The Work of Resting
The X Games of Extreme Wintering
Whenever I share that I’ve taken a step back to focus on my health, some people seem to be under the impression that I spend my days relaxing on my couch in an oversized hoodie eating cereal right out of the box while I play World of Warcraft. While this is not an “uncommon” scene, shall we say, that’s nothing like what this time in my life has been about.
Resting takes work. Odd, right? I’ve wanted just a few moments to sit and breathe for SO long. I just didn’t think it would actually involve so much intentionality on my part. When just sending an email feels like running a marathon, simple daily tasks— like eating or going for a walk—feel like complete impossibilities.
Sometimes loneliness envelopes me, suffocating and all-consuming. But when I jump on calls with my friends or family, I struggle to remember the normal ebb and flow of conversation. Then I feel incredibly self-conscious, 100% sure that everyone else can see how clueless I really am. All of the embarrassing things that I have said—EVER, in my entire life—flash before my eyes as I continue to spiral while trying to keep up with a conversation I’m pretty sure I’m still supposed to be following somehow.
When I find myself serving up a hearty dish of word salad while on a call or while sending a voice message, I hold back my impulse to say something like, “I know I’m a wreck right now, but I promise this won’t be forever.”
Please don’t let this be forever.
This week, I’ve been reading Wintering by Katherine May. She starts out strong right from the prologue:
We’re raised not to recognize wintering, or to acknowledge its inevitability. Instead, we tend to see it as humiliation, something that should be hidden from view lest we shock the world too greatly. We put on a brave public face and grieve privately; we pretend not to see other people’s pain. We treat each wintering as an embarrassing anomaly that should be hidden or ignored. This means we’ve made a secret of an entirely ordinary process, and have thereby given those who endure it a pariah status, forcing them to drop out of everyday life in order to conceal their failure. [emphasis mine]
May’s words hit me like a Mack truck. I saw all of my overwhelming feelings of guilt, shame, and humiliation laid bare in a single paragraph. Needing rest during difficult times shouldn’t be seen as shameful. It’s just part of being human.
While disabled people’s version of “wintering” often looks more like the White Witch’s forever winter in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, both non-disabled and disabled people experience this stigma (i.e. ableism) around rest and recovery. It’s past time we all shifted the narrative and give each other the grace and support we all need to get through.
Tomorrow I will probably feel the weight of rest on my shoulders all over again, but for the moment, May’s words make things feel a little lighter.
Podcasts I’ve Been Listening To
Book Riot: The Podcast - Bankable Crossover
The wonderful Vanessa Diaz subs in for Rebecca Schinsky. Vanessa and Jeff discuss publishing insider baseball—always my jam—and stats for bestselling books on BookScan.
Debutiful - Charmaine Wilkerson: Black Cake
I really love what Adam Vitcavage is doing with Debutiful. His website features Q&As and podcast interviews with debut authors. His latest episode features Charmaine Wilkerson, the author of Black Cake.
A Good Read: Alan Titchmarsh and Amanda Owen
My FAVORITE bookish comfort listen of all time, A Good Read, is a mini book club with the host, Harriett Gilbert, and two guests. They each pick a book and discuss them.
Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness - How Do You Get Your Bake Off? with Prue Leith
Can anyone match Jonathan Van Ness’ enthusiasm for, well, anything?! In his latest episode, he interviews the news judge for The Great British Bake Off, Prue Leith. Apparently, Prue is a very successful writer. Who knew?
Things That I Made That Went Up This Week
YouTube - February Reading Plans | 2022
Book Riot - Audiobooks Newsletter
I write Book Riot’s weekly audiobooks newsletter. You can subscribe here to read all about my favorite listens of the week, and you can read back issues here.
Linking Links Linking
Six By Seven on Apple Podcasts
Seven Black podcasters—including Roxane Gay, Glory Edim, and Stephen Satterfield—have selected six of their favorite shows by other Black podcasters. I love discovering new shows this way.
Black in Appalachia
While their podcast (one of my favorites) will celebrate its second birthday later this year, Black in Appalachia as an organization is turning ten! Definitely go follow them on all of the things for such incredible excellent content and local projects.
LOVE “A Good Read”! And also relate so much to the bit about rest! And also I love your podcast “Reading Women”, thank you for the six seasons!