Tag Archives: trauma writing

what’s at our backs?

stencil graffiti: "Et Apres...?"Good morning this good morning. Barack Obama is still our president this morning, isn’t he? They didn’t take that back, did they? Let’s hold him accountable to his commitments once again. We welcome the news this morning, and we move back into our work together.

I’m diving into a ten minute write with this quote:

“There is more wisdom in your body than in your deepest philosophy” –Friedrich Nietzsche

Yesterday was a day with this body. We stretched and talked to friends about exercises, we let our vulnerability show. Today I’m conscious of how unergonomic my various writing locations are around the apartment, and, too, how much my body is trying to tell me. Continue reading

(nablopomo #14) writing the wolf

graffiti of a shorts-wearing Little Red Riding Hood, next to the words "Fear makes the wolf look bigger." In the image, Red is placing a spray-paint can back into her basket.Good morning good Monday morning. Here, things are just beginning — it feels like they’ve been churning for hours: thin dreams, half-waking, in all the worlds at once.

The nablopomo prompt for today is another from Ricki Lake: I was terrified to go on DWTS, but facing my fear and overcoming it has been an incredible experience. Have you faced fears and overcome them?

There’s another prompt that my friend Ellen offered me recently: What would you write on a piece of paper that you were going to burn immediately after writing?

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about facing fears in writing, and fears of writing. What are the places I’m afraid to go in my writing, and how do I push into and through those edges, write anyway? There are pieces of my own story that I never write, never talk about, never engage. They sit, still, bulbous, inside me, and I’m afraid of what will happen when I attempt to find language for them. Will I be up to their tellings? Will I be able to find the right words? Will it be too overwhelming for me?

The more I live into those questions, the bigger the wolf gets for me — right? Whatever the task, the more I avoid that task, the scarier it looks. Always. And then, nearly every time, when I actually just let myself take it on and do it, I find that 1) I am capable and can handle it (or can ask someone to help me, who is willing to do so), and 2) that it wasn’t as bad as I’d built it up to be. Mostly right now I’m thinking about my taxes. But there’s also this little business about writing something that terrifies me.

What do we do with the writing that we both want and don’t want, with the stories that we need and that we don’t want to commit to the page? What happens with these stories that scare us?

Dorothy Allison talks about the importance of writing in/to our fear, that what we’re afraid of holds an awful lot of energy, and that energy will emerge on the page, will transmit to the reader, will bring the story alive. We have to be willing to go directly into what terrifies us.  That will bring us naked on the page. We can use that energy, the energy of our fear, to bring the writing vivid and alive for the reader.

We pay attention to what we’re afraid of, don’t we? I can tell you how my stepfather’s face looked when he was getting angry, when he was shifting from Fine to Fucked-Up. I remember the nuances of the dining room table, the one I stared at during the hours and hours we had to sit there and confess all of our psychological workings, every thought and imagining. I remember my sister’s face, I remember how the light was in the house, I remember the qualities of silence in each room around his voice, around each of our own, how the house, his house, seemed to swallow us, the way he wanted to. Those details, when I can get into them, are important — they allow the reader to be there with my narrator, exactly in the situation with her.

Of course, this doesn’t just apply to writing that’s drawn closely from life. There’re fiction stories that scare us, too. What happens when you meet a telling, a character, who both draws you in and repels you? What happens when you let yourself all the way into her, anyway, even though you find her disturbing, even though you question what it means about you that you can imagine her so clearly? I think it can be useful not to analyze too much, but just to write it — don’t worry about where she comes from. We all have plenty of models of terrible behavior to draw from. Use your fear of her to show her vividly.

There’s power in the material we’re afraid of, and we can make it ours, we can take it back. All those stories that we’re afraid of, they’re ours now, just ours. I say write them, even if you need to tear out the pages after you’re done writing and shove them into the back of a drawer (I myself don’t advocate burning any writing, but I’m a packrat when it comes to writing — you do what you need to do.)

Is there a story you want to write that you’re afraid of? Pat Schneider gives this simple prompt: Write something that scares you. Take 10 minutes, go into it. Give me the qualities of light, expressions on faces, how the narrator felt in their body.  Keep to that time limit, whatever you set for yourself. Dive in, then come back out, and stop for today. You can come back to the story; there’s no need to push into overwhelm.

Then, after you write, do something excellent for yourself. Go to the ocean, get a coffee at your favorite cafe, call a friend and laugh. Celebrate your success.

