When I said yes to hitting the ‘submit’ button to a writing contest last January, the weight of the world lifted from my heart.
The piece I submitted is my #metoo story. The writing of the story was in itself a big leap of saying ‘yes’; I said yes to doing the very hard work of dealing with the trauma of being a victim. The piece was raw and painful and it physically hurt to write.
The first draft was freewriting: I simply let my fingers race across my keyboard and I said what I was feeling and what I remembered. I was able, through writing, to reconnect to the girl that I was. I was able to be present in the pain and the sadness.
The biggest yes came when I realized that I was healing.
I recently began reading the book Hunger by Roxane Gay. There is a passage in the book in which Gay states that her “body was broken”, and she “did not know how to put myself back together”. Gay goes on to say that she is “writing my way back to her”, the girl she once was.
That is exactly what saying yes to writing my story was like.
In a Twitter Q & A recently, Gay responded to a question by stating that you don’t always move past trauma and pain. You learn to carry it forward.
The funny thing is, the minute I hit the ‘submit’ button and entered my story in that contest, I no longer carried the story. It was a part of me, a part of my life story, but it no longer was the burden that had weighed me down so heavily. It no longer was the first thing I thought of when I sat down to write.
I had been set free.
The writing of the piece was very important. The submitting of the piece was critical. In that act, I was telling myself that my story mattered. That it deserved to be seen, that I deserved to be heard. It was the best thing I had ever written, in all its rawness and truth. It was the most honest and most painful truth I had ever told myself.
The piece made no traction in the contest. And I am totally at peace with that. The point was not to be recognized; it was to set my story free.
I have reworked the piece, weaving in bits and pieces from the trial judge’s statements. It contrasts the sanitized legal wording and the judge’s sympathy for the perpetrator against my view from the inside.
This new version is an equally beautiful, haunting, sad piece of work as the first.
I hit another submit button and I feel buoyed once again. I am happy to pay $25 once a year to give the universe an update on how I view my story.
It is no longer a stab in the heart; it has become a point of pride.