Ray’s Ray, Number 28:
Sometimes I Am Tired of Fighting
Radiance Angelina Petro
There are days the fire of activism goes out,
or, at least, seems to die down to a couple
of red, sparking embers. There are times
when the fight just to exist as I am feels too much;
when the weight of what some people want to do to me
feels too much to bear. And by do to me, I mean,
wipe people like me off the face of the earth.
There are times when the injustices and the hate
and the violence, discrimination, fear-mongering,
the far-right-extremism make it seem like
there is no hope, and I just want to curl up and hide.
And that is totally fucking legit. Queer people,
marginalized people of all kinds, targets of hate crimes
and terrorism for simply living what they know
to be true or the faith tradition they believe,
or the color of their skin—sometimes it’s overwhelming
just to walk the planet. And that is totally a legit way to feel.
Some think you can’t take your foot off the gas
when it comes to activism. Lives are at stake. Basic,
human rights, dignity, and freedom are at stake.
We mustn’t stop. We cannot stop. If we stop
who will fight? And I know this feeling, and right now
I am tired and need to rest. And I will not be ashamed
of that today. I will not be bullied or marginalized
in an already marginalized community to keep on going
when I am collapsing, when I am lost in mental and physical exhaustion.
I will not let the gatekeepers of activism tell me
I am letting everyone down if I need to rest, to take a break
from marching, rallying, writing, shouting, educating,
living day-to-day as a non-passing trans person–
I sometimes just need to cocoon for awhile.
Some may call this “self-care,” some may say I’m
“recharging my batteries.” I don’t what it is except a legitimate,
human need to stop fighting for a day, a week, a month.
I am not a machine. I don’t have batteries. I am a person
who is sensitive, fiercely compassionate, and who carries
with them everyday the burden of being who I am
in a world that wants me dead. I am person with diagnosed
mental illnesses, who just happens to be queer.
Today, or tomorrow, or whenever, if you need a break
take it. Honor your body, honor your heart
and mind. Honor your need for solitude,
and nourishing darkness, stillness, quiet. Or maybe
it’s the need for wild dancing, lots of TV—whatever
it is (I could sure use some rich, moist chocolate cake
right about now). If you feel hopeless, like I do,
here, in this moment, give someone the gift
of carrying you for a spell. Give them the gift of your leaning
on their belief, their hope, their strength, and then,
when you can, let them lean on you, carry them
as best you can. This is not a fight that has an end.
But there can be ends—pauses–to retreat into silence
or whatever it is that feeds you. Please,
please try not to feel ashamed, like I
so often do, when I need a break. This kind
of self-realization, this kind of setting boundaries
and taking time to pause, is radical activism in and of itself.