Okay, so at this point, you and the nation might be sick of the quote from Glennon Doyle about the cheetah realizing she is not crazy, she is trapped from her wild. I’m going to pre-apologize for bringing it up again if you are one of the people sick of that quote, but it’s a foundational piece of wisdom for me.
I’m going to do a quick recap for those of you who haven’t read,” Untamed.” Tabitha is a cheetah at a zoo who Glennon observes regally pacing the cage. Glennon goes on with the narrative that perhaps Tabitha believes herself to be crazy, dreaming of the hunt and ink-black skies. Glennon writes, “you’re not crazy, you’re a goddamn cheetah.” In this chapter, Glennon writes that when you feel you are crazy and your gut tells you that perhaps you are sane you should always consider that you are not, in fact, crazy; maybe something is wrong on the outside and there nothing is wrong with you.
Last week I wrote to you about setting boundaries and quieting the noise from the stands of the outside world. I want you to become quiet so you can hear yourself. When we are taking in the messages from other people, especially when those messages are loud and shaming, we lose ourselves–our wildness. In losing yourself, the people in the stands start to decide how your life goes and they do not always have your best interest at heart; they have theirs. Above all else, it is incredibly important to never lose who you are and to be able to come home and listen to the voice in your heart that guides you.
As an empath, I really, really do not like looking at injustice. When I see something that tells me justice is at risk I take on the emotions of others. I want to put myself in their shoes, hear their story, and feel the pain of those experiencing the injustice so I know what to do next. For this reason, looking at injustice is incredibly hard but also incredibly important for me. I have to put in a lot of self-care and take time grounding myself before I approach circumstances in life that need to change for the better. When I don’t start by grounding myself I’m pretty sure I come off wild when approaching an injustice. But my wildness doesn’t make me crazy, I’m a goddamn cheetah.
I know many other people that take on the emotions and opinions of others only to find themselves lost. Personally, as a survivor of domestic violence, I know what this feels like firsthand. In speaking up about domestic violence in a rural setting I’ve been met with adversities I didn’t know were possible. Leaving the abuse was the hardest thing I had done until that point. Walking into a system that is not yet set up to tackle the many forms of domestic violence is harder.
Helping Others, Helping Yourself
I’m very lucky with my line of work. When I see basic needs or an injustice that needs attention, care, and a new level of support I get to choose how I approach it. I know I take on the emotions of others who are suffering (joy as well, but suffering is what I want to fix…) so I’m able to check myself in a professional setting. I’ve spent almost a decade as a business owner learning how to do this. In the beginning, it wasn’t pretty, there was a lot of puffing up and shrinking down that I wrote about last week. Now I know that staying true to myself is the number one thing I can do in order to design systems from my company (and the world) that truly create lasting change.
Staying true to myself personally has been much harder these past five years. In reclaiming my voice over the past seven months I’ve definitely puffed up and shrunk down all the while asking for the grace to stand my sacred ground. Breathing deeply into my belly to remember I’m a goddamn cheetah, as I’m unfortunately met with victim shaming and miseducation surrounding domestic violence. Just yesterday I was asked to say, “domestic abuse,” because violence misleads everyone and makes them uncomfortable.
Do you know what makes me uncomfortable? People being violent or abusive to other people. Not the goddamn word a survivor chooses to use about their own experience.
Giving Grace to Others
It is in remembering my wild and personal experiences that I know all people deserve to live free of injustice. This has given me the strength to apply care to myself in order to do personally what I’ve done professionally for so many years. I have to give grace to those in the stands with especially ugly jeers because they have not yet woken up. They are afraid, uncomfortable, and they are lashing out. If I took their screams as gospel I would lose my life. I almost did less than a year ago.
Remembering that I am a good, kind, passionate, smart woman helps me wash the dust off my bloody knees as I stand against these crowds and respond. Not responding with hate to their noise but with love for myself. It’s easier for people to tell us we’re crazy and dismiss our life experiences that cause them discomfort. Accountability can feel life-threatening to those lost in shame or guilt. Accountability also means the just will prevail while the unjust fail. Those who hold perceived power over others just to keep it (and other resources) for themselves are loud as fuck. What they lack, however, is kindness. You and I, gleaming cheetahs, are filled with kindness and love. We do not deserve to be gaslit away from a life that is worth living, our voices tamed. We deserve to be heard and loved.
Stop the victim shaming. May all women, men, and children be free and safe. Fight for who you are and a world worth living in and a world worth leaving behind for our children.