1. The reason support groups are small and have rules is that there is no such thing as a safe space. This is to minimize the damage.
2. If you are going to put out open wounds, broken pride, and all the un-warranted shame* that you’ve not yet entirely shook, you are going to be uncomfortable almost everywhere. This discomfort is healthy.
3. You are entitled to stew, brood, scream, cry, weep, rant, rage, shudder, and laugh. These are methods of healing (wounds need salt water; shame needs airing out, sadness needs laughter, and so on.) Do not be embarrassed.
4. It is hard to stomach yourself when you are reaching for power outside of your own body. Sometimes, self-identifying feels like ripping your guts out and throwing them on the floor in front of you.
5. Do not pick up anyone else’s guts. You will contaminate them.
6. The wounds inflicted by the burdens of identity are yours to own. You will heal them yourself. Remember that, you alone have the power to heal yourself.
7. An identity-group is not a monolith. A person is not one identity. When you forget this, remind yourself. If you recognize a commonality in the group, share survival strategies; remember that neither strategy is working holistically yet. Reject them as cure-alls.
8. In order to support others, you must support yourself. When you are accepting the absolute individuality of all beings, you are also going through that process with yourself.
9. You are going to feel a range of emotions that no one else in the world will ever totally be able to feel with you. This is the scariest feeling. The loneliness and powerlessness of it will feel both dangerous, and unfamiliar. You will survive.
10. When comfort in a group means power in a group, no one is safe. Make sure you are true to mantra of powerlessness. If someone points to a power you are holding, put it down. Humble yourself to us all—you are making us all less safe.
11. If this is beginning to feel cyclical or repetitive, remember that pain is cyclical and repetitive. Life is cyclical and repetitive. History is cyclical and repetitive. Do not allow anyone to use a binary. Do not accept clean division between any of these commonly misused false binaries: pain and pleasure, success and failure, past and future, or good and bad.
12. Reject any notion that certainty and control are perfection. Power is control. The only certainty is death.
13. Your survival is subversive. We need you.
14. If the rules do not feel like they will heal you, you are entitled to leave. In this paradigm, you are the most important thing: refusal is your power.
*Structural injustices—the results of hundreds of years of oppressive institutionalization and violent subjugation—have entitled you to these feelings. They have intensified the pain of living. They have dug it deep into us. They have woven the feeling of failure into our hearts, our skins, our uteruses, our genitals, our minds, and our souls. You did not deserve this shame.
At some point, Queer Theory began to sound like God. There is something wholly/Holy fucked-up in human righteousness.
Am I humanizing myself, or just reaching the limits of my own (study of the) human(ities)?
By Nicole Hasslinger, Co-Editor-in-Chief
All Images via Google Images