Not Angry Anymore

(Yes, I am totally aware that Ani has done some hella problematic stuff this past year. I condemned that at the time and I condemn it now, but I just really need this song right now for my sanity, ok?)

Hello, Blogland! It has been a while. I don’t know if y’all have missed me, but I’ve sure missed you.

So where was I for the past few months? To be honest? Nowhere. I’ve been around. I’ve still been writing. I write every day.

However, I was (and still am) taking a vacation from something: a vacation from outrage. I didn’t start this vacation on purpose. On the contrary, just like every anti-feminist hopes and dreams is the case, I get kind of a kick out of being outraged. It makes me feel energized. It makes me feel like I’m putting my finger on a problem. It makes me feel like all of the sudden, I know what’s wrong with the world, and I can righteously condemn it. The downside? It was wreaking absolute havoc on my already somewhat fragile health.

I started having tangible, physical symptoms that manifested themselves when I became too stressed out or too angry. I became nauseated. I experienced hot flashes. I stumbled around from dizzy spells. By physical necessity, I have been reducing the amount of outrage and stress I experience every day.

And that seems justifiable, right? I’m a chronically ill person whose symptoms worsen in intense periods of stress. But I didn’t feel justified. I felt really ashamed. I felt like if I didn’t write about being outraged, no one would be interested in what I had to say. And I felt powerless. I was worried that writing with a lighter tone when so many horrible things are happening to women around the world right now would make me a bad or disrespectful feminist blogger. And I was scared that if I posted about good news, or things that I like or find empowering, I would pick something from a “problematic” person or source and end up hurting or offending people who caught my oversight. So I didn’t update the blog, even though I love to write and presumably, if you’re reading this right now, you enjoy my writing.

I don’t know if other social justice bloggers go through this – feelings of guilt and shame when you burn out and just can’t keep up with being angry anymore. It seems like it must, but I don’t want to make assumptions about the experiences of other people.

I recently came to befriend another woman, Kelly Coviello, who is also fighting for happiness despite an uncooperative body.  Many of you already know Kelly. A fellow BDN Blogger, Alex Steed, posted an incredible interview with her recently where she talks about her illness, so you might know her from there. You might also know Kelly because she is a joyful fixture in Portland’s social scene and if you have any friends in common, they will surely direct you toward this delightful person.

Like most people in my generation, Kelly posts frequently on Facebook. Unlike many women, however, she does so boldly, with no apparent shame or self-loathing. She posts pictures of herself and tells the world that she looks adorable. She brags about how loved she is. She posts snippets of conversations that she has with others that make her feel proud, conversations that showcase her kindness and how clearly it is appreciated. Like me, she is committed to feminism and social justice. Like me, she needs to keep her spirits up, at least partially because of its impact on her health. The difference I have noticed is that while I have been metaphorically kicking the sand and feeling ashamed, Kelly has been taking what she needs: love, support, self-esteem, and happiness. In a word, it’s awesome.

I have come to realize that my feelings of shame and guilt regarding the limitations set by my illness are quite likely products of the same patriarchal system that shames and silences women for other reasons. So, I’m not going to be silent anymore, even when I’m not up for writing an article that is deep and heavy. Fighting through my own insecurities to make my voice heard is an inherently feminist act – even when it’s just to share a selfie, to speak compassionately about myself, or to remind us all that women already absorb enough blame and self-loathing for things that aren’t our fault.

I intend to follow Kelly’s brave example and hope that you will do the same. You can look forward to some joyful feminist posts from me in the near future.

Dani Unterreiner

About Dani Unterreiner

Dani Unterreiner recently graduated with a B.A. in Sociology from University of Southern Maine. She now works in politics and engages in grassroots activism in her spare time. Despite being a mean, scary feminist, she's happily married and the proud mom of a little girl.