Toronto
3 min

The new fight

Something happened to me recently that was quite unexpected and surprising.

It sort of sneaked up on me when I was busy worrying and running around in my life like a chicken with its head cut off.

I realized that I am tired.

It is the kind of tiredness that means more than a few nights’ lost sleep.

It is a quiet, deep, feel-it-in-my-bones exhaustion. I feel it on every significant level of my being: mentally, physically, emotionally, financially, spiritually.

It never occurred to me that I would not be able to go on with the rest of life the same way I had always done. Fighting, battling and slaying demons and dragons in various forms: racism, homophobia, femme phobia, sexism, assumptions of what I am capable of doing based on my gender and the colour of my skin. On any given day I climb over any one of these mountains, arguing and challenging in between.

My personal history made me a fighter. I stood up to my father, who is a pastor. I stood up to the church in which I grew up. I went against the path I was supposed to choose. I fought sexual invasion and violence and trauma. I needed strength to guide me through some dangerous and dark moments in my life. Adding to my personal story is the story I, as a black woman, was born into. A legacy of pain, oppression and resistance, from the day I was born.

That burden of history is a heavy one, and it comes with the expectation that not only must it be carried with pride but also with grace.

The saying goes something like this: “Death is easy, and life is hard.”

We all know this because each of us carries our own heaviness; we are all wounded in different ways. If you are someone who is a person of colour, Jewish, Palestinian, queer, trans or female-bodied, you are inextricably tied to any one of those painful identities. They are inescapable from your everyday reality, and you wage war in some way every morning when you get up and go out into the world.

The fact is, if you are not a straight, white man overburdened with advantages and privileges, you have no choice but to fight. And according to the men’s magazines GQ and Esquire, even straight, white men have it hard.

I do not know about you, but I cannot go on like this. I understand because Audre Lorde said, “We were never meant to survive” — we must work.

Acceptance of oppression is a human tragedy. Great advances in history were made because very brave people demanded social change and they were willing to fight for it.

I am here standing on the shoulders of giants because of all the warriors who came before me. That is a truth I must honour. But I want to be an authentic and honourable woman who moves through life with integrity; I try very hard to be exactly that.

My self-love and ability to love others is suffering because I am too tired and too hard. If I am not careful I will become even harder and colder inside, too removed to have intimacy with myself or others, to be forgiving, to be vulnerable, to have loving fulfilling relationships, to allow joy and abundance in my life. So how do I unlearn life habits that in my past have saved me but threaten to do me in?

I am not quite sure, as each step I take in this new direction is an unsteady one.

But I want to be lighter; I want to celebrate the victories — mine and yours. I want to be more pro, less anti. I want to learn how to fight in different ways, more subtly, less harmfully and with less sacrifice.

I want to be kissed with meaning; I want a new pair of vintage round-toe black pumps to stand my ground in. I want to do political, educational work that is also sexy, entertaining and at times actually funny. I want to be critical while laughing, resist while dancing, love while fighting.