#circumstanțială

uneori corpul meu mă urăște,
durerea
rămâne indicatorul sincer, semn
că iar am greșit drumul

atâtea nume în jur care
nu-mi spun nimic.
oameni
adunați ca într-un pomelnic închinat
unei vieți care…
nu mai e

scroll, scroll, scroll.
mi-am pus amanet timpul și-am plecat
să mă redescopăr, să învăț
să mă citesc prin ochii altora,
în sens opus parcă
vechii fugi de mine

realitatea are corp, iar corpul meu
are memorie. ține neapărat
să nu uit nimic.
nici cine am fost, nici cu cine
m-am intersectat,
cu care trupuri
m-am împărțit nedemocratic dând
mereu mai mult decât aș fi putut primi

câteodată,
atunci când eu vreau să uit, iar el nu uită
îmi amintesc că trupul meu
are accese violente de ură uneori,
durerea
îmi amintește continuu cine sunt
scurtează liniile vagi, mentale
și-atunci
îmi privesc lung mâinile gândind
că explorarea începe din interior,
c-a venit vremea
să mă ating de corpul meu cu drag,
ca de-o minune.
un corp cu o istorie imperfectă și un nume

Why are you such a feminist?

This week’s latest events have brought up to my mind a question I was put by one of my exes, in an obviously annoyed tone of voice.

The answer he got was just as obvious as his question: because I am. But today, there is needed a much wider answer than just that.

I’ve been a feminist way before I even knew that I was one, or that feminism even existed as a movement. Living mostly with mom and grandma into our village home, I’ve learned a lot about being strong on your own: dad was home too little to actually make a real difference when it came to the household’s chores, and grandma was a widow for too long. This was the first thing I’ve learned in my journey: that a woman can want a man by her side, but she will never really need him. Not for other than emotional comfort and accomplishment.

The women in my family, the close family, and the extended family as well, taught me this really valuable lesson that no matter what a man can do, a woman can do it just as fine. That independence is the shortcut to owning who you are, and that being owned by a man is, by no chance, a goal. Or, how grandma used to put it, If all you have is a man, you have too little.

I am a feminist because I believe in it. I believe in women’s power of being whoever they want to be, without needing to justify their choices. Because I like freedom, and feminism is about freedom. About being free to choose if you want to get a higher education, if you want to marry early or late, or maybe you don’t want it at all if you want to be a mom or you don’t. It’s about all these things, and many others, too.

But I also am a feminist because I’m sick and I got tired. I’m sick of being made to feel less than I am, based on my weight, my height, my age, my relationship, career status, my long term priorities. I’m sick of having to be on a constant guard so that I don’t get unwanted attention. Of not being able to walk out and explore cities at night, by myself. By having to explain whatever life choice I have that is not fitting the socially accepted behavioral box.

And I’ve met that box really early during this lifetime. A young lady doesn’t act like that. Don’t swear, you’re an educated young lady! You’d better pay more attention to the household chores, as a woman, they will be your job! have been heard really often, especially when dad came home from his job, or relatives came to visit.

I never cared, as I have always done things my way. But I know for a fact that for many young girls, sentences like these were axes cutting their wings. Their sense of self-worth. And that, too, is a form of abuse.

Talking about the abuse, that’s another topic that drives the feminist me mad. Because I know at least one woman, one young woman who can tell a story about: how she’s been harassed at her workplace, discriminated based on her aspect, catcalled, threatened, blackmailed, physically, emotionally, financially abused, raped. It happens online, it happens offline, it happens everywhere. Because a woman is not a man. Boys will be boys turn in Whores will be whores when it comes to women.

And injustice has never been something that I would tolerate. Not when I was a kid witnessing the rich kids bullying the poor, and either now, when I witness men telling women how to dress, eat, sleep, work, go out, have sex, have families, have babies, as they would know better.

I’m a feminist because I’ve managed to be the woman that I am now due to the women around me: mom, grandma, my first-grade teacher, my French teacher from the gymnasium, my doctors, every woman that had enough faith in me to recommend me for a project or job, or simply be my friend and listen to my dramas. I have nothing but respect and endless love for them, and for all the other women I’ve not met yet. And we all know that you can’t love women and hate them at the same time.

