AK Press sent me an advance copy of ‘Rebellious Mourning’ to review. I’ve been trying to read it, but I have to take it very slow, almost 1-2 pages at a time. It keeps bringing up a lot of memories and issues. My first full-fledged psych evaluation, when I was 20, said that I have a lot of work to do around grief, so much so that I can’t even describe or define the word. Sixteen years later, my ability to communicate the meaning of the word is still very limited.
There are some things that cut so deeply that they never fully heal. For me, that’s what grief is, or at least that’s what grief is like. Mourning? Still haven’t figured out how to really do that. Constantly afraid that if I let myself start, I’ll have another breakdown.
For some reason, tonight my mind is focusing on events that took place in 1996-1998. Two decades ago. I thought I was “over” events from this time in my life, but the memories are currently poking my consciousness to make me pay attention to them. Remembering this time frame is liking cutting an old scar open: the cut has to go deep, past the built up scar tissue that normally protects the vulnerable embodied memories. My body, unlike my mind, has an uncanny way of not forgetting the stuff I most want it to forget. Some people call this ‘trauma mind,’ but I’m convinced it’s actually ‘trauma mind/body.’ They can’t be separated, no matter how much we try.
If I were separated from my pain, who would I be? If I allowed myself to feel my grief, who would I become?
In ‘Rebellious Mourning,’ Benji Hart of Radical Faggot, writes that “feeling is not weakness.” He continues, “Feeling, though it may make me vulnerable, does not make me weak. […] Experiencing hurt […] shows that I have not given in, not accepted the current, violent reality as inevitable, not forfeited belief in my own right to life.”
A page later, he writes:
“We often avoid mourning because we believe we do not have the luxury to break down, to stop and really feel. I suggest we need to recognize both when sadness is keeping us from moving and when the urgency of movement is blocking our need to feel grief.”
When I speak of being in stasis, unable to continue forward or to allow myself the possibility of breaking down…I think it’s my blocked, unacknowledged, unprocessed grief that is holding me in place. Maybe.