Yesterday I started working on a webinar series called Trauma Queens. It will be short writing lessons and prompts for getting into and through writing about really dark episodes in your life. To tell the truth artfully and with heart. That’s why I’m calling this series, Trauma Queen. I’ll be the self appointed queen of writing openly about the confusing, debilitating, ridiculous effects that shit storms have on our lives.
Sometimes, when we write to get to the heart of the truth, we are engulfed in intense feelings and, then, dammit we lose our words. Trauma makes us speechless and writing about past trauma can throw even the most articulate writer back to that state of cliche and clumsy expression. That is the muttering of unprocessed grief.
When I wrote my memoir, The Accusation, about having been falsely accused of child sexual abuse, I learned a lot about how to find my way to the truth, to reliving fear, betrayal and heartbreak as I was writing.
For years, at some time during the day, I would hear myself say, out loud: “What happened to me? What happened to me?” (Thank god I live alone, right? ) Of course, I wasn’t talking about the facts; I knew the chronology of fear and loss that went on for so long. I was talking about identity. I had become unrecognizable to myself. That the woman I was, before the accusation and the losses that followed, including my father’s suicide, was no where to be found.
Writing, as always, saved my ass and helped me rebuild my identity. It took lots of methods to keep going, which I will share. It wasn’t pretty. But when I got a couple of drafts done, I started to see more clearly just what the dam of unspoken truths was holding back. Better, I started to be able to forgive myself for not living up to my standards of being able handle everything. Best of all, my sense of the absurd returned and brought my sense of humor with it. Then the drafts got better as I could apply more craft and less fear and tears. Trauma Queens honor all the sleepless nights, self-pity, and solitude it takes to get clear of whatever horror befell us. And though I know it’s cliche, I am so grateful that writing teachers and writing itself were there for me in ways I wouldn’t have been able to imagine.
So now, I’ll trade in my Day of the Dead, full face helmet for a crown. Or better still, wear them together. Like the good Trauma Queen I am.