You face your fears every morning — thank you for that. Thank you for the fears your writing names and shows, thank you for the ways you’ve taken that power back for your own use. Thank you for your words.

(nablopomo #8) in the other rooms

graffiti of a pink-red heart with a black bar emerging/opening from the middleGood morning. It’s light already by the time I’ve gotten myself situated at the computer and by the time my poor old pc gets all booted up and warm and ready. I’m tired this morning. The alarm goes off at 4.30 and I don’t even pretend to get up, just reach over, turn it off, and snuggle back down under the covers.

Last night’s Write Whole workshop was fantastic: strong, deep and engaged writing. It’s been a couple weeks of hard processing around my head and heart, lots of excavating writing, all that damn self care and the energies that it stirs up and the way I need to slow down, take some time to process it all without writing, away from the notebook.

I figured that this morning I’d just get up and do a quick blog in response to the nablopomo prompts — last week those were pretty light-hearted, writing-focused prompts, so, no problem.

Today’s prompt is:  Has anything traumatic ever happened to you? Describe the scenes surrounding a particular event. (Guest prompt from Adrienne McDonnell)

This is the part where I’m taking a deep breath. Ok. Where to begin? Part of me wants to write about prompts (about the ones that work the best for me and in my workshops), part of me wants to just respond to the damn thing, part wants to write about the morning tea and then take the dog out for a walk.

Anything traumatic. What’s interesting about this prompt is that it doesn’t ask us to write about the trauma itself — it’s asking for the scene surrounding the trauma: what was going on in the other room, what was happening elsewhere, what’s the setting look like? It can be so powerful to write about difficult events — how do I want to say this? Morning writing isn’t the best time for deep didactic engagement with writing process — it can be as powerful, when writing about trauma, to describe as to just suggest or leave off. What we don’t say, that is, is often as or more powerful as what we do — because when we hint or suggest details or a larger story, the reader begins to draw their own conclusions, gets pulled into the story more deeply because their imagination is engaged.

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This is one scene:

I don’t remember if he ever took me in his office during the daytime. I can remember afterhours, dark parking lot, quiet offices in the complex, a couple of lights on in windows, a lawyer or realtor working late. This complex was new, the whole area recently developed, in Omaha’s western expansion. Maybe there was a daytime time, though. In the other rooms of the small therapy office, my mother and their business partner, a psychiatrist, would have been seeing clients. The whole office would be quiet, the business manager and receptionist at her desk behind the check-in counter, the place was like a medical doctor’s clinic — she’d be chewing gum, typing up insurance forms, whiting something out, answering the phone: Hello, Collins and Diercks Therapy, how can I help you? (God, what was their office called? How would she have answered the phone? I can’t remember. Go ahead, Jen, it’s all fiction.)

There would have been quiet conversation in every corner of the building, in every space of this office. Maybe mom met with a young client, a child and his own parents. The child and mom play with some of her toys, he pushes a wooden firetruck around the beige carpeted floor. His parents sit stiff on the couch, sweatered, khakied, the blonde mother with her hair pulled back, they watch their skinny, towheaded son bang the firetruck against his father’s brogues, over and over, it can’t get through, it can’t get through. Mom kneels on the floor with the boy, not over him, on the other side of the room from his parents. She’s calmer than she ever is at home, has taken off her shoes. All the lines in her forehead have gone smooth, and she asks the boy, why does it want to get through? Why can’t the truck go around?  She wants to get the boy comfortable enough to say why he’s wetting the bed, why he’s throwing up at school. The boy abandons the firetruck at his father’s shoe, walks back over to the toys, takes up a wooden articulated snake; my mom watches him, relaxed, smiling, alert, she watches his hands and face and can respond to what he does. His parents gape anxiously, the mother grabbing hard at the father’s hand, digs a broken manicure into his palm, to keep herself from interrupting.

In the other office, the psychiatrist consults with a patient about his prescription. The man is manic depressive, hates that he’s lost all possibility of flying on the drug that the doctor gave him, wants to know if there’s something else he can take. He is dark-haired, wan and think but gaining weight, finally, after being on the drug. He wears an expensive suit, has come to his appointment between meetings with legal clients. He says to the doctor, You took away my flight. You took away my flight. The doctor bites his lip on the inside and hopes that the patient can’t see, looks out the window, and then is calm. You were going to fly off a roof, do you remember? The man turns to look out the window, onto the wide swath of new concrete parking lot, out toward the developments of fat empty houses, the tiny trees planted along new roadsides, each one tamped down with rope ties. The man doesn’t exactly nod, but does shift his hands from a clutch between his legs to resting them, bony, heavy, on  the dark material over his thighs. Isn’t there something else you can give me?

