My friend Keecha said to me, “comparing your traumas to the world’s traumas is a form of violence. Don’t do it. Stop immediately.” And like I and so many people in this country do to Black women – I don’t believe her. I ignore her. Because my dark passenger, my twin brother, my inner critic, tells me that I’m not anything noteworthy, more milquetoast and oatmeal. I’m a mundane country hayseed who is lily white and highly privileged, my hands are not callused and my lungs are not rotting with disease and my body is not imprisoned for a crime I didn’t commit and my jeans are not stained from the dirt of a field and my electrical bill is not shut off and my pipes are not laden with poison and my house is not molded from receding flood waters and my barn is not blown over like a stack of toothpicks and my land is not a charred ashen mess and my community is not downwind from a refinery and my body is not laying in the street full of holes and surrounded by bright yellow police tape.
I have traumas, intergenerational traumas but not those traumas. Baby traumas. Boring traumas. Nothing to write home about traumas. As in, no trauma at all.
So who am I to take up space on the page, suck the oxygen out of a room, have a seat on the bench, tag into the game, exhale CO2 and kill the planet in the process?
I hear my faultfinder louder than I hear my own voice some days. Like a journalist, he reports out the facts, just the facts ma’am. You make no contributions to the world. You do and do and you miss the whole point. Your quote “friends” humor you. Your colleagues just smile and nod politely because you manage the budget. Your writing is too flowery, it has no point. Your defensiveness is beyond. Your compassion fake. Your well-wishers actually wishing you had died instead of living through those zero trauma traumas.
And I sit, starting at this page, wondering about how much white space is too much white space, I wonder how my critic’s voice matches my breathe, the up and down, mirrors my heart beat, no no, no no, yes yes, yes yes.