November 12, 2009

My Feelings Are None Of My Business

A couple of months ago, I took a writing and performance class with Amy Friedman and Laurel Ollstein. Our class put on a spoken word show. I invited my family. I did not know just how much of a mistake that was, but I do now. I have a very large, overly involved Egyptian family. Many of them drive me insane. I forgot about how many of them there are, and how overbearing they can be, because I moved out of the house for college. I am back. They have not changed.

I was hesitant to invite my family to the show. My teachers said I must; it was my turn to let my family know how I feel.

I shared stories with my family and the audience about life post grad. I talked about how different my life is, now that I moved back home. My best friends and I are scattered in three different cities. I can no longer walk to their apartments. There are no hot guys running around in my hallway.

I talked about premarital sex, same sex marriage, and just how little I identify with the Egyptian culture. My family, sitting out in the audience, was not amused. My father had a stern look on his face; his lips were pursed together, his eyes glaring right at me. He did not smile. My mom was more forgiving. She did smile. She even laughed.

The show ended and people approached me to tell me how much they enjoyed my essay. My family did not. After the show (the same day) and since then, I have had to listen to my family tell me how inappropriate and disrespectful I am. My cousins, who I grew up with, went on to tell the adults in the family just how much they disagreed with my essay. They have yet to say anything to me directly.

When I first started the class with Amy and Laurel, they told us that while we are writing, we must say to ourselves that our feelings are none of our business. So, when I think a piece I am working on is great, or when I think it is lousy, I say, over and over again, “my feelings are none of my business.”

By the same token, my family’s reaction to my piece is also none of my business. I cannot write how I feel, what I am experiencing, my hopes and dreams, while bearing their emotions, or anyone else’s in mind.

As I am preparing to take my next writing class, I am answering questions that my teacher sent out. One of which is, “What is emerging?” I thought about this.

What is emerging.

There is one thing, that I know for certain, and that is, my story.

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