Trauma. Just about everyone has had their share of it, whether it be in the form of abuse, grief, or a devastating event where we felt helpless.
As a kid, as an adult, I’ve experienced several incidents of trauma in my life. I told a friend this once, and he remarked to me that I didn’t really have anything that met the criteria for trauma (paraphrasing him here, but yeah).
Has anyone ever said this to you?
But trauma is subjective. Something that my friend Jimmie handled very well emotionally might mentally cripple Carey, another friend of mine, and vice-versa. We all process trauma differently.
My trauma normally comes to me in my dreams, like in a recurring version of “A Nightmare on Elm Street” I tend to dream about the same traumas over and over again. And just as Freddy Krueger terrorizes his victims, when I wake up, I’m maligned with fear, depression, and anxiety that sometimes affects my entire day.
Some of these traumas are unspeakable; some are less severe, but still razor-close to my heart and inner desires. Some are twisted, collaging together different people and situations into a nightmare-ed kaleidoscope for ol’ Mr. Krueger to peer into.
How do we carry on with life in light of our “Kruegers”? I try to find things that take my mind off of the nightmare I had the night before. For me, walking really helps. Positive self-talk also helps me process.
How do you manage your trauma?
Writing is very cathartic as well. I find that if I am able to write about the nightmare, I am in a sense, turning something ugly into art, even if it is a haunting piece of art. Yet, I also feel as though I am sharing a piece of myself with the reader and allowing them to identify it with their own trauma and, in turn, hopefully helping them processing theirs as I did mine.
Below is a poem that I have yet to read aloud to anyone. In fact, this is the first time it’s been on social media. This was probably one of the worst nightmares I’ve ever experienced, and it isn’t the first time I dreamed about this event. I remember vividly the morning before I wrote this. I was driving to the hospital to get medical records for an injury I had incurred. This dream ruminated in my mind the whole time, and as I drove around running my errands, I composed this poem in my head, literally pulling over to take notes on what I coming up with. It’s a part of my new book project, and I hope you can identify with it in some way and make some peace of it all.
Because that “Freddy Krueger” is a bad man!
In this dream, I’m 10 years old again,
lying next to my grandmother, the person in a position of trust.
I’m on her left,
Her body budges, shunting the covers,
speaking in confessions, voyeuristic phrases,
the avatar of her hand,
obtund, jaundiced with Formaldehyde
cocoons my private part
while I lie there in a state of inertia
she continues adjusting
boob-ing into my back.
She clucks in my ear, “You’re my affliction.”
I’m sandwiched by phallic flies
every one, an itch infidel of fault,
as she sprouts seven tongues
from her sides
acting as arms,
each one tarantula-ing me,
criminalizing my body,
as they lather
on my soul’s skin.
Her abdomen opens, to swallow me
like a piece of candy
sugared to a wrapper, gungy,
encumbering me to her gravity.
I’m reaching through the walls,
screaming through my dream,
I’m in the outside now,
an epilogue of panic.
The reuptake and antagonism of neurotransmitters
as I rinse through the puddle of the prescription pills
that have become my own pretty fiction,
that the haunt and the harm
can be comic stripped
ornamenting my least restrictive impairment,
a false pathology adjunct to her carnal denervation.
She is no longer ash in the “sinus of God” to me
She is a lesson
panhandling paraphernalia for an appetite
that someday the little-boy me who woke up in the middle of the night
with enuresis soaking my Superman PJ’s
will index the cold whispers’ say,
You are not your trauma;
You are not your disabilities.
The cogent argument that every injury, every recovery
like a fingerprint
of assimilating the white noise of her middle-night touch
to my nail-biting,