Read Coming Into My Own pt. 1 here.
Writing autobiography is hard. I’m not old enough to have decades of distance between the most pivotal moments in my life and how they’ve shaped the woman I’ve become. I’m in the middle of this story. It’s happening right now. But like most writers, perhaps all artists, I write because I must. This is how I make sense of the world. I’m mining emotional spaces that are tender like burned skin, in hopes that looking very closely will somehow offer the equivalence– in healing and wisdom– of temporal distance. I’m sharing that journey with friends and strangers for catharsis, for understanding, as a challenge to overcome my own fears of vulnerability so that I can love more boldly, give more freely. It’s scary like the top of the roller coaster. You know the fall is coming and you know you’re gonna love it all the way down, or maybe you’ll only enjoy it once it’s over and you can claim victory over your fears; either way, the anticipation is terrifying. Who will relate and how will they benefit? Who will judge and how harshly? How clearly can I write this so that others understand?
There are so many events that shape who we are. I find myself trying to choose between equally powerful moments to form a coherent story that can put flesh on the bones of the original blog carnival. I’ve written part 2 twice, taking it in two different directions, each essential to the story, neither wholly satisfying on their own, yet proving so difficult to mesh together. I’m basically summarizing the entire decade of my twenties: love and loss, rebounding, marriage, miscarriage and motherhood, crises of faith, and so, so much more and trying to turn it into a few paragraphs. They were all life changing events. They each had powerful impacts on the woman I am today, shaped the ideal in my head who I am trying to be.
I thought I’d take the two unfinished posts I’d written, finish them up and then write an ending or two. I’d make it a choose your own adventure, like those stories I loved to read as a kid. How much fun would that be? I could offer my life up for complete strangers to digest as pure entertainment. So Gen Y. Honestly, I’d do it if I had the time to reflect and write as I really want. I don’t. What I have is the pieces I’ve put together, the parts that stood out the most, the places still a bit tender today. What I have is an analysis of the social and political forces that have shaped who I am as a descendant of Africans who were kidnapped and enslaved in the Americas, as a woman boxed in by various forms of patriarchy, as a Muslim and a Shi’a from “dar al harb,” an overview of how one makes a life for herself when everyone wants her putting all her efforts into tiptoeing precariously across that bridge, “sharp as a sword, thin as a hair,” instead of shaping her own journey– insofar as we have agency is such things. Allah knows best.
So, tomorrow or Tuesday(God willing), I’ll share what I have (there are pictures!) and typing will probably bring me to a conclusion neat enough to feel I’ve done myself, my reader (readers? ;0) justice. But, you know, I’m still living this story. And, by God, I’m excited to see how it all turns out!