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Facing Hard Feelings to Write for Liberation

Last month we found out that my brother is terminally ill and, according to Western medicine, has less than a year to live. At some point I’ll write about what I’ve figured out in terms of discharging and deciding to lead my family through this difficult time. Suffice it to say it’s been extremely challenging and I’ve had to face lots of hard feelings. Azi Khalili (the International Liberation Reference Person for South, Central, and West Asian-Heritage People) told me I had to get a session every day in order to take this on,1 and I’ve managed to do so. I lost my job last month, which is another story and also very restimulating, but it’s allowed me the time and space to do this work fully and to continue to think in the face of tough circumstances.

As a side job, I write media criticism, mostly about the representation of Arabs and Muslims in U.S. pop2 culture. Last week an editor e-mailed me asking me to pitch a story3 about a new TV show. Initially I felt flattered but that I didn’t have the attention for it. That night, even though I was exhausted, I reconsidered. I thought it would be good for me to use my mind and to put attention on something I love—writing media criticism and speaking up for our people. I pitched a story and she said, “Let’s go for it!”4 Great news, except that it meant that I had to write it and face the feelings about writing it!

I hadn’t written in over a month, but all of the same feelings of discouragement, hopelessness, and despair were right there waiting for me once I got started. Feeling them on top of the other slew5 of emotions about my brother (grief, worry, heartache) seemed unbearable. I found myself repeating certain statements in sessions (always a red flag to me that I’m working on something early)—statements like “I can’t do this,” “It’s too much,” “I won’t survive this.” Yes. Plenty of dire early feelings were up.

Thankfully, I could hear Azi’s voice in my head and I had smart Co-Counselors giving me doses of reality: “Nothing bad is happening. This is not too much. It was too much back there. We get to tell that little one that she’ll grow up and think and lead in all sorts of creative and bold ways. You have a good mind, and it’s good for you to use it.”

I managed to write the article, but after a friend edited my draft, I felt like the changes I had to make would take forever and I’d never finish. (Again, old feelings of despair.) I decided to go for6 mediocre, not perfect—something that is extremely difficult for this middle-class Catholic Arab woman to do! I sent it to my editor, and she wrote back thrilled. It’s the feature article on their website this weekend.

While I was in the midst of it, I thought I had taken on7 too much, as I do have overwork and overachievement patterns. Once the article was published, however, I got to feel the satisfaction of getting on the other side of the hard feelings, seeing my work in the world and being part of a societal dialogue, and having fought for my liberation, even while others were literally dying around me.

I realized that the feelings were just feelings. Facing them with Co-Counselors and not allowing them to stop me was a true victory. My friend told me that I make writing look so easy, which made me laugh out loud. If only she knew how many hours of discharge I put in! Still, using RC tools and relationships to challenge myself and share our ideas in the wide world never gets old.

In the article I talk openly about how Orientalism clumps all of our countries together and how the show Quantico has put a “sexy” twist on an old formula of painting South and West Asians as terrorists. I even manage to call out8 U.S. imperialism!

Stephanie Abraham

Los Angeles, California, USA

Reprinted from the RC e-mail discussion lists for leaders of South, Central, and West Asian-Heritage Peopleand for leaders of wide world change

(Present Time 182, January 2016)


1 “Take this on” means take charge of this situation.
2 Popular
3 “Pitch a story” means suggest a story I could write.
4 “Let’s go for it” means let’s do it.
5 “Slew” means large number.
“Go for” means try for.
7 “Taken on” means undertaken.
8 “Call out” means challenge.


Last modified: 2021-06-01 12:29:59+00