My writing practice has gone off the rails and getting back on track has been an enormous struggle. I am tired, and angry, and sad. Every day I wake up, look at my phone and greet the day’s tragedy or injustice. A bombing. A shooting. Another sexual predator exposed. Another assault on our democracy by Congress and this monstrous presidency. It’s exhausting. And I’m white straight, cisgendered, and middle class and thus reasonably sheltered from the fallout. I’m one of the lucky ones.
The retreat* is over. My flight back from California was delayed, so I didn’t arrive home until well after midnight. Somehow this felt right. I crept back into my life, hour by hour, mile by mile in the dark of night, returning from my encampment in the wilderness to the confines of respectable society with its dinner parties and playdates. I snuck in and planted my seeds of dissent throughout the house. I am a renegade after all.
Several months ago I took Isabel Abbott’s Unapologetic Writing class. I was trying to unlearn all the negative lessons I had internalized about what truths it was appropriate to speak and write. I wrote a lot and kept it all to myself. Most of what I produced was process writing—writing to help me work through the hurt and the anger and the fear. One piece emerged as a manifesto of sorts for my unapology—my taking back of apologies past and writing what needs to be written. It’s not a graceful poem, but it’s jarringly true, and at this moment that’s what counts.
Here’s the dirty little secret about anxiety. It creates your fears and then pretends to keep you safe from them. Like an abusive partner, anxiety says you are a loser, that no one really likes you or loves you, that nobody’s really your friend, that everyone is using you, pretending to like you. Everyone, of course, except your anxiety. Anxiety says it will protect you because it is the only one who really knows you, cares for you, loves you.