Heavy Meta


Let me just recite the quote from the photo above, here in the body of the post:

My wound existed before me. I was born to embody it.”
—Joë Bousquet

I am not sure I have ever come across words before that I so wholly and completely identify with. There are a huge number of great words that have been written and uttered that speak to me, but this—

It was like an avalanche crashing from a mountain, with giant snow boulders and waves of powder pounding down, immense and powerful—that somehow came to a stop just in front of my feet. And then crystalline silence and sparkle.


Each of us does what we must with the pain in our lives. And as well there is much mystery, beauty and terror to be witnessed in how those we love choose to process their own private agonies.

For whatever reasons, this has been my particular destiny. I carefully watched, internalized, categorized and intellectualized my mother’s methods of coping with her life’s disappointments and her mental illness. Which has made me a forever observer. And now, of myself above all.

Which is why the quote above appeals to me so much. Yes, I have had some pain in my life (as have we all). Yes, I have had some extreme circumstances in my life (as have most of us). But what I choose to do with the pain and wisdom and yes, the anger and despair, is give it a new shape in my head, make it a story about the incredibly complex challenges we face as human beings.

So I don’t write just about my wound. I write about the wound: The wound that is the burden of consciousness, and always wondering aloud to ourselves, “Am I doing okay at this life thing?”

The answer to that question is: probably. But does that feel like the answer? Almost never.

A writer’s work is to keep showing us the way. Which way doesn’t so matter so much. Just that it be a path and lead to a small room where we can collect together and murmur, “Yes, yes, why yes, it does feel just like that sometimes, now doesn’t it?”

Yes. Yes, it does.

About stacy

I am a writer, author, mother, former magazine editor (last at Redbook), optimist, and, above all, a searcher. I'm still searching for whom I'm really meant to be, after a series of very jarring losses. Since then I've been trying to figure out what's next. Or, in other words, how to fill in the blanks.
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7 Responses to Heavy Meta

  1. LegosnEggos says:

    Oh, goodness, this is exquisitely worded. I feel the same. We all have *that* wound, don’t we. For me, it was a brother’s sudden death as a kid, and I also observed the different ways we siblings processed it and coped, and how it changed our individual lives. For my kids, it’s their parents splitting, and I witness each of their different coping and personal paths resulting, as well, some rockier than others, some way more secluded than they have to be. No matter which way we find or is intrinsic to our personalities, we come through redefined and scarred…and it’s not a bad thing but something that was part of our personal growth, like the knots in our limbs. Thank you for this. SO looking forward to your book!

    • stacy says:

      And thank you for being here to help me birth the story of my life. It’s so ironic — I always knew I would write about her. What I didn’t yet understand is how our stories are completely intertwined. Silly me. xoxo

  2. Rita says:

    “So I don’t write just about my wound. I write about the wound: The wound that is the burden of consciousness, and always wondering aloud to ourselves, ‘Am I doing okay at this life thing?'”

    So often the ability to write is seen as a gift, but one of the things I’ve come to understand is that every gift is also a burden of some sort. To write–to be a writer–is to live in a constant, heightened state of consciousness.

    Thank you for giving me this morning a way of seeing that I hadn’t before–to consider that the wound isn’t in the experiences, but that it is in the need to continually process them, see the patterns, find the meaning. I know there’s more to say here, but the words arent here yet. Just, thank you.

    • stacy says:

      “To live in a constant, heightened state of consciousness.” Also known as “to be friends with insanity.” And glad this opened something new for you. I’m always unpeeling that layer: what we think we are getting (in experiences in life) has so little to do with how it really, fully unfolds within us. I think we misunderstand grief so completely sometimes. I hope I can show some of what I mean by that in the work I am doing now. As with all things for me, though, it’s shades of gray. The clarity we seek is, at best, glimpsing the shape of the shadows moving behind the scrim. The trick is letting go of the need for clarity and settling for the simple truth of what “Is.”

      • Rita says:

        I’m not sure I’m understanding: “what we think we are getting (in experiences in life) has so little to do with how it really, fully unfolds within us.” Isn’t it all about how it unfolds within–rather than what it is in some objective sense? I’m interested to learn more about your understanding of grief. I haven’t nearly the experience with it you do (yet), but I’m finding that it’s changing as I age. More and more, it feels like a guest that’s moved in. We co-habit pretty peacefully much of the time, but sometimes it feels like the burden that any permanent guest would be.

        • stacy says:

          Oh — sloppy wording on my part. ; ) What I mean is that we have an idea of what Death or Divorce or Pain will take from us, and that idea is not nearly as nuanced and layered as the experience actually is. It unfolds in an incredibly relevant, dynamic way; it is not merely a hammer that stuns you into immobility. Growth is as much grief’s partner as loss is. My grief makes me braver. Not all the time: there are many moments I find myself curling into a ball if I think more pain is coming. But I live my life much more nakedly and fearlessly now. To my mind, in the end, all we have is Did we give it our all?

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