On Moving Forward

what’s to come

darling readers,

my life turned upside down a few months ago. i can’t tell you how tumultuous a time it’s been. it feels like a lifetime of challenges. tragic upheavals. tests! tests! tests! my god has Saturn tested me. but i guess it’s the kink in me, i like to rise to the challenge. i like hard work so sue me.

a capricorn is gonna capricorn.

what came first: the test or the tested?

i guess these last few years have been about learning how to tell the difference between “necessary work” and just “work.” as in work to no end, work for the sake of it. i had to learn the difference between the two, otherwise there was a while there where i was dotting every i and crossing every t. then i realized i could write in cursive. does this all make sense?

it’s a metaphor.

*

i started this newsletter because i had no money and i was scared i would have to return to Montréal (a city I dislike because they hate Muslims and Arabs so much… and it’s so fucking cold man) even though Montréal is a pretty cool city it always felt very far from my reach, like I was forcing myself to like it. and it always felt too white.

so then what? would i have to go back to Sydney? a place i’ve been trying to escape since i was a teenager and successfully got so far enough from… would i have to return there? where would i live? with my mother? i’d rather die. i’d really rather die, it’s sad but true. it’s sad that i’d choose death but it’s how i feel and it’s the truth and i’d say 0.01 % of the population can sympathsize wanting to run away from their mother, of not finding safety there. if you wanna feel isolated, have mommy issues.

so new york was it, all i had was New York. like taylia in like a bird i relied on New York because it saved me. it saved me. do you understand? it revived me. how could i lose this? it wasn’t fair.

i was angry at God for a split second, fuck why is my life like this? why is it so fucking hard? all the time. i don’t know. i don’t know but i have to stop bringing myself down like this. it isn’t sustainable. it isn’t sustainable. one day it’s gonna be too close. i have to stop getting so low.

stopping one part of my depression was accepting i couldn’t be an idealist. i needed to accept i needed money. i had to stop trying to impress my dad. being a Marxist is fucking hard mate, especially when your only sane parent judges you against it. but i couldn’t bear being poor for any longer, my creativity sprawling and in dire need of help, i realized i had to make more money. then poof came this idea of a newsletter. i think it was my friend arabelle who told me about it. and that was that. i wanted to write a column about whatever i wanted. i wanted to be creatively free.

i want to be free.

i don’t know a lot of people like me. people who have made art outside of the system in so many ways and still found an audience. people find that threatening and i find it tiring. it’s hard to always be the underdog and there’s so much class shame here, too. of that feeling i always had as a kid, of being embarrassed at not having more. i wanted to be rich because i saw how it gave you value in this world, how people took you seriously. it’s genuinely insane to me to find out artists i love came from wealth because all of a sudden you see the glitch.

even still, i can’t get too ahead of myself because i still manifested this. my life might still be hard but at least i escaped my home life and was able to make something of myself. there are many prayers here that have been answered.

as a kid i realized i wanted respect above everything and maybe that’s the thing i feel like I’ve gotten least in my life. idk maybe that’s the trauma talking. maybe that’s why I made Taylia’s family rich, too, I wanted to play with class and also understand it from this imagined life outside of mine. in so many ways Taylia is me and not me, a phantom I’m trying to heal.

*

it’s funny i posted some photos of myself on the beach recently and so many friends reached out to tell me that i looked happy. which was sweet. but then it was also like i was disassociating for most of the weekend from news that my sister shared with me about my family and it took me about three days to fully digest that by tuesday last week i was fully catatonic like ripe fruit hitting the pavement i felt this release in me and i’m lucky that i’m in a house full of people instead of being in a house fully alone and all of a sudden when i had a breakdown i had two friends hold me, literally hold me, Raneen on one side, Hisham on the other, and they held me while i cried. while my body convulsed. while i howled. while I whisperered this is too much. this is too much. this is too much.

anyway this is all to say that a lot of my struggle in life seems to be rooted in relationships. and in particular, people not understanding that whatever they see is of me is an iceberg and underneath all of that there is an incredible amount of sadness, tenderness, emotion, pain, darkness and heart. and i want to talk about it all of the time. it’s all i want to talk about. i wear my heart on my sleeve and a lot of people when they see it at first misuse it because

a) they didn’t know how to nurture me and i didn’t know either

b) or they don’t believe my heart was really what i showed it to be

c) or they only wished to get their own way with it and believed that was their right while giving me morsels in return

i’m realizing there’s a theme amongst capricorns (and i’m speaking for anyone with major capricorn placements (excluding 10H placements) that people just don’t seem to see how much work goes on behind the scenes. and then we are resented when we achieve things… people just assuming that those things come easily, without seeing all the years of arduous, arduous work. no one works harder than a Capricorn, I’m sorry.

