Dear everyone and no one,
I don’t know why I write to you. It isn’t because you don’t write back sometimes (exhibit A: random fan mail last week; exhibit B: lovely comments on this blog). My wondering is about me and the world in general, not YOU.
I know why I write. I know why I want to keep writing. I know what writing brings to me, does for me, how it makes me feel to communicate something, especially if it’s difficult or took me a while to figure out in my own mind. But why do I share?
I’m wondering if it’s enough that you write back sometimes. I love your words and probably love you as a person, too. If you came to my back door to deliver your sentiments, I would probably invite you in and make you something to eat. I hope you don’t mind pet hair. We’d probably sit and sip tea or wine. We’d probably laugh so much, and maybe cry. Maybe snuggle. I wonder if all my writing isn’t an attempt to just be snuggled a little.
Here’s the problem. My wondering comes from anxiety. I share, and then I despair. A therapist who didn’t realize how seriously I take my writing once asked me if I couldn’t just give it up for a while to spare myself the worry, and that sent me spiraling into a self-righteous and defensive tirade about how I deserve to speak up after what I’ve endured. I deserve to practice my art, privately or publicly. Why should I be silent again? Why should I give up something that I love? Why should I give up something that is the thing I do best? Why should I give up something that makes me feel better and less alone? That’s what they want me to do! No. I deserve to exercise my best healing muscles. But I keep pulling them. I’m sore and I’m tired and I’m wondering what all this means.
It isn’t the writing itself that’s so sacred. I can do that anywhere, any time, about anything. Who cares what I produce. The product is not sacred; the voice, and the right to write, is. Isn’t it people and voices themselves that freedom of expression protects? Not a book, or a poem, or an essay, or a tweet?
There is a little voice that nags me, a cis-het white girl who grew up pinching pennies but made it to college, about continuing to insist upon sharing. It says, stop complaining. Listen more. Some people don’t have your privilege(s). Some people can’t say whatever they want. And you can’t always say what you want, either, but your risk of dying if you do is not so great. Not anymore. Dual awareness says you are safe now. Safe…
Certainly, victims and survivors of abuse and rape are often silenced, and must work to un-silence, if that’s what we choose to do. Certainly that choosing is our right. Certainly there are consequences to exercising that right. Certainly there are those in the world who have it better than I do, and those who have it so much worse. That’s where the certainty ends for me.
I wonder how long I can write-and-share and, concurrently, try to relieve my anxiety, work on true healing—like, the kind where you re-program your brain to interpret the things that have happened to you so that you un-condition it to react as a traumatized thing and re-condition it to respond more “normally” to stressors.
I wonder how long I can pretend that no one who is a threat to me is reading this blog.
I wonder, no matter how firmly I believe it, how long I can insist I ultimately don’t care, I don’t care, this is my right. I wonder how long I can middle-finger threats.
I wonder how long I can push my voice forward while being aware of how many voices are being pushed back. I wonder how long I can keep penning things that make me want to hide as soon as I share them–then, in fighting the urge to hide, make me self-righteously flaunt my privilege and risk silencing others to raise my own voice. I wonder how I can help others raise their voices.
I wonder what safety is. What it actually IS, not just how safety feels on a good day.
I wonder how long a person can stay whole when pulled in so many directions. I wonder if a person could become whole this way.
I wonder if you’re still reading. I wonder if I care. I wonder why I’m still writing. I wonder what would happen to me if I stopped. I wonder what will happen to me when I inevitably keep going.