By Q. Gibson. Photography by Lauren Hamblin
Self-care—a concept that has made its break into the mainstream as one of the many prevalent routes to healing and restoration. A term that has made its way into the vernacular of people to define creative works, life work, and to serve as a definitive option to tackling some of this life’s most splitting and world changing affairs. But has it, by itself, been enough? Has relying solely on ourselves to mend ourselves become more of an illusion than reality? How has it helped us cope with the overbearing burdens this life can sometimes send our way?
For me when there has been times where the world has been a bit too heavy to stomach, to make palpable, to make sense of self-care was a series of steps (important steps) on the way to my newly healed self.
The tainting at times remains, the stories and memory sometimes comes to stay longer than we’d like and it is within our community that we find self-care may have a weakness about itself that we don't speak about enough. This past year alone, so much has happened. From the slaying of Black men and women across the nation, to the loss of brother/sisterhood overflowing in our own communities, and not to mention an election that has left us to wonder what is next for the future of not only our people but our world.
The long drawn baths may have soothed my skin, but it did not indeed remove the blackness that I subconsciously feared wearing throughout the year. The tunes may have been played, I may have danced, and bobbed, and move my hips, but this did not stop me from retreating to my bedroom some nights in solace, alone and guessing. The candles may have been lit but it did not run out all of the darkness that still lingered in the midst of the hurting.
Self-care, is just that, a depending upon self to do one of the most important and unbearable of tasks at times, and that is to bring yourself back to a place of sanity, stillness, and peace even if only for a moment. It can, at times. put a damper on our knack, need, and human desire for community. Which is why communities like Black Girl in Om have continued to create havens for women of color to practice healing together.
The service that lies in the heart of community, I believe, further fuels the idea that self-care is ultimately a communal practice, even if not with the frequent gathering of humankind but with the divine. It takes more than you. It is not the notion of believing that we must burden others with our problems, with our cargo, or with our hardships but to trust that there is a people and a collective of beings in the universe somewhere that has known the imperfections that sleep in relying on oneself alone, and can be there to join in the collective restoration of one another in times of need and human lack.
The great Audre Lorde once said that “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”
My belief in this is endless, this truth has saturated and empowered me in more ways than I can imagine, it has driven me to use my self-preservation as fuel to countlessly and continuously create the work that stabs at the heart of people but it has also led me to realize that community is too an act of political warfare and is a necessary element to collectively preserving the livelihood and lives of our counterparts.
Q. Gibson is a writer, author, and artist from Ohio. She writes for Black Girl in Om because she believes in the power of words and community to create change. Find more of Q.'s work on her website (qgibson.com), Twitter (@QGibson_), and Instagram (q.gibson).