Ask Guerrilla Femme
The Hope Snow Globe and Accepting Scars
Ask Guerrilla Femme is an advice column that is published irregularly (whenever I receive questions!).
Welcome to Ask Guerrilla Femme. First thing’s first: I’m not a doctor. I’m not a therapist. I’m just a person who knows some stuff or at least knows how to find information (hi, librarian here)!
As always, if you have a question, please submit here.
I’ve been really struggling with the pandemic and wondering how (if?) you stay hopeful?
- Hopeless in CA
Dear Hopeless in CA, thank you for your question!
“Be curious. Welcome groundlessness. Lighten up and relax. Offer chaos a cup of tea.”
I offer you first this quote from Pema Chodron’s book, When Things Fall Apart. I love this quote (and book), specifically the last line, “Offer chaos a cup of tea.” It’s similar to the idea of befriending your fears/anxieties/etc. Or if you can’t “befriend,” at the very least learn how to live with these things. It feels unnatural to sit and have tea with chaos, or anxiety, or depression, or anything we don’t want to feel. But the alternative of ignoring or fighting these things doesn’t seem to help us. Look the pandemic chaos in the face and say “Hey.” Offer it hope.
One of my favorite people (Mariame Kaba) says that “Hope is a discipline,” and I believe this to be overwhelmingly true. I think there are two types of people when it comes to hope: 1) those of us who are used to having tiny fragments of hope floating around deep inside like the slow settling snow in a snow globe. We just have to shake them up sometimes to bring these fragments to the surface, and 2) those of use who may not be able to tap into these fragments that live inside us, and thus, might need time/help/etc finding this hope.
I am a person in camp #1. I have always had an innate sense of hope—even during difficult times. If hope is something that doesn’t come easy to you, that’s completely okay! Treat it like a discipline. It needs practice to flourish and thrive. It’s so easy to get bogged down by the current state of things, and I definitely have my moments of despair. Hope can exist even amidst difficult times, though. You can find it through the work others are doing. You can find it in books. You can find it on tv shows. You can find it in your spiritual practice (if you have one).
I stay hopeful—or practice being hopeful—because what else is there?
I have been trying hard to self love, but scarification and blemishes make this challenging… what to do? The biggest scars are getting tattoos and not doing that for everything. How to love what I have been averse to most of my life ?
Dear Scarred, thank you for your question.
I’ll admit I had to sit with your question for a bit because, I, too, struggle with learning how to love something that I’ve generally been averse to most of my life.
I have a large tattoo of Joan of Arc on my right arm that was initially done by an ex-boyfriend who later cheated on me. For a long time, I felt like this tattoo was a scar of that relationship—a large, colorful one at that. When I had saved enough money, I got the tattoo re-colored by a badass woman tattoo artist in Chicago. This scar, this branding that my ex gave me is still mighty present, but having had it redone made it something I can live with—made it something more beautiful than I could even imagine.
I also have acne scars—an ever present reminder of my angsty teenage youth and my obsession with picking at my face. I have a tiny scar on the right side of my belly from having had chicken pox when I was a baby. I have a fairly large indentation/scar on my back from getting a pre-cancerous mole removed when I was 4 (because the doctor doing it botched it). When I was in ballet class at the age of 12, some girls standing behind me pointed at it and laughed. One time a guy I had a huge crush on in high school pressed his finger onto it and said, “That’s cool. I really like it.”
I tell you these things because whether our scars are self-inflicted or not, we can learn to live amongst them. They can just be. Sometimes, for me, self-love is not about fiercely loving myself, but rather being neutral about myself. The jump from hating oneself to loving oneself (and our scars/flaws/etc) is too high of a jump for most people. You can do incremental self-love or just incremental neutrality. You don’t have to love your scars or blemishes. Maybe you just work on feeling neutral about them. They are just there, after all. They don’t make you a good or bad person. They don’t make you more or less beautiful. Some people will like your scars, others might not. Most probably won’t care either way. They are not the whole of you anyway.