(This is not a ‘How To’ article. This is also not an inspiring story about a disabled person doing an extraordinary thing. There is nothing extraordinary here. There is only a dispatch from a place I wish I had never found myself.
This is a study of pain and how it moves taut and then rippling through a life.
There. That part’s out of the way. Now, we can begin).
I used to say that living with a partner who woke up every morning wanting desperately to kill himself was a grief without beginning and without end.
He was always almost dead. He was always almost alive.
“I don’t think anything will ever hurt more,” I told friends. They would nod, but I knew they couldn’t fully understand the feeling of being constantly on the verge of overwhelming loss.
The pain of waking up every day for three years and trying to convince the person I loved most to stay alive for just one more day had sedimented in me – layer upon layer of the dust of it accumulating. But I could never quite convey the horror of it to anyone who did not already know how long the string of grief could stretch itself.
Did I tell them how my whole body was given over to its production? That pain sometimes electrified my skin? Or did I just say that I felt it always -- moving through my veins, beating out the rhythms of agony unseen beneath my skin?
“I know that I will experience more pain in life – I just don’t know how it could possibly be worse than this.”
Life is long.
That’s a thing I started saying when I had feelings for a man who was too broken when we met to pursue anything with me. When I said it – to friends, to him -- I was expressing hope that things might someday work out between us.
But when he reached out a month after I met someone who sparked me in ways he never could -- the saying morphed.
Life is so long that sometimes you get the things you want after you’ve stopped wanting them.
The years since my brain injury have taught me that life is longer still.
So long that sometimes the stories you tell yourself to go on – don’t just shift – they completely fall apart. Indeed, that sometimes life unknits the power of stories to create any sense of coherence at all.
The future writes the past. Then it writes it again. And then again. And again.
The first draft of the story with my ex-partner had us both casting me as his savior. The second draft, after we broke up, became best friends, and he cared for me after my head injury, had me casting him as mine.
The third was darker. It involved him routinely screaming because my disability lingered and became inconvenient. When I was physically unable to care for him when he was struggling again, I became a past and present enemy. Someone who didn’t love him enough because I couldn’t miraculously overcome my body. That draft had me cutting him out of my life after months of begging him through tears to stop.
“How can I believe anyone will love me as a disabled person,” I whispered one night quietly, desperately, “when everyone I consider family is telling me I’m no longer enough for them?”
All these stories are true. That’s the thing about stories. Life is too complex to be bounded by them. So, all you get are refractions. Each shard just a fragment of a greater chaotic complexity. All you get is one brief glimpse through the eye of a kaleidoscope with each telling.
Time could tell any story in infinite ways. Time could change them. Time is always moving the dial of that kaleidoscope, showing you the same things from different angles.
And most people will only read each story once. We are told, as writers, that it’s possible to tell each story once.
Find the truth, they say. Write that, they say. They never tell you which truth. Or whose. Or from what location within the stream of time you should tell it from.
They don’t tell you how both stories and the meanings we ascribe to them change and warp. How they burn and break. They don’t tell you how our lives resist structure. Resist form. Resist their telling. Insist on their retelling. They don’t tell you that every story is a partial thing. An illusion of order that we create because the true chaos of the world and our lives terrify us. That every story has to be.
We have made a religion of stories. We have worshiped them – believing that they offer us maps to chart our lives with.
But becoming disabled has made me an atheist when it comes to stories.
I have told the story of how I was injured many times before. If you have read my other work, you will have likely read about it. Maybe you think you know what happened.
And yet, I will tell it again.
I hit myself in the head with a weight while working out. It fell as I was lifting it over my head. The weight was 25 pounds. I was in my condo’s workout room. It was around 5:00 pm on a Wednesday in early May.
And I will tell it again.
I hit myself in the head with a weight and had to learn how to walk and talk again.
And I will tell it again.
I hit myself in the head with a weight and as I learned to walk and talk again the people I loved began verbally and emotionally abusing me. In order to stay alive and not hate my new disabled self, I had to cut every one of them out of my life over a period of a year.
And I will tell it once more.
I hit myself in the head with a weight and my life fell apart. Slowly. Then all at once.
The thing about the body is that it abhors plot.
We like to pretend this isn’t true. That we can lend the body coherence with words. Make it obey our will with narrative arcs. You are injured and then you recover. You are ill and then you are cured. You are disabled and then you overcome. You are alive and then you grow old and only then does your body decline in function and die.
