Friday, December 19, 2014

Your Body Must Be Heard

For one of my finals I am writing a series of blog posts. Each one will focus on a different reading or topic from the class.

I'll never forget when my last relationship ended. I felt like my life was falling apart. I didn't know where I was going to live or how I would balance work, school, and my son. But beyond all that, I was so sad. Sad in a way I had never experienced before. I felt abandoned and scared and really really alone.

Even though I didn't know what I was going to do, I knew I had to talk about what I was experiencing. I couldn't sit silently by and let my life fall apart without a word. And as I started sharing my experiences and feelings, I realized that many people had experienced the same thing. They knew what it was like to be on an emotional roller coaster that ricocheted between despair and rage at a moments notice. Strangers on the internet were able to look at me and say, "I see you. I see your pain and I understand."

For that I'll be forever grateful.

It reminded me that I wasn't alone. That broken hearts and broken futures are far too common. As I shared my story, the people I met felt permission to share their own. I learned how people found a way to pick up the pieces of their lives and knew that I would be okay. That I would be even better than okay.

In Helene Cixous’s “Le Rire de la Meduse” (translated as “The Laugh of the Medusa”), Cixous seeks to urge women to write. “Write your self. Your body must be heard. Only then will the immense resources of the unconscious spring forth.” Cixous' writing can be difficult, but the idea is that women need to reclaim writing. While Cixous never clearly defines what feminine writing is, in fact she claims it is impossible to do so, she's critical of masculine writing and sees it as a tool for reinforcing hierarchies and limiting possibilities. Feminine writing opens up new possibilities. Through a reconnection with the feminine body, women can reshape language and writing as a whole.

While some of Cixous' writing can be seen as essentialist, since it is so deeply rooted in the female body, the idea that your lived experiences are what make your voice matter is powerful. Individuals are often denied authority on their own lived experiences. What should appear to give someone more clout, is used as a tool to disregard their opinions. ("You're too emotional" or "you're too involved to see clearly.") Instead, Cixous is moving away from that type of thinking and empowering people to share their stories.

Stories have power.

As we share our experiences and thoughts we start to take control of narratives that are often denied to us. Instead of being a caricature or a parody, I become a fully fleshed out person. I am not someone who can be easily dismissed because I am made up of too many things. Like I said in the beginning, writing can help people cope. It can mend relationships and build friendships.

I feel like this post should have been structured better or I should have been more critical of Cixous. But when I read the article I felt empowered to share my stories. And when you share your stories you give those around you permission to share their own. So share a story. You may be surprised what happens.

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