My tea is steeping and I want to step down from the panic, the sense that I should be doing something different, that I have to be doing something different. How can I keep breathing, how can I relax?
This is what I imagined — finding words, letting myself be in the place that feels bigger than my identities, than what I’ve decided for myself, letting myself live, for awhile, in that flat open space of humanness, the place where I’ve rarely felt that I belonged, the place of mistakes and love, the place of connectedness, connection.
What do I want to tell you about it. There’s something warm that lives there, a feeling I have that’s beyond this bodily achyness, I could feel it yesterday, I don’t have time to stop and think about it, or try and remember. I just want it to push down through my fingers.
How do we get outside the identities that we’ve talked ourselves into (gay, woman, queer, survivor, what other ones) — but not just those, I mean the specifics about them (new school queer femme dyke, strong, isolated, lonely incest survivor who talks openly and brazenly about sex), what happens when if we want or are something outside of those specifics, what happens when our lives bring us to a place that we have no words for? I read a line about this yesterday, in the book about reflective writing that it’s taking me forever to read (in spite of the fact that it’s fantastic!), so I have to keep checking out from the UCSF library, something from Eliot about every new experience being a battle with the inchoate or the inarticulate.
here’s the quote from Eliot (in “Burnt Norton“) :
Trying to use words, and every attempt
Is a wholy new start, and a different kind of failure
Because one has only learnt to get the better of words
For the thing one no longer has to say, or the way in which
One is no longer disposed to say it. And so each venture
Is a new beginning, a raid on the inarticulate …
And this is where I’m living now (always living): finding new words for the new thing, this new place, and again I’m in the struggle (and why isn’t it a gift, a blessing, why am I not grateful to be in the struggle?) with the inarticulate, with the feeling that there aren’t words for this experience. This is what we do.
The struggle now is in finding the words for what the body knows, what the body is remembering and offering back to me, and of course, the body knows without words. The body knows in the feeling that was indescribable, had no need of words, the body holds the remembering that was without words, wasn’t allowed words. And so I try to find nuanced language for the dread that can lace through me upon waking — what dread is it this morning? The I stayed up too late kind? The monstrous kind? How do I find words for this thicket, this morass, this molassysludge that lives in my belly and lower intestines and callows the rest of me with numb? And why would I want to? What does it mean? That’s the interesting part (interesting?) — finding words for what I don’t have meaning for (yet).
These are the things I’m wanting to find a way to bring together — expressive writing (including the almost elemental power of metaphor), embodiment (does that mean generative somatics work? embodied expressive writing?), the Lacanian/Foucault-ian engagement with language (and how we are constructed, shaped, how we become what and how we have words for), and the re-welcoming processes for those who have experienced trauma (I mean, those communal rituals that bring a trauma survivor back into community, back into relationship, back into humanness). And one of the ways I learn a thing is to do it, is to experience it, or attempt it. Thanks for being with me in this process/practice.
Is there a feeling in your body (or your character’s body) that you want to understand better? Maybe begin by just describing it, and let yourself describe it, write it, in as much or as little detail as you want, depending on how far you want to go into the feeling. Feel welcome not to describe what it means, or where it’s coming from, or why you’re (or your character is) experiencing this feeling, this sensation. Just focus on describing the sensation itself, so that someone else reading might also be able to embody that feeling — but remember, you don’t have to show the description to anyone else, if you don’t want to!
Thank you for the ways you hold true to the fullness of you, even the bits of you that flush and push past the community-dictated guidelines for particular identities, the ways you are so much more grand than the sum of your gorgeous individual parts. Thank you for that creativity, and for this, here: for your words.