This post follows directly from the one just published:
+RECOMMENDING A BOOK – MUST READ FOR EARLY TRAUMA SURVIVORS
It seems rather awkward for me to leave that post unfinished, although I have several writing trains of thought roaring at full steam on different tracks in my mind just now. It is after noon and I have yet to stop thinking long enough to eat a thing although at least I have done my daily 45-minute walk — thinking all the time I did it.
I could present an entire writing course for survivors of early severe neglect, abuse and trauma using the book I mentioned in the above post, ENDURANCE, as the text of that course. One of the texts, I should say, because the other texts would be the ones survivors would actually write during the course of the – course!
What I have to say here is only sketchy at best. I am not going to go too far down this track right now because I have something else I need to write FIRST. At the moment I will say that I could not be more serious in my recommendation that survivors read that book! HOWEVER, there are some thoughts that need to accompany that reading foray.
First, a blog reader left a comment this morning on my page at the top of this blog that could not possibly have been more timely —
LINDA’S ADOBE PEACE GARDEN
First off I want to say terrific blog! I had a quick question which I’d like to ask if you do not mind. I was interested to know how you center yourself and clear your mind prior to writing. I have had a hard time clearing my thoughts in getting my thoughts out. I truly do enjoy writing however it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are lost simply just trying to figure out how to begin. Any ideas or tips? Kudos!
and I responded:
Good morning nagelpilz,
Because you are visiting this blog I would wonder if you have a childhood history of abuse and trauma, and if this is what you wish to write about. If willing, can you let me know so I can focus on my response to you! thanks!!!
Now, if this reader were in my imagined trauma writing class I would recommend exactly the book, ENDURANCE. I would NOT suggest watching the movie as a substitute for what I want to do with this textbook, although watching the movie before reading the book (as was suggested to me) is perfectly fine if not outright advantageous.
Buy the book, available on Amazon.com or anywhere else you can find it. You have to have the book to do this work.
If you have your own blog, have it handy before you begin reading. If you do not have a blog, think about making one. If this is not your preferred writing ‘container’, get yourself a good supply of pens and a very good supply of paper – in notebooks or not.
I will give a few suggestions below, but at this moment I will say that you will read this book and STOP immediately every single time you have a thought, impression, feeling, insight, reaction, question, observation — anything inside your own self that appears as you read the book.
Stop reading immediately and begin to write. You might wish to write down the word or phrase that caught your attention, and also note the page of the book you found it. Underlining in the book and/or writing notes in the margins is NOT suggested!
First I will say it’s important to note that the 28 men on that voyage were ADULTS and CHOSE to take off into these hostile, uncharted regions.
Abused infants and children are NOT adults. We were given no choice. We had no inner strength or adult powers and skills to help us along when REALLY hard times hit us.
We were being formed as a body-brain-self person BY the horrific experiences we endured at the same time we were having to live through them.
Nobody bought the rights to our story/film before we entered into hell.
Worse than that, unlike the very intrigued, fascinated public who devoured the descriptions of the ENDURANCE adventure — nobody gave a DAMN what we had to say about OUR ‘adventure’.
Nobody told us to write down each day what happened to us and to document it on film. As Shackleton says in the movie, though I am not sure it is said in this book, if the films of their adventure did not survive they would ‘only have their word’ — against – what? Doubt? Disbelief? Being called liars?
Nobody would have wanted to watch our movie, read our dairies, look at our pictures — now I say, SO WHAT?
Nobody believes our word? SO WHAT?
I just started a book by Dr. Paul Renn hoping to find some information in there about facts on memory – but I put the book down at the beginning as he introduces DOUBT into any survivor’s mind – or anyone’s mind for that matter – by saying that science doesn’t know enough about memory functions so it’s necessary that we don’t believe childhood trauma memories. We cannot, Renn says, do anything ‘more’ than say our trauma memories are ‘related’ to our childhoods – not that they are ‘from’ our childhoods.
Toxic stuff, kiddos!
Nobody is going to tell me my trauma memories are not accurate. Don’t buy that!
These men also had one another as they together shared their adventures of the greatest difficulty. I had NO ONE – but that’s a particular part of my story because it was a particular part of my psychotic Borderline Personality Disorder Mother’s patterns of abuse that she had to isolate me alone in her hell while her other adored children lived in a different world.
But I am not sure any early abuse and trauma survivor endures NOT being alone. Note that as you react to this book in your writing.
If your writing takes off in response to what you are reading in ENDURANCE – go with it. Don’t worry a bit about if or when you EVER finish reading that book.
Now, perhaps duplicating a few of the things I just wrote here, I am simply going to add here some notes just as I wrote them last night as I finished reading ENDURANCE. There is a lot more I could say, but that writing is going along on one of the other tracks I mentioned above….
Nobody gave me a hero’s welcome when I left home for what I survived.
I wish someone had told me to write it all down at 18 – immediately after I left home. All of it. I wonder what I would have recalled then. It’s important. Our record of everything we went through.
