trying to heal themselves.

pema chodron is one of my favorite people and she talks a lot about compassion. compassion for others but particularly compassion for ourselves. as a big hearted, social activist - i sometimes find it much easier to have compassion for others and not for myself.

i'm getting a new tattoo to help me remember!