July 17, 2018

the hand over her mouth

This blog went dark for twenty-four hours last week.  One of my posts was the cause of great pain for several people, and I took the blog down in order to spare them further infliction.  The post was removed for the same reason.  I obliterated it into a trillion scattered electrons.  The blog also went dark because I was terrified that the entire thing was going to be requested and reviewed in depth by my employer, and I would be stripped of the anonymity that allows me to speak my truth.

During those twenty-four hours, I spent a lot of time sitting on my couch with my knees pulled tightly to my chest, staring at the wall, breathing.  Breathing was important because I had to remind myself to keep doing it.  Not being able to write was like having my oxygen removed.  It blew my mind how intertwined my identity has become with writing, writing here.  No, a piece written on paper to save for later was not able to act in lieu of breathing.  I have to write things out into the world.  Exhale.

Earlier today, Therapist Gumby said something that lodged like a splinter.  I still haven't told him and I probably need to do that.  An innocent, off-hand remark about needing to write about a particular thing, but the blog not necessarily being the right place for that.  You know, just writing it somewhere else, some other way.

My reaction wasn't strong at the time, but it's grown steadily over the course of the evening, and now Lille is filled with rage and tears because the sensation is identical to the one she experiences when someone tries to put their hand over her mouth to shut her up.  Just so you know, when someone actually does that to me, I push them away blindly and violently (even my kid) and gasp for air, as though returning from the brink of suffocation.  It takes a minute for me to catch my breath.

Censorship.  Like putting a fence around a playground.  To keep the bad things out, to keep what is inside safe.

I spent seven full months able to say whatever came to mind, to speak my truth, to be raw and unapologetic here.  No wonder it's become oxygen.  Now I find myself mentally reviewing the people who do and might read what I'm writing and considering how they might perceive it.  Should I take it out?  Should I change this?  Should I even write about that?  Maybe I shouldn't.  Someone might disapprove.

I might wound.  I might offend.  I might go too far.  Someone might think talking about hitting myself until I make beautiful bruises on my face is bad.  Someone might frown upon learning of my suicide attempt, my mental illness.  My own mother might faint at my plenteous foul language.  Dirty linens will be breeze-blown out on the line.

Lille is shaking and angry because something is broken now and never again can she come into this room, onto this page, and whisper without fear.  Even the people she trusts want to censor her, to put a fence around the place she plays.

To keep the things outside safe, to keep the bad things in.

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