Free Man in Paris

January 14, 2006 at 9:21 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

“I was a free man in Paris
I felt unfettered and alive
There was nobody calling me up for favors
And no one’s future to decide
You know I’d go back there tomorrow
But for the work I’ve taken on

Stoking the star maker machinery

Behind the popular song”

– Joni Mitchell, Free Man in Paris

I think this photo is fairly self-explanatory for the mood of today’s post.

***

What is it about me, exactly, that drives me to have a “I can save the world” complex?

I have a t-shirt that reads “Saving the world, one vagina at a time”. I might not be able to do that in my lifetime, but I’m sure as hell going to try.

And try, and try, and try.

And when I fail, or when I can’t find it in my calendar of events to do everything possible, the guilt kicks in. Guilt that I can’t do it at all.

***


I finally learned to say no to something this weekend. A weekend feminist retreat, which most likely would’ve been fabulous to attend. But my energy just isn’t there.

I’ve only been back at work for a week and already I’m exhausted. This must’ve been the longest week ever. New opportunities are arising from every corner, and while it’s both exciting and terrifying, I wonder if I really do have enough time to do it all.

Missing the retreat this weekend was supposed to allow me the time to work, instead, on my thesis ethics proposal. Now with Saturday nearly over, what have I to show for it? A day full of online monopoly-playing instead. My body, my mind, needed a rest. Needed a break so bad. Today’s day of nothingness certainly proves that.

And yet, the guilt is niggling still – guilt as I’ve backed out of yet another conference next weekend in order to do an entirely separate event.

Artemis to self: It’s okay to NOT do everything and to NOT be responsible for everything.

***

Is this a socially learned part of being a woman? This desire, this need, to do everything? To fix everything? To be everywhere at all times? To be everything to everyone? To save the world?

Women are the caregivers, the nurturers, the ones who look after the home. In looking after the home physically, that also entails a huge amount of emotional care. We’re trained to be the ones that people come to. To fix problems. To wipe the tears, be the bearer of bad news, be the shoulder to cry on. And pretty soon, before we even realize we were being trained, it becomes so engrained that we don’t even realize that we’re doing it.

And then, when we can’t bear that responsibility, when we feel the need to be selfish, to look after ourselves – we feel guilty.

***

How do we overcome it though?

For years I’ve been trying to do exactly that. At times I think I’ve done it. Learned to be selfish. To practice self-care, to worry about myself first. But then the arm gets tingly, the lack of sleep kicks in, and the guilt becomes a gnawing fixture. The need to be doing everything for everybody all the time. And before I know it, I realize that once again, I’m overdoing it. People are walking all over me, asking me to do everything and be everything to everyone – and I’ve entirely allowed them to do that.

Time for another reality check.

– Artemis.

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1 Comment »

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  1. So, the answer is no. You, alone cannot ‘Save the World.’

    The good news is, you are not alone. Even when you are alone, physically, you are connected to everyone else on the face of the earth.

    Up until a few short months ago, I believed that I was alone. I would say/argue this in the company of other people who I’d known for a long time and they would just look at me, wondering how I could be so blind to their existence.

    Now that I realize that within me I carry everyone else, their influence, their abilities, I suddenly see myself as part of a very big world. The result, less guilt, more power, stronger voice, less fear.

    I shall add you to my Blogs I Read page. Nice job!!

    Calendar Girl


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