I put in a book-writing ‘need help’ call to one of my sisters about a week ago.  She reads voraciously.  I knew she would have the literary advice I needed as I worked my way through the age-10 horrific abuse memory I struggled with for weeks.  My concern in part was for the devoid, sparse, grim, plain, bleak words and very short sentences that wrote that memory.

My sister recommended that I read, The Road by Cormac McCarthy.  At the same time she acknowledged my reasons for not reading anyone’s book at this point in my own writing process.  My body-brain grew into it expert abilities to dissociate.  I know it is entirely likely that if I read other people’s writing my brain will select phrases and passages to store away in ‘secretive places’, only to pop them into my own writing anywhere along the line without my awareness.  So sis recommended that I at least watch the movie:

The Road shares the premise of the novel on which it is based: a father (Mortensen) and his young son (Smit-McPhee) struggle to survive after an unspecified cataclysm has destroyed civilization, killed almost all plant and animal life, and obscured the sun; only remnants of mankind remain alive, reduced to scavenging or cannibalism. The man and boy travel southward, in the hope that it will be warmer. Along the way, they search for shelter, food, and fuel, and avoid bands of cannibals while trying to maintain their own sense of humanity.

Easier planned than done.  I ordered the movie in from Netflix.  It is in my player.  I cannot tolerate watching more than two to five minutes of it at a time – and am at this point not at all sure I can finish it.


The largest kernel of truth related to my experience with this ‘topic’ has been presented MANY times in posts on this blog:


*Notes on Teicher


*SYMTPOMS: 120909 Scan of Teicher’s Research – Trauma Altered Development Paper





+DECEMBER 2010 IMPORTANT POSTS on Trauma Altered Development



As I attempt to watch this film I am aware that my body-memory of the first 18 years of my life, filled with trauma and abuse, is resonating with this story and its presentations in ways that are nearly overwhelming to me.  I agreed with myself that I would make this effort because I face this same body-memory reaction every time I approach my book writing about my childhood.  As my sister told me in our conversation there are topics that cannot be presented in any other but the grimmest, starkest, naked way – no matter what format for expression is used.

The kind of world presented in this movie mirrors the kind of world that triggers Trauma Altered Development that leads to what Dr. Teicher describes at the end of his article as ‘evolutionarily alteration’ due to physiological response to extreme deprivations in an early formative environment.  When an infant and young child is forced to make it through a malevolent early caregiver-attachment world, the body will automatically take every effort it can find to preserve life – causing changes in body-nervous system/brain-immune system changes that cannot be reversed.  The body only cares that such a survivor make it to the age of reproduction.

Any and all of the links presented here above describe in detail what I am talking about.  If readers wish to FEEL what trauma FEELS like in the body to abused infants and children, watch this movie – or try to.  I am making every effort I can to take a dose of my own medicine!  There is something important about the process of survivorship I can learn by this experience – no matter what.  The same might be true for any of this blog’s readers who take the challenge to read this book and/or watch this film.

The scene and the players might be changed in this story from our own trauma abuse childhood stories, but the overall ENVIRONMENT is nearly identical – danger in an unsafe world (even though the father in the story loves his son – I am talking about the atmosphere and high risk environment that leads to trauma altered development when the danger/harm/distress ESPECIALLY comes to children from their caregivers.).


Article – latest research on Borderline Personality Disorder



  1. Linda, when I read “there are people who are “embodiments of hatred” something in me was pulled down, hard… strong… whew. I immediately saw the “picture of rage” I was raised with.

    This has moved me like a stone downhill. I am speechless because it is so true. The spiritual world is the real world, really, and these “embodiments” of our emotional world / spiritual world are REAL, aren’t they?

    “Everything has been made crystal clear and the storms have cleared.”

    For the moment, yes. I am having twinges of loneliness due to cutting off the rest of my so-called “family,” as now “all is quiet on the Western Front” and I’m thinking “maybe I could have handled things differently,” but NO, an attack is an attack and this dysfunctional family system has never changed and it never will. So I have to willingly and with faith and courage and no enmity in my heart STEP OUT OF IT and I did.

    I even wrote nice disconnect letters, nothing mean, nothing harsh, just my reasons for removing myself from the turmoil and that was that. Now I’m free. Alone but free. Kind of like breaking up with a boyfriend. You are so happy at first and then “real life” sets in, and loneliness comes knocking at the door but thanks to the internet I don’t have to let that in, either!

    And the “contact” I had was really nothing anyway, so there is no reason to keep email contact when the price I had to pay was intermittent conflict but you never knew when. And could never have a real discussion anyway, just a lot of b.s. opinions flying around or nothing at all. Not like here, where we can share things of real value and learn something from each other while we are at it!

    I’m going to take a break from all this “learning” for a short while to let it all sink in. It’s like I’ve been standing under a waterfall for the last couple of weeks and it’s been terrific, but I need to dry off and absorb all these new things. New ideas and perspectives.

