I’ve been obsessing lately about making a false move. I want to bridge all of my worlds and embrace being all that I am but I’m scared of the potential consequences of exposure, especially of getting to a place where someone who would want to know could find my location. Last night I couldn’t sleep, asking over and over again, why am I so terrified of this? Then it hit me. It’s because part of me thinks that if something bad would happen to me, it would be my fault. It would make it my fault because I choose to do what I do and because I didn’t protect myself well enough. Omg. This is a huge aha moment for me. Because really, if someone ever decided to harm me, why would it my fault and not theirs? If someone chooses to harm me, it’s them that is the problem, not me. This might seem so dumbly obvious but I’m serious, somewhere in my mind, I’m really not clear about this. And it’s really pissing me off to realize that.
I mean sure, risk management is a part of life. You take your car on the road, you’d better have insurance, a license, know how to drive, and expect that others may not be thinking along as well as you are. But still, you take your fucking car on the fucking road, you don’t leave it in the fucking garage (ok so I’m a little riled up about this, but I feel pretty entitled to). Ships are safest in the harbor, but that is not what they are built for. So, if I acknowledge that I’m not doing certain things, not fully going for my shots, because I’m afraid it could mean being harmed in a way that would be my fault, well then that’s not risk management, that’s being fucking COMPROMISED.
I actually recognize this, this is victim mentality. The assumption that any harm done to you would result from something you did. This gets perpetrated all the time, in the media, in how we frame the conversation around violence, especially sexual violence. We end up looking to the victim, asking how their behavior attracted or enabled what was done to them. This is how victims so often end up re victimized. This kind of thinking is the default reaction of victims themselves, who of course are the product of their culture.
This is how behavior gets policed, choices get curtailed, freedom gets tarnished in ways we are not even aware of. I’m not really free to engage in what I want to do if I’m constantly afraid my actions could open me up to any sort of assault which would be blamed back on me. Seriously, this has so many consequences. One of the biggest being that I can’t really allow myself to be vulnerable, even though my vulnerability, my softness, my openness are the very sources of my creativity, my power, my agency. Without them, I am a dimmed version of myself.
This is so important because I have all sorts of hopes and dreams for my project (and myself) but I’ve been standing still, petrified of getting into more trouble than I can handle. It also explains why I’ve been spending so much time justifying myself, as an insurance policy. But at some point, you have to stand for something, you have to walk your talk and grow past the conditioning that keeps everything the same. Let me rephrase that. At some point, I have to walk my talk, I have to stand for what I believe in. Awareness is always the first step but the follow up question is, what are you going to do about it?
I want to point out that one of the reasons I had this awakening is because of Natalie Portman’s speech from this year’s Women’s March. Portman spoke extremely powerfully about how her own choices were affected by the world’s reaction to her sexuality. (I highly recommend listening to her if you haven’t already, I relate so much to her story and her conclusion about the need for a revolution of desire gave me goosebumps.) We will never know what kind of Natalie Portman could have been had she grown up in a different, safer world. The same can be said about me. The same can be said about everyone. Those are losses we have to grieve. But past the grief, past the awareness that we are not as free as we think we are, we have an opportunity to create something new and better. I don’t know much about the future but I do know I want to be a part of that.