The Mother of All Feelings

In mid-October, I began the process of moving into a new apartment. I moved a bunch of stuff in the week of the 21st, then October 28th was my first night sleeping there, and I’ve been there ever since. I simply couldn’t move in all at once. People kept asking me, “Are you moved in yet? Are you moved in yet?” I wanted to say- “Guys, chill! I’m moving my whole life to a new place- it’s gonna take some damn time.” And it did, and then I was in and it was scary and I still felt like I didn’t have enough time to sit in it, to spend in it. That’s always my problem, isn’t it? Never enough time.

Then the universe delivered on that. I got very sick two weeks ago, and had to stay home from work. I was miserable, don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t a fun time. I had a fever, and because I was alone with no one to take care of me, I basically just cried and watched Jane the Virgin for most of the day. But true to my nature, I also spent some time putting clothes in drawers, organizing, and getting boxes put away. I also spent an inordinate amount of time on the couch. That’s right, couch time. Ever since I moved out for the first time last year, I have been CRAVING couch time. Or maybe it’s boredom. I crave spending so much time on the couch that you get bored of it. That’s what I wanted, and that’s what I got. For a few days, I was so sick I could barely move from the couch. Friday night I barely slept, so the rest of the weekend was much of the same- Netflix and couch time. 

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On Monday, true to form, I got up and went right back to work, thinking, “I think that was Strep but I probably cured myself. I don’t feel 100% but I’m fine…it’s fine.” 

Narrator voice: It was not fine. She was not fine.

On Tuesday I only made it through half of the day before I had to go home. My mom, concerned, made me a doctor’s appointment, and they determined that I had a sinus infection. After that, I got some antibiotics and I started to feel better. Even though I was sick as hell for most of it, I’m grateful for that week of being sick. I got to spend time on my couch. And I got bored of it.

There’s an intimacy that comes with spending time in a space, and I think that goes for our bodies too. I haven’t been intimate with myself for a while, haven’t felt and listened to what my body needed. I think that week of illness was a chance to reconnect with all of the spaces I inhabit.

I feel like I am only just now making my way back to myself after the events of last year’s election. I know that sounds insane, but it’s true. I didn’t, I don’t think anyone did, have enough time to process it. To truly sit down and think out a plan of action for myself, for how I would function from here on out in this world. It happened, then the holidays happened, then the New Year happened, then I was depressed, then my grandfather died, then a lot more shit happened, then I worked on my book, then I moved out, and now I’m here. Now I’m finally finding myself, finally unearthing myself from the wreckage.

I’m discovering how to be in this world again. It’s difficult, because facing someone who voted for him, or someone who can’t admit what he is- a rapist, a racist piece of trash- is a visceral, heart-pounding, anxious experience for me. 

When a man tells me to smile, or puts a hand on me when I haven’t given him permission to, I am speechless. How could someone have the gall to think they have such a right to me? It is a similar experience when I face someone who openly voted for him. How could you be so open, so proud of what you’ve done? And how could you look me, a woman, in the face, and tell me that? When someone looks me in the eye and defends him, I feel attacked. I feel like they are screaming in my face, “You’re nothing. You don’t deserve to be a person. You don’t deserve autonomy or free will or basic human rights.” And if that’s how I, an extremely privileged straight white woman, feel…I can only imagine how men and women of color, or the LGBTQ+ community feel. 

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Being in this world, facing these things, feels to me like being in the wild and coming face-to-face with a lion. You come upon a creature who you know is dangerous, who you know would hurt you given the chance, and you have no idea what to do. How do you communicate with them? Do you even try? You don’t speak lion, after all. You’re a bad actor, and they would be able to tell. You could stay silent, back away, and stay alive. But doesn’t that feel like defeat? Doesn’t that feel like giving up, like being complicit in your own suffering? Allowing them to control you? What I am trying to figure out how to navigate is the fact that I want to fight. How could I not want to fight? But I’m not a fighter. And anyway, they don’t want to hear it. So what do we do? 

“I don’t have the answer,” we tell each other, sadly. I’ve looked into the eyes of my fiercest female friends, the warriors, the ones who I’d bet on to lead us out of the dark, and heard them say, “I don’t know what to say when this shit happens in the real world. I’m so shocked, so dumbfounded.” And I can’t blame them, because I feel the same.

But for right now I’m finding strength in reading and watching the words of other strong women. Broad City, The Handmaid’s Tale, and Rebecca Solnit’s “The Mother of All Questions” are just a few things that have lifted me up recently. I feel like I am nourishing myself with their accounts of strength, and I think that’s all we can do right now. Try to nourish ourselves and each other. 

I’ll end this post with my favorite line from “The Mother of All Questions,” the line that made me pause the audiobook and scream in triumph in my car. 

“It is a fact universally acknowledged that a woman in possession of an opinion must be in want of a correction.” -Rebecca Solnit

-Fran