I’m here to save myself.

There’s so much happening in the world at large that concerns the use of one’s voice, especially in connection to advocacy – for oneself, and for others. And in the midst of this broad cultural conversation, I’m thinking about how my voice can facilitate conversations and bridge understanding. I’m thinking about how to educate others on experiences in a way that increases empathy and decreases bias.

My purpose in life is to connect people, ideas and experiences that are seemingly separate. I have a tendency to find connections in concepts where others won’t and I naturally connect seemingly disparate groups, ideas, etc. all the time. This fits in with the use of my voice and the conversations I’ve been having, and would like to continue.

But some of these conversations have been draining, triggering and all-around toxic. The #MeToo, “Grace” and Aziz conversations have required recuperation afterward.

So while I’m great at connecting and see the importance of facilitating conversation, I am consciously choosing to disconnect when my safety and security requires it. I will not connect, or maintain a connection, at the sacrifice of my well-being.

2017 demonstrated how my aptitude for connection had been at odds with my need to take care of myself. This showed up the most acutely in my dating and romantic life. In the last year I found myself interested and connecting with men who demonstrated very early that they’d be toxic, but set aside the signs of toxicity in the name of connection: either to stay connected romantically because it provided some sense of activity in my romantic life, or to keep the connection because I could see the person being useful as a connection outside of dating, for me and for others in my community.

The thing is, if someone’s toxic to me, then they’ll ultimately become an issue in my life, whether as a romantic prospect or otherwise. Keeping that person around causes more harm than good, ultimately. And this might seem obvious, in the way that Maya Angelou quote is deemed axiomatic. “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” But it hadn’t been so obvious to me, as I had been prioritizing “connection” very highly.

The combination of my dating experience last year and the discussions around #MeToo, #TimesUp, Grace, etc. have helped highlight for me the importance of self care, above everything. I don’t mean everything but the man I want to marry. Or the children I’d like to have. Or the deadline my employer might set. No.

I’m talking about care for myself above every single other thing that could need my attention. And I’m talking about it with this post, because the last year and first month of 2018 has shown me of the need to care for, and to save, myself.

I’m here to save myself for me, of course, but also for the good of the causes and communities I serve. I cannot be of service – I cannot connect and facilitate conversation – I cannot take care of the people who need me – if I am not present and cared for. And while others can take care of me, I do not have to wait for them to do so. Because I have me.

New year, new priorities. And now, to see what new experience this will bring to my life.

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