top of page

What Myself and I Don't Talk/Write About

Silence holds so much space for things to go right, or very very wrong.

I consistently practice moving forward at any cost, at least in the last four years. Because what options do I have? I was telling a dear friend that there is nothing to do with the pain life keeps throwing at us. So, a luta continua. Victory isn't certain, but continuing is a no-brainer.

Silence is one way that helped me continue life and living. There is another conversation to be had if this is healthy. But there is just no need to revisit some things. With people. And most especially with myself.

But after (re)reading What My Mother and I Don't Talk About by Michele Filgate, I'm forced to take stock of how much I have left unsaid, how much I will continue to leave unsaid.

I also took stock of how much not saying is affecting my writing. I applauded Melissa Broder's So Sad Today because I cannot be that honest on page. Never. And I have said this again and again in class, my work will always hit a ceiling because I'm not ready to be honest with myself.

Writing is a state of constantly excavating the soul. If I'm going to write something that is going to make a reader feel something, I have to draw out of a place where I feel the most. This used to be easier. Dancing at a reggaeton used to be easier too, but forty-five minutes in my knees were done and I went to sit on hot asphalt outside.

Last week was hard, and S was telling me I needed to cry it out. I told them I didn't have time scheduled for a breakdown. If I started crying, I wouldn't stop. I would start crying about one thing, and then I'm suddenly crying about everything. Crying is an event for me. It means I'm in bed for the week, watching traumatic TV, eating stuff that is bad for my body or not eating at all, not replying any messages, not doing any work, not taking baths. I work full time this summer. Crying is not on my calendar, okay? Check back during the Christmas break.

Apparently, I need to regulate my emotions. Not suppress them.

One way to do that is to excavate myself. I have to be honest.

There are things that I think I need to write about that I have dismissed for many reasons. If I write about them, people would think is autobiographical and I don't want anybody to know. Some of it is downright pathetic. Some of it means revisiting memories and sitting with them, admitting certain feelings and then translating those feelings to fictional characters. That schedule of honesty is not on my calendar.

So I'll start small:

I need to write about anal fissures. When I first moved here, my diet suffered. I don't like American food and stuff I was used to wasn't readily available. My body lacked fibre. I had to see a doctor, because every time I took a shit, the lining of my anus tore and there was blood everywhere. For months.

See why I can't write about this?

I need to write that when an anoscope was put up my ass, I thought about how it was the most intimate experience I had ever had. And that when I asked for a pap smear weeks earlier, the nurse advised against it since I had not had penetrative sex. She told me to come back when I finally did.

I need to write about intimacy, be it physical or emotional. How hard it has been, how hard it is. How there are issues of trust, of desire, of a double colonization. How one thing clashes with the other and it is all confusing and it is just easier to not engage. Last week, my dance instructor traced his fingers down the length of my arm to the curve of my back, to show me how our bodies needed to be connected so I could know what was coming. I had to admit to a persevering loneliness.

This honesty thing is hard. See?

A loneliness so persistent, it now seems like it has always been there. A loneliness pervasive in the diagnosis of an ulcer, of another major depressive episode, the blood in the toilet, in ruthless dreamscapes, in the pitter patter of escaping footfall, in the unrequited nature of love, in the obsession of a future, in the curse of a natural empath, in the stubbornness of an Ekiti girl.

Silence holds so much space. For pain, for longing, for memory, for aspiration, for apathy, for sorrow, for heartbreak, for cautious joy, for a private collapse.

I found a paragraph from an email I sent 23rd May, 2016:

"Most times, writing is a desperate act of sanity; a need for order, a compulsion to arrange the cluttered mess of my mind. Sometimes, it is my attempt to escape a recent emotional upheaval. Other times, I need to still time, immortalize a memory or person, paint an event, remember a plot idea, bring my wishes to life, to create something. So one way or the other, I need to write. It doesn't matter what else is going on. Scribble here, scribble there and bring it together later."

Writing keeps me honest, keeps me sane. It is unfortunate that fiction needs the middle man that is the writer and their experiences and imagination. I wish I could write without needing me to be so... brazen. Fiction isn't even the problem. I tried to write a poem weeks ago. It didn't go well. My real problem: words. Silence and words cannot co-exist.

See, this honesty thing feels like a cause of alarm when there is none. There is none.

Because, silence also holds space to be okay without pomp and pageantry, and allows an inner reweaving of what used to be and what should be.

Buy me a book, be honest with yourself today and in case you need a playlist:

1 comment

Related Posts

See All
bottom of page