I’m a feminist because I can’t look at the way women try to tear each other down like they’re in some sort of competition without my heart breaking in million tiny pieces. Being solidary with other women will never take what’s yours. You won’t become ugly if you admit that another girl is prettier, nor will you become dumb if you admit that other girl is smarter than you are. Women, as men, are not supposed to be all the same. We’re only humans, after all, and that makes us different and special, why ruin it trying to be as similar as possible? Teaching girls to be united, to genuinely appreciate and defend each other, will lead them way further than knowing how to wing that eyeliner or walk on heels, as strong women nail all of these.

My feminism might not be radical, as I’m too shy for being a real activist. I believe in a feminism of the small yet kind gestures, as telling a strange girl that she is pretty while you two are waiting for the bus, or stepping up to defend a girl being bullied. It doesn’t matter that much what’s the gesture you’re doing, it will always brighten someone’s day.

I’m a feminist because I’m sick and tired. Because of the socially-agreed scenario, where a successful woman is a wife, mother, great employee, supportive friend, always happy and good looking, has led a lot of women to chronic burnout. And how on earth could a woman that is suffering from burnout be a good mother for her children? Let alone all of the things on that never-ending list.

This is why I am a feminist. Because the alternatives feel like prisons to me, and I still have faith. I have faith that the men of my generation know to appreciate and support the women around them to be whatever they want to be. It is what makes them be men, standing up for women’s and children’s rights and protection, standing up against the injustice manifested upon the vulnerable categories. And, in some of the countries, women still are a vulnerable category.

So, the next time when you will meet a feminist, don’t ask her why she is a feminist. Ask her how could you be genuinely supporting the women and young girls you know, in order to make their lives be better. And you will, I promise, have a conversation to remember for a long time after it’s done.

New times opening new doors: when self-love fades away

There aren’t many things that can compare, when depression comes into one’s life, to the loss of individual’s self-worth. And, today more than ever, this loss is visible, impacting especially the way that the person thinks about her appearance and body. If this used to be a girls’ thing, now it’s a collective problem, affecting us all. Because, yeah, when depression comes, the self-love starts to pack and fade away. When you’re in a bad place for your mental health, all the insecurities that you thought there are long gone, start making their comeback into your life. This is how you know that things are getting rough again.

For as long as I can recall, my most difficult relationship was the one that I’ve had with my body. It was never good enough for me, with the extra-weight and all the other things I used to hate about myself.

Because I’ve been hating myself and the way I look for way too many years. I used to say that it’s enough that I’m ugly, and tried my best to achieve what society defined as beauty. Obviously, this led me to a whole bunch of debatable decisions. It was in my early teenage years where I started to feel unworthy. Unworthy of being seen as attractive, beautiful, of receiving compliments regarding my looks, of feeling…I don’t know, feminine, maybe?

As any story, this one reached its peak when I’ve reached my biggest weight, and my lowest self-image. It was 6 years ago. At that time, I was sick of seeing my own body, and started to avoid every mirror or reflection of it. Looking backwards, I can’t explain how comes that I didn’t developed an eating disorder, but it must be some magic involved.

But at that time, the self-hatred started to fade away, even if I was stuck with the guilt. That’s why, when a weight-loss plan was proposed to me, I’ve accepted it: because I wanted that guilt to stop. And, as I was getting thinner, the guilt was leaving room to confidence.

It didn’t last as long as I wished, though. As the depression made its comeback into my life, so did the insecurities regarding my body, and the mindless eating. Yet, it was something different in this comeback.

And the difference was that I knew that I can do better. That it is a period, not something that would last a lifetime.But this doesn’t mean it has not been one hell of a journey, because it totally was.

Being aware of the fact that I was, at a certain point, capable to do better, was a thing that really enhanced the hurt and frustration. The if I was able to do it then, why am I not able to do it now mentality wasn’t helping me at all, it just helped me  become more frustrated and guiltier day after day. A big part of the recovery journey was a fight.

Fighting the guilt, the frustration, the thought that I failed myself by not reaching my goal. Trying to come back to a disciplined way of eating and living, and failing every attempt. The more radical it was, the bigger and quicker the failure. Add this up to the already old battle with my feelings of hurt, numbness, being unworthy, and lack of purpose, and here we go: a big, beautifully dramatic depressive episode.

