Tag Archives: Fierce Hunger

what survivors are hungry for

(Hummingbirds are luminous and ravenous survivors — they eat 1-3 times their body weight daily, which means they must have intimate connection with hundreds of flowers each and every day. Go ahead, lovelies.)

Tonight at Lit Crawl, Writing Ourselves Whole writers will share their take on the fierce hunger of sexual trauma survivors.

(You can join us: 6pm at the Women’s Building, Room B, in San Francisco!)

Tonight, our brilliant writers — Manish Vaidya, Eanlai Cronin, Renee Garcia, Blyth Barnow, and Seeley Quest — will articulate some of what it looks like when survivors tangle with hunger: what it’s like to feel it, what it’s like not to feel it, not to allow ourselves to feel it, to think we don’t deserve it — and to finally allow ourselves consider the possibility that we do.

I am thinking this morning about how ferociously hungry are the survivor writers I’ve worked with over the last ten-plus years — writers who desperately long for something different: for an end to rape and rape culture, for an end to all forms of oppression and violence that dehumanize some in order to give others satiation and power — yes, of course, this. But then there are the individual hungers:  for connection, understanding, knowing, recognition; folks are hungry to be seen. We’re hungry for work that satisfies and challenges us, hungry to be nourished — physically and psychically, and to feel worthy of nourishment. We are hungry for intimacy, hungry for a touch that doesn’t take anything from us but instead meets and feeds us. We are hungry for change, for knowledge, for beauty, for the pen or the brush or the song or the dance, for the dark and for the light. We are hungry and struggle to feel ourselves worthy of feeding. We have been starved and often we have starved ourselves.

Radical self care means allowing ourselves to experience what we are hungry for — or, even before that, to be aware of our appetites, and to know that having an appetite isn’t what caused our violation. This is slow learning and can take years. Simply having human and animal appetites — wanting, hungering — isn’t what caused someone to harm us. They may have told us that it did, that their actions were our fault, that we were also partly to blame, because, look, we said we wanted — something. We wanted to see the puppy or taste the candy. We wanted to be touched or held, in ways that were loving or safe. We wanted to feel special and important. Sometimes our bodies wanted the sexual touch, which confused us, because we didn’t want it from this person, in this way. We wanted the toy or the special treat that we were promised, or we wanted to be able to keep safe the people or pets who were threatened. Our desires were manipulated, used against us, and so we tried to keep ourselves from wanting. If we didn’t want anything, no one could manipulate us like that again. We slid our big and small hungers into drawers and locked them up inside ourselves. We said, What, me? No, I don’t need anything. I’m fine. What do you want?

What do you want?

Our hungers don’t go away. They gnaw on the insides of those drawers, they chew through the locks and bars, they are insatiable, they do not abandon us. I am not talking about addictions here, but what the addictions are trying to keep us from feeling, to help us run from, help us ignore. We might spend years running as fast as we can to get away from the desires that have been with us all our lives: the desire to create, the desire to connect, the desire to feel, the desire to be witnessed, nourished, appreciated, make a difference, matter.

When we stop running, the hunger that catches up with us can be overwhelming. I have used lots of different things to drown it out — wine, food, television, relationship drama, too much work. All of these at the same time, some weeks. All of this to keep from having to hear that quiet and persistent voice in me that says, I am hungry to be loved for exactly who I am. I am hungry to write books that some people will read and love. I am hungry for a solid sense of home. I am hungry for playful and understanding friendships. I am hungry for family that feels safe. I am hungry to experience my body’s full and free sexual and erotic capacity — in fact, to know the full capacity of my body’s strength and speed and wisdom overall. I am hungry for a world that doesn’t organize every organism and object into a hierarchy of use to white supremacist capitalism, hungry for a world in which children aren’t treated like items on a menu, hungry for a society in which all people’s innate creative genius is recognized, valued, and nourished. I starve or overfeed myself to avoid feeling the rage and sorrow and hope that accompanies these longings, but they don’t go away.

During the first months I was offering erotic writing groups, I came to understand right away that they were about more than just sex for the writers — they were about finding and creating safe space in which to hunger, in which to openly long, a space in which that longing wouldn’t be used against us in any way, in which, in fact, we would be celebrated for that desire. Toward the end of those early groups, writers came to be aware of not simply the specificities of their erotic desires (as though that’s ever simple!), but also of desire to reconnect with their music, with their art, to find work that truly fed them. We wanted the whole of our sex back, yes, and we wanted so much more than that, too.

