A Writer Writes

On November 27, 2012 by Helena

As an adolescent and teen, I loved making things for people–usually for no reason at all. Tiny hand-bound books, comics starring friends, origami flowers with secret poems penciled inside, and intricate collages made from old National Geographic magazines. With my X-acto knife and a glue stick I would conjure surreal worlds: the surface of the moon as a backdrop, a flock of pink flamingos gathered near a crater, and a giant bikini clad model from a 60’s Travel Agency ad surveying the whole scene. I would top it off with an apropos fortune from my collection and later watch with delight as the recipient took in each detail. Most of all, I loved to write. This unceasing torrent of desire to make came naturally. I was compelled to do it. I stayed up nights, was swept into ideas and projects with abandon. As much as others observed and remarked on this ability, I never thought it was special. It was just what I did.

But I know now that it was special, because the poems faded from my life. And their absence broke my heart. I tried to do other things because I couldn’t express myself in the way that had always meant most to me, in writing. But each new creative medium I tried was inevitably eclipsed by apathy and abandoned. The screen printing hoops sit with the coils of gold jewelry wire and soap-making supplies in storage.

I’d like to pretend that I’m not sure when that level of non-stop creativity and passion dried up. I’d like to say that it’s just something I grew out of, that I don’t have time for it, that it’s natural to move away from who we are. Those excuses worked for a long time, for me.

But they’re lies.

The truth is that this part of me, my creative voice, was mangled and disabled, scarred for life, terrorized into silence the night that I was abducted and raped. It was like a cartoon ghost version of me that got scared and jumped right out of my shoes. For years, I sat frustrated this way: blank page, blinking cursor, empty canvas, shapeless yarn.

Every therapist I saw told me to write. “Just write!” they opined. I started journals and wrote until I reached critical mass, until I was almost touching this truth that was hiding frozen in ice. Then, meltdown. Destruction. And silence.

I haven’t been able to address the horror of that night, or my feelings in the months in years that followed, in my own work. But the Writer inside wouldn’t let me skip over it. “Talk about it,” she said, “or talk about nothing.”

So, here I am.

And it worked out, because there are a lot of things to talk about when it comes to sexual assault. There are so many questions loved ones have. So many things survivors are dying for you to know and understand. I’m ready to make a place where those things are talked about, for myself and for anyone else who wants to have this conversation with me.

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