Outside the office, there was a small open courtyard, a little terrarium-like garden, a fountain. In the other offices, men talked to women; people typed letters; someone got a cup of coffee; a woman connected a modem to the phone lines, her computer emitted the insect-drone of the modem connecting to her internet service provider; a client opened a door and set a bell tingling; a grey mottled cat from the second-most recent development prowled through the courtyard, looking for more prey.

In my stepfather’s office there was no therapy going on during that hour with me.

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Want to take this prompt? You could write about something traumatic, or any other intense experience for you or your character — what was happening in the surrounding spaces, outside the window, on the other side of the wall, etc? Give yourself, your room,  15 minutes — follow your writing wherever it seems to want you to go.

Thanks for all the layers of your attention and creativity. Thanks for the breadth of your imagination. Thank you for your voice and your words.

enter the mess

graffiti: summer hat, pink & yellow with a blue ribbon & flowerWe try things and try things, we find out what works for this moment, this timeframe, and then when it stops working, we try something else. Sometimes we spin for awhile, trying to figure out what changed: why isn’t it working anymore? But eventually –don’t we?– we relent, and let the change in.

Good Tuesday morning! This morning, Sophie and I walked down to the water, we saw a great blue heron drifting overhead, and she saw her first calling seagull, lifted her ears to the sound, got distracted then by the thud of the small bay waves hitting the seawall. As of last Saturday, she’s been with us a month. What changes we’ve all been through — and here’s this new life that’s pushed her warm face into both our hearts.

Today’s the first official day of summer, summer solstice, the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere — how are you going to mark this day?

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Last night was the second meeting of the Summer ’11 Write Whole workshop. We met at the LGBT Center just for this one session, because our regular space was otherwise occupied. I led my first writing workshop at the LGBT Center, back in 2002, and so I get nostalgic whenever I enter the building, I remember those women and their patience with me, faith in me, while I was trying to figure out how to lead a writing workshop. We claimed space in those concrete-block rooms and let our erotic writing sing and spin and sorrow and celebrate and dance. Hard to believe I was just 30. Hard to believe it’s been 9 years.

Here’s one of the prompts from last night — I offered these three fragments as starting places:

- To write is to enter the mess… (Aja Couchois Duncan)

-I feel less alone when I tell… (Eileen Myles)

- Years ago, she stopped…

(Choose one of these, or more than one, or notice which one is choosing you, and let that be your starting place — finish the sentence, and keep going. If you get stuck, you can begin again with the same fragment, or choose another one. You might also change the fragment in some way, adding the word ‘not’ or changing a pronoun, for instance. Let yourself write for 15 minutes, and follow your writing wherever it seems to want you to go!)

This is what I wrote in response to this prompt (we had 20 minutes):

To write is to enter the mess, is to spill out all your syllables, is to devil all the precious eggs everyone else is carefully walking around upon. Writing opens the vein, lets in air and lets out pus, lets me breathe again, I mean, breathe with gills & webbed toes, breathe against the tide that’s coming, breathe through the mountains of fear I live within. To write is to enter the fuse, set electricity from my lips, ride open every agate and gate, close the circuits, let sparks fly, to write is to see what I forgot I was thinking, is to be unstable, grammatically incorrect, metaphorically questionable, raging through and without machines. To write is to pass the words forward, to dance around old truth, to hunger with pen and ink, to kill him over and over, he who is only saved by the unmentionings, the unsaying, the not speaking, to write is to put my blood to his lips and say, now there is what a real woman tastes like. To write is to understand I have enough blood to give. To write is to tell about his tiny dick, grey pubes — these details are not evil in and of themselves, but when I write, I set his truths to paper, I make them flat and 2-dimensional, I make his monsterliness just plain old boring patriarchal misogynist bullshit. Show the underside of one more regular old child molester, I lift up th rock he turned himself into hen he lay upon me and reveal the white grasses, tiny bugs, balled-up rolly-pollies, ants, beetles with shiny stained wings, all the life still making a way down here. Down here. To write is to go down, in, it’s the only metaphor I trust, to emerge with handfuls of something I smear on the page — I don’t stop to read, reflect, reinterpret, just stain what was empty, secrete all over the silented, and move on with more handfuls. To write is to mix up the wheat paste and poster the neighborhoods of my insides with noise & mess, to blur all the boundaries, remove, muddy the sharp crease between good girl office worker regular wage earner and the dirty girl who stands on a stage with the words of sex falling out of her mouth — to write is to lose track of identities, loose the tense muscles around neck, shoulder wings, belly, coccyx, thighs — is to set vowels, variables, into those muscles, transcribe a new calculus, slope new languagings for ease to ride itself on. This is what writing does. It marks up what we work so hard to make clear, it pulls tight all the lines it’s cast forth within us — knotting together past present future, allowing for no difference, allotting space and time for the true, brilliant catastrophe we were meant to be. Our skin, this singular organ, contains every possibility we ever laced with might have been and the writing sets all that possibling free, lets it step ginger or fierce into the world, lets us learn our own new all the way over again.

