Tomorrow, we ride.
Exhaustion is not complacency. Here's why.
Today is supposed to be a “What to Read, When” post, but I don’t want to continue with business as usual without talking about the overturning of Roe v. Wade. If you are new to my newsletter, I’m a feminist and an environmentalist and a Democrat, so if you don’t vote like I do, and you would like to exit the moving vehicle now, I’ll open the door for you.
Friends: like you, I am exhausted. Physically, mentally, emotionally, financially, I am effing spent. I have moved through the last two weeks in a fog of insomnia that only has me feeling less effective and present and unable to do anything beyond the barest minimum. My email inbox is like a screaming nursery of unattended children. My house looks like a tornado came through and decided to stay. I’ve been eating beans and rice with melted American cheese on it for lunch and dinner for days now, and spending every moment I should be working, instead at the barn where I board my rescue horse, which— if you’ve read my memoir— is the place I feel safe, protected, and at peace.
Because here is something else on the memoir front. The Year of the Horses is a book that sees me learning—as a woman and mother—to rage against the machine. Though it takes place in 2015-2018, readers will see me/us contending with the same shit we are up against right now. Mass shootings. Being treated by livestock by the patriarchy. Not being “seen” by men who are supposed to love us. Being asked to do more for less pay and less respect while each day, another straw is put onto our slowly breaking backs.
Personally, I feel doubly exhausted this week because everything I want to say and scream and cheer for and yell about and cry over is already in my book— a book I’m very proud of. The things that triggered my depression in 2015 are happening again, which means my body and mind are starting to respond in dark and frightening ways . The truth is that these “things” that took my mind down in 2015 aren't happening again, they are just happening louder, because they never stopped happening at all.
Here’s a paragraph from my memoir that I keep coming back to because it sums up the vicious blend of fury, indignation, and helplessness that I feel right now. (Content warning: miscarriage.)
Whether they are in the clothing of politicians, policy makers, millionaires, doctors, or what have you, these right-wing, short-sighted mofos have been stomping on us for so damn long, the thing that I feel the most viscerally upset about right now is that they’re coming for my positivity. And I need my joy right now.
I worked SO HARD to get my joy back. To learn to sleep. To breathe. This joy was so difficult to come by that I wrote an entire book about how hard it was to get my happy back. So right now, before I decide how and where and how often I am going to fight, my personal protest (at least this week, at least right now) is to make all the space I can for simple joys and pleasures. And to put my damn self first.
Email doesn’t make me happy so I’m dropping the ball there. Ditto on grocery shopping. Housecleaning. Opening the mail. Laundry. Social planning— which I usually like— is also feeling exhausting. So I’m not doing it.
I’m also not writing. This newsletter is the only thing that I am typing these last two weeks because it makes me feel steadier to know that you are out there and that you’re listening.
In theory, I should be starting another book project. But thanks to the freaking patriarchy, I’m too tired and upset to. And you know what? I’m giving myself a major hall pass for that. Capitalism seems to have gotten us all into this huge mess, so capitalism (which includes book making, I’m afraid) can wait. Right now, my priorities are doing what I want to do when I feel like doing it for as long as I can afford to, whether that’s holding my daughter to me while we listen to an episode of the fantastic podcast "Normal Gossip” or shoveling horse manure out of stalls simply because it gets my mind off things, or having TV dinners every night because I’m solo parenting and watching “Glow Up: Britain’s Next Make-Up Star” is doing it for me.
I don’t consider any of these acts as self-care. To me, this is self-preservation. It’s a warm-up for battle. It is a necessary form of sleep.
I hope that no matter where you are in your life, that you are able to let some things go to hell, to let the dishes pile up (unless you find that stressful), to put up an out-of-office that says “I just can’t deal with this shit right now” and to lie down on the ground, grass, or pavement, and just sigh or scream and stare at the sky and trust— as I do— that Mother Nature somehow, has our backs, because she is the angriest feminist of all.
Yours in all of this,
If you’re new here and you’d like more of my happy and my angry, please:
Hi Courtney, thank you for this post. I came across it today at the most opportune time - right after I spent four hours lying outside staring up at the trees and feeling bad about many Big Things. I tried to write, and it just wasn't happening. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and open heart. I feel seen :).
Well said. Trying to craft my own version of this message today.