This is a question that I've been asking myself lately. On and off over the years, I have written a lot. Most of it was handwritten and lately I have been transcribing the writings into the computer. I've been asking myself why? Do I think that I will forget everything again? Reading them and then typing them out is difficult. Sometimes, I just have to stop for a long time. Even if I understand it now, it is still painful to watch myself trying to understand myself. And it helped - I can see the changes and watch as I put all the pieces together slowly, but surely. BUT the big problem is that I did forget. I would have to go over the same thing again and again - never the same, but sometimes I just forgot that I had already remembered.
When I was in my twenties, I was sexually assaulted and this started the trickle through the walls that I had built for almost twenty years to survive. I would wake up screaming or so I thought - but I never woke up my husband or my baby, so I was only screaming in my dreams, which I didn't remember. I would get up and write and write and write. This was the seventies - one pulled up one's socks and got on with life. We moved, then 3 years later moved again. At that point, I reread what I had wrote and it upset me so much that I threw it all out. Five years later, I wished I hadn't because when the next episode hit & this time, with such force that I was almost catatonic, I only had some vague sense of what had gone on before.
I was lucky that I already had a psychotherapist in waiting at that point. I was in session every day for about three weeks. Looking back on it, I still am not sure how I survived the flashbacks, the hypnosis, the absolute need to run and run and run but from what? and where to? - who knew?? At that point, there was little rage or anger - only massive quantities of fear washing over me time and time again and a relentless need to know - when we decided to try hypnosis, my therapist asked me if I wanted to remember, see it on the big screen, or forget after it we stopped the session. I needed to know and remember - I'd spent too much of my life with almost no memories prior to the age of 12. The pain, the anger, the memories, the reality all came later, at that point, I needed to know. Needless to say, that I hardly got the whole picture - I spent years ripping apart my life, my dreams, my childhood, my relationships - all in order to understand.
This blog has morphed as my understanding of the past has morphed. The blog is more and more a midrash on my writing and my life.
Saturday, 9 February 2008
What do I do with my journals?
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Like all good stories, this one has a twist!
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What is this nearness to death that I have carried all my life? Let me explain. When my grandfather died I was the one who was right there to comfort my Mother. When my Grandmother died ,my cousin, who was assigned to carry her urn to be buried beside my step-Grandfather came up to me crying and said she couldn’t do it and she begged me to do it. So I did. I was spontaneously chosen to eulogize her at the funeral mass. I have had many requests to design grave markers. I prevented my mother trying to kill herself when I was twelve. I was called on to meet with the family of the victims of the Swissair disaster. Yesterday just as I logged into facebook a very good Elder friend of mine had a very tragic death in her family, a youth, suicide. My life is rife with these incidents. In a recent art show on peace my entry was the flip side of peace..911. An abstracted image of the Associated Press’ “Falling Man” , one of the people who jumped to their deaths after the planes hit the towers. And now with this project that is meant to commemorate the children who died in residential schools. In the repatriation ceremony of the bones of Annie Mae Pictou Aquash, something that I helped create went into the grave with her. These are just the things I can recall off the top of my head. It’s funny the position in life that you are given, it feels very deliberate, as difficult as it is.
Speaking of death..In a very vivid dream I had while away, I enacted or was put through some kind of initiation. I was in a place that for all accounts could be a cross between a hospital and a rooming house. I met and spoke to my brother in his room, nothing out of the ordinary. Then I went down the hall and entered a room where there was a bed and an old woman was on this bed, she had a wand of some sort. It was wood. I layed down and she said to me: “ So, you want to find out about death?” or something of that nature. Then she took her wand and drew something invisible out of my ear, yes, my ear, …then..BLACKNESS. I remember black but I was not afraid in any way, I wore it like a garment, just black, then I awoke on the bed and another person came along and got into the bed..it seemed like a treatment or some kind of initiation.
A Life-Death-Life Initiation? I remember being in a play @ Shingwauk Hall and in Missanabie on a retreat. Two plays. I was a raven brought back to life so I had symbolically done this ritual 3 times in recent memory. In my life? Who knows how many times.
I saw in this dream my daughter as a radiant light being and she let rest my guilt, anxieties, and pain about our present separation. This was weighing on me heavily…It was powerful and very emotional. My daughter called that day, right after the dream. Christmas was my gift of emotional catharsis. My children understand why I have to be here. Somebody asked me once why did I move here? I need to be a witness and a part of our resettlement, perhaps earn enough money to sink a foundation and put a modest little house on a lot to leave for my grandchildren and hopefully enjoy a little bit of it myself before I go. I will not be kept in a mother-in law suite by my children! My needs are few. Opportunity for my art lies in proximity. Yes, I spent much of my life on the East coast but I am not Mikmaq, my birthplace is Ontario. I feel better positioned here. I hope your healing journey continues in a positive way as mine has. Thank you for sharing your life.
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