Meditations for Queer Femmes — Bloody January Again!

I grew up listening to Flanders and Swan, a very funny (although, unfortunately, also occasionally racist and misogynistic) English musical duo. One of their most amusing bits is “A Song of the Weather”, which starts by describing the misery of January, goes on to describe the misery of each miserable month, and ends with, “And then: bloody January again!”

Life for we queer femmes, though intrinsically fabulous, of course, is not always sweetness and light. How could it be, given that we belong to the human race? Emotions and situations are part of the flow. This weekend, the flow took me through the muck and mire of grief, anger, denial, upset. Being the intellectual brat that I am, I just wanted to figure things out and feel better, but emotions don’t work that way. “People are always telling me how bravely I’m facing this,” a femme friend with a chronic illness tells me. “They don’t see me lying on the couch bawling my eyes out for three hours at a time…” Which is probably what I should have done this weekend, given that you have to let that sadness out, but the most I managed was the lying on the couch part. Bloody January.

People tell me all the time that I’m a warrior and that I’m going to kick cancer’s ass. I know they mean well, but what if I’d rather be a lover than a fighter? What if I just really wish I didn’t have to be dealing with cancer at all? Both things are true. And whatever difficult situation we queer femmes may face at different times in our lives, our culture and perhaps our personalities, perhaps our families, our friends, all encourage us not to linger in the “bad” emotions – you know, the ones I was grappling with this weekend. But there are no bad emotions – they all exist for a reason – and there are definitely times when lingering there is exactly what’s needed.

According to the empath, Karla McLaren, when emotions are honored and listened to, they help us move in a healthy manner through whatever it is life has brought our way. She writes that “[g]rief enables you to survive losses by immersing you in the deep river that flows underneath all life. If you can’t move into your grief, you’ll only experience destabilization and dissociation in response to the shock of loss, injustice, inequity, and death, instead of being cleansed and renewed in the river of all souls.” And anger? “When your anger flows freely you won’t even know it’s there; it will simply help you maintain your boundaries, your inner convictions and your healthy detachment. Free-flowing anger will allow you to laugh compassionately at yourself and set your boundary mercifully because both actions arise from the inner strength and honorable self-definition anger imports. When your anger is not allowed its natural flow, you’ll have trouble setting and maintaining your boundary, you’ll tend to dishonor or enmesh with others, and your self-image will be imperiled by your reliance on the capricious opinions of the outside world.”

Our psyche provides us with these tools, our emotions, to guide us in navigating the flow of life. The more we fight, try to reason our feelings away, try to squelch them with whatever distraction we favor (food, for me, is an excellent distraction), the more they’ll warp and morph and come back all the stronger. So, my cranky, pissed off, grieving femme sisters, today let yourself go with the flow. Let your emotions take you where you need to be. You may not like the way it feels and you probably aren’t all that psyched about hanging out there; it may not be what various authorities recommend, but listen to your own queer femme heart and go where you need to go.

Instead of scolding yourself as you bawl your eyes out, or throw things, or open another bag of chips, keep yourself company in your misery, treat yourself with that magical queer femme compassion you lavish so freely on the world and on those you love. Wrap yourself in that healing love. Another femme friend gave me the book, Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself by Kristin Neff, and here is an exercise from this lovely book that you can use when you’re down in the thick of it. Not to rush things along, but to honor what you’re feeling and to give yourself love love love.

Hugging Practice – One easy way to comfort yourself when you’re feeling badly is to give yourself a gentle hug. It seems a bit silly at first, but your body doesn’t know that. It just responds to the physical gesture of warmth and care, just as a baby responds to being held in its mother’s arms. Our skin is an incredibly sensitive organ. Research indicates that physical touch releases oxytocin, provides a sense of security, soothes distressing emotions, and calms cardiovascular stress. So why not try it?

            If you notice that you’re feeling tense, upset, sad, or self-critical, try giving yourself a warm hug, tenderly stroking your arm or face, or gently rocking your body. What’s important is that you make a clear gesture that conveys feelings of love, care, and tenderness. If other people are around, you can often fold your arms in a nonobvious way, gently squeezing yourself in a comforting manner. You can also simply imagine hugging yourself if you can’t make the actual physical gesture.

            Notice how your body feels after receiving the hug. Does it feel warmer, softer, calmer? It’s amazing how easy it is to tap into the oxytocin system and change your biochemical experience.

            Try giving yourself a hug in times of suffering several times a day for a period of at least a week, Hopefully you’ll start to develop the habit of physically comforting yourself when needed, taking full advantage of this surprisingly simple and straightforward way to be kind to ourselves.

When we queer femmes can honor our emotions – all our emotions – we are in better balance with all that is, and that is a place of power and love. Be in your power today, my beauties.

I love you.

https://www.last.fm/music/Flanders+and+Swann/_/A+Song+of+the+Weather

Every Monday, I offer a Meditation for Queer Femmes in the spirit of my maternal grandmother, Mimi, who was fabulous, kind, and wise and from whom I inherited her Meditations for Women.

At the Total Femme, my intention is to post three times a week: Meditations for Queer Femmes on Monday, Pingy-Dingy Wednesday on Wednesday and Femme Friday on Friday. Rather than play catch-up in a stressful fashion on those weeks when life prevents posting, I have decided to just move gaily forward: if I miss a Monday, the next post will be on Wednesday, and so on. Thank you, little bottle of antibiotics for inspiring me in this! (“…if it’s almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Don’t take a double dose to make up for a missed one.”)