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Scheherazade in Blue Jeans
freelance alchemist
*sigh*, part the second 
11th-Feb-2013 02:33 pm
Universe puts us in places we can learn
I have been doing a lot of thinking about boundaries.

As you know, Bob, I am writing a book all about recovery from childhood sexual abuse, and it is written in an especially visceral way, and that + burnout/vicarious trauma meant that I took a six-month leave from BARCC last year; as you also know, Bob, shortly after I took that leave, the Months of Everyone Dying Horribly of Cancer began, and I did not get to focus very much on writing said book.

So there's a lot of time of this book lurking in the back of my head. And I have started actively working on it again, so the lurking has turned into random ambushing.

(The good thing about writing something that vividly explores the aftereffects of abuse is that it shines a very bright spotlight on those aftereffects in my own life. As in, I am much more easily able to say "no, this thought pattern is not true, it is my PTSD lying to me in the same way that it lies to a lot of people." So a lot of crap is working its way to the surface, but I am managing to see it for what it is, which denies it some of its power.)

One of the things I've been forced to look at recently is how I set my boundaries - or don't - with regard to my participation in my various communities.

I am having a hard time writing this. Not really because I'm supposed to be Superman, but because some people have done what I'm about to talk about in very well-meaning and non-problematic ways, and I do not have an issue with them doing so, and I don't want them to feel bad.

So. My communities know that I am passionate about eradicating sexual violence and fighting rape culture. So I am very often tagged into fights - and sometimes they are just discussions where people are trying to reach a reasonable consensus and get some education, but sometimes they're not. Sometimes it's people trying to justify rapey behavior, for themselves or for their friends. Sometimes it's people asserting that the victim is always to blame. Et cetera.

And every damn time someone tries to tag me in, I end up fighting with myself. Because I have the skills and the knowledge, and I have a community-based mindset. I have a history of doing things that are not healthy for me because they are For the Good of the Community. And since I do have the skills, I feel like a ginormous asshole not jumping in.

But every time this year, the thought of jumping in has produced a panic response in me. Something in me is telling me very clearly that I am not up to these fights, that they will hurt me more than they will help the community.

For a change, I am actually listening.

The way I put it to someone just now, at the end of a longer e-mail, was "I have the skills, but sometimes I do not have the spoons. Right now, I absolutely do not have the spoons."

And yeah, this is all very hard to say, even though I know that every single one of you will back me and tell me to take care of myself first. I know that that's how you feel! I wish knowing that helped!

It's a very slow process. Made slower by the fact that there is heavy demand on me as a Community Expert and the fact that I'm dredging up a lot of stuff that makes this work more difficult at present.

But I'm working on it.
(Deleted comment)
11th-Feb-2013 09:32 pm (UTC)
You have to put on your own oxygen mask first. *hug*
12th-Feb-2013 06:11 pm (UTC) - What Hammercock said!
This. Loads of this.

(Oh, and this? I am much more easily able to say "no, this thought pattern is not true, it is my PTSD lying to me in the same way that it lies to a lot of people." I need to post that on every wall of my apartment. I might even tattoo it somewhere.)
11th-Feb-2013 10:34 pm (UTC)
please let me know if you feel in any way on the hook for Readercon and I will do my best to get you off said hook.
11th-Feb-2013 11:49 pm (UTC)
*hugs* Either I am dreaming life out of order again, or you *have* asked people to please not tag you into those fights without prior approval, and think really really hard about asking for that approval to start with, because you are still very tired and wrung out of it. There've been a few occasions that I thought about asking for you to lend your voice, but found I was able to muddle through it reasonably well. (Or hit my own walls and went "You're not listening, I am tired of repeating, good night.")
12th-Feb-2013 02:52 am (UTC)
Another thing to keep in mind is that even though you won't be actively participating in the rape survivor community at this point, the book you're writing is actually a part of that, if I'm understanding correctly what it's about. If it's a book about going through this kind of trauma and what comes after, then it may be helpful to people who have gone through the same thing, to know that they're not alone. So you're still helping, still doing good work, just in a different way. The important thing is to finish it.
12th-Feb-2013 03:24 am (UTC)
Yup, yup, yup.

12th-Feb-2013 05:01 am (UTC)
Never, ever feel obligated to be the Community Expert. Please. When someone boxes you into a corner, tell them you want out.
16th-Feb-2013 09:05 pm (UTC)
I know something of what you mean about skills vs. spoons, and am wishing you the best.
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