Step up, step up

10/13/2011

editorial note: please excuse the uneven editing structure/increased swears for the next few weeks–en’t been sleeping enough, and there’s a whole lotta writing i gotta get done (and a whole lotta other things, too!). xo, RD

god fucking dammit. you know, this week, it was turning out pretty nicely. it was chugging along, i felt like i was balancing getting stuff done, self care, and occasionally having fun pretty well. AND THEN THE EMAIL CAME.

The email was basically like: HEY I AM SO GLAD TO HEAR ABOUT YOUR COLLECTIVE WE HAVE [THESE VERY SERIOUS PROBLEMS THAT ARE BEYOND THE SCOPE THAT YOUR COLLECTIVE OR YOU HAVE THE RESOURCES TO DEAL WITH] AND REALLY NEED HELP! PLEASE CONTACT ME ASAP [DID I MENTION WE HAVE SOME VERY SERIOUS PROBLEMS THAT REQUIRE IMMEDIATE ATTENTION BEYOND THE SCOPE OF RESOURCES YOU HAVE TO GIVE?] SIGNED, TRYING TO ORGANIZE A MIDDLE-CLASS REVOLUTION

ugh. one of the particularly problematic quirks of my personality is that i am a control freak. not because i like being in control, exactly, it’s more like that i have noticed that folks are not real fast about picking up leadership roles, and i’ve figured out that if i want things done “right” (oh dear, you see what i mean?), then i might as well do them myself. this basically summarizes most of my career as an activist: well, i really didn’t want to get involved–but no one else was stepping up, so i did it anyways!

among the perks of my day job (other than health insurance and getting paid decently) is that i receive emails throughout the day. this is real useful sometimes, but it also means that when i receive an email like the above stressbomb, i have the WHOLE REST OF THE DAY to worry about it before i can do anything about it. A friend of mine who also does a variety of support work for others (including working IT for many years) has developed what zie calls the SEP field. “Oh really?” zie will say, “I seem to be encountering an SEP field!” Zie doesn’t say this to everyone, in fact zie is usually one of the kindest, most compassionate individuals I have ever known. But let’s be honest, sometimes we do encounter problems that must be let go of without solving them, and they must be deflected by the Someone Else’s Problem field.

I’m not saying I’m going to deflect the request we received today, but I’ve got to be honest: it is someone else’s problem(s) that I am being asked to deal with, not my own, and not a personal affront to my own incapability as a human being to be all places, at all times, doing all the things. See? When I place that in print it seems so ridiculous that I have tried, at times, to be so much more than human! To strive for superhuman capabilities sets me up to fail, and then I don’t just disappoint my self, I also deprive others, sometimes in a very real sense. It is possible that their needs can get met elsewhere–I just have to leave enough space for someone else to step up.

Sometimes during workshops/skillshares/etc we use this phrase, step up, step up, to encourage people who usually take up a lot of space or participate very actively to step up their listening, and to encourage people who usually sit back and let the group swirl around them to step up their participation. I’m gonna remember that, for this situation. Step up, step up. For me, in this situation, that’s a reminder to step up my boundary setting.

Also, I am thinking about getting 10 deep breaths, 10 steps back tattooed on my hand. Or maybe henna? Hopefully I will have better developed my values around self-care within the next, uh…5 or 10 years? ugh, it’s gonna be a lifetime thing. Don’t ever forget: this livin’ shit takes a lifetime.

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