April 09, 2018
Subtweet to the Universe
Dear ________ ,
Let's say you set out to be a writer in the world.
Along the way, you meet someone who is charismatic and perhaps has the power to help you. But the dynamic goes wrong. Maybe it's a matter of one conversation, one evening. Maybe it's a prolonged exchange over months or even years.
For them, the consequences may exist--a cold look from a colleague, "moving on" from a job--but they are still part of a world that considers them eligible for readings, publications, awards. Maybe even more than eligible: celebrated.
You, in the meantime, are trying to restore something that was lost. You're finding it hard to advocate for yourself when you meet writers, afraid of lapsing into the patterns of last time. Maybe you no longer even think of yourself as a writer.
Some time later, in a cultural moment when people are being encouraged to step forward, you wonder if something would be gained by speaking out. And as you are trying to gather your courage, they speak out instead.
Because they, too, have been abused. They write something jaw-drop beautiful about it. Of course they do--they're writers. Of course, people you love and respect, people who don't know of your experience (and maybe a few who do), are going to cheer this person on in their moment of revelation and honesty as part of a road to (fingers crossed) recovery. And I don't want to devalue that natural response.
But I do want to acknowledge that their words can 'save someone's life,' while making it harder for you to live yours.
Don't let their public confession of damage become a bulwark against owning your own private pain, as if you somehow no longer have the 'right' to be angry. Being abused does not justify abusing others. Period. This is particularly galling when the narrative, which has given such rich attention to one's own victimhood, grows so much....vaguer...when talking about the era of your encounter. If mentioned at all.
Just know there are some of us who are listening for your voice. We're here. And the louder and more specific you are--though I know it takes courage--the louder and more specific we can be when we stand alongside you.
You are a writer in the world. Please write it.
With much respect,