On Trauma Olympics and Trolls

In a blog post in December of 2015, I made reference to something that happened to me that delayed my conference report on a panel on trauma narratives from the 2015 NonfictioNow Conference last fall. I wrote about that incident, about trauma and privilege, and about cyber attacks in my most recent blog post for the Kenyon Review. This was a difficult essay to write—trauma, privilege, and cyber attacks are a lot of subjects to fit into a mini essay. If you’re interested, read through the three posts to which I have linked—to have a sense of how this essay unfolded. I knew I had something to say, and I did not feel as though it was useful to me or to the discussion of these subjects to stay silent…particularly because I had felt silenced for a while. No more. Writers write. I wrote.

I am grateful to the Kenyon Review and its editors, who backed my post; in fact, they just ran my column in their May newsletter. Some commenters have called this essay brave. I don’t know that it’s brave—but I do know I had to write it. What is writing if not grappling with difficult issues—without breaking silences—without telling the truth—or at the very least, my truth? In “The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action,” an essay I read in college (in my Intro to Women’s Studies course), and which changed my life, the writer Audre Lorde said:

I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood. That the speaking profits me, beyond any other effect…I was going to die, if not sooner then later, whether or not I had ever spoken myself. My silences had not protected me. Your silence will not protect you.

I believe this. And so I speak. And so I write.


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