I’m proud to say that I’ve got a short essay — “To Mourn Excessively; To Lost, Forfeit, Or Misplace” — in the first issue of Windmill, a journal of art and literature out of Hofstra University. The title and quotes come from Melancholia, a gorgeous book by the incomparable Kristina Marie Darling, which is one of those books that came to me at the perfect time. This essay itself was one of those gifts — it came pretty smoothly and wholly, which happens very rarely to me, after I got home from the doctor’s offce. The writing of the essay might have been smooth, but sending it out was incredibly difficult, as it meant sending an essay out into the world that talked about the very darkest moments of something I could barely talk about in my own life: my hysterectomy.
After over twenty years of struggling with pretty much every “lady problem” on the books, I had a radical hysterectomy in 2013. It was the right thing to do because, by that point, it was the only thing to do: my entire life was controlled by an uncontrollable case of endometriosis, and I was quickly losing the last vestiges of control I had. It was the right option for me because it was the only option I had left.
That didn’t make it easy.
I talked about it as little as possible. I told as few people as possible: I told the people I loved and trusted most, and I told the people who had to know, and then I did my best to keep it quiet. No matter how terribly, strangely lonely I felt, I felt like keeping things as quiet as possible was the only thing I could do. I don’t really know why, and, to be honest, that’s not really a question I asked myself at the time. It’s something I’m only now asking and trying to answer, as I’m moving through revisions of a draft of a book about all of this. Perhaps I was afraid. Perhaps I didn’t want to be judged, or made fun of, or asked why, or challenged, or blamed. Perhaps I didn’t want to talk about it, to answer questions about it, because I didn’t want to think about it. Because I didn’t want it to be real.
Eventually, though, I realized that I couldn’t hold it in anymore. I couldn’t stop people from judging me, but I was preventing myself from developing strong, open relationships with other people. The silence that had protected me also hurt me. And when I went back to those notebooks and found what I’d been writing — including this — I realized that I was doing exactly what I feared people would do to me: passing judgment without knowing their story, without considering who they were, without realizing they may be passing through a moment every bit as terribly, strangely lonely as the moment I was passing through.
Also, some bonus good news: the good people at Panoply nominated my flash piece, “Good Girl,” for the Pushcart Prize. I’m incredibly grateful and honored to be in the company of their other amazing nominees, whose beautiful work you can read here.
2 responses to “Give Yourself Room To Wait (And Other Stories)”
“I realized that I was doing exactly what I feared people would do to me…” This is so powerful. Thank you for sharing your brave and well-thought insight so we can all walk away with something valuable having read this.
Thank YOU, Jackson! Your kindness and support always means so much to me — and inspires me, too!