IF THE SNAKE SHOULD FALL ON YOU: TRAUMA
I had to write a note on trauma when I saw this photo. When I did research on my book on incest, I learned about trauma and realized that I had once been traumatized. There are degrees of trauma–sometimes the birth of a stillborn baby, rape, incest, an automobile accident, combat, violence. Those severely traumatized are labeled PTSD. I was not significntly traumatized by my own damaging experience of incest; I came close to being traumatized during a mad late-night ride with my drunken father, but in reviewing the various definitions, I realized that I was traumatized when I gave birth to my dear Downs Syndrome daughter 44 years ago. One of my main symptoms was feeling vulnerable to bad things happening, out of the blue. I no longer felt safe. I felt like fortune had turned against me and anything could happen.
Janoff-Bulman and Frieze (1983) described trauma as “the abrupt disintegration of one’s own inner world…the shattering of very basic assumptions that victims have held about themselves and their world. “
Maddock and Larson (1995) referred to trauma as “an emotionally intense experience that occurs without a suitable framework of meaning within which it can be placed for understanding and mastery.”
According to Van der Kolk (1987), “The essence of psychological trauma is the loss of faith that there is order and continuity in life…the belief that one’s actions have no bearing on the outcomes of one’s life.” And I have to feel great compassion for the thousands of new mothers of microcephalic infants, due to the recent mosquito (Zika) infection. I wanted to write a poem to express my feelings about them , but there seemed to be no words for the tragedy.
Well, I had to get that off my chest since the photo was such a metaphor for impending trauma.