We have templates for the stories we tell. We have plots. These make up genres. Which create well-trodden narrative trajectories. You will know the end of the story before you get there. Because the form only allows a handful of endings. As though we live our lives in such simple binaries. As though our lives and everything that happens in them could ever have clear, demarcated ends.
These stories that we make up have one thing in common. They all tell us that we are somehow in control. That there is such a thing as control. That what matters is your will. That will bends matter to its wishes. Or that if your will can’t bend matter to your wishes, you will find control and coherence in some other way. And if you are unable to do such acts of witchcraft and wizardry – then you must lack will. You must lack desire. You must… lack.
The ways in which we write about bodies are an education in themselves. If you listen closely, you will hear attempts to claim back dominion over the unruliness of bodies within them. Here we are conquering abjection. There we are hiding the chronicity of pain.
Do not look under the bed or in the closets of our narratives. There you will find stuffed all the parts of the body that do not fit these fantasies of order. All the non-superhuman disabled people, too.
We have always tried to shape plot around the body. We have always pretended that we were telling truths. We have told these stories. We have told them again. We have told them to harm those who could not fit their plots. We have told them to harm ourselves when we couldn’t fit their plots.
We have told them even when we knew they weren’t true – hoping that the telling of them would make it so.
(But, you say, interrupting me here – what about the people we write about who don’t recover? What about the people who die?
Ah, yes. For them, we have ‘meaning.’ Meaning – that grand narrative trick. That hire-wire circus performance. It creeps into our world on the wings of ‘lesson,’ on the back of ‘moral.’ It is the part of the movie with the uplifting score.
To be injured or ill and not to recover is to grow. To learn. To get stronger. Maybe even to get closer to others. In this narrative, the body is a lesson. The body is an intervention. The body is sometimes even an epiphany. The body is… anything but a body. Anything but an organization of matter coming undone.
But what exactly was it I was supposed to learn when everyone I loved kept harming me -- even after I told them that their harm was making me to want to kill myself?
Please help me with that lesson. That intervention. That… life-affirming epiphany).
I don’t know how to tell the story of my life since my injury.
There is no plot to it. There is only a slow, meaningless unravelling. There is only the pain of being hurt over and over again by people who I loved when I was at my most vulnerable. Only people who saw me in pain and brought knives. Only me begging them to stop. Only that same scene over and over again.
The whole thing fails to story properly. It’s telling requires a degree of recursivity that would bore. Ableism again? Yes. Yes. It appears so. And then there it is again. And once more. And once more, too. A seemingly unending dialectic of harm and its correspondent trauma.
“I don’t know how you survived all that,” a new friend said to me recently after I recounted it all to him.
I don’t know how I did either. And some days, I still don’t know how to.
It is in the past -- and yet it will never be. Things bleed. You write something down and then water hits the page and the ink spreads. It seeps down to other pages. We are always every moment we have lived. The pain of the past can always ripple through us once more, become present again.
Stories train us to think about our lives and the world in certain ways.
“Everything will be okay in the end. If it is not okay, it is not the end.”
People have been saying this to me recently. John Lennon said it originally (ironically). This quote coalescences the logics of traditional narrative. It suggests that life gets to some stable place and somehow ceases to change or evolve but instead remains in a steady state of universal ‘okay.’
And somehow people believe this folly. Somehow people hold it close to them in difficult times. Somehow people think that it offers guarantees. But what is there in the world that guarantees that things will ever become okay again? Only the form of our stories that necessitates it. Perhaps too the forms of family that provide safety and care for many. But what if you get divorced? Or your family members die? Or you do?
Disability took away illusions for me. All the comforting ones. Family will not always be there for you. And sometimes other people push you down when you’re drowning. Not always because they intend to. Sometimes because they’re drowning too.
Similarly, we also trust that things will work out okay in society – even as we are quickly hurtling on a trajectory towards climate collapse and mass extinctions. Even while our ableist and racist capitalist systems continue to exploit and harm people with no signs of an end to their violence. I don’t believe that the arc of history necessarily bends towards anything. But I do believe that our trust that it will makes us potentially do less to get it to where we want it to be.
Reassuring fictions can be a kind of learned passivity. A way to keep us from revolting – personally and politically. A politics based on slow transformations that might never come instead of radical ones that at least shift things.
I cannot hold with reassuring fictions post-disability. I know that these things are fictions now. I have lived the slow realization that neither resolution nor redemption are guaranteed.
