WORDS & IMAGE: KATE WEINER
I originally published this piece on The Shapes We Make, a holistic feminism blog that I co-write with my beloved friend (and Loam columnist!) Lily Myers. Our intention with SWM is to create the kind of content we would have loved access to as younger women.
I realized when I was rereading my essay, however, that every one of the strong and inspiring women that I had referenced in my writing are a vital part of the Loam collective as well. In the spirit of celebrating love in its many forms, I'm excited to share with you all the wise words of my loamy loves.
If you love hard, don't apologize for your superpower.
My friend Kimora shared this quote on her Instagram a couple weeks ago and I immediately screenshot it for safekeeping in a desktop folder marked "TRUTH."
I'm a super feeler. My sadness spirals, my love dives deep. This isn't always an easy weight to carry. I want to be less reactive without losing the thirst that has made me a more emphatic friend and passionate activist. I want to extend compassion without attachment. I want to hurt a little less and do a little more. I get a bit better everyday (and sometimes revert to old ways) because self-growth is a practice.
What I apologize for in me, however, I truly appreciate in friends. My loamy love Nicole is a super feeler too. Poet Adrienne Rich wrote that "there must be those among whom we can sit down and weep, and still be counted as warriors." To know that you have someone in your life who can give you that measure of grace is a real gift.
Writing this returns me to a conversation Nicole and I had several months ago (over gChat, during work, on those days when you crave some "ON/OFF" switch) that reinvigorated my understanding of super feeling as a super power. We were talking about how tiring it can be to have so many emotions circulating within you. It's as if your body, already filled with firing neurons and flowing blood, has been injected with an extra dose of energy. Nicole and I asked ourselves if it would only get harder as we grew into environmental activists, if the hurt would weigh heavier than the healing. And we came to realize that the challenge wasn't finding ways to lessen our sensitivity to our surroundings. The challenge was discovering how to channel this powerful love within us for good.
Whenever I'm unsure where to start this process of rerouting, I turn to my friends and family and internal compass for guidance. I recently made a big move. When I last trekked across the country, I had my boyfriend Will as a source of comfort. He was my calm in the chaos. Without him to talk to now, I feel a little low. It doesn't matter that I know he can't be there for me—it's that I still miss the him that did. Sometimes, it is hard to do the heavy lifting alone.
During those scattered moments when I long for Will without reason, what grounds me is that ability to access the calm spirit he inspired in me. I remember when we were lost in Portland and heaving our heavy luggage up meandering hills and he took out his iPod and played a song and it made the frustration, if not the sweat, dissipate. And I remember that I don't need him to feel that way. I now know to listen to music when I am lost. I trust that there will still be dinner, warm on the table, whenever I do find my way home.
All of this is to say that we are not really alone, not ever. All of the love that we've had in our lives is still ours to cherish. I like to imagine our hearts as a stocked pantries. I like to think that seeing our super feeling as a super power begins when we recognize that we will always have something to eat.
My beloved Alison once wrote to me that "we are taught that love is a kind of commodity; unless we are receiving something back, it is not worth our time. We are taught that loving someone outside of the confines of a relationship is at best useless, and at worst, reckless. We are taught that our own love can somehow whip back at us and hurt us."
Love is not scarce. Of the many natural resources in this world, love is one of the few in infinite supply. Each one of us knows what it feels like to be afraid of the force of our own love. I've had moments, divine and fleeting, when I've been able to feel all of my love for someone—for my mother, my father, my brother, my friends—and it chills me. It's crazy that we can feel so much love in our small bodies. Sometimes, snuggled up against Will, I'd think how can this be all of him? My love felt like it needed a rambling temple in the forest to fit, needed a sprawling farm as a home.
I am still figuring out how to channel my super feeling for super good. I know that for myself, being vulnerable makes me feel safer because it's a kind of freedom. I know too that what holds true for me might not register for another. We gain energy—as activists, as lovers, as friends—when we embrace our small bodies and vast earth for the incredible gifts that they are. And we multiply that energy when we give love without attachment.
In truth, I don't feel that way every day. Some days, I want to curl into my little snail self. I want my love to be reciprocal, I want my days to be rich with meaning. I want to be able to effect change in this world. It is okay to have those days. There is no spring without winter. There is no way to be your wild, succulent self without also taking time to breathe in and be.
Sleep in late. Make yourself a sandwich. Talk to your friends. Your superpower will emerge through the small things that make up each one of your days. Where you take that superpower is up to you—just know that you will always have us as support.