I write what hurts my feelings

three round hay bales in a foggy field

cw: existential dread, hopelessness, chronic illness, miscarriage, gender feels

Note: I’ve tried to put my writing on a schedule, and that was not the right call, lol. I will continue to write when I have something to say, and hopefully no more weirdly empty RSS emails will arrive in your inboxes.

I wanted to write something yesterday but I couldn’t think of what to say. I don’t like to say something when I could have said nothing instead. Instead of ‘this meeting could have been an email’ it’s more like ‘this email didn’t need to exist at all’.

But I realized, as I thought about it for the past couple of days, that the reason I sometimes don’t have anything much to say is that I write about what hurts my feelings. It’s not all that I write about (I hope), but it is one of the leading internal triggers for me that means write about this. And when the things that hurt my feelings don’t need to be said to everyone, I don’t write them down except in my own personal journal, and I don’t say them except to the people I trust the most.

the crumbling of American society hurts my feelings

As one of my family members often expresses, the great experiment of the United States is reaching its too-broken-to-fix state. Entropy has hit hard and everything seems like it’s either currently broken, currently breaking, or completely destroyed. And there are people dancing on the broken bits like the sociopathic maniacs that they are. It hurts to see it. It makes me feel angry and hopeless.

I no longer think that if we just talked to the people breaking things, that maybe they would stop first and think about it and then NOT break things; that hasn’t worked for a while and it’s foolishness to think it might start to work now, even if it may have worked before. It’s like the country and society in the US has become the inside of a rage room 1a rage room is one of those places where you can pay to wear safety equipment and break everything in the room until you’re done or your time is up and the people doing the smashing are making sure their safety glasses and gear are on before they act like Godzilla in a city full of high rise buildings.

the complications of my relationship with some of my kids hurts my feelings

I personally carried and birthed four full-term babies. One very early pregnancy ended in miscarriage. Even though my upbringing was infused with the usual gender segregation and expectation that people with a uterus were supposed to marry a man and have his babies, I have always felt that having and raising children is part of what makes me happiest. They are my joy and my source of deepest pain.

My second oldest — it really stings right now to refer to him as my former second oldest, even though that helped my emotional regulation over it for a long time — may never be someone that I can have a relationship with. Even in his darkest hours, in the minute-by-minute lies and calculated responses, even in the midst of the real pain and harm he was coping with in unhealthy and unsustainable ways, I loved him and I wanted so much to help him. I spoke words of comfort and support to him in so many situations where he did not deserve it except that he was my child and I would rise out of a grave to defend any of the children of my heart. And in the ending of our relationship, before we had a chance to know each other as adults, he had already chosen to cut the cord that bound us together and so I had to see that for the truth that it was and accept it and let go on my own.

The grief that I feel about this is a sorrow that comes from the awareness of the severed cord. I never wanted it to happen, and even though it was the right thing to do for both of us, I can’t un-remember it and I don’t regret all the years I spent doing everything in my power to keep him alive and safe and protected.

the things I can’t do or aren’t mine to do hurts my feelings

I’m sure I am not the only person active on any social media that sees so many cries for help, so much crowdfunding for medical bills and cell phone balances and emergency rent money. Because of my experience of being in poverty and being in abusive relationships, I feel these needs keenly — and I usually can’t do anything but boost or share a post, which feels akin to doing nothing. I realize that this is because what I want to do is fix the entire thing, and not being able to fix the entire situation causes feelings of despair and uselessness in me.

(This is one of the key things I work on in my therapy)

I don’t have a solution to this for myself yet. I don’t know how not to care. I don’t know how not to see the need. I don’t know how to believe that I am doing my best and that my best is the only thing required of me. I don’t know how to stop requiring more of myself than my own gods and oaths require of me.

climate change plus the pandemic hurts my feelings

I used to go for walks in the evenings. Walking in the cooling air, the end-of-day scent heavy in the air, stretching my legs and taking in oxygen and seeing the bigness of the sky and the tallness of the trees; these things brought me such a suffusion of joy. I live in Michigan, which — for all its weather-y nonsense 2is it [insert current weather]? wait five minutes and it’ll change, etc etc — was always safe for evening walks.

