Holding it Together by Falling Apart
I've shown up to teach writing classes 8 of the last 10 days since the election. I've shown up crying, shaking, in deep grief, terrified, breathing fire, resolute, determined, holding it together and falling apart. One morning on the way to class I called a sister-friend-resistance fighter and told her I didn't know how I could face class that day, feeling wrecked to my core. "By telling the truth," she told me. "Like you do." And so I did. We all did. And it helped. Again and again, over and over. Writing together and listening to each other, even when, especially when, we expressed different points of view, different opinions, reactions and truths helped me not push down or gloss over the absolute overwhelm of feelings in my body, mind and soul but get them out, onto the page.
And our writing festival this weekend that we'd planned months ago? That I didn't know how the hell we'd manage to pull off in the midst of such shock and grief? Creating poems and stories amidst a gorgeous range of skin colors, sexual identities, gender identifications and people of all ages was a haven. It was a sanctuary. The timing, it turns out, could not have been better.
Still, it's been a tough week to be a co-dependent Jewish female empath. Because I don't yet know how not to feel everything. And as painful, as wrenching as it's been, it's a good thing, a powerfully good thing. Allowing all of these feelings in rather than blocking them out is changing me. The day after the election my husband said a band-aid was ripped off the festering pus of racism, homophobia, sexism, antisemitism, xenophobia barely contained beneath a thin veneer in this country before. That there's no way for an infection to heal unless it's exposed to air and light, allowed to breathe. That it must come out into the open to heal. I believe that's true. The last week has certainly, indelibly changed me.
And I can feel an actual shift deep within my body. My eyes and heart are becoming painfully unstuck. I am able to see something that's always been there that I just didn't allow myself to see, chose not to, didn't want to, couldn't bear. Now I can't look away. I did everything I could to build and maintain my nest, my cocoon, my bubble while all kinds of "other" people suffered. This is not to berate myself for being willfully naive. For thinking it was my ancestors, my grandparents, other people, anyone else in danger of hate and danger and discrimination. This is just to say I believe with everything inside of me that I will never staple my eyes shut, remain willfully naive again. Out of the wreckage, something stronger, more open, more real, more truly awake, is being born.
Join me for a free community writing workshop this Sunday, as we write, process and listen together.