Recently, I’ve been trying to deal with some trauma that I thought I had pretty much handled. Poverty trauma that reaches deeper than I realized it did.
I found myself having a really terrible day, flashbacks, really awful feelings, repressed panic attacks, bad enough to give me the shits for three days.
So I did what I always think is the thing to do and started writing. I started an essay (maybe my first long form) that is a testament to a lifetime of mental illness and how it has manifested and how the idea of the Strong Black Woman almost killed me.
The thing I’m most surprised about is that given my memory issues (related to my sleep disorders mainly) is the clarity of certain memories. Smells, how my skin felt, I close my eyes and see it. This is beyond confessional writing, I’ve done a ton of that over the last 20 years. This is exposure.
This piece is not the sort of confessional, I can smirk about and shrug because Shannon is gonna Shannon and not be embarrassed. This is stuff that makes me cringe. I want to say I’m sorry if I ask anyone to read it because it burns me. I know it will hurt the people who love me to know that has been my life and in some ways still is.
I’m fucking terrified.
I think I’ve mentioned before that I find being a memorist of any seriousness fucking scary. I know that in the scheme of Black writers and Black people and Black women, especially, what I’m working on could be one of those important little pockets of solidarity. I’m considering pitching it when it is closer to being done.
As I’m thinking about/researching that, of course I stop to wonder outside of a handful of pubs I already know, who would give space and cash to this story?
I know it is still very hard for the world (Lemonade or no Lemonade) to see that Black people have feelings, that we are human beyond the photos of our bleeding, broken bodies or scoring points or generally being acceptable but not quite human enough to see into. I know that when some people look at me, they want the Sassy Shannon Don’t Take No Shit and Don’t Need Nobody type. I know.
What I don’t know is where do I go to be a different facet of the purple lipstick wearing loudmouth? Where do I go not to rail about racism or other fuckery, but to show the world my emotionally bloody self?
I don’t know.
Or maybe I will self pub it as a mini memoir.
What’s important for me right now is to get it written. To confess. To strip off the last vestiges of the stone faced person I thought I wanted to be and show up naked and terrified but fucking there.
I’m there and right now that’s what matters.