Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Where Do We Go From Here?

The past week has been a difficult one for me and for so many of the people I love. I won't go rehashing what happened, mostly because it isn't my story to tell.

My involvement with an organization that will soon disappear was short lived, relative to my life and my work in postpartum mental health, and relative to the involvement that others had with this group.

This is a tremendous loss in our collective lives and has left many people wondering what we do now. Where do we go from here?

I want to assure anyone who has ever come to me with their questions or concerns, with their set of symptoms wondering what might be going on, with questions about resources or can still do all of that. My work didn't begin with this organization and it isn't going to end. In fact, I'm shifting my focus to one that is more local in nature and have launched a Colorado advocacy group.

The hardest part about all of this for me is that we're all problematic. Every single one of us. We all make mistakes. Sometimes we make the same mistake over and over and over again. That doesn't mean that we can't also do good things. It doesn't mean that we can't also do good work. As human beings, we are complex and deeply, deeply flawed.

At the end of the day, though, it's my opinion that the mission of an organization is meaningless if that mission isn't one that is extended to all those served equally. The mission is meaningless if people within it are not treated properly.

Change is not easy, but it is necessary. Change has to be forced. Equality in any form in this society has never been extended without those who are marginalized demanding it.

There are so many people who will claim that intentions matter, and sure...they matter a little. What matters far more than intentions ever will or could or should, though, is impact. We don't get to decide if what we say or do hurts other people. We don't get to tell someone else whether they should be harmed at all. We don't get to insist that our lack of awareness of the fact that we've hurt them is an excuse or an explanation. We don't.

We certainly don't get a free pass to perpetrate the same harms repeatedly.

The road to hell truly is paved with good intentions.

Good intentions are particularly damaging if they can blind someone to the damage they're doing along the way.

So, this morning, sitting here, organizing and planning and starting fresh, I know that even if it doesn't make sense, things will be okay. Eventually.

They might be hard for a long time. We all might have questions that never get answered. We aren't all going to have the same questions or the same feelings.

We need to grieve the loss of this thing we were a part of. The grief demands that we acknowledge it, that we stand in its truth and confront it head on.

And we, all of us survivors of mental health issues in the past, know that we need to let the grief in. We need to give it the time and the space, we need to work through it. It's going to look and feel a little different for everyone, and that is okay.

We need to also come to terms with our own disappointment: our disappointment with individuals and with institutions.

Perhaps even our disappointment with ourselves.

That's always the hardest to confront anyway, isn't it? And it's one of the reasons we're here in the first place.

I hope that all who are out there reading this today and understanding why I am writing it know five things.

  1. Self care is essential right now. Take care of you. If that means you need to step away, do it. 
  2. This movement isn't contained to one person or one organization. It is all of us. And we are all going to keep doing this work. 
  3. This community is not going away, and we are here to support one another.
  4. Believe those who tell you they are harmed, and work to undo the harm. 
  5. I love you.  


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