It’s something that I’ve written about before, the fact that Mark’s death required me to rely on my instinct and intuition to a degree that I hadn’t knowingly done before. It’s difficult to know how susceptible you are to other people’s opinions, how much you rely on the advice of others until you reach a point when you understand fully that they don’t know the answers. I know that I couldn’t have got through the catastrophe of loss without the support of friends. But the experience was not only beyond my own, it was beyond that of most people I knew, to a degree that I was in open water, having to learn to navigate for myself.
For a time, when I began to re-engage with life, I began to floundering because doing so seemed to demand a ‘normal’ way of operating. As I struggled to ease myself back into some of the spaces I had been in before, I came to realise that what I had learnt – paying attention to myself, listening to my instinct, allowing myself time to make decisions, trusting that they will come when the time is right and not rushing to meet other people’s agendas – it was just as necessary as it was in a situation of crisis.
Learning to listen to the voice that tells me which way to go, to its nudging and promptings has kindled a warm strength in me. It’s not to do with bracing myself or stoking up resolve, it’s more to do with being aware, taking me into account as a presence, a force within the wider scheme of things, not feeling that my actions are simply directed by the needs or demands of others, appeasing and keeping things going.
Now I’m turning my attention to how I act from that place, not just in relation to navigating the turbulent waters of trauma and grief, but how to do my work, become more accomplished at it, how to create a rhythm for my life that suits me, not just fit into pre-existing patterns.
Again, I find myself thinking about books I read some years ago, including Lois McNay’s Foucault and Feminism, in which she traced the potential for agency in Foucault’s work, drawing on Jessica Benjamin’s discussion about the need for “radical personal politics”
As I’m beginning to understand agency in a deeper way, I’m beginning to think about how I can honour it, particularly by no longer asking for permission to be or trying to persuade others of its validity. But I also want to learn how my way of knowing operates in relationships with others and what it might bring with it into wider discussions and political space.