Nobody could have argued my memories weren’t accurate. Nobody could have told me to doubt myself. How dare they?
I should have been applauded then and there when I left. Commemorated.
Those men were more ordinary than not before they went through what they did – how did they feel when they went back to civilization? Were they changed? How was it when they tried to talk to people about what they went through? Did they have any need for others to appreciate in the deepest sense – what they went through?
Was it an adventure to them? Was it a trauma?
How massively different to be a little person going through an equivalent. No choice. What possible hope?
I was in a different world – never knowing anything different. No one shared that with me. Such isolation – a ship alone at sea all alone. Watching the other world through my eyes – but always having been excluded – never a loved part of that family –
Came out looking like a regular person – I was not. Never have been. Burden has always been for me to be a part of some else’s world. Those men were a part of another world first – either they would survive and return to that world or they would die.
They went through that together – never alone (farts, personalities and all) – I have no shared experience personally with anyone else [except through this blog]
Yet the homesteading was by definition a shared experience in my family even if I was hauled along like a piece of battered luggage –
We shared the moves, changing schools, up and down the mountain, the long commutes – but nobody shared what Mother did to me.
In that suffering – in those attacks, I was all alone.
When times are hardest we’re designed by nature as a social species to endure together through shared experience – to go through good and bad together
No shared experience – we are built ‘alone’ – left alone – then and for our lifetime – the sharing only truly happens in the next world – if we stay a pure soul – and we can’t judge self or others if this is so – so we can be heard by the angels and holy ones [part of my story is that I had an angel on a mountain that witnessed what happened during all the time we were on the homestead]
As I accept other’s ordinary world – I disown my own self – numb, walled off – as I write what comes next I want to let some of that barrier dissolve
Memories. We have them. I think many are far more intact (but hidden) than ordinary people can begin to comprehend
Who are they – anyone else – to tell us to doubt ourselves? Yet another layer of oppression to be told that –
Because we didn’t keep a diary of what happened? What if we do have that diary – inside of us? In our memories?
If anyone wants to take on this writing challenge, feel free to comment with questions and processes at the end of this blog post –
I also want to mention an epiphany I had about this ENDURANCE reaction process today: When Dr. Martin Teicher (many posts on this blog about this work, just put TEICHER into the search bar on this blog and read away) – when Teicher mentions that we are evolutionarily altered in our physiological early development by the changes that trauma causes – and that the problem for us is that we leave our early malevolent world and enter a benevolent one that we are not designed for – that the mismatch between us and the ‘ordinary’ world gives us great troubles – reading ENDURANCE and starting from that point – as it describes horrendous survival and endurance in probably the most hostile physical environment on earth (like the one’s our cave ancestors lived within) – using this ENDURANCE book as our text we can start to understand our self and our experience and to give it WORDS in reaction to malevolent world survival.
This is important because our existence far more closely matches what is portrayed in that book than it does anything in the ‘ordinary’ benevolent world.
Seems to me using this book as our text gives us a far more balanced chance to find and express OUR OWN STORY!
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One thought on “+NOTES ON USING ‘ENDURANCE’ BOOK AS A TEXT TO WRITE OUR TRAUMA STORY”
From an email written earlier today:
Just to clear these thoughts a little bit — Sandy, the writing about ENDURANCE meshes with writing about writing trauma as this meshes with writing about our unique processing of information as it involves memory processes.
I did not read more than a few pages into Dr. Renn’s book before I was stopped dead by 2 thoughts: (1) he states that there is not enough known information about how memory actually works to be able to definitely state – well, how it works! (2) he goes on from there to clearly interject DOUBT into people about trusting their childhood memories of trauma.
He states that we ‘should’ understand we might know memories ‘related’ to our childhood, but we do not have memories ‘from’ our childhood. Because Renn is entirely invested in ‘being a psychoanalyst’ – in my thinking this tells me that he has consumed enough of his own poison (as it exists in the ‘therapy’ world) – that he has entirely inoculated himself to dis-empower trauma abuse survivors
SCARY! If we believe high powered ‘experts’ who tell us not to trust our own memories of trauma – where are we? Entirely dis-empowered, completely reliant upon these experts to ‘get better’ – in whatever way they provide for us to do so.
So, he can keep himself in a job.
I cannot read any more of his book at this point. I suspect if this is where he begins his writing that nothing else he can say moving forward can be trusted. He is taking the ‘science’ of memory and using it to alter other people’s thinking in line with the way that his own thinking has been altered.
Well – this leads me into dovetail thoughts – like if the ENDURANCE crew had not kept detailed diaries, or if those written-in-the-moment words had not survived – then their story would have been ridiculed and not believed as accurate – why?
I am not convinced that early trauma survivors haven’t created such a detailed account in memory formation that is STORED within us in incredibly complex ways – that we haven’t in fact written a diary of trauma — that nobody wants to believe.