Keep writing, ok? Thanks for the way you trust what is unclear in you, the way you love what’s unresolved. Thank you for your words.

saturday nights in 1987

pen & ink drawing of a young woman in hot pants kneeling down next to brick wall

click the image to see more of Friend Called Five's drawings!

When the puppy is sick at 4am, the parents don’t get up early to blog, unfortunately –

(she seems to be better now — whew!)

However, here’s a write from this weekend’s Writing the Flood workshop. We had a great time and got some powerful writing done!

(Mark your calendars: the next Writing the Flood will be on July 23.)

Our first write on Saturday was this: describe what Saturday nights looked like when you or your character were in high school…

We took 7 minutes for this introductory exercise, but you might want to set your timer for 10 or 15.

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Here’s my response to this prompt:

She didn’t go out with friends, no girls banging up in beat up cars, crashing against or through her front door, filled with giggles and Jean Naté and lust — she wasn’t out roaming the Midwest city streets with a pack of old friends, not even double-dates were allowed. This is what it means to be under lock & key. She swept the floor, stood under the shower, all too aware of his awareness. If she was dating somebody — and this was the best reason to be dating somebody — she could go out. A boyfriend unlocked the front door, up to and until the moment that it became clear (if it did) that she and this boy weren’t going to have sex — then the door locked again.

Going to dances meant going with her younger sister, most often. So Saturday nights in 1987 might look like hot shower and wash out the long hair that fell to just above her butt, scrape off all other unwanted hair, smooth on lotion, act like it’s perfume, and stand in front of the mirror with the radio playing Top 40 on Sweet 98 while you set your hair up in bendy rollers, paste on your makeup, pull on a too tight purple Lycra dress and slip into the flats that you can dance in. Get into the car with your baby sister, two years younger, act like you’re both ok. Hope someone at the all-ages dance will be cute and from a different school; hope to forget about your stepfather while out on the dance floor.

Thanks for the tender way you hold your memories — thanks for the power in them. Thanks for your words.

is it too much? wrangling with trauma memoir

stencil graffiti of a green butterflyGood morning! Bay Area folks, are you soaking up this amazing sunshine? You know how fickle our weather is here — get yourself out in it before it’s gone! Take a notebook, even better, and let the words flow while you sit somewhere outside; let the people, the growing things, the small birds around you be your prompts!

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(A bit of this morning’s post gets into some specific details around sexual trauma — just be easy with yourselves as you read, ok? xox, -Jen)

I want to write a bit about the controversy around a book called Tiger, Tiger by Margaux Fragoso, which is a memoir written by a woman about her experience/’relationship’ with a pedophile who began abusing her when she was 7 years old.  I’ve read a number of reviews of this book, including one that calls her a ‘real life Lolita unapologetic for affair‘ (and this article, too, rather than including a photo of the author or her book, includes a photo of a book entitled “the Pedophile’s Guide to Love and Pleasure,” which was recently banned by Amazon — what?).

