Survival Kit
// by Brianna Albers

 

 

As someone whose experiences range from anxiety to ableism, I struggle to find acceptance in this cruel and relentless world. My disability, while certainly kinder than other neurological disorders, has left my body not unlike an apocalyptic wasteland: I’ve never been able to walk, and am unable to complete menial tasks, like bathing and feeding myself. The people around me are, to varying degrees, repulsed, driven by a mindless curiosity. This alienation left me vulnerable, uncertain, at a young age. With time, I have learned to accept and love the parts of myself that are “inhuman,” but the act of marginalization has bled me dry. Still, I press forward, in search of – something. Tenderness, maybe. These are some of the places I’ve found light.

 

Three Pieces of Art

1. “The Monster in the Mirror: On Horror, Disability, and Loving Both at Once,” Emily Foster:
My apotheosis – the journey to seeing myself, a disabled woman, as monstrous – has been a long, but rewarding, one. This essay, written by a friend of a friend, is, in many ways, what started me down this path, and I find myself returning to it, again and again and again. I am in the process of reclaiming the language of monstrosity, and am setting myself free in the meantime.

2. “The Leash,” Ada Limón:
This poem has been haunting me for months. I will never be able to verbalize how much I identify with the dog, hurtling my body towards the thing that will obliterate me: I have begged the world for love, and have received nothing but scrap violence in return. Limón reminds me, in her ageless voice, to yank on the leash of the dog that pants beneath my skin, always in pursuit of survival.

3. “If I have communicated anything to you I hope it is the absolute urgency to write yourself, your body, your own experience. The absolute necessity for you to write yourself in order to understand yourself, in order to become yourself. I ask you to fight against your own disappearance. To refuse to self-immolate. Or to launch yourself as a burning, glorious spectacle into outer space. To scratch yourself out and begin again, to die and resurrect.” — Kate Zambreno, Heroines
It’s easy to fall into a self-defeating trap, and begin to see your art – art that centers your existence, that immortalizes your stories – as unimportant, but this quote by Kate Zambreno brings me back to reality, sharptoothed and urgent. The fight is, among other things, exhausting, but it is necessary. It is always necessary.

 

Two People That Make You Feel Less Alone

1. Sarah Marsh
For bringing me back to life at the most crucial times, and for teaching me what it means to survive in this apathetic world. Sarah is one of my best friends, and is shaping me into a person that is ready and willing to take up arms. Ready and willing to fight.

2. Zara Munro
For being a saint, through and through. Zara has seen me through countless resurrections, fanning the flame of my own immolation, and I will never be able to thank her enough for her patience, her willingness to walk with – and alongside me – as I trip and stumble and fall.

 

One Thing You Carry With You

“To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never, to forget.” — Arundhati Roy
This quote by Arundhati Roy is, by far, my personal manifesto. I strive to live by her words, and to plant them – like seeds – in the very heart of my being. I can only hope that, with time, they will grow into something beautiful: a reminder from me, to me; a gentle whisper, speaking of love and tenderness and light, light, light.

 

 

Brianna Albers is a poet, writer, and storyteller, located in the Minneapolis suburbs. In 2016, she founded Monstering, a literary and cultural arts magazine for women and femmes with disabilities; she currently serves as the Editor-in-Chief. Her work can be found in Guernica Magazine, Word Riot, and Winter Tangerine, among others.


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