IF the SNAKE ….

 

                              IF THE SNAKE SHOULD FALL ON YOU:  TRAUMA

Out of the Blue


        Out of the Blue

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.

About Nan Mykel

I used to think I would be a child prodigy, but then I got old. Formerly I had fantasies of rubbing elbows with cultural and academic leaders but that did not come to pass because I did not become a cultural or academic leader or any other kind of leader, for that matter. I am not even an "Alpha Dog," a term learned from a friend who had to become "Alpha Dog" in order to influence her own pet. (When gazes lock, she never looks away.) For years I expected to become a published author, but in passing I could not avoid the fact that I had little to contribute to the world's bulging dumpsters. I'm embarrassed to report that I also considered my primary process artistic productions powerful, rather than mildly neurotic. Which is not to say that I disrespect myself, only that I am beginning to doubt my potential for making a mark on the world. If I focus on strict self discipline I may be able to keep my garbage removed on a weekly basis, to keep the kitty box changed, the clothes cleaned, the dog watered, fed and walked, but that just catches me up to the starting mark again. When writing I physically grapple with words, wrestling them from their indifference into attempted chunks of awareness. I sit heavily on my chair; I breathe in artificially cooled air; my ear drums note the tap tap of the keyboard and the steady uninterrupted sound of the air conditioner, What is that sound? The roar of the ocean from 30 yards away...Inside, my thoughts are are balls in an electronic game machine, bouncing hither and yon from lever to lever. I am a little grim and intent until I recall a dream related by a black man in the prison where I once worked. He said that when he was a small boy, back home, he dreamed he was standing on his front porch pissing, and that he suddenly found himself pissing stars...
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