Most mornings I wake between three and four am. My body tricks me, rousts me to use the bathroom. Within moments the fear I am incubating rises to the surface. I remember the circumstances of my life. Yes, of course, this is who I am, this is what’s ahead.
Fear pins me to the bed. It clamps and grips my chest. It rises in my throat and chokes me. Each breath becomes deliberate.
I am forced to revisit the source of my fear and all its possible outcomes. My future unfolds in excruciating detail. I will lose my breast, my womanhood, my life. I will hurt and let down everyone who cares for me. I will be unrealized. I will suffer. I am suffering now.
Cancer consumes me. It spends my money, and nourishes itself on peace. It’s a side-hustle that wants to be a full-time gig.
The entire memoir is this exercise in trying to banish, failing to banish, and trying to wrangle fear. It’s just been a really interesting, emotional process, and I haven’t quite figured it out yet, because it’s still in progress. I went through this phase where I thought, Oh, I can just write about this and it’ll make it go away. I can get rid of it. But it was like full body wrestling something.
Created by best-selling author Roxane Gay and Medium, Unruly Bodies is a month-long magazine exploring our ever-changing relationship with our bodies — the emotional, the psychological, the cultural, and the scientific. Gay has brought together 25 writers to expand upon the conversation she started in her memoir “Hunger,” releasing a batch of new features and essays every Tuesday this April.