Crys Wood and I have met for an hour every week for over five years. We do more than set our weekly intentions and plan life’s priorities; we’ve walked each other through every step of moves and divorces, business growth and change, loss and learning. This woman inspires me to my core. At AoCC, we pass the mic and amplify diverse voices. So, with her permission, it is my distinct honor to offer you the voice of my cherished friend, Crys Wood—author, truth-teller, and visionary.
If it helps…
If you’ve been hesitant to put your words out in the world even though you feel eager, perhaps desperate, to do so…
And people around you say, “You can’t/shouldn’t be so afraid of criticism,” and you’ve worked with and on that but still feel afraid and can’t get it done…
And perhaps that fear seems disproportionately large compared to the action you want to take, and perhaps the fear’s grown in the past few months…
Here’s what I arrived at today:
I’m not afraid of making my words available for criticism.
I’m afraid of offering myself up for cruelty.
And as a black person, as a woman, as a black woman, I am especially vulnerable to cruelty in all its forms — random, casual, focused, or fatal.
It’s a lot.
It’s a lot to experience, it’s a lot to witness, it’s a lot to be adjacent to, it’s a lot to protect myself from, and it’s a lot to defend myself against.
And so if I feel vulnerable in recent months or days — or, like, EVER — that shit’s legit.
In this place, in this moment, I’m as safe as I can be from all threats, human and viral.
Which I keep telling myself, but it doesn’t much help.
Because it’s not the actual threat that’s got me worked up, but the anticipation/expectation of it, a habit I acquired while being raised by wolves.
And as the threats out there accumulate and escalate, my anxiety is being swept up with the rising tide, with one clear, inarguable thought—
“I’m not safe; I was right to be afraid.”
It’s true, but it’s not true in this moment or every moment, so I’ll be gently untangling that while I carry on with my work.
And so, if you’ve also been stuck or fear-filled in a way that doesn’t seem reasonable or rational, first, cut yourself a break and give yourself some room.
Two months ago, I asked how this is different than any other day, but that was 2 weeks before quarantines and all that’s come after.
This is so very different from any other day. This is worlds away from *every* other day.
And second, as a therapist once told me, “If it’s hysterical, it’s historical.”
Just because your emotional response feels disproportionate doesn’t mean it’s invalid.
In fact, I’d guess that the more over the top it is, the more likely that it’s on point, you just don’t recall its point of origin.
Your response might not even have a specific past event tied to it, may not belong to a particular moment in time.
The connection may be, like it was for me, simply a feeling.
A feeling you’ve always carried, can’t get free of, and could never quite explain.
But just because you can’t see it, don’t mean it ain’t real.
Don’t let it censor or silence you, though. Don’t let it keep you from saying what needs to be said.
Find your way through.
Be well. xo
Crys Wood writes articles, creates classes, and offers services for women who want their words out in the world. She lives on the wide, dry plains of central Montana, but you can find her on social media as @thisiscryswood and can read more of her writing here and here.
Thanks for putting this feeling into words, Crys. You have inspired me to begin writing again and sharing my thoughts into this world.
Dear Ms. Wood –
Thank you for this beautiful and beautifully-worded post. I applaud you for pushing past the fear. As you say, criticism is one thing, but the cruelty and brutality that has been unleashed through easy access to digital communication and social media is something altogether different. Brava for your intrepid spirit!
“Just because your emotional response seems disproportional doesn’t mean it’s invalid.” Thank you for speaking up. I am trying to do the same despite the terror of being ripped apart by those who disagree with me. Your words give me courage, and validate my experience of anguish at this time. Yet also I feel a fire has been growing inside of me and it has reached a roar of determination now to take compassionate action. I see you, I hear you, I stand with you. I will not grow complacent.
Thank you Crys.
May we all find our voice and speak our truth.
May we listen deeply and kindly.
LOVED this message! So relevant for the times right now, and for EVERY day. Thank you.