Resiliency and Growing a Thick Skin

Last night, Google sent me a little alert informing me that I’ve been TERFd (again!) on a website related to harassing the trans community, especially trans women. My sin is being an ally to trans people (again!)

If you’d like to better understand how & why this group of radical feminists bear such animosity for the trans community, take a peak at this information from the TransAdvocate on what it means to be a TERF.

What caught my attention was this dig from someone purporting to be from Pittsburgh

Trans ing the Dead   GenderTrender

 

It never ceases to amaze me that other women and other queer people fall back on two lines of attack when they disagree with me – my mental health and my competency/relevancy.  I’ve had these same slurs leveled at me from local trans women, lesbians, gay men and white cishet female allies.

Whether I’m “cray cray” (as the kids like to say) or an “all around nut” – I’m rarely just wrong. It is rare that someone can say “I disagree with you” and move on to other things. To be fair, that’s a challenge for all of us, but falling back on sexist tropes about women is just sad.

I’ve spoken at great length about the fact that I live with mental illness because I see no shame in it and I understand that silence feeds stigma. I’m not cray-cray and I’m not an all around nut. Those are nasty little jabs used to reinforce terrible stereotypes and only serve to keep other people from seeking the support they deserve to live full and productive lives.

Am I relevant/competent? Well, you’d have to look at the indicators you value to determine that for yourself. I don’t write my blog with the goal of accumulating power and influence (or money.) I write it for myself so to that extent, I remain relevant and competent. No one is compelled to read so I’m also not sure that’s even valid criteria for anything. How is having an opinion about anything a matter of relevancy?

But it is a little tough sometimes to read these types of insults, especially if you are not in a great space when the spewing begins. I think it is equally unfair to tell women to grow a pair, get a thick skin, let it go, etc, etc, etc without offering some actual tools to do that. I grew up with a lot of those useless pieces of advice hurled my way.

So I’m offering a few creative ways to strengthen your resiliency, whether you are an all around nut or cray-cray or just an ordinary person who feels it when someone takes a shot at you.

  1. The website SuperBetter.com is a terrific tool. It is part game, part online support. You track your day to day goals and tap into a wealth of suggestions to remind you to give yourself credit for doing a great job taking care of yourself.
  2. Listen to The Mental Illness Happy Hour – a weekly podcast with interviews, listener feedback and more. It is billed as “a waiting room that doesn’t suck” which is pretty apt. The show is pretty LGBTQ friendly, but it is also very blunt – no trigger warnings, no editing, just raw conversation with all it is ugly glory. I love each time I realize that I am not alone, that people are far more fucked up than me and also far less. Or just differently.
  3. Guided meditation is excellent. I use a free series from UCLA. 12 minutes is about the most that I can manage, but it really helps me feel more comfortable in my own skin. I also use a few free phone apps throughout the day.
  4. Therapy. I’m shocked how many people I know resist the idea of therapy. I find therapy quite valuable and helpful. And because of our health insurance, it is also affordable which I know is a privilege. Believe me, there are times that I do NOT want to go, but I do and I always feel better.
  5. Don’t read the Internet. Don’t google yourself, don’t read the comments, don’t put up with crap on your own social media sites. I shouldn’t have read the site above and one reason I am posting this is to remind me of this truism.

When I make time to stop and do these things – even just for 3 minutes – I’m reminded that *I* get to determine my  response even when I am being deliberately trolled or provoked. These give me control in the midst of chaos. If you are going to step up or step forward as a social justice warrior, thick skins seems essential. But it is not inherent to all of us. Take time to take care of yourself on an interpersonal level so you can charge at windmills.

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