[I wrote this a while ago and never posted it. Re-reading it now, it mostly seems very melodramatic and weird and pseudo-poetic, but I’m queueing it anyway.]
One of my favorite feelings in the whole world is one I don’t have a word for. This may be due to my usual chronic difficulty identifying and naming my emotions, but maybe there simply is no word to describe this particular emotional cocktail.
It’s heady, exhilarating, a sense of wild triumph and freedom with an undercurrent of strength and readiness for battle, a feeling fit for movie scenes I’d roll my eyes at in more cynical moods. It’s a mad grin tugging at the corners of my mouth, eyes too wide and sparkling, laughter bubbling at the back of my throat, so much air filling my lungs that I feel like I’ll never run out of breath. It’s energy crackling through my body, and feet planted firmly into the ground like roots, and hands balling into fists for no other reason than because they felt like it.
I’ve heard its echo in defiant voices shouting protest slogans. I’ve read it on a button I used to have that said “NO GODS NO MASTERS”. When my then-boyfriend and I went to see “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” in cinema back in 2011, it filled the screen in the scene where Caesar, the intelligent ape, catches the hand of his abuser in his own and shouts: “NO!”
It’s the feeling of throwing off heavy chains, of outrunning all those who would imprison me with lots of breath and energy to spare, of winning freedom.
If you don’t know what feeling I mean by now, you might not know it. I can’t describe it any better.
Anyway, this feeling? Sometimes it’s my most powerful weapon.
Whenever I get it, I tell myself to remember. I pour the experience into bottles and stuff them into every nook and cranny in my mind that I can think of. And when the time comes, when I am desperately trying to hide from pitch-black thoughts with sharp teeth, when I am shivering and panicked and losing ground, the best possible thing to happen is to catch a glimpse of one of these bottles.
They’re Molotov cocktails to throw against creatures made of darkness and pain, and their flame burns beautifully hot and bright.
When the most exuberant wildness has burned down and the intoxicating fumes slowly dissipate, the calmer, more lasting elements remain: feelings of strength, groundedness, wholeness. A sense of unconditional self-acceptance and self-esteem: what I am is not perfect, but it is valuable.
This feeling is one of my favorites too, and it is a great foundation to work with and build on.
I am free.
I may not be morally relevant to others, but I am morally relevant to myself. My well-being matters to me.
My emotions do not depend on others acknowledging them. If they deny them, if they identify them inaccurately, if they make false assumptions about what I am feeling, this is not a failure on my part: they are simply wrong.
I do not have to perform my emotions well enough to meet other people’s standards. I am the sole expert on my experiences, and if others do not believe me about them, they are simply wrong.
I am my own.
I am not yours to pass judgment on.
You do not get to tell me what to do, what to think, what to feel. I am my own.
My body is mine.
You do not get to tell me what to do with it, what to think about it, what to feel about it. It is mine.
My body is part of me, and I am part of my body. Any experience I will ever make I will make within and through my body (barring the invention of a way to upload consciousness). Anything I will ever see, hear, taste, smell, touch and interact with in this world, I will see and hear and taste and smell and touch and interact with through my body. Anything I will feel, I will feel within and through my body. Prohibiting me from exposing my body to an experience means prohibiting me from making said experience at all.
You do not get to do that. I am my own.
I will nourish my body. I will allow it to rest and recover as needed. I will provide it with the care it requires in any way I can. I will cherish it. I will be mindful of its limitations and not hold them against it. I will be mindful of and grateful for what it accomplishes every second of every day, of the intricate chemical and physical systems and balances within it that enable each and every single one of my experiences.
If my body seems wrong to you, you can fuck off. You do not get to judge it. It is mine.
If what I do with my body disgusts you, you can fuck off (within reasonable limits). It’s none of your business. It is mine.
I owe you nothing. I will not live according to your values, but to my own. I will not live to give you pleasure, but to take pleasure in what pleases me (within reasonable limits I set myself).
If you claim to care about me, if you claim to want to help me, if you claim to want to cure me, and you do not listen to me, you can fuck off. What you believe my needs to be may not be my actual needs. What you value may not be what I value. You do not get to force me to conform to your expectations, to live by your values, to be grateful for things I never wanted from you.
I am my own, and I am free.