    So adios for the moment and hope to read lots and lots more!

    Your friend Catherine Todd

    • Truthfully, I was not ever anticipating that the book writing of the story of my abusive 1st 18 years of life would lead me to the point I am at right now.

      I hit the ‘deadhead’ in the river at the age 10 memory — and stopped on the book – and now I am seeing why. I have to talk about how infant-child abuse also affects spiritual/soul development.

      I don’t WANT to talk about it, but my commitment to a truthful story requires it.

      I felt like a 10 year old child today, petulant, actually: “Why is there no one I can talk to about SOULS? All this trivial stuff people talk about nonstop — that doesn’t even MATTER — and here we are with souls born into existence with our conception in this lifetime — souls that will live FOREVER more, for ETERNITY!! And nobody wants to TALK ABOUT THIS?”

      I need to talk about it. I need to learn about soul. I was hurt in ‘soul ways’ in real ways like all the other ways the abuse hurt me.

      Well, I am tenacious. I will track this part of my story if it kills me !!!

      (And I am NOT talking about ‘religion’ per se — all religions came from the same God anyway – over the timespan of our evolution — I just want to be with people who know they HAVE a soul, that we are all half soul and half earth-self (ego?) in this lifetime — and what this MEANS to us!!)

  2. “I was really hoping to be able to track WORDS for experiences where there are no words.”

    The spiritual life is a world of EMOTION. There are no words there. Peace is a FEELING. We live in a world of emotion and once I realized that, the words did flow. But so did the FEELING of PEACE.

    God bless you for sharing your words, even the struggle to describe the experiences “when there are no words.” I know just how you feel.

    “The winds of grace blow all the time… all we need to is set our sails.”


    And this is how we all get to heaven.

    “It doesn’t even seem like I WAS alive in my childhood. I had not been born. Not being allowed to be born and living all the way to puberty that way for sure — I was the living unborn!”

    I didn’t have it as bad as you did, but my sisters and I used to wonder if we had “died and gone to hell” and what did we do wrong? This, hiding in the dark in the closet when my father was on one of his rages, or beating another one of the children while we hid and listened to their screams. It was horrible. I never knew if I was “alive or dead” or what I “must have done wrong” to end up living this way. It was worse than being a slave. I was born in a concentration camp. I always said my father went through three wars, and he “brought the war home.”

    But now I see that mental illness was rife in my family tree and both of my parents “found each other” and we were raised in the same cult of secrecy, silence and lies.

    Now I am free. Since I have cut my self off from the diseased limbs of the “family tree” I have time and space and energy and hope to live my own best life, away from the negativity that I was born into.

    Since my mother died and rejected me on her death bed, and my sisters sent me hate mail, it has taken me two years of heavy grieving to get over it but NOW I AM FREE.

    They all did me a favor, really, and have saved me from further contact and re-injury. IT’S OVER ALL. All including the shouting.

    The war is OVER. It’s been a long haul. Now it’s just time for me to heal. And pray for the souls of those cruel and damaged individuals, and give them wide berth.

    God bless us all!

    • Hi! I read something last night about good and evil that used the term, meaning there are people who are “embodiments of hatred.” Whether it’s true or not doesn’t matter, but when I read those words I knew in MY childhood, that was my mother FOR ME.

      Free you are!! What a leap of faith, a quantum leap of healing!! Everything has been made crystal clear and the storms have cleared. I am so happy for you, and so happy you found your way here. Your inspiration, encouragement, joy and courage, your wisdom and faith — all such precious gifts and it is an honor to have you come visit here! Much love! Linda

  4. Wow. This is a film I would like to watch, if I have to watch any, about our “ability to transcend tragedy.” Now this is what I want to find out more about!

    The Flute Player

    PBS broadcast, July 22, 2003

    “Arn Chorn-Pond was only a boy when the brutal Khmer Rouge regime overran Cambodia and turned his country into a ghastly land of “killing fields.” While most of Arn’s family, and 90 percent of the country’s musicians, were killed, Arn was kept alive to play propaganda songs on the flute for his captors. Now, after being adopted and living in the United States for 20 years, Arn goes back to Cambodia in The Flute Player, seeking out surviving “master musicians” and facing the dark shadows of his war-torn past. As the film follows Arn on his journey from Lowell, Massachusetts to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, his life is seen through his work in both communities of Cambodians. An extraordinary story of survival, the film is a testament to one man’s ability to transcend tragedy. An Independent Television Service (ITVS) co-presentation.”

    This movie can be watched in full HERE at Hulu.com online.

    This 60-minute movie does have some graphic pictures of death but can be viewed via YouTube after signing in as an adult viewer.

