I put in a book-writing ‘need help’ call to one of my sisters about a week ago. She reads voraciously. I knew she would have the literary advice I needed as I worked my way through the age-10 horrific abuse memory I struggled with for weeks. My concern in part was for the devoid, sparse, grim, plain, bleak words and very short sentences that wrote that memory.
My sister recommended that I read, The Road by Cormac McCarthy. At the same time she acknowledged my reasons for not reading anyone’s book at this point in my own writing process. My body-brain grew into it expert abilities to dissociate. I know it is entirely likely that if I read other people’s writing my brain will select phrases and passages to store away in ‘secretive places’, only to pop them into my own writing anywhere along the line without my awareness. So sis recommended that I at least watch the movie:
The Road shares the premise of the novel on which it is based: a father (Mortensen) and his young son (Smit-McPhee) struggle to survive after an unspecified cataclysm has destroyed civilization, killed almost all plant and animal life, and obscured the sun; only remnants of mankind remain alive, reduced to scavenging or cannibalism. The man and boy travel southward, in the hope that it will be warmer. Along the way, they search for shelter, food, and fuel, and avoid bands of cannibals while trying to maintain their own sense of humanity.
Easier planned than done. I ordered the movie in from Netflix. It is in my player. I cannot tolerate watching more than two to five minutes of it at a time – and am at this point not at all sure I can finish it.
The largest kernel of truth related to my experience with this ‘topic’ has been presented MANY times in posts on this blog:
As I attempt to watch this film I am aware that my body-memory of the first 18 years of my life, filled with trauma and abuse, is resonating with this story and its presentations in ways that are nearly overwhelming to me. I agreed with myself that I would make this effort because I face this same body-memory reaction every time I approach my book writing about my childhood. As my sister told me in our conversation there are topics that cannot be presented in any other but the grimmest, starkest, naked way – no matter what format for expression is used.
The kind of world presented in this movie mirrors the kind of world that triggers Trauma Altered Development that leads to what Dr. Teicher describes at the end of his article as ‘evolutionarily alteration’ due to physiological response to extreme deprivations in an early formative environment. When an infant and young child is forced to make it through a malevolent early caregiver-attachment world, the body will automatically take every effort it can find to preserve life – causing changes in body-nervous system/brain-immune system changes that cannot be reversed. The body only cares that such a survivor make it to the age of reproduction.
Any and all of the links presented here above describe in detail what I am talking about. If readers wish to FEEL what trauma FEELS like in the body to abused infants and children, watch this movie – or try to. I am making every effort I can to take a dose of my own medicine! There is something important about the process of survivorship I can learn by this experience – no matter what. The same might be true for any of this blog’s readers who take the challenge to read this book and/or watch this film.
The scene and the players might be changed in this story from our own trauma abuse childhood stories, but the overall ENVIRONMENT is nearly identical – danger in an unsafe world (even though the father in the story loves his son – I am talking about the atmosphere and high risk environment that leads to trauma altered development when the danger/harm/distress ESPECIALLY comes to children from their caregivers.).
Article – latest research on Borderline Personality Disorder