Why Write?

I wrote a trauma-related blog post so intense last week that I decided not to post it on my blog. For now, at least, it’ll remain in my personal files, along with other writing I deem too raw, emotive, personal, or otherwise unfit to be aired publicly on the internet. I don’t have a good handle on who actually reads my blog, but as it is accessible to anyone with an internet connection, I can’t control my audience. There is some subject matter that is graphic, emotionally provocative, or may be triggering, uncomfortable, or upsetting for certain people to read. For that reason, I don’t post it. This, however, does not mean that there isn’t a benefit in writing it. Most all of my writing is therapeutic, whether recounting fun memories, doing a creative piece, or engaging in painful or challenging self-reflective work. In fact, the most difficult events, thoughts, or feelings to write about are often the ones that are most helpful. These types of pieces require me to face emotions or experiences that I prefer to bottle up and disassociate from out of self-preservation, comfort, or cowardice. It can be re-traumatizing or invoke painful memories to do a deep dive into considering or remembering a trauma or perceived personal deficiency or problem.

Writing explicitly about the attack I suffered is emotionally difficult because I don’t like to consciously recall the crippling fear, the incredible physical pain, the psychological devastation, and the way the aftershocks rippled throughout the facets of my life and identity. With that said, when I do unearth the memories I try so feverishly to bury, the exploration and rumination through them is mentally beneficial for me. It even seems to reduce the severity and frequency of the nightmares and flashbacks. This outcome alone makes the discomfort and work worthwhile.

Producing a written description of either the concrete experience or how it made me feel or what I thought about it then or now is also helpful in my relationship with Ben. He often asks to read these sorts of pieces and then we have an easier platform from which to engage in meaningful conversation about it instead of just trying to have an undirected discussion. We both feel closer and more understood when we discuss our feelings with the sole intention of listening to understand instead of listening to respond.

Ben often speaks through poetry, sharing his thoughts and feelings through beautifully expressive poems. He also is a much more competent conversationalist. He can talk more freely, thoroughly yet concisely, and in an organized manner, especially compared to me. However, we both enjoy writing and sharing our writing with one another, even in draft form, as a tool to help engage in valuable discussions without needing to devise probing questions akin to those a trained mental health practitioner would pose.

As I wrote in the post I ended up not publishing on my blog, Ben and I haven’t talked about the attack much at all lately. Rather than this being a product of further denial or avoidance, it just reflects my more recent attempt to focus on it intensely during therapy and try to confine its pervasiveness in my own daily thoughts to my sessions. Of course, with PTSD, this is more of a goal than a practicality at this point, but it’s not something I have talked about with Ben for months. I’m glad that he and I can discuss our intimate thoughts and feelings about that or any other experience or topic. It’s taken work, time, and patience for us to get to a place where communication is fairly smooth, despite normal relationship issues and those compounded by my autism-related challenges. We have the benefit of a long history together, as we have been friends for over 15 years, and we have developed such a deep devotion toward one another over this time that we can weather the small bumps and misunderstandings as well as the larger issues. I am truly lucky to be married to my best friend.

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