    • I was really hoping to be able to track WORDS for experiences where there are no words. I liked some of the dialog early in the story for that reason – but that is lost as the story drags on. The ending, in light of the story, seemed ludicrous. True, the boy had told his father he heard a dog and saw a child – the father was operating purely in survival mode to save his son and could not comprehend on any level that the world had anything in it but threat and doom. That the dog and other children and their parents were following them all along didn’t make particular sense, either.

      Yes, the FEELING and tone of the flick mirrored an abused child’s state of being — the flick was too allegorical and analogous for me, though. But, then, I am not one who watched that movie already knowing exactly what that state of being feels like.

      Along a parallel line, I wrote a post last night about The Flute Player – that is an astounding film, and portrays its story of trauma and its aftermath nearly with perfection. +PLEASE. NO MORE WAR – A MOVIE WORTH WATCHING at — https://stopthestorm.wordpress.com/2011/09/26/please-no-more-war-a-movie-worth-watching/

  5. Well, took a long time with lots of breaks but I got through this – and thought the end just trivialized the whole darn story anyway – basically a complete waste of time.

  6. PS: Don’t worry about “the Book.” When and if you need to write it, you won’t be able to stop it. Believe me. I have been through this. My story comes and goes, and when I need to write, I’m all over the internet and all over my own blogs. Then it recedes and I can get some well-deserved rest! So let “The Book” come if it will. All good authors say “the story wrote itself,” just as all good songwriters say. If it comes, fine. You will be the means and the channel for it and it will write itself. In the meantime, you have made this wonderful website for all to come to, to listen to and to learn. I think you have earned your place in heaven!

  7. Thank you so much… I feel like I’ve been standing under a waterfall after a big storm and the clouds are breaking and there’s light all around and a double rainbow, high over the volcanoes and the hills that I love so much here at Lake Atitlan, Guatemala… where I am right now, getting better and working all the time. Will be taking a much-needed break to let all this settle down and take it’s own shapes and forms as we reform, together. Glad you have made it through your cancer challenges and thank you for the invitation to write. I am so relieved to find support and all that is needed in God and the Divine.

    Thank God for the internet! And all those who support each other here… Your friend in Truth and Beauty, Catherine Todd

    Here is a link to free downloads of my most favorite music. Keeps me alive.


  8. I don’t know if you “need” to watch that movie, but I know you need to write it out! You are doing it now. Keep at it.

    “So far I do not feel I have a grasp of my own reality, what it was really like, not only of what I lived through but of HOW I LIVED THROUGH IT”

    And that’s what I learned in my own writing. I can’t believe I too “lived through it” but eventually as dawn broke through the dusk I could see the shining light that was always there that broke through and saved me. Whatever form it took, someone or something was ALWAYS THERE. And that, to me, was grace from the Divine.

    Now it’s up to us to see who and what we are “really like.” For God did not protect us and bring us this far to see us perish in the fire.

    No we are here to LIVE because we ARE ALIVE. And I intend to learn how to enjoy it!

    In lieu of “writing” I’m doing a blog with favorite quotes with another friend of mine, who is working as hard on these issues as you and me. She does the most beautiful artwork which she is matching to her most poignant and heartfelt quotes that she finds. These are Godsends for both of us every day, and give me so much joy in putting them up on the blog. Plus I find beautiful artwork or photos to illustrate the quotes that mean the most to me. It gives me a much-needed and beautiful break in the midst of all this sorrowful work that I must do. I couldn’t do without either one. Take a look:


    This quote explained so much, and made it (almost) all worthwhile:

    “No one is as capable of gratitude as one who has emerged from the kingdom of night.”

    ~ Elie Wiesel

    Elie Wiesel – The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity
    Elie Wiesel was born in 1928 in Sighet, Transylvania, which is now part of Romania. He was fifteen years old when he and his family were deported by the Nazis …

    • I get very busy with this hard work over here – please as frequently as you wish comment on any post and leave info like you did here for others to follow — Personally, I am 4 years past surviving two breast cancers, one advanced aggressive – I believe if there is something I am supposed to leave here to help others I have to get that job done – ASAP

      The beauty is always here, as you note – and thank you!

  9. Writing out my story worked for me, but I did this twenty years ago before we had the internet, blogs, email… perhaps you are writing your story NOW as you go. I know I’m writing Phase 2 in a million different ways. But getting it out and down in black and white and color is what it took for me to finally SEE and FEEL what I had gone through, and lo and behold the tears washed all the pain away. Eventually. It took about 18 months, really, but it finally worked in the end.

    Now twenty years later I am still at it, and working on a new layer. When will it ever end? I’ve given up wondering, but I know I am on a stairway to heaven. And that is where I want to be.

