sitting with nausea
nausea is my self involuntarily reacting to something i cannot see. i sit with nausea most days.
nausea reminds me that something doesn’t belong, but it does not evidence that i do not belong: it’s arrival is more akin to an unsolicited reminder, specifically that things you take for granted have a tendency to break or break down, or otherwise change.
nausea is sometimes a symptom of toxicity.
when reading makes me nauseous, something has broken down. something that I am reading is toxic. certainly the cause is right in front of me: i can see the words. so what is the thing that I cannot see?
if i assume there is something i cannot see, i should consider the things around the reading that are impossible to know but probably exist as evidenced by the reading.
- What motivates this writer?
- Why did they write this?
i think the nausea usually follows that last question, but it’s just a gut feeling.
answering that last question requires a great capacity for empathy, and a wide variety of worldly experiences, in order to hazard the most generous answer—the answer that preserves the dignity for the author. and that is so much work. it’s exhausting. it requires multiple drafts, and probably research. it takes time.
nausea reminds me that regardless of the intention an author might have, the things that people write can evidence conflict between us (something I didn’t see before, and so feel) — a break in our assumed community. a breakdown in our relationship. a change in my expectations.
taking care of nausea — the something that doesn’t belong — typically involves mediating that conflict with the understanding that there is no cure for it.
mediating what makes you nauseous does not involve changing you;
in coping with nausea, i learn about the ways in which i can change the world or my condition in it by accepting the things i cannot change about myself.