(Update 3/30/2016 – Yesterday, a mere 4 days after I originally wrote this post, author Jessica Knoll shared her story about the real life incidents, which shaped her novel, Luckiest Girl Alive. It’s a powerful and courageous essay and I can’t stop thinking about it.)
“I know that I made the mistake of thinking that living well is the best revenge. That I figured out, eventually, that the appearance of living well is not the same thing as actually living well. And even if it were, revenge does not beget healing. Healing will come when I snuff out the shame, when I rip the shroud off the truth. If I were a victim of the other horrific crime in my book, I would talk about it openly. I wouldn’t pretend like it hadn’t happened to me, like I don’t still hurt about it, like I don’t still cry about it. Why should this be any different?”
Don’t underestimate what your anger is telling you. If you can, share your story. Your strength and courage emboldens others to share their own.
HBE: Your protagonist, Ani FaNelli, is a distinct and complex character. How did you go about capturing her voice – and what were the challenges of writing an unreliable narrator/“anti-heroine”?
JK: Depending on how you feel about Ani, my answer might make you think twice about me! The truth is that it didn’t take a whole lot of effort to nail down her voice. I harbor a lot of anger and pain from things that happened to me in adolescence, and at the point at which I wrote Ani, I was also dealing with frustrations unique to late 20s life—mostly feeling an enormous pressure to be thinner, prettier, more successful, and most important, to have a ring on my finger. I hate that we still live in a time where women are punished if they don’t fit a certain mold, and I hated that I wasn’t “strong” enough to chart my own course. I channeled all of that rage into Ani.
Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll was one of my favorite books from 2015. Sometimes, when I fall in love with a book, I become obsessed with the author. This happened with Jessica Knoll. Mostly, because of the above interview. When she brought up her anger and rage, I immediately thought of my therapy session in August…
Since starting therapy in 2013, I journal immediately following every session. Based on what I write down, I can see what parts of my 50 minute appointment truly resonated.
When I walked out of her office, I couldn’t stop thinking about my therapist’s one statement:
This shined bright in my head…like a neon Las Vegas sign.
In yesterday’s post, I was able to work out that every breakdown, panic attack, and dark phase led to my outburst last July. But for the first time, I got angry. I turned it outward. And slowly but surely, I’ve been pushing that anger out since then…in a positive way.
For a long time, I felt so weak and scared of what she would do to me, of the terror that would result… Stupidly, I was also worried about what “they” would say. I had been conditioned for so long to care deeply about what other people think.
These thoughts ruined me.
Finding the courage to share what I write, and giving no f*cks about what anyone says are the results of tapping into my anger.
It also resulted in what I’m experiencing now…