I feel viscerally different, damaged, ostracized, apart, and have all my life. Every time I was damaged and set apart, and every time I failed to relate, failed to make a connection, failed to relate and connect with others. I think what frustrates me so much is that with all the words I learn and write and say I run into the defenses, denials, delusions, and unwillingness to listen on the part of others. I put my faith all my life in the idea that if I read enough, learned enough, spoke enough, used enough words, or the right words, I would get through to people on a visceral level and be able to convey the feeling, the experience, and be understood.
There’s a quote I love, along the lines that being alone is not the absence of people but the absence of understanding, from a 17-year-old girl identified only as ‘Clara’ in Phyllis Chesler’s book ‘Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman.’ It really stuck with me. Because periodically I will descend into utter silence after I feel betrayed by the words I have dedicated my life to, in the hopes of getting through to people on the most important and vital things. I feel like I have failed or my words have failed, or I used too many or the wrong ones or I will never know the right ones or be succinct or persuasive enough. At some point I realized everyone has different ‘blocks,’ and there will never be a magic key that unlocks understanding for everyone. That it’s an eternal never-ending struggle, and one I may never win.
Then I think sometimes that the only people I may reach are those who have been through some of what I’ve been through, those who are where I was, and those are the most important ones, the ones on the brink of giving up, and those are the only ones that really matter. The ones with battle scars that show or don’t. I think of the end of one of the Avengers movies with all the superheroes lying or lounging in the shwarma restaurant, who can’t really relate to anyone other than each other, but don’t really need the words because hey, they were all there. Drama of shared experience. For me, no one was there with me, by my side, fighting the good fight, loving the good love. I have lived behind walls that have made me alone and striven for peace which I never have known.
I realize I can’t waste my time standing in the street yelling at people who won’t ever get it (although sometimes I still do!), when the real people I need to be thinking of are the ones who might become Avengers if they could hear me. I might never be a superhero, but I could lift others up out of the ashes of my rubble. If that’s what I can do, maybe that’s a way to forge some meaning out of basically the shit sandwich life handed me, and the painful process of trying to write about it and what I learned and found out and interpreted. And for those who have been knocked out of the sky and left bleeding alone on the ground, wondering if they would survive and never even dreaming of being normal again, let alone a superhero, they could interpret and take what was important to them and blow the rest of grains from their hands.
That would be enough. Someone did that for me, and I’m not a superhero, but I survived a bad moment, and another, and another. I survived many horrible things, because of things others wrote down after they came through, leaving little pebbles in a trail out behind them, to let me know I am not the only one to have been forced onto this dark path, and that someone made it out.
Even if I don’t, maybe someone will make it far enough to get out for good, using some of what I passed on, and what others who came before wrote about surviving. For now I think I’m going to try doing some blog posts again. I need an outlet. I have a lot to say, and need to stop shouting it at people who don’t want to hear, to stop worrying about what others want to hear, and think more about what I want to say. And let the audience take care of itself, people choosing to read it or don’t as they like.
Maybe it won’t always make sense. Still I am wearied by the weight of unsaid and unwritten words. I’m trying this for a bit now.