In the book Hope Draped in Black: Race, Melancholy and the Agony of Progress, Joseph R. Winters argues that progress on civil rights issues in the United States is often spoken about too triumphantly. Popular rhetoric, he says, too quickly glosses over the pain and struggle that made that progress possible. It also elides racism and oppression in the present day, as well as the struggle and suffering still required to create a better future.
Winters coins a concept that he calls ‘melancholic hope’ in place of the kind of hope these narratives offer. “Whereas narratives of progress minimize or explain away the catastrophes of history,” he writes, “melancholy becomes an occasion to be unsettled and opened up by painful, fragmented accounts of war, genocide, and racial and gender violence. This melancholic attachment to the losses and remains of history makes possible a different kind of future than the one imagined by the proponents of progress.”
Winters’ version of hope still yearns for a better future for Black people but believes that it must involve a deeper understanding of how our desire to smooth over the violence of the past with narratives of progress or eventual triumph is a violent erasure that is politically neutralizing.
History is not a victory march. It never has been. And a better future will not be created without further rending the lives of the people who fight for it. “This all-too-human desire for wholeness and unity,” Winters writes, “obscures the breaks, cuts, and wounds of history and human existence. [Melancholic hope, instead,] cultivates a difficult attunement to the ruins and remains that cannot be fully integrated into unifying narratives.”
Winters’ project is therefore one of story unwriting and world unmaking.
He is trying to unweave the fantasies of coherence and triumph that rhetoricians have created about the civil rights struggle and expose that struggle for what it was – a still-bleeding wound inflicted by a still racist society. A thing that destroyed many lives and destroys lives still. Justice has not yet won, he is saying. And even if it had, it’s victory would never justify and should never erase the ways in which racism and the struggle against it has left and will leave so many in ruins.
Not long after I read Winters’ work, I was talking to a disabled friend about it. She had just been telling me about how a weeks-long pain flare had made her lose hope that things would ever change – even though she knew that they eventually would.
“I’ve been thinking about how the concept of ‘melancholic hope’ was able to specifically capture the affect of Black experience and how marginalized folks often cultivate different attachments to hope. I’ve been asking myself what a Crip version of hope would look like,” I said to her. “I’ve settled on the concept of ‘fatigued hope.’ Crip hope is hope that cannot always get off the couch or out of bed.”
My friend laughed and we talked through all the ways in which the concept of ‘fatigued hope’ fit the experience of living as a disabled person in an ableist world.
“Ableism and how it intersects with the pain of your body wears you out. To be fatigued is to be exhausted. To have your mental and physical resources depleted both by the systems that marginalize you as a disabled person but also sometimes by your body itself,” I told her, explaining my thinking behind the concept.
To hope as a disabled person is to always already know that your hope is likely to be in vain since ableism or infrastructures or systems or norms were designed to obstruct you. To hope as a disabled person is to know in advance that you will be exhausted by it. That you will need to recover from it. That it will have a price.
So, how do disabled people keep desiring through all that which obliterates and fractures our desire? We do it in short bursts. We pace ourselves. We do it knowing that we will pay for it later. Or we don’t do it at all. We cannot do it. We run out of resources with which to do it.
There is a way in which disabled people are aware always of the materiality of hope. Of how hope sits within and weighs upon the body. A way that we know that hope is an ‘activity of daily living’ that we are not always able to accomplish.
(But, you might be thinking – I thought this essay was about how you wrote 100,000 words in a month?
It is. I have been telling you how I did it from the very first sentence).
The thing you need to know about me is that I have long been enamored by movement.
Overperforming has always been the way that I handle anxiety and pain. Want to know what I look like at all the most desperate moments in my life? I look like a person working all the time.
I have always understood the logics of work in ways that I have never consistently grasped the complexities of other people or of structures. I have always seen work as a way to move myself from one place to another.
In high school, when my parents told me they would only pay for a portion of my tuition despite the fact that their income meant that I couldn’t qualify for student loans, I realized that I wouldn’t be able to afford to go to university unless I did something. So, I applied for every scholarship available, increased my grades, did more volunteer work, and won over $40,000 in scholarships.
I also nearly burned out from the anxiety of working 90-hour weeks to do it.
When my ex needed $1,600 in therapy a month and financial help to start a business because his suicidal depression was from being unable to find a job, I started a blog, started freelancing, started ghostwriting, wrote a book, wrote another book, started a podcast, and spent almost every moment of my waking life trying to get him the money that might actually save him.
Work has always been world building to me. It imagined different realities I wanted to inhabit and tried to create them. My work didn’t create those worlds directly – luck did. Winning, somehow, at capitalism did. Privilege played a huge role, too.