i remember soon after Zeba and I started Two Brown Girls I got my first bit of hate mail accusing me of being someone who sat on a throne of money. I was 22 living in Montréal because I couldn’t afford to (or legally) live in New York anymore. It felt uncomfortable to be in the position of being observed and then so heavily misread. A lot of my therapy revolves around me unpacking people’s perceptions of me — either because of failed relationships, or things people had said that I found in total conflict with how I perceived myself (which then made me feel like I was full of shit because my first instinct is always to think i’m in the wrong) — and it’s been a thing i’ve literally been dealing with since i was a child, people treating me strangely when all I do is open my heart. i’ve been misperceived of being fake or faulty by too many people and it’s so wild how patterns follow you all your life. i always thought i was a loner because it was my choice but then this year i realized i have always been a loner because that way i wouldn’t be betrayed. that feeling of putting your heart out only for it to be swatted back at you like it’s a problem that you love too much is how my mother treated me my whole life, whilst draining me of that love entirely. it’s a pattern. people take too much and then when i ask for somehing it’s misread as asking for the world. i don’t know why people don’t see the pattern. i don’t know why my mother doesn’t see the pattern. why she doesn’t see me. why she never saw me.

but it’s ok. i’m breaking the pattern. now.

*

two of my closest friends who also happen to be two of my favorite writers had an intervention (shall we say) with me a few weeks ago. they told me that i needed to protect my work more. especially this newsletter. at first — always fully calm — i was like nah dudes i got this i do this for the people i write these because i love writing them. and they were like word all of this can be true but you can still protect your work and both encouraged me to put all of it behind a paywall and not work for free.

it was so uncomfortable to hear it and even though there was apart of me that felt defensive i was also grateful. it felt like someone was saying to me, you don’t have to stop trying so hard to be liked. what a relief!

i started this newsletter for money but also because i had wanted someone like me to guide me my whole life. a couple of years ago when i started writing How To Cure A Ghost i realized i maybe just needed to become that person so I could heal baby Fa from the future as well as anyone else who could benefit from this documentation. not everyone is going to fuck with my work, khalas as we say in Arabic, it’s fine. i write for those who need my work. i pray to god that my work feeds you. i pray to god that it does. all of this can all be true, my friends told me, and you can still protect your work.

it took me a while to sit with this information but then i realized this. my whole life i’ve been expected to give. if i wanted things i was accused of being selfish. in fact a lot of my childhood because i wanted anything i was called selfish. so i told myself it was bad to want things and good to give it all away. and that if i wanted something i could give it to myself, so that’s what i did. i got my first job at the body shop when i was 14 and that was the beginning of my work life, of believing that even if everyone failed me, i could give myself the things i needed. but i’m tired now. i don’t want to try this hard anymore.

i’ve noticed a lot of people don’t really want to give anything when they realize they can have their cake and can eat it too. and that’s just the reality. once we realize and accept sacred reciprocity then there can be honor in an exchange. but when one party is expected to give and the other is expected to recieve (as capitalism also decrees) then there becomes an imbalance that is a very hard pattern to unlearn.

i needed to learn that i don’t need to overperform to be liked. that’s how as a child i survived. if i was everything, if i was perfect, then i would be loved, i would be paid attention to. but i wasn’t. i never was. so i just kept excelling. juggling. learning more. doing it all together.

one book. two book. three.

nothing is enough though. it’s never enough. but it has to be enough. at some point it has to be enough.

*

on average about 8,500 people read each essay i post on here. but i’ve had the same numbers in paid subscribers (around the 340s) the last few months — i lose some i gain some back. i’ve been writing this newsletter for almost a year and a half, way before substack became a whole ass movement, and i see and know people who make whole salaries on here and know so many writers who live off of their substacks so it gets tiring to be stagnant and yet (and this is important) consumed at such a high rate.

that’s the thing. i’m being taken from constantly, cannibalized for my taste, for my interests, for my mind and yet people will still assume that there’s nothing in return for those things. they’ll even deny me credit or inspiration. so after considering my bank balance too, taking in the wisdom of my friends and comrades, i’ve decided that i will be making most of my posts private now. i will post one public post a month because i fully understand some of you can’t afford the subscription (which I’m willing to lower if enough people show interest) but as an artist who still lives pay check to pay check, and someone who is very honest about that, i’ve decided i have to protect my mind, heart and spirit more because it doesn’t seem other people will protect it for me. i am still that child, hoping. but I’m big enough to keep baby Fa safe now, and to protect her is to keep her safe for those who are willing to show her appreciation and respect.

if you read my work regularly please, please get a paid subscription. some of you refer to me as your favorite writer, which is an honor, but consider a one month subscription is like buying me two oat flat whites a month (more like one and a half, oat milk is expensive fml) and a full subsciption is buying me four bottles of natural wine over a year! it would mean a lot to me. i’m tired. and i’m tired of telling you i’m tired. i’m tired of not being believed.

also here’s the thing, if you’ve me never met me what you know about me is a projection. even if you’ve met me, know me, what you feel is probably a projection. my life was really fucking hard. i had a fucking terrible fucking life. but i’m tired of making those things accessible to people while i continue to struggle. this isn’t a game. this is my life and i’m not trying to just survive anymore, now i’m trying to thrive. it feels humiliating to share so much and to still struggle. i have to walk myself of the ledge multiple times a year because sometimes you just wanna let go. it’s too hard to carry this many people all the time but it’s what i realize is the only thing that gives me purpose. this path, to write this work. i just need to protect it now. your support, in whatever way you can give it, is meaningful to me in this process.

with love, fa