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sunday reflection: going forward

saturday's picture

I've found it difficult to engage with these courses recently as a whole for various reasons, but the English class left me with a new set of frustrations. Thursday felt like a prolonged uncomfortable silence, one that was voluntary but unpleasant. I wanted to express my thoughts, but it doesn't feel right (safe?). I don't know how to frame these thoughts in a productive way, one fit for a classroom, without bringing up personal history that I'm not comfortable going into in this setting. I'm uncomfortable with how we're studying trauma in class and I feel excluded not being able to push aside my feelings to read Eva's Man academically. Not being able to engage with a convoluted text is one type of struggle, but trying to convert raw feeling and testimony is something else entirely. I can't be a vulnerable scholar; my feelings directly impact my ability to work. I feel like I'm expected to study and academize trauma without being able to live as a traumatized person, and that divide puts me at a standstill.

I'm not sure where to go next in this class. I didn't attend prison this last Friday because I didn't feel ready to, I couldn't in good conscious attend with these deep seeded doubts and fears still stuck inside me. I have to go back though, despite all of my avoidant tendencies. I want to return for those final visits with a purpose in mind beyond class credit, as it doesn't seem fair to do otherwise, to phone in my portion while my peers and club classmates are bringing their entire selves to each session. Do I need a purpose beyond being there to facilitate and create a space for others to exercise agency? Is the effect I have any less real if my intentions are more neutral than optimistic?


meerajay's picture

I've been feeling similarly. I feel like we have pushed ourselves in a lot of different ways; we are pushing ourselves to read this incredibly raw, violent narrative on traumatic topics, and we pushed Brothers and Keepers  in prison. Week before last, pushing Brothers and Keepers (along with other compounded issues) led to a painfully vulnerable moment in book group. It was somehow a breakthrough though, this moment when we were able to confront our issues head on and engage as whole people because we were so vulnurable. I'm waiting for our pushing Eva's Man to inevitably lead to something similar for us, in class. But whether that will be beneficial to us as a a group is different from how much this text is affecting us all as individuals... I wonder if we are supposed to be aiming for some kind of breakthrough as a group, and that's where this is headed, that's why we have to engage with this anguishing narrative. But is that happening at the expense of our own individual safety and mental health?

Feeling really conflicted about this, and I really appreciate you putting the whole "academizing trauma while living as a traumatized person" idea in words.