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Our own past trauma may be the most difficult of writer’s block

I am still under the weather, unfortunately.  Stomach troubles, but the chronic pain, fatigue and the mental illness is all stressful.

But the novel itself is bringing back haunting memories.  I thought the characters were so different than me that there was no chance of it bringing up charged or difficult materials.   But that isn’t true.

The other things is that chronic pain and fatigue can be caused by trauma.  The onset was traumatic– an auto accident, divorce, bankruptcy, business collapse, loss of nearly all my friends due to my spouse’s lies– so I worried about how I was going to live– she also lied about me to reporters and my reputation was destroyed.  The betrayal was astonishing.

But there is much more trouble from a childhood that I’ve tried to push out of my mind.  My psychiatrist pointed out that I have permanent brain damage from the beatings and  the concussions.  I never could breathe out of my nose.  The surgeon told me that my nose had been broken 27 or 28 times.  I was a battered child.

Relatives, neighbors, teachers and the pediatrician all tried to intervene but there were no laws protecting children who were being beaten.  My mother was a drug addict and alcoholic.  She ignored us most of the time, was assaultive and seductive the rest of the time.  My father wasn’t my biological father and he was hostile, abusive, violent.  My older brother sexually abused me every week for six years.  I was terrified nearly all the time.  I took refuge in school, religious studies, books, music and chess.  We were all stopped from having friends.  My mother didn’t have children– she had hostages.  I was the chief hostage. She also was sexually abusive with me.

Repression can cause chronic pain and fatigue.  There are ale so physical reasons for the pain– the x-rays reveal a lot of physical damage due to injuries.

So what does this have to do with writing?  Just this– the novel is bringing back memories of some of the things I did to cope that I would prefer to keep private.   I developed emotional problems that most people didn’t recognize– anorexia, dissociative personality disorder, then alcoholism myself.  I have recovered from all of these thanks to good therapy, books, journaling, prayer and the help from several anonymous programs.

The novel is bringing back memories of behaviors I am ashamed of, friends who have died, the terror of the AIDS epidemic, the friends I’ve lost from breast cancer, auto accidents, alcoholism.  The war in Vietnam– the draft was terrifying.  I then flunked (4-F) when I finally had my physical after college graduation.  I was in denial about my anorexia, bipolar disorder– but the Army was not.  Still I lost friends over there and lots of my friends were facing the draft.

As I get into my characters who have their own problems with intimacy remind me that I have defended myself from past pain is to keep my distance from getting too close to anyone else.  I am them– all of the characters in the novel are me.  Some spiritual experts claim that the whole world is our projection, that we have the universe inside of us, we are each other.

I look forward to getting back to the novel.  I haven’t felt up to it, but I feel a little better, so I am keeping my fingers crossed.

 

 

 

 

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