If Instagram is to be believed, self-care involves cozy blankets and sappy romantic comedies and an excuse to take a lot of naps while wearing face masks. Or something. It's the version of self-care that I have indulged for years. It's a surface level of self-care. It's the kind of self-care that if you took one of those overly high definition photos of it you'd see all sorts of things lurking underneath. Which is why I've had to disappear for a bit.
When Inciting A Riot was first created 10 years ago, I'd made it a point to let my work speak for itself. I chose a cartoon illustration as an icon and used a made up parody name and created a wall. It was the first time I'd actively participated in building a wall between myself and others. You see I grew up an exposed nerve of a child, all tingling emotions constantly firing. Hoping like hell to feel accepted in a time and place that I recognize now was not built to accept me as I am. I could've used some walls and distance.
2016 was hard for me. Shocker. 2016 was hard for everyone. 2016 was the first time that I had to face the fact that bridges burn no matter how many years of repairing and fortifying them you've done. Your neighbors aren't your friends and don't have your best interests at heart. Family structures shattered over politics, I was out of work for 6 months, and I couldn't even rely on the community I'd built around the Riot because some folks decided it'd be a fun idea to get my various online accounts taken down over "real name policies". I lost trajectory personally, professionally, and online. And a new feeling crept in: anxiety.
The last 3 years have been a rollercoaster of futile coping mechanisms and realizing that all the fuzzy blankets and sappy movies and face masks weren't going to fix the things I was feeling. This past winter I was driving my husband's truck and it spun out on some ice and I became absolutely catatonic, spiraling through a series of emotions - What if this truck gets wrecked, how will I afford the repairs? If I have to drain what little savings I have, will I have to go back to driving Uber 18 hours a day? What if something happens to me? Can I afford my deductible? ...and so on.
I knew something was wrong.
There were other things. The unexpected loss of a pet, my husband ended up in the hospital with serious injuries, we ended up actually wrecking the truck on yet another patch of black ice...it felt like 2016 all over again. This time, however, I had some good friends in my life that said, "Go to therapy." (Really, it was some Elizabeth Gilbert lying on the floor and hearing the universe tell her to go back to bed shit, except...it involved a nice lady with a very fancy degree and a really squishy couch.)
I've been in therapy now for a few months. It's a journey. I don't know where the journey is going. I haven't had some major breakthrough or life altering realization. I'm showing up, I'm doing the work, and I'm recognizing that caring for myself is more than the superficial comforts and coping mechanisms that I clung to in order to keep from looking longer and harder at what was really bothering me. Part of that work meant slowing way down and deciding what was important.
I toyed with the idea of ending the podcast. I felt I was done, that I had nothing else of value to add. That the community had left Inciting A Riot behind, that I was never going to get back the audience or the status the show had attained. Then I realized that the only voice I should be listening to was my own, and I looked around and realized I wouldn't be the artist or writer or friend or husband I am today had I not been Fire Lyte for the last 10 years. So the Riot is continuing. I'm continuing.
New episodes are coming out soon, and I'm excited to get back to cultivating conversations, upsetting convention, and being part of a community that's been such a big part of my life.
So...that's where I've been. Hope you're still around.
Love and Lyte,