But as nothing’s ever built to last, neither was this thing. One day, I gave up on the diary where I was rating my weeks, in the attempt of becoming more aware of my progress, understood back then as a comeback to the life I’ve had until that summer, and stood still.

I stopped trying to force things and, as letting life flow, I’ve understood one important thing. The most important relationship I will ever have is the one with my own body. It is the ultimate relationship, as it sets my demands and expectations from interacting with other people, my relationship with the society, my long term well-being. It was a huge revelation, understanding the fact that I don’t have to love myself in order to genuinely care about myself.

And this is how things started to change again. Not on the scale, but on the inside, as I’ve finally understood that what I deserve and the way I look like should never correlate and, if they do, it is a sign that I’m in the wrong context.

If it was to choose a point, some kind of milestone that marked the beginning of the real recovery, this was it. Understanding that I may not feel beautiful, I may not love my body, because I didn’t reach that point yet, but that is not my right to bring it harm. That food is not going to help me get over the bad times, or make the depression walk away.

That was also the moment when I’ve noticed how depression alienates me from my body. How it made me sleep, eat and behave was totally opposed to what I knew. But not unexpected. Because when the pain comes, we gotta deal with it somehow. And here this meant lots of sleeping, eating, isolating and crying. It was not the best thing to do, and definitely not the wisest, but it helped get through the period as safe as possible.

Can’t say that I’m proud, or that I’ve made it. I’m still looking at what the society calls beautiful, and then I look in the mirror. I still notice how far of the social beauty I am. But the achievement is that it doesn’t hurt anymore. I am aware of the distance, but I don’t feel guilty for not fitting in anymore.

It might sound sad, and almost cliché, but it took me 25 years and a serious depression to really aknowledge the fact that I can still be pretty in my own way, regardless of what society claims as beautiful, feminine or attractive.

This period brought the clear image of all the ways society made me feel bad about myself, by constantly telling me that I’m not enough. That my body doesn’t look magazine-worthy enough to allow myself to feel beautiful or eat my favorite foods without shame or guilt trips.

That I can’t afford being picky about my clothes, friends or men, because I don’t look beautiful enough to afford having my own standards. But I suppose that this is also a part of growing up, the development of the ability to give no damn about what is inoculated as a general standard. Not in one’s personal life. And any attempt of personal life begins with the relationship we have with our bodies.

There is no universal recipe to do it. Just spend time with yourself and the people who love you, ask them about the good they see in you, because we often tend to see our bad parts before we see the good ones, do things that really make you happy. Dance, eat, smile, enjoy any kind of pleasure. Don’t get stuck on façades that have nothing to do with your own image about yourself, and explore.

Explore the internet, the fashion history, the subcultures, the aesthetic of your favorite decades, you name it. Explore, document yourself, pick your favorites and try to integrate them into your wardrobe, and give up on feeling guilty about who you are.

This was my recipe, mixed with lots of moments when I’ve just sit in front of the mirror, naked, analysing it, as an attempt of getting familiar with it without the judgment. Sometimes it worked, and sometimes did not, but for sure it led me to an intimate connection between me and my body, happening as the attachment to the socially-promoted ideas was fading.

Of course, this story has no ending. Every depressive episode shakes the balance and brings up physical insecurities. It is part of the process, as well as learning the lessons which are unfolding in front of our eyes. But, as I know more about my body, managing depression becomes easier. Because, at the end of the day, I know, deep down, that between being worthy and looking like you’ve stepped out of a fashion magazine covers, ain’t no correlation.

We are all in this, fighting all these constant pressures daily, and we are all worthy. Worthy of love, acceptance, care. But, first of all, we’re all worthy of having a good, intimate relationship with our bodies. And this is something I hope that each and every one of us, men or women, will achieve, in its very own rhythm.

Because there’s no outer relevant shoulds and what ifs when it comes to one’s personal journey towards well-being and balance, and we should never let other people drag us into journeys that are not ours. And this is something that applies on the way we get to know our bodies as well. Or especially there.