I was sitting in a seminar room with my classmates when our lecturer, after finally poking and prodding an answer out of me, said “Yes! That’s good. Why are you so apologetic about it?”
A few weeks after that incident a friend of mine, a writer I ‘met’ on Twitter, said something similar. I was working at the publisher where his latest book was published, and I was speaking with him on the phone about some admin tasks I had been given to do for him. I must have sounded apologetic then too, because he said to me, “Why do you sound so timid?”
He had read a review that I wrote for a book last year, and in it I had been scathing and fierce in my analysis. Anyone reading it would think “She’s something fearsome. I don’t want to mess with her.”
I realized, once these two virtual strangers said this to me, that I don’t trust my ideas. I don’t trust my mind, and I never have.
I grew up in an environment where silence was king – we were meant to be seen, not heard. I mean, of course we spoke. Mundane speech occasionally, but never the deep stuff. Never the thoughts you really wanted to speak. We were taught to be apologetic, even about things we were not at fault for. We learnt early that our voice, our opinions, don’t matter. I spent most of my childhood in my room, reading, or in front of the TV watching cartoons. But mostly in my room, reading. Escaping. I had to get away from the unsaid things, the heavy unsaid things that choked each and every one of us daily.
And so here I am, a girl who lives in her head but never vocalises what’s going on in there, because I don’t know how. All the monsters, they never out unless I write them out. Writing is the only way I know how to speak.
You’ve heard it said that in a crisis people’s responses are either to fight, or flee (flight). My response is to freeze. That monster stays getting the best of me.
Sometimes that freezing is a mental one. Fear, you know, freezes intelligence. Every time I’m afraid, I find that I can’t think. It’s like writer’s block, but for your brain, and far worse.
I think a lot about death. About how suicide seems sane, though it is not usually thought of as a rational act. The girl who does it seems to have taken the rational, not easy or cowardly, way out. Having surveyed the heaviness of life against her, found her options for “getting over” wanting, she took her life. This life which she was given without her permission/ consent. This life which she was pushed into without being able to choose what circumstances she could be born into. Doesn’t birth, her birth, any birth, seem to be quite the violence? Being born is unfair.
And? What can be said for all these things? How do we, girls born into a world that sets us up for failure, and disappointment, and yet expects us to rise; how do we get over? Can we?
Not waving but drowning. Source: codepen.io
is not the problem for you. Maybe it’s do
. Do I want to? Get up after the millionth time? Try again after having tried a million times before?
can she be knocked down
there’s no more
Yes, life is war. Always war. It follows then, that to find peace we must fight for it. And we are our biggest enemies. And our greatest allies. But the decision is always ours.
“You block your dreams when you allow your fear to grow bigger than your faith”, Marty Manin Morrissey said. So I must feed my faith, I must find a corner of the world, or a corner in myself, to grieve my disappointments and fertilise my faith. I’ve heard only a mustard seeds worth is necessary to begin. So you fell again. Begin again. Because dying may be easy, but living will be worth it, in the end.
How you got here was not your choice, but you are here now. It was God’s gift to you, you can be.
And you are meant to be.
“Are these jottings morbid? I once read the sentence ‘I lay awake all night with toothache, thinking about toothache and about lying awake.’ […] Part of every misery is, so to speak, the misery’s shadow or reflection: the fact that you don’t merely suffer but have to keep thinking about the fact that you suffer.” ~ CS Lewis, A Grief Observed
“You can live through it. It’s working for your good.” ~ James Fortune & Fiya, Live Through It