I Can't Write
Since I was 16 years old, I've had the worst time with writing. Before then, words would flow onto a page like silk and writing was an outlet for me to express all that was in my heart. And then, something happened. I didn't understand it until today when a writing assignment for a class created the perfect storm of heart palpitations, nervousness and fear. I knew I was about to fail big time. I began typing and went where I always seem to find myself...my head. I can go there with knowledge and information, definitions and clinical material all day. I wrote for a while and something didn't feel right. I had a feeling in my body I couldn't quite put my finger on. All I knew for sure was that what was coming out wasn't the place I wanted to express or write from.
As a trauma survivor in both my childhood and my adult life, I have experienced soul and body disconnection; my head, my heart, my body and how I engaged with people around me was completely fragmented. In order to survive, I had to shut down parts of myself to cope with abuse, with shock and the reality that I was in danger and could not get out of it. It's a scary thing for a child not to know what is going to happen when they get home or not have a safe place or secure person. I sought a safe place in my teens with my first real boyfriend. It's common for anyone who has experienced abuse to try to create a new "family system" that doesn't have that abuse happening. I've wanted to be married since I was 14 years old. If I could only find someone who it was safe to give my heart to, then maybe I would be alright...maybe then I'd be safe. So I stuck my toe in the water of love. Boy I gave my whole heart to him. I acted like a wife, planning parties and cleaning up after him and planning my life around his schedule to be available to support him. I can remember writing love letters (back when there was no internet) to him and mailing them. I would tell him all about my hopes and my dreams and my love for him. It was so wonderful! I loved every minute of my time in his presence and I never wanted to go home. And then one day, I dropped something by his house to surprise him. I took it to his room and there my heart was broken. He had a letter that he was writing to another girl just like the ones he wrote me. That's when I stopped being able to write.
A Broken Heart
So today it hit me. It wasn't that I couldn't write. It was that I was stuck in that place...in the room where I learned that sharing my heart with someone wasn't safe. All the feelings came to the surface and tears flowed from my face. When you dare to share your heart with someone and it is betrayed, especially when you are young, it is very traumatic. I sat in that sadness. And something else came up for me. I felt it first in my stomach and then it rose to my throat and then to my face with tears. That wasn't the first person who broke my heart. The first person who broke my heart was my father. That truth was the start of my dis"integration". It was the start of me not being able to trust that I could give my heart to a man. It is a hard reality that your father or mother was the first person to break your heart, so for anyone reading this, I understand.
The Door To Breakthrough
The awareness of what is going on inside of you and where it comes from is the door to getting unstuck from trauma. Hope rose in my body as I realized what had been blocking my writing for over 20 years. I have no problem speaking or writing from my head. At times, due to brain fog and an enlarged amygdala (danger alarm in the brain), I have a hard time figuring out what I am thinking. But I am more at ease writing from what I've learned and what I've studied than what I feel. Feelings are dangerous, they hurt and often are misunderstood and exploited. So why in the world would I want to EVER do that again?; offer my heart...my feelings to another person and trust them to cherish them. In one of my favorite movies, Something's Got To Give, Diane Keaton says to her daughter, "You don't actually believe that you can outsmart love, do you?" That's what I've been doing…or trying to do. If I think and only offer my mind or even my body, then no one can get to my heart.
So, I had a major breakthrough. This is what was stuck in me. Fear....fear to try again to let someone get close enough to really know me and take the risk of getting hurt again in the same way that I did all those years ago.
In trauma recovery, we call this an anchor trauma. It's a first incidence of a traumatic event that shapes the rest of your life. Trauma is an event or circumstance where a person feels powerless to control what's happening, intensely scared, and it changes the individual's beliefs about themselves, the world and their interactions with the world. This situation of having my heart broken by my father was all of those things. I had no power over events that happened in my home, I was intensely scared and it changed the way I saw the world and myself in it.
I dipped my toe and took a risk with that first love in high school and that anchor trauma was reinforced. It happened again and again each time I took a risk all the way through divorce from my spouse a year ago.
So here I am again, in the world and I can't write. But maybe this time, now that I am aware of why that is going on, I can move through this trauma, heal my heart, face my fears and begin again. I now choose to take that walk toward the water with my pen in hand and risk being known in order to see if it really is possible to write a new story.