Reviews question whether the author showed good taste in going into as much detail as she did in her scenes portraying her abuse, and they call her a ‘willing victim’ (at 7, or 10, or…). Too, they say there’s no way she could have recalled as much as she did about conversations she had with her father: how could she recollect a whole long diatribe of his, and even remember when he stopped and took a sip of his beer, asks the NPR reviewer. But isn’t this what we do with memoir? Isn’t this the landscape that memoir occupies, the place of truth that is furnished with fiction’s gift of plot development, scene crafting, narrative structure? Do we ask this question of all memoir-ists? I feel this way every time I read a memoir: how could they possibly remember that? It brings me to despair sometimes, thinking that I’ll never be able to write my own memoir or some of my stories, because I don’t remember the specificity of conversation, I can’t remember everything he said, how he said it, what he sounded like when he did. My memories of my adolescence are fuzzier, sometimes devastatingly clear, sometimes ghostly. This author is pulling from her journals, and memoir also, I’m going to venture, gives some leniency around details: yes, it happened this way, or close to it. Memoir is a crafted thing, it’s structured, it’s not autobiography, it’s a work of literature. Memoir rides close to fiction, and we call it memoir, I think, when we are conscious of working to keep most of the work on this side of the line between fact and fiction.

And then there’s the fact that folks have a hard time with the descriptions of the sex, the scenes of abuse. Why would anyone read this book? some reviewers ask. And then I wonder why I’m working at all on some of my writing projects — who will want to read them? The readers ask, why go into so much detail during those sex scenes, those scenes of abuse? Couldn’t we have just gotten the point with some more obfuscation, with metaphor, with hints? Are these scenes the reason that the author is called ‘unapologetic’?

I haven’t read the book, though I will eventually. What I will say is that these scenes, in my own case, are an essential part of the story. They are a part of the making of the character, the narrator, that this memoir is seeking to reveal. We as a society, of course, have this split-personality when it comes to sex in our art: We are fascinated by it and repelled. We understand, intellectually, that people are sexual creatures — but we wonder if it’s really polite to talk about it matter-of-factly. Scenes depicting the realities of sexual violence, in all its forms, particularly in its more insidious forms, the ways it can look like seduction and play, are necessary for us to represent and for us to allow ourselves to read. Sexual violence isn’t always brute force, it often isn’t brute force. It much more often, I think, would look to an outside viewer as though the child/young person/partner being abused was a ‘willing victim.’ If we don’t look at this reality, we as a society don’t change — we, as a society, will continue to make space for more children to be sexually abused, because we won’t want to see how people continue to use sexual manipulation and coercion to their own ends.

Yesterday in my journal I wrote, What sort of rape victim uses a vibrator during her assaults? This one. That’s a terrible line to write, and I feel apologetic even in the middle of it. If I don’t include this caveat, though, I am also the unapologetic victim. In my writing about my own experience of sexual violence, I slip easily and consistently between the language of rape and the language of having sex. I would never have said that he was raping me, when I was a teenager — it took years for me to come to that word as an option for me, because his force wasn’t physical, it was psychological and insidious.

Here’s a line that saved me recently: In Tara Hardy‘s chapbook, Shoulder Strap Slip, in the piece, “Being (This) Femme Means,” she writes: “Being a femme means knowing that just because you’re cumming doesn’t mean you’re not being raped.” That’s it. I closed the book when I read that line, grateful, devastated, seen. I don’t know how Tara felt when she wrote that line, if she felt embarrassed or worried or scared or knowing and sure of herself — I closed the book when I read that line. I was on public transportation, I think. I looked out the window, I said, Yes yes yes, and held something in my heart open to witness.

There are stories we have to tell that many people won’t want to read. That’s ok. There are others who will need to read those stories. This is what I remind myself, when I am feeling the most ashamed in my own work. I need to get back to that work now, for at least a little bit.

They will want to (continue to) make us ashamed for our words. We don’t need to give them our shame by putting down our pens and shutting up, by feeding the part that wants to write the stories down with alcohol or too much food or too much partying or too much facebook. We can give that part of ourselves the gift of 20 minutes or even an hour of writing time, we can open the notebook, offer the pen, say, Here, I love you, we made it, let’s go.

Want to do that now? Take 20 minutes, take your morning coffee break, take your lunchtime, with your notebook and a small part of the story that you most want to tell. The story that’s most important to you, right now, to be able to write. Start with the line, “This is what I wanted to tell  you…” and use it over and over, if you want, even for thirty sentences in a row — it’s ok! Let the raw material out onto the page — that’s the clay you use to craft your literature.

