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PTSD/Trauma can block writers from reaching potential

 

I finally realized that I feel guilty about everything—and that it goes back to my sexual abuse I suffered as a child.  My older brother sodomized me every Monday night for six years.  My mother was highly inappropriate sexually with me and my friends (she was drunk and stoned and lonely).  I complained once to my father but he told me I was a liar—and disgusting to boot.  He also treated me like I was slightly below dog shit.   And a high school buddy told me that my father looked at me the way my friend looked at girls.  All of that was there, too.

All of this did not help my self-image.  I was blocked in all sorts of ways– not just writer’s block.  If anything the poetry moved me past some of the damage.

But I am pretty together and happy despite constant pain, exhaustion and poverty.  (Some spiritual writers say that God will remove everything that stands in the way of Him and us.  I think that explains what happened to some of my spiritually-mind friends) and me.   I’ve healed tremendously in the support groups I am involved in—and prayer, meditation and reading—and also having a very good therapist.  EMDR and EFT also have been remarkably helpful.

The problem with thinking you are an awful person who deserves to be punished is that it leads to self-punishment.  What better punishment than a writer’s block and if not blocked, not able to send the work to publishers, or send out press releases about the work even if published.

So, I have decided to heal my PTSD from the sexual abuse. It’s time. I started dating someone and had flashbacks over coffee!  And it does interfere with the ideas of sending my work out to publishers.  I don’t think I have anything worthwhile inside of me—thanks to the sexual assaults I suffered. What I’ve realized is that what I decided based on those experiences counts more than the bashing the intrusive imagery. Most children who are raped repeatedly by more than one perpetrator over a long period of time figure it must have been my fault, I deserve it, and I must be a terrible person—worthless—only to be used by others.

Thirty or more years ago I dated a guy I really liked in New York City.  But it ended when we had our first disagreement.  It wasn’t the fight. It was when I looked at him and said, “If you loved me, you’d hit me.”   And I meant it. He bailed out of the relationship and I don’t blame him.  I don’t live there any more; I don’t think that.  I’d leave anyone who acted it out. It’s time to deal with the incidents that caused it in the first place.

Then the writing should come more easily.  We’ll see.  If I avoid this, how can I confront my character’s suffering?

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