Found this in my journal, from 2017: My depression is a patriarchal, oppressive abuser. It taunts me with how I don’t live up to the standards that my culture has set for me—standards that are fucking bullshit, impossible to achieve, and have nothing to do with what I want in life. And after two years of dealing with seeing my culture dismiss a woman who did live up to the standards it set for her, and then change the fucking rules and dismiss her to embrace an oppressive abuser, I’m angry as hell at my culture, and at my depression.
These standards are a trap. They are impossible to live up to and the moment one extraordinary woman does happen to live up to them—the rules are changed. Women must work twice as hard, have twice the experience and accomplishments as a man she competes with. But when we finally were there, ready to take power, the rules changed—her years of excellence, achievement, experience, relationship building, made her part of “the establishment,” untrustworthy, corrupt. The rules changed and they will always be changed, because they are designed to keep women out of power.
And 53% of our white sisters voted against us, voted to keep us in our place. And more of our sisters didn’t even bother to show up to vote, or threw their vote away on someone who had no chance of winning.
Our mothers and our grandmothers participated in this setup. And sometimes we participate in setting up our own daughters as well. We have to be beautiful, and thin, and successful, and have a financially successful husband, and have a perfect home, and have children who are well behaved and excel at academics and sports, and be happy, and never complain. We spend our lives striving for this unachievable perfection and we show our daughters how to live their lives too. We set them up to fail and to then silently abuse themselves for failing.
It’s no wonder we love our wine.
My best friend in all of this is anger, the anger that makes me unlikable and unfuckable, the anger that I’m not supposed to have. The last time depression visited me, it slowly pushed me underwater and knocked me against the rocks and I didn’t resist. I felt ashamed and deserving of it. I gave up and let the depression swallow me until friends forced me to get help. But this time that depression has decided to visit me, I am angry that it’s here. I know I don’t deserve to have it here. I deserve to have help cleaning this house and paying these bills, and not at the expense of my autonomy and self-determination. I deserve to exercise because it feels good and I deserve to look in the mirror and love who I see no matter what I look like. So I’m pissed. And being pissed is powerful.
I’ve emerged from a deep river where I was marinated, steeped in a hatred for women and in white male supremacy. I found dry land and I clung to the shore for a while. I built a canoe and an oar out of my powerful, beautiful anger. It keeps me safe and it helps me to see a way to move along this river, to steer around the rocks and the rapids. The longer I’m in my canoe, the more removed I feel from the poison of the river, but I still sometimes smell the river in my dried hair and clothes. And I still have to navigate these waters, because I believe they lead to an ocean of possibility that I must lead my daughters to. I still have to keep my daughters from falling in. I still often yell over a void of rapids at women who bask leisurely in the calm waters they swim in that don’t seem dangerous to them.
I tell my daughters to turn their anger outward, like a man. Don’t turn it inward, like we are taught. Be angry at the people and the culture that oppress them. Don’t take on their rules about why we should be angry at ourselves. Be loud, be big, take up space. Be offended if someone describes you as sweet. Be messy. Be ugly. Be unlikeable and unlovable. Be feral.