Posted by: Tina M | 28 April , 2010

Picking our fights, and learning to lose gracefully

I’m so tired right now. I’ve allowed myself once again to drain every bit of my energy trying to save the world, or save my ideals, or save my hope- and I’m facing a downward spiral into burn-out.

Sign #1 of impending break-down: symptoms of physical illness, and when symptoms arise immediate relief at the thought of an actual day off.

I literally felt exhausted the minute that I left my last workshop for the day. Thank God it was a physiology and pleasure workshop which gives me the opportunity to talk about positive sexuality, physiology and anatomy, and what kinds of sex are out there-

My ass was dragging as I trudged across campus, relieved somewhat to no longer be in the awkward realm of college life, but reflecting on the heartache that still remains from my love of that school. And then, it makes me think about the current heart break of my present job(and larger career/aim in life).

I found out today that the “as long as we get this grant, we’ll be ok” rejection letter came. To add insult to injury, we were immediately put into an awkward situation of explaining that to a candidate for a position we’re hiring for. My co-worker coolly said that while we have submitted and continue to submit grants, we can’t guarantee a job past September. The applicant seemed shocked and admitted that everyone in the field of non-profits are in that boat. We finished the interview, said goodbye to the applicant and breathed out a deep sigh. I think admitting that it might be the end put a different spin on things. We weren’t just talking about the possibility of a contingency plan, we’re writing that plan and moving on that plan right now. And I can’t help but feel fucked over by the system yet again. Here I am putting my own name on the line for an organization that might fail. There’s a lot going on with my ego and my concern for my own security, but what I felt most when I got home from my workshop (12 hours on the go) was sadness. True sadness for what it means that this is the narrative of our time. That sometimes the good guys don’t end up winning. That perhaps the principles of Harm Reduction, Youth Development, Positive Sexuality, and Anti-Oppression won’t be supported. That was once a powerful community movement is now a sold-out forgotten has-been. It’s just hard to see the true need for the resources we supply to the community, but the lack of money to sustain.

It’s burn-out. It’s the bankruptcy of everyone’s time and resources (whether that’s energy or money). I’m feeling it now. it’s the two faced monster that tells me I should be thankful to get out of there, out of the torture of loving something so much that is out of your control and I’m just a terrible sell-out for giving up so easily. That this is the dare to be great situation, maybe this is the miracle-

It’s funny. I came home dropping all the walls that I’d built over the day in order to be a good co-worker, good trainer, good community member. I took a shower to try to relax. I cried (it’s like losing a best friend, this hope for the dream job that I briefly had). I sat down to eat and while looking for the latest episode of Ru Paul’s Drag Race, I noticed that an earlier facebook chain had continued, and I was interested to see what was said.

It had started about the Arizona Immigration Law. I had joined a group against the law, which seemed like a no-brainer to me being in the public health field and in the bay area. It sparked a debate with a distant relative which left me feeling a little awkward, because I was taught to respect my elders (at least enough to wait until they leave the room to talk shit about them) and facebook is pretty blunt by virtue of limited characters. As I was at work I saw that a friend from High School had posted “They call them illegal because they’re here illegally”

I was if not shocked, disappointed and feel that it’s my duty as a white ally to try and have those conversations with other white folks. It’s about the privilege I carry by virtue of skin tone that allows me to ignore hurtful racist stereotypes because they aren’t talking about me. So I said, “according to whom” which led to a whole other slew of comments about ranting after drinking all day and with zeal “Send them back where they came from.”

There’s so much to say, and hurts me because Facebook is not the venue to have the conversation in. Because it’s about high profile soundbytes and not honest dialogue. I immediately got stressed out about how to explain why it’s morally objectionable and it’s ultimately bad for the communities it’s meant to help.

So argument # 1. This law is racist. Want proof?

Argument #2. This law doesn’t make sense for the “common good” of “American Citizens”

Argument #3. This law doesn’t stand by the original values the country was founded on. In the words of Emma Lazarus

The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,

With conquering limbs astride from land to land;

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name

Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she

With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

If we (white immigrants from Europe) were so bold as to exterminate and displace races of people in the name of civilization, freedom from tyranny, and the land of opportunity- then we better be able to deliver when the “Wretched refuse of your teeming shore” are in fact the same bodies we dumped there in the first place.

And well, you see I get carried away. Why can’t I turn it off for a minute? I am aware that whatever noise I make is probably falling on closed ears and closed hearts, but what does it mean to give up?

I guess it’s learning how to take care of yourself in the midst of a war.

Picking your battles and learning to lose gracefully.


  1. IF you stop talking, if you stop making noise, than we all lose. In silence the evil is done, in silence lives are taken & hopes are destroyed. Even if ONE person hears, it plants a seed that will some day take root & grow.
    What does it mean to give up? It means to die inside. To become one of the walking dead. We have enough of those people already. God gave you passion & a voice so that you can be heard!

  2. Cousin, I love you.

    Don’t worry about the things you can’t control or even influence. I appreciate everything you do since it’s always with the best of intent.

    I do think that trying to hold the ideals of the past to the issue of today is difficult, but thats a whole different issue.

    ttyl cuz

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