I haven’t posted in about two weeks, which is the longest break i’ve taken since perhaps November of last year. And this past week is certainly the first this year that I didn’t meet my new years intention of posting once a week in 2011. And you know? I’m totally ok with it. I was gettin’ pretty bummed there for a little while, what with the constant shit-storm being lobbed at low income folks, women of color, fatties, etc. And while my instinct is generally to dive into the FA movement head first, spending glorious hours online in this community of awesomeness, I felt myself pulling away a little bit. I’m still not exactly sure why, but my first thought is that i was simply tired. This shit takes work. It takes work to care, and it takes work to fight a system set up to frankly push anyone who may be on the margins away, so far away that they don’t have a voice. I don’t mean to pretend like I’m a martyr and that my problems even come close to the struggles others face on a daily basis, and I am privileged in all sorts of areas of my life, but it does just become really heavy on your soul after a while.
Last Friday, my office had a retreat and for the afternoon we had a training on how oppression shows up in the body. Essentially (truly, this is a 30 second breakdown of what took the instructor over 30 minutes to explain to us, so please know that I’m sure I’m leaving out some pretty important stuff, but I’m trying to nail the basics), our bodies are conditioned, through hundreds of years on this earth, to do one of five things when we come into contact with oppression, in whatever form: fight, flight, freeze, appease, dissociate. Apparently our bodies deal with oppression (racial, class, gender, ability, size, etc) in much the same way that they deal with trauma, as oppression is a form of social trauma. How we react has almost nothing to do with our “thinking” brain and almost everything to do with our “animal” brain. It’s our gut reaction, one that has worked for our ancestors for years and years. In order to start to dismantle that animal reaction (if one chooses to do that), a hell of a lot of work must be done such that we can choose which of the five reactions to use at any given time, depending on the circumstances.
Up until recently, whenever I dealt with oppression because of my size, my animal instinct was to dissociate from my body. I’m fairly certain this is common among the fats. If you can remove yourself from your physical body – the body that is being oppressed when it tries to fit into a seat and can’t, the body that is being yelled at on the street for being “unattractive” – you can protect yourself. You can protect your heart and your soul from just getting crushed. But this, for me, was dangerous, because it allowed me to talk SO much shit about my body because, you see, it really wasn’t even my body. It was just…something else. Not even someONE else. Just a thing. And it’s easy to say awful and mean things to a thing, isn’t it?
So I think this is what I was doing when everything just started to feel like a bit much. I went back to my historical animal instinct and dissociated, I can’t point to any one particular incident, I think it was just an aggregation of a bunch of little things. And it must be said that our animal instincts aren’t ever really wrong. They’re what has worked for us a thousand times over, otherwise we likely wouldn’t do them! We’re smart creatures. Our ancestors were smart creatures. We want to survive. So we do what allows us to survive. For me, it was pulling away from examining my body in the world, from engaging in the FA community and movement for a couple weeks.
Fortunately, I have another tool in my toolkit when it comes to dealing with oppression, and that tool is to fight. So I’m back to fighting, and I think it’s because of my dissociation for a little while that I am able to say the following. Bring it.