It is in our nature to hunger. When we try to shut those primal urges down, we implode. This starvation is a way of slowly killing ourselves. It is a way of continuing to do our violators’ work for them. Eventually, little by little, we can begin to put down that particular labor, beating up and shaming the small self within that has mouth open and hands out. We can begin to listen to that self, treat it (us, him, hir, her, them) with kindness and generosity, as we ought always to have been listened to ourselves. We can remember that that small self deserved those desires, just as we do — and did not deserve to be shamed or harmed for wanting, just as we do not. We can begin to feel what we have always been hungry for, and then, as we choose, start to feed ourselves — even start allowing ourselves to be fed.

Here’s to your gorgeous and tender hungers. Thank you for all the ways that you are allowing yourself to feel, to appreciate, and to feed your good, good self.

Fierce Hunger at LitCrawl 2014!

Hummingbird graffiti - OaklandWriting Ourselves Whole goes to Lit Crawl!
Saturday, October 18, 6-7pm
at the Women’s Building, Room B
3543 18th St., San Francisco, CA
FREE!

Join us on October 18 for Writing Ourselves Whole’s stop on the infamous LitQuake Lit Crawl!

The theme of our reading will be Fierce Hunger: At the intersection of desire and trauma, longing takes many forms. Join us as Writing Ourselves Whole writers name what survivors are starving for. Readers include Eanlai Cronin, Manish Vaidya, Renee Garcia, Blyth Barnow, Seeley Quest, and Jen Cross.

Please note: This reading will include explicit sexual content.

http://www.litquake.org/events/writing-ourselves-whole

Reader Bios:

Eanlai Cronin just completed her first memoir Girl in Irish. She leads writing workshops for those in recovery from chronic illness, PTSD, addiction and small Irish villages!

Manish Vaidya is the Artistic Director of Peacock Rebellion, a crew of queer and trans people of color who make art for social justice.

Renee Garcia is a fat, queer, disabled, femme writer and sex educator living in the Bay Area, and the founder of Write The Fuck Now: writethefucknow.tumblr.com

Blyth Barnow is a writer and community organizer focused on nuanced stories of survival. More of her work can be found at  missfist.blogspot.com

Seeley Quest is a trans performer who has featured around the Bay Area since 2001, as well as in Vancouver, Toronto, and numerous US cities and colleges.  See more of hir work at sinsinvalid.org

Jen Cross is the founder and facilitator of Writing Ourselves Whole, which has offered transformative writing groups to trauma survivors and others since 2003.

Fierce Hunger — so much love.

Cover of Fierce Hunger chapbookGood morning (it’s still morning technically) — I have here a little cup of decaf coffee loaded up with cream and a sleepy pup and a full and achy heart. Is Monday welcoming you in with its tender arms? (I know Monday often feels more like a grabber — I just wondered about shifting that story a little.)

Today I feel softened and broken open and a little weepy. Writing Ourselves Whole’s tenth anniversary benefit and celebration on Saturday was a gorgeous success: a roomful of writers and friends, wonderful food and drink, and about fifty items donated for our silent auction and raffle! What an astonishing space we made together. Continue reading

dance (r)evolution

Good morning good morning. I just spent about forty minutes in the notebook, drafting out my addition to this Saturday’s Fierce Hunger reading, and now I get to be here in the blog with you. That’s a good morning’s writing. How are the words arriving for you today? On the page? Via the radio? In the mouth of your heart?

I’ve been working on the schedule and lineup for Saturday (when I’m not editing our amazing chapbook!) — here’s the basic schedule:

6:00-7:15       Mingle & Silent Auction (music by DJs Zanne & Junkyard)

7:15-9:15       Reading & Raffle & Celebration

9:15-10:30    Dance dance evolution (more with Zanne & Junkyard!)

So, first you get to hang out with amazing folks and check out the silent auction items and enjoy some wine and/or appetizers. Then you get to listen to some powerhouse readers, after I tell you a smidge about how grateful I am to everyone who’s supported Writing Ourselves Whole over these last ten years. Next we announce the raffle and silent auction winners. And then you get to dance it all out. Continue reading

Body Heat, Fierce Hunger, and spring…

graffiti of a butterfly hovering a branch that contains two nests of heartsGood grey morning to you. Outside, the sky is clouded with mist and the daffodils have begun to show their yellow faces. I wonder if I will ever get used to California. Where I’m from, February, late winter, is the time of near despair: when will it ever end? It’s the time of seed catalogs and beginning to dream of spring. Punxsutawney Phil had some real news to deliver — please, please say it’s going to be an early spring, Mr. Groundhog. I don’t know how much more of this cold I can stand. But here out west, the bulbs start shooting up in January, and as the light begins to change, it feels like spring already even in these early months. How does the body learn to acclimate to a new way of being?

There’s quite a bit going on around here: Body Heat, Fierce Hunger, and a whole lot of workshops! Continue reading