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Trauma

Guest Posts, poetry, Trauma

TRAUMA, MARY OLIVER, AND ME: HOW POETRY SAVED MY LIFE

August 7, 2019
oliver

by Nadia Colburn, PhD

Mary Oliver, who died recently at 83, lit the way forward for me when I doubted that I could ever move past suffering into survival, let alone beauty and joy.

In 2011, I was a poet who had stopped writing poetry. Although writing had long been a trusted friend, holding my hand as I remembered being sexually abused as a child, writing also seemed to hold me in place, to mire me in pain.

Much of the poetry I had once loved now seemed to mirror back to me violence and suffering.  I didn’t want to be the cliche of the unhappy poet, or worse. Two of my poet friends, both also graduates of the my PhD program, had recently committed suicide. I often thought back to Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton, two mother poets who had famously committed suicide. I couldn’t help but wonder if poetry was doing us more harm than good.

I was a mother of two young kids when memories of a babysitter abusing me came flooding back. If for a while writing poetry allowed me to express my feelings, I soon worried that the form was holding me in my pain with no way out. I decided to move away from poetry, to write non-fiction instead. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Trauma

Making sense out of Tragedy

February 1, 2019
market

By Tanya Ward Goodman

You went to Katsuya at the Americana mall in Glendale to escape the sound of helicopters in your neighborhood. For an hour, your cell phone had been humming in your pocket alerting you to the concern of your friends and family.

“We are safe,” you typed. “Strange world.”

A few hours earlier, someone had crashed a car in front of your neighborhood Trader Joe’s. With the police in pursuit, this person took shelter in the grocery store. He was armed. He barricaded himself. Hostages were taken. Allegedly, he’d already shot his grandmother. And his girlfriend. The scene was still unfolding.

In LA, there are always helicopters. When they start to collect in one place a person begins to wonder. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Trauma

MY GHOST BODY’S THOUGHTS

November 29, 2018
ghost

CW: This essay discusses sexual assault and eating disorders

By Cyndie Randall

“Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable.”
– Fred Rogers

“Survivors feel unsafe in their bodies. Their emotions and their thinking feel out of control.”
– Judith Lewis Herman

The carpet was bitter this morning. It jammed itself between my toes – the first resistance – and burned the skin on my knees like tiny pin pricks.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

I never say “Amen” without remembering the empty, sweaty hands I’ve held in countless circles of healing.

Several complex galaxies were pushing on my back by the time I stood up, each so heavy that I went looking for my daughter and apologized to her immediately.

“Why are you sorry, mama?”

My body told me I’d be crawling back into bed after tea, so I answered her by giving an advance on the second apology.

The third one came a few hours later – “Oh my! Sorry!” The clock read 1:30 p.m. and I was still wearing a tattered nightgown when her friend bounced up the driveway and to our door. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Trauma, World Events

Fallout

February 12, 2018
trauma

By Carin Enovijas

It’s been almost a month since the State of Hawaii’s Emergency Management Agency grossly mismanaged a routine drill and sent out a text message to millions of my neighbors informing us that we were about to die by nuclear annihilation. It took another 38 minutes to issue a “just kidding” response to the FUBAR fiasco, during which many folks waited to either be instantly immolated or survive long enough to fight to the death in the apocalyptic aftermath.

I won’t bother rehashing all the incredulous details because unless you’ve been cut off from the world, possibly holed up in a bomb shelter, you’ve likely heard all about the incompetence that led to the now historic Panic in Paradise.

In the aftermath of the incident I gave myself permission to take the rest of the day off. My family seems to be a bit more prepared than a lot of folks. We had worked together calmly and quickly to gather our supplies and prepared to shelter in place for at least 14 days. Our successful teamwork helped to offset some of the immediate emotional fallout. Although I’m still not sure why I decided to put away all the fresh fruit into the freezer. After some discussion and making of notes on how to round out the details of our emergency plan, my family went about their business as usual. Like so many of our neighbors and friends, we have shared our “I love yous” with much more frequency and sincerity throughout the past week. Continue Reading…

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