you don’t know what you really think until you write it.
silence. i’m a back-and-forth blog-keep; i know this of myself. my proclivity for generating hardship seems boring and impossible to continuously frame in a positive light, and who wants to read that there’s yet another problem surfacing in my life? you’d worry, you’d call – and then i would have to explain that really, everything is ok. i can handle it. nevertheless, you’d be concerned, and the weight of that would in turn cause me to think harshly of myself and my inability to create for myself a “successful” life. better, then, to simply keep quiet about the whole thing and let it blow over.
and so i stop writing, waiting for something to come to mind that seems less complicated – more interesting.
i’ve heard some thought-provoking radio in the past week. in fact, i think i’ve only listened to npr three or four times, but at least half of those times have led to significant thoughts. first there was talk of the nation a week ago – the lead topic was Meeting Child Victims’ Needs After Sexual Abuse.
if you’ve known me for any length of time, you probably know that my own childhood was tainted by years of abuse, and that my quest – especially from about 1991-2005 – was to heal from that trauma. i haven’t even touched on the issue for probably four years: i felt freed.
so it came as a surprise to listen to these professionals, armed with new research about healing from abuse, that there would be something in there that would cause a shift in my own thinking…. but it happened. it was quick. my hands were on the steering wheel – i was heading north on nw 14th to get on 405 and head home. the sky was cloudy, gray. something was said, i don’t even remember what, and suddenly my whole perspective on myself-in-the-world shifted, and i knew something different – something that everyone who knows me intimately probably knows about me, that i didn’t know about myself: my trust mechanism is broken. i’d always thought that i got off easy – that i was lucky because the trauma i suffered didn’t cause me to withdraw and look at the world through a lens of distrust — but instead it went the other way. maybe the intimacy of being a victim of a family member instead made it so that i just automatically let people in – too quickly, and too far. it explains a lot. it has shaken me, this new insight. put me back to a place of injury and disempowerment.
then came this morning. again in the car. alone. on the radio, one of my least favorite shows: think out loud. but i was instantly captured by karen karbo, talking about her new book “how georgia became o’keefe”. in talking about being a writer, she spoke the line i quoted at the top of this post. i pulled over to record it: “you don’t know what you really think until you write it down.”
in the next five minutes of listening, i changed course to the nearest bookstore.
as has happened so often in the past year, i was linked to an earlier time in my adulthood – this time to my first marriage to meng luding. i spent my years with him immersed in the art world, and this new taste of o’keefe propelled me back. the way karbo framed o’keefe’s life gave me kinship with her… words like “failure to launch,” and her discussion of how o’keefe channeled her discontent into her work – i believe she used the words “the lost art of sublimation” – was so thought-provoking.