April 13, 2013, Saturday. There is a level of truth between severe early abuse and trauma survivors that is for us our status quo, our familiar territory, our set of givens, and the basis of our reality. Safe and securely attached people have a different layout. If I could erase my personal self from most of my writing I would do so. I — that tiny word — troubles me in that what I have to say often has to do with nothing more than the experience of a lifetime of adjustments caused in my body by early traumatic changes to my physiological development.
This is nothing personal. It is nothing especial about me. This is a layer of experience that some of us know — and some do not — in the BODY.
As I return to my book writing (which pleases me) I am aware of the fine line I walk — and I bet most early abuse survivors walk — between what my body knows and remembers and what I want nothing to do with in my thoughts. There is no way I can write about Mother and her abuse of me without my body responding — or trying hard to respond to — what I am doing.
So I DREAM having terrible headaches. In waking life I don’t remember the last headache I had. I am blessed to live without them. Or, perhaps not — but if they attack me in my sleep — I leave them there.
Phantom stomach aches these past days out of NOWHERE (it seems). I don’t have stomach aches ordinarily, either.
What about my entire scalp erupting last evening in hives?
All can seem bizarre and senseless if not taken to show that my body – severe abuse survivors’ bodies — remember all sorts of thing we do not and often can never know about consciously. I think being aware of this fact is helpful. This is a spooky process, like my very body is haunted. Which, I suppose, it most certainly is!!
Walking around inside a body full of ghosts.
I only want to touch and awaken the memories I select for these books. These memories have a chorus of supporting memories in my body – that would HOOT and POKE and SHOUT to become a part of this story. I am the boss here, I say! I am composing this symphony MY WAY.
It’s not that I don’t admire my body for keeping itself alive and me with it. I appreciate that effort. But when it comes to trying to compose a coherent narrative of the whole story the cacophony of sounds – whispers sometimes – clapping – whatever. You name it. All those “sounds” are in my body each with its own filed-away memory of something — usually — quite awful.
I am not after the awfulness of the story that COULD be told about what very mentally ill Borderline Personality Disorder psychotic Mother did to me. I want to look for the structure, the patterns. I search for even the wisdom of what happened inside Mother’s developing body-brain when she was little and in trauma-trouble.
Whatever I write — even though often lately it seems someone other than ongoing-I is doing the writing — whomever with fingers on the keyboard, a shadow that writes, then vanishes before I can even check its dance card.
Obviously there is invitation to a memory of some kind attached to every moment over the 18 years I was trapped in this woman’s hell. But I select to have open invitations — and CLOSED ONES! If the ones I will not let trample over me in some stampede to be listened and attended to want to poke into my awareness through dream headaches and hives — well, I will take that into account and in stride. As I move forward….
By the way, very good news to me via my mother’s friend, Joe Anne. I spoke with her via telephone yesterday and she has the medal to the metal — reading every single one of Mother’s 7 volumes of letters and asking me ASAP for every manuscript of my own. She now says “Leave all those names alone!” Whatever Mother wrote about anyone is part of this story, an important part.
Joe Anne is onboard as she realizes she is “supposed to be” although she doesn’t literally know why she has a part to play in this writing project any more than I do. I am VERY happy to have her beside me!
Joe Anne speaks of the Mildred she knew for 46 years. Of Mother (died 10 years ago) in the public sphere. Critically important insights about how Mother’s mental illness looked to outsiders to our family — and how it now looks from what Mildred wrote in her own words.
I write from inside the story — Joe Anne now is the voice, 56 years after she first met Mother — of the outsiders’ story.
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