anyhow, what was playing on my mind, as i read the last few pages, was to do with love. i've written before a bit about how love and passion are policed, pathologised, occasionally criminalised, including by 'well meaning' social workers and the like (do i need to keep on with the well-meaning disclaimer? can i start saying something less polite soon?). the weight of this was brought back to me as i was finishing up volume one and came across paragraphs like this:
"...Everything the culture taught me: how to submit, how not to make waves, how to fear authority, how to fear perceiving my submission as submission, how to fear my feelings, how to fear perceiving the killing of those I love [he's not just talking about people] as the killing of those I love (or perhaps I should say the killing of those I would love had I not been taught to fear love too), how to fear stopping by any means necessary those who are killing those I love..."this all struck home with me, hard, how much i fear taking action against abuse, oppression, destruction, how the state of fear is infinitely more comfortable, and how i deal with that by loving less. numbing, depression, caring less, shutting down my love to only those closest to me, or only those things and people i can immediately see. and then - what does it mean? how can i love those closest to me without loving the other people, the other things?
(my biggest internet crush of the moment is all for Mai'a)
which is one side of things. but also, how hard is it to love in the face of that policing and pathologising? i was thinking - the women i work with often love with their all (others are numb and shut-down, but that's a different story, and a reason why there can't be a one-size fits all approach to DV work right). but the social workers - they can't afford to love, and empathise. they can't really know what it is, or how could they do that work? i wonder what their definition of love must be, and what it's got to do with (their own) 'good' families and ownership and 'security' and hoarding. they are probably really having no fun. i mean, i don't have a lot of time for the oppressors-as-wounded worldview but then sometimes -. what can you say?
i was also thinking about how i have to hide from my colleagues and people 'in the sector' (!) just how much i love my job, or rather, my work. it's not ok to be passionate about it. the management could pathologise me as 'driven' and starting looking for 'boundary issues' i might have. i was too driven when i was twenty, but i work damn hard on my boundaries and have figured them out over the years, at least within the framework of the voluntary sector (if i ever start doing the grassroots work i dream of, i think those must be somehow different boundaries to figure out).
i made some personal mistakes along the way, though i'm pretty sure my 'clients' were not impacted. like for example she didn't know it, but i did fall in love with one woman, not in that way, but in the example she showed me of mothering and of courage and awesomeness. when things went wrong for her i cried and cried - but of course she doesn't know this. then she made things right for herself. i 'should' have had stronger boundaries and not empathised so much. i got in a mess for a weekend. my managers never found out either, thank god. and.. well, what's wrong with caring that much, once in a while?
well, it was agonising... when you (allow yourself to) love something, pain is going to be part of it. so - i allow myself to love some things - a certain amount, and then draw lines, and exclude some things, and love some things abstractly. like the gulf of mexico. women i work who are eligible for benefits in the uk or who have enough income have more choices and options open to them if they are being abused. it's safe enough to empathise with their troubles, to try and figure it out with them. the gulf of mexico, on the other hand... and women with no recourse to public funds. many agencies switch off on hearing those words. it's too much, a stretch of empathy too far. i won't switch off. but i know there is something happening to my heart as the situation becomes bleaker for my longest-term 'client' with no recourse. i can feel myself starting to shut down as i can't bear to think of all the implications of her lack of options. it's safer not to love or care 'too much', to be A Professional. which, of course, entails not fighting as hard for what she needs. which is why we have all been professionalised - offered privileges in return for leaving behind the people we were trying to work with. at risk of losing these privileges, we then fear caring, loving and fighting.
No. it's becoming so clear how much it being not-ok-to-love is so much a part of how oppression functions. this kind of work has to be driven by love, and feeling and acknowledging pain has to be part of it. as supporters, we have to find ways of supporting each other in this.
i love the groups, the women's support groups, i love the many moments every week where i can see amazing change happening, i love the women i work with. i want the crushing structures that make people feel mental for feeling highs and lows, or who lock people away and/or take away their children for loving, to end. and even more, i want the systems to end that make it impossible, too frightening, to love people (and places, and seabirds). and, jensen would say, what am i going to do about it?