To break the silence, the silencing.

From Kate Zambreno’s Heroines:

I am beginning to realize that taking the self out of our essays is a form of repression. Taking the self out feels like obeying a gag order–pretending an objectivity where there is nothing objective about the experience of confronting and engaging with and swooning over literature.


Before I read Heroines, I read a lot about Heroines: Bitch ;Necessary Fiction ;Full Stop; Jezebel; The Paris Review; Pank;LA Review of Books;The Daily Beast.

The internet has Heroines covered.

From blog to book about writers as characters: the suppression, the silence, the forced institutionalization of the “mad wives,” the femme fatales, the tragic muses to the modernist literary giants. Zelda Fitzgerald, Vivien(ne) Eliot, June Miller, Virginia Woolf, and Zambreno herself.

I align myself with the genealogy of erased women.

These women were pressed into madness, like flowers flattened in books.

I can relate to Zelda, married to a great writer.

I also relate to Zambreno, landlocked in the midwest, feeling as though I’m flailing, failing. Yet inflated with grandeur.

I’ve read the critiques, and I think most of them are bullshit. I couldn’t care less that Zambreno comes off elitist, or pretentious. I like it. I like it because it’s honest. She compares herself to the heroines she studies and she feels pathetic, but also hypocritical as she holds herself to higher standards. This masturbatory text is a brutal self-critique. And I found it brave.

Much like I find Lena Dunham brave. Though differently. (The internet definitely has Girls covered.)

Our blogs serve as legitimizing networks for anger. The rant can be revenge, to get something off our chest about our place in the world. To break the silence, the silencing.

I’m on the edge of a nervous breakdown, hyperbolically speaking. I’ve just recently returned to work (hence the lapse in time between this post and the last) and am still working on the balance between Pods, money, and me. It’s a part-time job, one that I’m lucky to have, but I’m not happy. The money is small, the tasks are small, my worth to the place and to its customers is small. It all makes me feel so small. Not insignificant. Eclipsed. Forgotten. As though I’ve given up on myself and took what was easy. Finances required immediate attention and this fell into my lap. In this economy, I would be a fool, a snob, selfish to pass it up. So I took the job, and now I spend 3-4 days a week away from my daughter. My free time, my writing time is meager.

I miss myself.

So I’m now moody. Surly and stressed and filled with existential loathing.

When life–to construct meaning–is assembled by mood, significance is placed on insignificant things.

I wear my self-hatred. It hangs on me. It’s as though I’m no longer inhabiting my body but am shackled to it. Stupidity then has become concentrated in the pounds I’m still struggling to shed. In public, out from the safety of building blocks and flashcards and Yo Gabba Gabba! in my living room, I feel exposed, ugly, dumb. As though they’re all of a piece.

Right now, I’m a mess.

The desire, sometimes, to throw everything away.

Tomorrow I am packing up my bedroom, but mostly, tomorrow, I am getting rid of a lot of clothes. Clothes I know I will never wear again. Because I am no longer X. Those past selves that have accumulated in my closet. The cheap bar tops. The frayed hemp necklaces. The goal dresses that were too sizes too small when I was in my prime.

Because I’ve been practically the same size since I was 10 (that is, until I quit smoking and made a person), I have clothes from when I was 10.

There are memories in these shirts: The day I quit that job. The day I finally fucked that guy. The day I was arrested. The day I broke up with my best friend.

All of it now: relics, horcruxes. Clothes I can’t wear. Clothes that laugh at me, teasing me, TOO FAT TOO FAT. Your time is over. It’s all yoga pants and hoodies now, both encrusted in puréed carrots and coffee stains of telling sizes. ACCEPT IT.

That booming voice? Yeah, I know it can go fuck itself. But, it does have a point. Those selves, those memories? They’re dead, gone, archived in journals, in dreams, in photos, in my head. I don’t need the fabric to remind me, to mock me. And let’s face it, I could lose all the weight in the world and I’m still too old for that questionable ironic Mickey Mouse sweater.

It’s all unbearable weight.

Tomorrow I’m throwing my clothes away.

(Well, donating or consigning them.)

Just as Zelda burnt all her dresses in the bathtub.

And then I will finish Heroines.

And hopefully write about it.

About Cathy Borders

Writer. Book Midwife. The Republic of Letters. Waterline Writers. Omnia Vanitas Review.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to To break the silence, the silencing.

  1. “When life–to construct meaning–is assembled by mood, significance is placed on insignificant things.” — Smart. But to the extent that so many are blindly caught in this cycle, writing on one’s experience with this is anything but “insignificant.” This is my favorite post by you. Keep in mind I love your other posts, too. But I appreciate the lack of distance you usually maintain by focusing on another work/body. With that said, the creative drive ennobles distress for others/consumers, but not for the artist. At least not my experience. Hopefully, this will quickly pass, or you’ll find a way of seeing it as a temporal blip and not feel so pinned by it. That is what this is — a temporal blip. No one ever gets stuck; but it certainly can feel that way. 😦
    PS — My sense is that many people are feeling uncommonly desperate at the moment.

    • I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to respond to you. As always, thank you for your kind words of encouragement. I’ve been thinking a lot about tarot lately. It’s been years since I’ve seriously allowed myself a reading, but this kind of emotional chaos fantasizes about transcendental organization. I’m not much of a spiritual person, but I have experienced moments of release. Lately I’ve been so balled up and in control. I need some sort of Bacchanal manumit, preferably something that won’t end in migraine.

      • No worries. You really don’t need to apologize for anything. Life happens. I’m wickedly behind. :/ You can do a private reading, as you know. You can also get a free reading if you’re willing to go public. I like this project. I’m proud of it. I think it’s humane. The info is here: I may scrap the shorter spreads and double up on the 50 minute ones for a total of ten 50 min videos. Dunno. I do know that I want to do this at least annually, or maybe with every Equinox. It certainly fits in with your confessional mood. I haven’t yet read your next post. I scanned it. I need to pay attention and I’m a wee bit scattered at the moment… and behind. If you’re interested, email me directly. And if not, again, no worries. And don’t apologize. That’s a terrible girl habit. You’ve done nothing wrong. I think you know this…

  2. You’re absolutely right, and I know this, but I wanted you to know that even though I’m not the most punctual person, what you say, that you even read me let alone care, really matters to me.

    • Of course I read you. You write beautifully! Do you have any idea how much schlock there is on WordPress? The Omnia Vanitas Tumblr is AWESOME, as well. I really adore it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s