Kelly Sundberg and I became Facebook friends a little over a year go, after I read her beautiful essay on The Rumpus, which led me to her already widely celebrated essay in Guernica, “It Will Look Like a Sunset,” (selected by Ariel Levy for the Best American Essays 2015 anthology.) Her blog, Apology Not Accepted, featuring essays by her and occasional guest contributors, focuses primarily on life as a survivor of abuse and the many issues that surround it – from institutional complicity, to dealing with anger and resentment, to finding fellowship, to learning how to thrive as much as survive.
Kelly is an amazing writer and does powerful, important work, but she’s also a lot of fun. She’s self-deprecating and unapologetically silly, and I immediately felt a kinship with her as someone who had lived through some deeply traumatic and painful life experiences, and through arduous self-reflection and courage, emerged kind and whole and full of a certain unmistakable lightness – the lightness of hard-earned wisdom, and having survived something potentially unsurvivable. “Some days, I am the light let in by my wounds,” she wrote in the Rumpus essay. There are those days where everything seems impossible, when the damage resurfaces and makes us raw and uncertain, and it feels like it hurts too much to even exist. But on most other days, life is so much easier, so much less dire, because we have lived through the worst thing we will ever know – or so we hope. And that’s the key here – hope. What killed me faster than anything during my long alcoholic slide was not the shame and guilt and violent recklessness, but the utter hopelessness that it would ever get better.
Of course, living life on life’s terms still always has its share of bumps. Some awkward, painful moments can come out of just trying to have ordinary daily human experiences, but it usually works out just fine if you are willing to find the humor in it. Continue reading