But more than the outcomes, the overwork itself allowed me a space to hide from the pain and fear. A clarity of purpose. A task that followed a task. A way to order my life at times when it was unravelling. It was numbing. The momentum of it alone comforted me when nothing else could.
Overwork, I told myself, was a kind of time travel. You distilled a longer project into a shorter time period. You therefore made your way through time faster than you should and got to the future more quickly.
Overwork has always promised me a radical transformation of my life and surroundings. Even though those transformations never came soon enough or exactly how I wanted them. Even though those transformations always burned me out and arguably took more from me than they gave.
But they kept me intact during moments when I thought I would shatter.
I didn’t set out to write 100,000 words in a month. I set out to distract myself.
It started when I realized that my birthday was coming up and, for the first time in my life, I had no clue who I would celebrate it with.
For the last decade, I’d spent that day with my ex. First, when we were together and then afterwards when we were friends. But he wasn’t in my life anymore. Nor were any of my family.
The fact that I no longer had loved ones, something I had been grieving on and off since I cut my ex off in February, hit me in a new way. Something dislodged.
“If I died today,” I told friends. “I don’t know who would plan my funeral. Or if anyone would deeply mourn me. I no longer belong to anyone. No one feels responsible to take care of me in any substantial way. I’m alone in the world in a way that I’ve never been before.”
Friends tried to console me. They told me that they would plan my funeral. They said that they cared about me. But we weren’t anywhere near as close as I had been to my family and my ex. Their support mattered but it didn’t replace the web of safety and love that I had always believed was around me and which was now gone. I missed the depth of the connections I had before. I missed the feeling of being deeply loved by someone. Someone for whom what happened to me mattered profoundly.
“There’s a level of safety you have with someone you have a long history with,” I told them. “A kind of nervous system regulation that happens when you’re with them. And I don’t have that anymore with anyone. If I got sick tomorrow, I have no one to care for me either. And when you’ve had your body fail you – you orient yourself towards it in different ways. Anything could happen at any time. And I will be mostly alone in it if something does happen.”
I didn’t know how to build those kinds of deep connections again. I had been trying to build a chosen family for the last several years without success. And a long-distance relationship had recently ended where a future together had been something that we discussed and which I had deeply wanted.
I also just really missed my family and my ex – I had never stopped loving them. I had just had to cut them out to save myself.
“Every time I sit down,” I told my therapist. “I am overwhelmed with grief. I start sobbing and I can’t stop. How do you safely grieve something that feels like it has no bottom to it? Freud’s theory of mourning says that the mourning process is often the slow replacement of one loved object with another. But even if you think Freud’s theory of mourning is bullshit like Judith Butler does and that you can never replace a person you have lost, what happens when you have no loved ones at all? And you’ve lost multiple people all at once? While facing extreme ableism in other areas of your life and struggling with your health? What does that kind of Crip grief look like? What are its stages? How do you hold all of it? The only way I can stop crying lately is to pretend the circumstances of my life aren’t the circumstances of my life. The only way I can stop feeling like every moment I’m awake is excruciating is to throw myself into my writing.”
October was a fever dream.
I spent my weekends glued to my laptop, writing in 500-word chunks. I was working on both my auto theory memoir about invisible disabilities and a novel and would hit 10,000 words a day some days.
Every time I would stop to take a break, I would remember how alone I was. How disorienting it was to be so alone. How terrifying.
I wanted to get all my thoughts out of my head. Onto the page. Into the world. Because maybe by doing so someday I might meet people who thought like I did. Who were interested in similar things as I was. Who would someday come into my life and create deep connections with me and make me feel less alone.
And every time I was tired of writing or felt uninspired, I would remember again how utterly alone I was. And I would put my fingers over the keys of my computer again. And write more words. And more words. And more words still.
I wrote to grieve the overwhelming loss that I felt. I wrote because I was nowhere near strong enough to grieve the overwhelming loss that I felt. I wrote because there was a gaping hole in the centre of my life that I had no clue how to fill and that I was trying not to fall into.
And I wrote too because I realized that life had proved me wrong all those years ago. There were deeper gradations of pain than I had known while caring for my ex. There was even a way that this pain nestled within that pain and magnified both. Life, I realized, was long in a way that I could never have known back then. The last seven years felt like an exercise in testing just how much I could bear. A crucible that each year added more weight to.
