As I’m finishing a book about, essentially, pain, maybe it’s fitting that I undergo my own particular pain experience.
In the oral surgeon’s chair, as he came at my face with a small, extremely sharp blade, he paused for a moment and said I was welcome to watch, but I likely wanted to close my eyes. I definitely closed my eyes. I wasn’t sure I ever wanted to open my eyes. Almost immediately, my mouth was suffused with salty, rich blood: the taste of the sea and the earth.
While allowing my mouth and those stitches time to repair, I read Chanel Miller’s gorgeous book — this young woman known as Emily Doe, who was assaulted on the Stanford campus. Her book is filled with food — chocolate and pork dumplings — and begonias, with love of rain falling on skin and a young woman’s excitement about living in a city, but also filled with bodily pain and the complexity of living in a female body in America.
Of all the books I read this year, this author is likely my most favorite, this young woman who took this unasked-for experience, endured, and turned it into strength for so many other women.
Her victim impact statement that initiated the book can be read here.
I survived because I remained soft, because I listened, because I wrote. Because I huddled close to my truth, protected it like a tiny flame in a terrible storm… Stay tender with your power.
—Chanel Miller, Know My Name