A Letter from Marisa Siegel, EIC of The Rumpus (TW: self-harm)

PLEASE READ THIS! Marisa Siegel, EIC of The Rumpus puts into words the monster that keeps so many of us hurt, silent, breaking; the monster that is too strong, too jubilant in its ugliness, lately. Thank you so much, M. You're speaking for myself and for so many of us. You are vanquishing monsters. Love you.:


First: ICYMI, https://therumpus.net/2018/10/we-stand-with-moira-donegan/

Every start to this letter I’ve made is to couch what will follow: with apologies for being self-focused, with clarification that I am lucky, with appreciation for your attention and for the people who have reached out to me.

But I’m too angry to be apologetic. I’m too tired to list the reasons I am allowed to say that the last few weeks have been difficult. A man used to write this newsletter, and it was almost always self-focused. I don’t recall that man apologizing for this; we don’t expect men to apologize for taking up space.

In trying to explain to a friend how I’ve been feeling, I said that the hurt was in my body—the pain is bone-deep, a physical hollowness. The Kavanaugh news cycle wormed its way into my psyche in a way that none other has. Stephen Elliott’s lawsuit against Moira Donegan is a reminder of the vast entitlement men enjoy in America at the expense of women. But it is my own history of trauma that has been keeping me awake at night.

When I was young, there was so much I couldn’t control. So, I found a way to feel in control: cutting. The first time, I was eleven or twelve. The last time, I was twenty-two. Cutting turned complicated emotions into tangible scrapes of skin. When I couldn’t breathe—and before I learned what a panic attack was and how to handle one—cutting restored equilibrium. I never cut deeply; my cutting was easy to hide. All I needed was to see a little blood, to know I’d made it happen. To know I was in control.

I’ve often said I’m a cutter who doesn’t cut anymore, because for me, cutting is an addiction. The desire for it will never leave me. And I have thought about cutting more in the last three weeks than I have in a long while.

This is not a cry for help. I know I will not cut. I’m recovered, and in control.

Still, these last few weeks have been hard. If you, too, are feeling that bone-deep pain, I am thinking of you. If you, too, are remembering all the times you haven’t had control—if all the times you’ve been harmed are being dredged up without your permission—you are not alone.