Disability and Psychological Trauma
I haven’t written in months! I was sick the end of May and literally it took all June for me to type paragraph. It was weird. Here I am with a new one finally!
You are beautiful
“The ordinary response to atrocities is to banish them from our consciousness,” opens Judith Herman in her introduction to her literary work, Trauma and Recovery. She continues, “The conflict between the will to deny horrible events and the will to proclaim aloud is the central dialectic of psychological trauma. People who have survived often tell their stories in a highly emotional, contradictory, and fragmented manner, which undermines their credibility and thereby serves the twin imperative of of truth telling and secrecy. When the truth finally is recognized, survivors can begin their recovery. But far too often secrecy prevails, and the story, of the traumatic event surfaces not as a verbal narrative but as symptom.”
Throughout my life I have been trying to tell my story. I assume it is a fascinating, wonderful story that needs to be told partly because I’m insanely vain but…mostly because I wanted to read a story like mine when I was little and not feel so “alone” but alas that didn’t happen.
I spent a great deal of my childhood in the hospital. It wasn’t that big of a deal to me.
*There was a great playroom
I emphasize to me.
In that same piece Herman speaks of the witness to atrocity,
“Witnesses as well are subject to the dialectic of trauma”
My mother witnessed each muscle biopsy, each neurologoical test, and each hospitalization. Herman states that it is just as difficult for a witness find a language that conveys fully and persuasively what witness has seen as it is for the victim.
I agree and disagree with Herman on this point.
Whenever my mother talks about a hospital stay I assume and tell her she is exaggerating. I don’t really know whether she is or not (but she exaggerates everything and I underplay everything because it’s a coping mechanism) I have repressed the memory and my mother who bore witness to the atrocities to her child is the subject of dialectic trauma. Because I have repressed so much I do rely on my mother’s stories more often than naught and take a lot as fact. With this we are brought to Herman’s point that a victim who has survived atrocity like myself is very, very contradictory in their storytelling.
*Have you read anything I write?
I’m a living contradiction. I’m contradicting myself all the time when writing of a hospital stay. I assume this is due to repression. I truly do not think I wish to remember the event but I absolutely want to tell every detail to my reader so they know what to expect if they ever find themselves in this situation. One of my earliest works is from a piece entitled, “Forgotten Letters” I was going through my old college papers and found it and its very fitting for this topic
“I was talking to Megan about the hospital tour of ’05, (yes, I cried) There is a reason no one talks about that stuff. I asked her about it because there was this child next to me in the ICU named Sylvester. He was three when we were there. I was there but I say “we”. You were there as much as I. I don’t have any memories of Sylvester. I saw a picture an unknown entity today. It made no sense to me as to why we had a photograph of a gaunt toddler with olive skin in my family photo albums. My mom said Sylvester was a transplant kid. He had been in the ICU for two years. We celebrated his 3rd birthday there. He needed a heart transplant mom said. She said it’s probably not going to happen but we should pray for him. I don’t remember this at all. Why don’t I remember?
Want to know what Megan and I remember?
Reading, “Dangerous Angels”, being obsessed with fairies and you guys making me purple fairy wings. The scent of vanilla lotion when I was unconscious and you shaved my legs. We remember listening to Kraftwerk in the gym at Shriners where Jean did her weird booty dance and people turning it off more than once. We remember always turning it back on louder-why?There was a time we found a conference room and you wrote “poopyshit” on a dry-erase board. There’s the remembrance of the day I went from ICU to Step-down and almost died and you guys jumped on my bed back to another bed while some Johnny Depp movie played
I feel that is all I remember. Why don’t I remember?”Share!