So, I wrote to forget. I wrote to hide myself in the fictions that movement and productivity and words might save me. I wrote expecting to find a way through writing to hope again. But it didn’t work. My hope could not get up off the couch. My resources had been depleted long ago. And when I realized I couldn’t hope again, I wrote some more. I wrote and I wrote and I wrote. And every time I stopped writing, my body gave itself over to sobbing. A whole month of alternating between writing and wailing – the tissues accumulating around me. The word count advancing at the bottom of the page.
How did my life come to this? I kept asking. How did I deserve this when all I did was hit myself on the head with a weight? When all I did was be alive in a human body that could be injured? When all I did was not be able to perform the miraculous party trick of recovery?
My sin was physics. My sin was biology. My sin was the sad fact that science knows so little about the brain.
My life was devastated by the stories that people tell about bodies. By the people that expected me to mold myself to fit those violent and ableist narratives.
I stopped believing in traditional stories because of that but I am still writing. I write now against plot. Against linear narratives and the necessity of finding meaning in pain.
I am writing to show you how these things harm. How they undo people. How they cause people to undo others. How narratives are weapons. How I can still feel the press of their blades on my skin. The bite of them. How they expected my body to follow an arc – how they didn’t let up when I screamed in pain when it couldn’t.
How I am still screaming in pain.
The thing that I can’t escape but do my best not to think about is that I hate my life right now. I don’t know how to live a life where I have no loved ones. I don’t know why to.
I just know I need to get out of this period of my life. That I need to once again time travel away from the place I’m at.
The fact that I could write 100,000 words in a month is something that should give me hope. I didn’t think I’d ever be able to write like that again because I’ve struggled to use screens after my injury. But my brain has been healing. And I’ve found tech solutions that have greatly helped.
I can feel the shape of other ways to understand my life right now. I can trace the outline of the joy that I should feel about being able to write again. I can chart the geography of recent recovery successes.
Will I ever inhabit those forms? Will I ever go to those places? Will I one day see those stories through the kaleidoscope and tell them? I’m not sure. What does recovery progress even mean when you lose everything in your journey towards it?
Recovery is not always the victory march that the stories make it out to be.
“Maybe you’re depressed,” a friend suggests.
And I want to ask her what the opposite of depressed is. What is the mental state of someone that falsely believes their life will magically work out? And is it really healthier to expect that if you’re a good person and you try hard enough you’ll be guaranteed a happy ending? That we will all find love and it will feel good when we do. That we will know how to keep it when we do. That we won’t hurt people in ways that might not be recoverable because stories or trauma get in the way. Or that we will know when things are recoverable and fight for them even when just the risk of losing that fight is enough to destroy us or keep us from attempting it. That the people you love won’t die. That your body won’t end up a thing of pain that you have to drag around all the time.
That life is not just one damn thing after another and that as we get older the things don’t just add up. And that we get no better at navigating them. That instead, we sometimes find ourselves undone by the sheer number of things that have happened – suffocating in the attics where those things cluster and fill to the rafters.
No one talks about how it gets harder to start again when you’ve been broken again and again and again and again. We just blithely tell each other to start again. And again. And again. And again. Like that’s an easy thing we all can do. And like we are all starting again from the same place.
No one admits that no life has a happy ending – especially not John Lennon’s. That we are all hurtling towards death – trying to keep as much around us in place as we rumble towards it. And that sometimes it comes suddenly. Obliterating all plot. Providing no graceful ending. Making your death something others have to try to incorporate as a plot point in their lives. Something to overcome. A little bit of chaos for them to eventually smooth over with story and meaning.
No one talks about how after a certain age we are all just preening endlessly like birds trying to smooth the feathers that are bent. Walking on claws that were caught and mangled in grates. Unable to fly as straight as we used to. Unable, perhaps, to fly at all.
But what if we admitted that? What if we told more stories about that? What if we sat inside the hard things and the uncertainty, and the stories that didn’t end well? What if we stopped believing that things would get better magically? What if we wrote more stories where they didn’t? What if we talked about the ways that they don’t for so many of us? And connected those dots and listened to what those stories were saying about all the things that go wrong in life and love and connection? What if we listened to what those stories were saying about bodies that fail and falter and trauma that beats within us like a song we can’t get out of our heads? Or about the larger structures that cause these things? About the organizing narratives that we tell that allow them? What if we stayed with the trouble of the hard things rather than trying to transform them? What if we held those things closely rather than trying to adjust to them or quickly move on to the expected next plot point?