But now, because I have to be careful of my immune-compromised self and careful not to go outside when the conditions are unhealthy, I don’t get to go for many of those walks. The particular irritation of not being able to continue a habit that I have internalized as necessary is truly frustrating. I want to go for walks in so many places. I want to walk with other people sometimes. I want to go places I haven’t been and walk there; botanical gardens and indoor butterfly sanctuaries and dirt roads hidden around a bend in the road, but I have to be so goddamn careful that the risks usually outweigh the effort for me.

living in a state of chronic illness & being immunocompromised hurts my feelings

Following on from what I was just saying, I am so tired of my body being hyper-sensitive to allergens, to sunlight, to high pollen levels, to mid-range air quality, to barometric pressure changes. It’s not my fault that I am sick, and it’s not my fault that a lot of the meds I have to take have led to my ridiculous levels of allergy-type reactions to things. One of the biggest issues I have right now is that the continued use of the amount of antihistamines my doctor prescribes to me, that I need in order to function, causes me to essentially be allergic to the sun. I’m the opposite of a cat. Is that a sunbeam? Here, have a rash and a flare to along with it. Maybe if I’m lucky, I won’t need someone to help pop my joints back into place while I deal with the physical fallout of what a flare does inside my body.

And some of the meds I take have suppressed my immune system in order to keep me alive (what a terrible trade-off, really), so I have to be even more careful. Seeing people without masks, talking out of their mouths into the actual air with no filter, sincerely scares me, and fear keeps me indoors, anxious, sulking, wanting things that it isn’t safe for me to have.

I fucking hate it.

gender + body dysphoria and dysmorphia hurts my feelings

Lastly for today, but certainly not least, is the ease with which I run into a dysphoric or dysmorphic feeling. I don’t want to have either spectrum-end of body type; I want to be a mystery even to myself. I want to wake up each day and wonder what kind of being I happen to be that day.

But I have to put on bras to keep some of that at bay; if I’m lucky, they flatten my chest without harming my ribs. I have occasional menstrual cycles that make me feel both physically and emotionally like shit. I like wearing makeup but I don’t want to wear makeup that’s nice to look at because it highlights the ways in which I appear femme. If I was born with different sex organs, makeup would feel like an experience of pushing the edges of gender for me. But with the body that I have — the hips and the roundness — the things I can do to push those gender edges away from myself are: wear non-femme clothes, and wear a non-gender-specific or even masc hair style. And it never feels like quite enough.

Right now I have a good hair thing going on, but it won’t last long because it’ll grow out again and then I’ll feel gross.

One of the other reasons that I write, besides putting into words what hurts my feelings, is getting those feelings out of me, externalizing them in a way. I can read back through what I said and analyze why I am feeling those feelings, and either I have an epiphany or I don’t, and either way it’s more for my therapist and I to discuss.

The pain leads me to what is true.

Writing is good for my mental health.

Thank you for being here. If you want to get an approximately weekly-ish email with the latest essay here, or even VERY RARELY an email that’s just from me to you, please use the form in the sidebar to sign up. If there’s no form or you can’t see it, you can use my contact page to ask me to add you to the list manually, which I will gladly do.

xox, Nix

featured image is a photo by Maksym Tymchyk 🇺🇦 on Unsplash


  • 1
    a rage room is one of those places where you can pay to wear safety equipment and break everything in the room until you’re done or your time is up
  • 2
    is it [insert current weather]? wait five minutes and it’ll change, etc etc
Nix Kelley
Co-parent to multiple kids. Writer. Death doula. Member of the Order of the Good Death. Seeker on the Path of Light. Queer, non-binary, & trans.

1 Comment

  1. “I realize that this is because what I want to do is fix the entire thing, and not being able to fix the entire situation causes feelings of despair and uselessness in me.”

    I felt this. I don’t remember where I first heard it but I got into the habit of saying “I’m going to write a letter!” anytime I felt despair over a problem I didn’t have the power to fix. It sounds so out of touch with a 50’s housewife flavor that it makes me laugh… and with the laughter I remember that I am not responsible for fixing anything.


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