  10. PS: I spent over a year “writing it all out” and piecing it all together… and it almost killed me, but I did it. I filled three of those large three inch binders, all typed and single spaced. But it worked. I thought I would die and I wrote and wrote and wrote all night until the sun came up and I would finally break down and cry, and the archaeology dig was worth it. It took forever but it didn’t kill me and it finally started to make sense. I finally started to FEEL and I broke down that brick wall where I had walled up that little girl at age ten or eleven, and left her there all alone in the dark and the cold, with no food or water and she was screaming and kicking and begging someone to come. I finally broke down that wall brick by brick and held her in my arms sitting on the bed and she quieted down and didn’t hate me anymore and peace came into the kingdom and reigned. As our tears rained down peace was restored. A golden thread replaced the black one running through the tapestry of life and I was witness to it all.

    • there is a connection between our lives and what The Road portrays

      much allegory, symbolism, metaphor in this flick

      you got it

      I mostly think about giving up the book idea lately — I don’t think I can get to myself, truly get to myself — to write my story — and survive it — if that is the case, then why am I trying? I have always chosen life over death, and if this is a death or life decision, I will still choose life and this story will not be written as I lived it — it would/will have to include what it feels like NOW for me not to be able to KNOW my own truth -don’t want to write that DAMN version of my story! (pardon me!)

  11. I read the book and wanted to throw it in the trash. I was depressed for weeks, and years later I still have nightmares – in the daytime – about the cannibalism that took place and how they did it. It was horrible. The wounding over and over again… chained in a basement… wasn’t that just what it was like spiritually growing up in families like ours? Chained in the basement behind a brick wall and never knowing if you would have bread or water or another beating might await? And I learned to wall up my self and chain up my self to keep the jailers quiet. Why did I need to read about it again? The angels saved me and there was always SOME ONE SOMEWHERE that took care of me one way or another. Some kind soul who gave me a shred of hope to hang on to, and told me I was worth something so I continued to live. I didn’t die.

    I refused to watch the movie. Why was this book a bestseller? It was a horrific look at a life I had LIVED. Why are people so fascinated with gruesome death and destruction? Are their lives so soft and comfortable that they need some kind of shock to “entertain themselves?” Are they secret jailers who want to live that life and kill people or hunt them down? What kind of a world do we really live in, where we are predators of each other and the only terrorist are our selves?

    I don’t want to live in a world like this and I don’t. I won’t and I can’t and I have a better world – the world of the mind and the heart and the soul. Three gifts we have been given that cannot be destroyed.

    I have no need to re-live this story and I never will. The author is a terrific writer, and I have read some of his other stories, but he seems to write from a dark black hole of depression and angst. I feel sorry for him and wish he could see a bright light shining that is available to all of us. If I believed that man and humanity was as he described, I would have killed myself long ago. Yes, I grew up in a “concentration camp.” A physical, mental, emotional and spiritual concentration camp with no freedom and daily tortures might be waiting for me. One never knew, which was part of the torture! My father was in three wars and I always said “he brought the war home.”

    Yes, I have experienced the “horrors of mental wars.” I always said the bruises go away, and you don’t remember where you were black and blue, but the words that were used like daggers still bear the scars. Still bleed inside from wounds that have never healed. I don’t need to read “The Road.” And I never will. Like Tina Turner said about the movie they made out of her life story, she didn’t watch it… she lived it. She didn’t need to watch it all over again.

    “The winds of grace blow all the time; all we need do is set our sails.”

    I know this is true. Thanks be to God Amen.

    • I still haven’t gotten thru the flick – I know what you are saying – I have so much trouble with dissociation it is VERY DIFFICULT for me to write my own story of abuse and that makes me MAD

      It is MY story – and to have had my childhood stolen AND my own story of it also stolen just seems so WRONG!

      So –

    • Interesting, actually, that God would send you over to this blog right now –

      I watch this movie knowing full well I know the FEELING of that movie in every cell in my body – my body remembers

      but living on that mountain, on that homestead, so isolated, so abused

      I’m not convinced that I ‘built a wall’ — I am not convinced that I was really in this world at all

      I was not allowed to come into this world – such was the nature of my mother’s disease – she could not let me be born, or exist as a person

      It might be that I lived separate lives, thousands of them – right now that’s what the dissociation feels like – I want the movie to GROUND me in SOME version of my feeling-body-memory THAT I WAS THERE through ALL of it

      Every time she attacked me it was like I formed another lifetime memory – none of them really connected

      So far I do not feel I have a grasp of my own reality, what it was really like, not only of what I lived through but of HOW I LIVED THROUGH IT

      Like I existed on the other side of a filmy ethereal veil — I only ‘came to’ in this world in the memories I have, what few I have — the rest of the time I did not ever live in this world

      So severe was Mother’s psychosis about me from birth –

      I sense you understand what I am working so hard to know and express

      It doesn’t even seem like I WAS alive in my childhood. I had not been born. Not being allowed to be born and living all the way to puberty that way for sure — I was the living unborn!

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