Writers’ Block

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It’s been a few years since I have written much of anything, and I was afraid that my brain had rusted and I wouldn’t be able to do it anymore. I probably couldn’t think of anything to say, and, even if I did, I surely wouldn’t be able to find the words to say it. So that phase of my life was sadly over.

This started me thinking of a technique therapists often use to break though a roadblock. When a client says, “I just can’t talk about that, “the therapist might respond, “Don’t push yourself to talk about it. But try and tell me why it is so hard — all the reasons why you can’t, or shouldn’t, talk about it.”

There usually are valid reasons to remain silent. Reasons that come from the past, like “I will kill you if you ever mention this.” Or reasons in the present, like “If I put it into words I will realize how awful the situation is, and I will have to do something about it.” These reasons should be respected, taken seriously.

Once the blocks to talking have been considered and weighed, it usually becomes possible to talk about the formerly forbidden topic. It won’t be easy, just a little easier.

So I went through all the reasons I can’t write any more, and, frankly, they were pretty lame. What it boiled down to was – I can, but I don’t want to. I’d rather be doing things that are more fun. I’d rather hang loose and not be disciplined. I’d rather not put thought into creating a structure to take the place of the deadlines I used to have.

I take it back about the writing block being lame. It is perfectly valid to want to have fun and be spontaneous. I’ve put decades and decades of work into making my life my own and I deserve to enjoy it. That’s far better than still obeying some jerk who said, “Don’t talk” some sixty years ago.

So yes, I can and will write, some. And I will play, some. No need to choose.

I do better if handed a topic. If there is anything you-all would like me to write about, please post it in the comments section or send me an e-mail. If I know anything about it, I’ll give it a try.

November 12, 2011


12 thoughts on “Writers’ Block

  1. This is for Kathleen Sullivan. Your name sounds familiar. Did you have your own blog at one time? Your response to 2lucyw was excellent. I wish someone had explained it that way to me. I had to learn by trial and error. And I made lots of errors when I was trying to figure out what all of the memories were and meant and what to do with them. I ended up hurting myself emotionally and I lost a few friends. Now, some 12 years later it can still be hard and lonely but easier to discover who I can trust and who needs protection from hearing about the trauma and who will stop their ears from hearing. The best is when you find that someone who has been through the same and you don’t have to say everything because they already understand. That person is rare but a real treasure. This blog is wonderful. I have never had or used this kind of outlet before. Thanks Jeannie.

  2. I would like you to write about still feeling like a person who is unconnected to your friends because you have never told them what you went through. It is all too gross. But how do you connect to friends now? Does the saying “forget the past’ have any relevance? I still don’t trust much, and wonder if it is worth it to work on that.

    1. I’m an extreme abuse survivor too, and it does get horridly lonely sometimes. It is much too traumatizing for most people to hear the gross details of our kinds of abuse. One of my therapists used the analogy of a house with me, to teach me how to connect with people from other backgrounds. She said I can have front porch friends, living room friends, and then if they get into the living room and kitchen (where they learn more intimate details about my life), I can then risk letting them know more details. I test them, check them out, see what they can handle hearing in their nonverbal responses – including silence, avoidance, and changing the subject. If I notice that they can handle certain details, I MAY share more. Or not. It helps me to notice – through their nonverbal and spoken responses – what they have in common with my own experiences. It also helps me to use concepts, words, phrases that are common to their own experiences. Domestic abuse, child abuse, religious abuse – most can relate to some of this. Sometimes I’ve found that’s enough to be connected and not lose them, while not taking it too far. I usually save the rest for therapy or for when I’m connecting with other survivors of extreme abuse. Our society is growing more tolerant of our stories; people are slowly desensitizing more and more – especially the younger generations. But older folks can also relate a lot too, maybe in different words and phrasing. What helps me most of all is to step out of my OWN world and learn about other people’s experiences, and find out what we have in common. Suffering is global. So are pain and fear and anxiety and heartbreak, grief and loss. I try to connect that way with others, to expand my own self and heart and thinking. Stepping out of my own world and connecting with the worlds of others (please forgive the metaphor) keeps my head out of my own introspective, ruminating derriere and helps me feel fresher and newer each day. I feel less hopeless, depressed and isolated and more hopeful and connected to the world around me. I hope this helps a little.

    2. Another really good topic. “Forget the past” will never have relevance for me! “Don’t talk about the past at this moment” — yes, maybe, but not “Forget the past.”

  3. Jeannie, it’s lovely to read that you are allowing yourself more to relax and play and not have to “do” if you don’t really want to. I am getting that way more too…maybe it’s age? I used to be so scared of not doing, not producing, not advocating for others; like my life (and my traumatic past) would have no remaining value if I ever stopped. To relax, to play, to just be – what incredible new concepts! : >


  4. Hallo K,
    I understand what you mean. I have been doing that my whole life and still does it, even after receiving lots of healing.
    So far I found it a good thing because it helps me to cope with the “now” and to work through it afterwards.
    I am able to handle smaller things immediately, but abuse still upsets me.
    I would also love to hear from you Jeannie.

  5. Hi Jeannie, I was wondering if you could address a problem that I have – and it is another safety mechanism- but when I see abuse happening near me, maybe in a passing car, I see it, but it is like my mind logs the incident away until later when I am in a safe place. It is very upsetting to not be able to get past this. Do you have any suggestions?
    (I realize the local perps set some of these incidents up just as harassment.)

    I know what you mean, K. I call it “having a long fuse” –the opposite of flying off the handle. Anther good blog post idea!

  6. I am someone who has not experienced Ritual Abuse but I have a friend “who” and I am wondering what it is like for someone like you who has faced it and are able to function so highly. Is it still hard to relate to others when they talk about family or childhood? Do you have hard days and easier days? Can you sleep okay? Is your trust level small and how do you get by when you have been so trapped and pushed? Isn’t it hard NOT to overreact? Answer any or none of this if it does not apply to your blog. Thanks

    Dear Karen:

    Id be happy to address all your questions. I’ll make it a separate blog post. But in a nutshell — it is a whole lot easier after over twenty years’ work on these issues. But yes, I still have good and bad days, and I still have trouble trusting and reacting appropriately.

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