What if we recognized that we don’t have control? And that that’s okay. And that sometimes life doesn’t work out. And that that’s excruciating. What if we allowed each other to hurt? What if we didn’t tell people that everything would be okay when there is no way they can know that and neither can we?
How might that force us to actually learn how to sit and move and live within the radical uncertainty that exists at the base of all of our lives? How might it force us to make a better world to hold each other and ourselves and our future more gently in? How might we cherish each other more? How might we love more carefully? How might we build more just worlds? How might we work for the future more actively with our own hands? Holding, as we do that work, the tension of knowing that everything we build might be scattered by the wind or crumble?
I wrote 100,000 words in a month because I couldn’t do anything else.
Because the Crip grief I felt from all the losses since my injury threatened to obliterate me. I wrote 100,000 words to save my life. I can’t say if those words have saved it. But they got me through that month.
I shoved them out of me. I bargained with them, hoping that once I’d gotten them on the page, I might feel better. But I didn’t.
Because I didn’t need a memoir and I didn’t need a novel draft. I needed a different life. I needed loved ones. Or I needed a world where ableism hadn’t taken mine from me. But I couldn’t magically create that life or know that that life was waiting for me. I had to sit within the life I have now and figure out how to bear it even when it feels and is unbearable. Which sometimes involves throwing myself into overwork as a distraction.
I don’t recommend writing 100,000 words in a month, because I don’t recommend having your life collapse in on you. I don’t recommend losing all your loved ones and having to sit alone in the hollowed out center of that loss. Unsure of how to fill it. Knowing that the materiality of connection – the ways it grows and accumulates and deepens over time and through care and struggle means that you won’t be held by anyone who makes you feel safe for some time. Knowing that you might never be held by anyone who makes you feel safe again.
I no longer trust in hope. Or progress. Or that the universe will someday necessarily give me what I need.
I don’t think there is a lesson to learn in this. I don’t believe life has a meaning or that my head injury does either. And I don’t believe stories always should.
I don’t want to write things that hand ‘wisdom’ to readers like a stone for them to turn over after they finish reading. I have no respite to offer any of you.
I only know that I don’t know how to live this life. I only know that I don’t know why I’m living this life. And I only know that every day I keep somehow living it. And if that isn’t a form of Crip hope, I don’t know what is. Because so many of us keep going – despite being so exhausted by the way the world treats us.
And for me that meant writing 100,000 words in one month. That meant leaning into movement in all its forms. Despite knowing as I did it that it was just a pantomime of progress. Despite knowing that what I truly want and need is not something with a word count.
But what I can do with my writing is tell you that I am in it, too. That I am lost, too. And that I also have no answers for any of it.
A friend of mine once told me I capture the textures of the pain disabled people experience because of ableism like no one he’s ever read.
That was a beautiful compliment to receive. Trying to capture an experience is one of the reasons why I write. I cannot fix your life with a carefully choreographed burlesque of my pain. I can’t fix mine either. But I can write about the pain and ableism and fatigued hope I experience anyways to make us both feel less alone.
I can write it and I can write it and I can write it.
And maybe when I look up from the writing of it something will have moved in my life. Or maybe when I look up from the writing of it my life will somehow hold me better. But I can’t guarantee that. And I can’t trust in that. And I can’t tell you to trust in that either.
We can only stumble together through all this. We can only do our best to keep trying. Without any guarantees. Without any false hope for narrative resolution. We can only teach each other how to live with the radical uncertainty of all of this.
That is the only communion I want to know. A congregation of Crips and any others too tired to hope struggling together, extending each other grace as we move through the unknown and unwritten. Fucking up. Faltering. Losing hope. Recovering. Grieving. Crying. Laughing sometimes, too. As we try and fail and learn how to do the things we need to do to make and unmake our personal and shared worlds. How to do this too without the enabling fictions others have because they’ve lived lives that haven’t destroyed those fictions.
I only want to be in community with people who are also still here despite knowing that they might never get the things they yearn for but who still yearn for them and work for them when they find the energy to. I only want to write things that help us hold all of this aching and all of this uncertainty so we can try together and fail together and try again together to build better lives and worlds and stories within the hurt.
The views expressed by Open Book columnists are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book.
A.H. Reaume is a Vancouver-based fiction writer who reads too much and is currently in too many book clubs (four in total). Reaume has a background in feminist activism and an M.A. in Canadian Literature from UBC. She's been published in the Vancouver Sun, The Globe and Mail, USAToday.com, and Time.com and is currently trying to finish her first novel.