when your writing becomes not about you but about addressing the gaze that others you. there is a loss there. but there is an immediacy to it – you feel compelled. no, you are compelled. it is demanded of you. i wouldn’t call it a phase (it will always be there). perhaps a passage. a necessary trap. it needs to be done, so that perhaps your writing can move on, and you can represent yourself without looking at yourself from the outside in, without always being angry and traumatized. and finally, find true liberation in your work. when i no longer always need to write about trauma, and can write about fuzzy caterpillars and dust bunnies and why i like my egg yolks runny.
i’ve made a conscious decision to speak openly about my struggles with my mental health. i’m slowly learning what my body needs when i am anxious, depressed and the different ways my PTSD manifests itself. i am learning to become comfortable with how fragile and vulnerable i am as a human.
the last few days have been particularly difficult for various reasons. but i find that in those intense moments of pain and brokenness, help finds its way to me.
a few months ago i had just experienced a racist incident and was feeling emotionally and physically overwhelmed. a friend texted me out of the blue and asked if we could meet. she met me in the hallway right after my class. we held hands and cried. another time i ran into her, she slipped two beautiful bracelets into my pocket. i have been wearing them everyday and throughout the day run my fingers over them. they make me smile.
this past week has been especially difficult. the following words have been life lines extended to me.
- an instructor handed me a copy of Lenelle Moise’s Haiti Glass and said i could keep it. i read these words again and again:
Instead I took a deep breath. I channeled my outrage into a form of meditation. I reminded myself that I am a writer. My job is to observe and to remember. When push comes to shove, memory is my greatest self-defense. I can be a warrior but I would rather be a poet. Poets live longer.
- Alok Vaid-Menon in “Confessional”:
5. I WISH I COULD “LOVE MYSELF” OUT OF SYSTEMIC OPPRESSION. TRAUMA IS A STRUCTURE, NOT A FEELING.
- a mentor/writer:
Your job isn’t to change the world. It is to hold up the truth.
- a family member:
you are so different from every angle and so beautiful.
- Jillian Christmas in “The Gospel of Breaking”:
My God, who has been so quiet,
This must be your work.
As baffling as all of your other mercies