Thank you for your honesty, for the ways you have lied to hold truth safe, for the ways you have saved your good and broken heart, for your gorgeous and necessary words.

vozsutra: who have you become, to be thinking about this

street art -- silhouettes of swallows, painted black on white brick, flying around, maybe out of a cage

(all the images on the blog are clickable, linked to their source -- this one comes from a graffiti blog based in the UK)

Ok — so I found out yesterday that writing ourselves whole didn’t get a grant from Horizons that we applied for. Today I’m disappointed but not knocked down — could it have something to do with not feeling so isolated, not so alone in the work? I’m grateful, today, for all the folks I get to work with in building writing ourselves whole to something sustainable and stronger.

Here’s exciting news — last night we ate the first of our own tomatoes with our dinner.  Deep orange like a peach but with tomato flesh, and still warm from the vine.  The first my-home-grown tomato I’ve had since I lived in Maine: I mixed it in with the guacamole, and it was so good.

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Today’s a VozSutra day: a practice of voice day.  I’ve got a little bit for writing time, then I need to head into town and be at the office for a bit before the MedEd writers workshop at UCSF. After the afternoon’s work, the Mr. and I might even get to spend some time at the ocean. Maybe I should wear my bathing suit under the work clothes; it’s supposed to be hot again today.

Did you do some thinking yesterday about what you’d write if you didn’t have to be good?  What did you come up with? I love the writing that comes up in response to Mary Oliver’s poem — I imagine any writing you did in response to this prompt was risky and challenging.  Thank you for that!

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Last night I spent quite awhile editing the piece I’d workshopped earlier this summer at the Writing as a Healing Art conference.  The conference organizers have joined with the folks at University of California Press, and UCP is putting out a volume of the writing produced or workshopped during the conference. The piece I submitted is fiction, drawn heavily from my own life, and focuses on two sisters who experience awful sexual trauma and psychological manipulation and control at the hands of their mother’s second husband — right now it’s a short piece, 30 pages or so, and I’ve excerpted 6 to submit.  I have an idea of the longer work, how it could come together into a book. It’s also a terribly hard story for me to write, and so I’ll get a little bit out (3 or 7 or 12 pages) and then I’m done with it for 6 months or a year, til I’m ready to write the next part.

I want to show how folks experience trauma change from the people they were Before to the people they were After, Later. I want to capture that moment of transition, transformation — the moments of decision: how is it that, just yesterday, it wouldn’t have been possible for me to do or say this thing, but today it’s become a part of my normal?

It’s easy to pathologize victims of trauma (and it’s easy because it’s safer for the pathologizers, for the rest of society — if we make this an individual’s problem, then we don’t have to deal with the wider ramifications of power and control or hierarchy or oppression). It’s easy to paste PTSD over someone’s face and then go to work trying to resituate that person to “normalcy” — which means getting that person to a place where they can be a ‘contributing member’ of our capitalist society (and/or back to the front, if we’re talking about the military*).

What I’ve wanted for some time is to be able to write the story of a long-term trauma, which involves both decisions and actions on the part of the perpetrator, and decisions and actions on the part of those being traumatized — not decisions to be abused, but decisions around survival, strategizings and navigations from moment to moment, day to day.  Over time, those strategizings change, because the ground is always moving: the perpetrator is never satisfied with what he’s already been able to do, he wants to do something more. Suddenly you’re deciding, deciding, not what you want to do with your friends after school but whether today is a good day to ‘let’ the person abusing you do this or that, or whether you think can put it off for one more day. Who have you become, to be thinking about this?  How did you get to this place?

Maybe more selfishly, I want you to know what that experience is like, that going from who you thought you were going to become to someone your earlier self would never, never recognize as you. I don’t like to be alone here.

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Stay hydrated today — it’s supposed to be hot hot again.  Be easy with you today, and I’ll work to do the same.  Thanks so much for all the incredible work you do… whatever you’re doing to be you: thank you.
*This is a side note, but I want to try to write it: I read earlier this week about research going on at th UCSF VA with military folks to try and figure out how to prevent PTSD. The more I think about this, the more terrifying it is: PTSD is a healthy-brain’s response to horror and trauma. A military that has been trained out of the capacity to respond with horror to war is more frightening than I have words for. PTSD is an awful, awful thing to have to deal with, and the best way to prevent it in the military is not to send people to war. In my estimation, the best way to prevent PTSD is not to torture, brutalize, traumatize, harm others: not children, not intimate partners, not friends, not people you think have less power than you, not ‘enemies.’