On Narrative as Self Care

Fall in your ways, so you can crumble.

Grief is a hard-wrought thing; it’s always churning around, tugging at emotions already teetering on your inner precipice. And even amidst wonderful things, it has power.

I lost my Dad last year, right before Thanksgiving. Of course, this was on the heels of barreling forward into a world full of earth-shattering, openly accepted violence positioned alongside the election of a man and accompanying administration that built their success upon pathological lies and the myth of American “greatness”. The latter, sadly, wasn’t surprising. Vehement violence, xenophobia & islamophobia (which are, of course, inextricably tied to racism), ableism, transphobia, homophobia, misogyny (& let’s be really real — misogynoir), and the denying of basic human rights is something that the multiply marginalized, that those marked Other, know all too well. We know it with an acridness that has almost become acquired taste. Still, we fight.

So I faded away from social media bit by bit, threw myself into work, and strove to Be Strong™. (Because how often are black women told that we must do this? Be unshakable when peppered with burden?)

But there’s power in narrative — Nicole Cooke’s brilliant “Pushing Back from the Table” reminded me of this; it’s the only article on my desk right now, so marked and circled and highlighted that it’s hard to tell where her thoughts end and my own scribbles begin. So I’m writing this for the black academics who’ve come before, and those who’ll come after — be whatever you must be to survive this. Break down in the restroom when you need to. Lean on folks when you need to. Share your stories with those you trust. Let yourself be human (and remind yourself that it’s okay to feel lost — that these challenges, and your response to them, do not define you.)