Eryn Amel: “Self-care means the prioritization of your individual peace and personal happiness. Motherhood does not have to sacrifice any of that.”

Self-care is a fluid concept. It is vital and it looks different from person to person. Essentially, self-care means doing something kind for yourself, for your mental well-being, for your physical well-being.

Self-care is revolutionary for women of color and, as Audre Lorde said, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”

I hold that sentence so close to my heart. When black women, especially queer or trans black women, nurture and love themselves, it is most definitely revolutionary.

I write so much about self-care in regard to race because of my own experiences as a multiracial, queer woman. I have come to understand the importance of decolonizing vulnerability and self-care because of our own internalized martyrdom when it is specific to non-white cultures.

I still battle this idea in my mind that I should feel guilty about my “guilty pleasures” and that prioritizing myself is somehow selfish or damaging. In reality, those harmful ideas are a part of us because we have internalized systems of oppression. Patriarchy, white supremacy and capitalism rely on us valuing paid and unpaid labor over ourselves and our happiness.

Every week, Wear Your Voice will be featuring an interview with a woman of color on what self-care means to her. Our hope is to provide our readers with a better look at what self-care looks like for different people so that we can help decolonize self-care for better resistance.

This week, I interviewed self-love activist Eryn Amel about her experiences with self-care.

Eryn Amel

Eryn Amel.

Wear Your Voice: What does self-care mean to you?

Eryn Amel: It means the prioritization of your individual peace and personal happiness.  The results of my pregnancy test yielded a positive result — and tons of negative feelings around what my life would look like now. There was a child growing inside of me.

The irony of the first sight of my son, was the grieving point of my individualism. I saw my mother as a strong black woman who put her family first and had no time left to pick up her seconds. Black women are sacrificial like that. We are taught that our love is no good unless we are giving it all.

I felt sick with regret for wondering where I fit into my own life. Writing has always been my refuge. And it has been what I clung to while trying to replace regret with loving myself.

WYV: What are some of the things that you do for self-care?

EA: Self-care can come in many forms, simply by honoring a special craving, buying myself potted flowers or putting my phone on airplane mode after a long tiring day.

Self-care means the prioritization of your individual peace and personal happiness. And my Motherhood does not have to sacrifice any of that. I published my sophomore book, Moon Matter, which is centered around life postpartum & life as a black mother raising a black son.

Writing for myself has  forced me to remain present in my feelings and  into my life’s agenda. Self-care has been recognized in small steps back into the skin I spread thin for everyone else.

WYV: What advice would you give to womxn & femmes who are just learning to put themselves first?

EA: It’s going to feel selfish. But there are systems you’re going to have to unlearn and it’s going to feel like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders. You deserve to breathe deep. You deserve the love desire. Start within.

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