Coming Out With Trauma

My last year of graduate study has started, and with it came a new set of problems for me to solve.

I had an idea at the start of the summer, which was to compile an archive of my past. Now that I have opened up about the trauma I experienced as a child and allowed myself to think about it instead of trying to shove it down into the recesses of my memory, I came to the realization that everything I have ever done could be linked back to that one event. I decided to start “An Encyclopedia of Trauma.”

Now, it’s a huge archive, perhaps its too much information, but I’m trying to take my old certificates, drawings, photographs, notes, diaries, whatever and put them in chronological order, to create a timeline of my life. I’m including anecdotes and constructed images in this mess– and that is what it currently is. A mess. There is a ton of information, some think perhaps too much.

Here is a very abridged sample, from the earlier part of my timeline:

It’s hyper personal, as I reveal my thoughts, my prayers, my mental illnesses. Right now it is completely raw, maybe even unhinged. But I can’t stop– I need to do this, and not just for myself. Sure, maybe it is a great therapeutic activity, but I wouldn’t just define it as that, because quite frankly, it’s more than that. I want to create this book because I know I’m not alone, that my story has variations that other people have undoubtedly lived, and we need to look at the uncomfortable truths that come with living through life with the weight of trauma bearing down on everything a person does.

This project is daunting, and I need to take it step by step. I need to first finish scanning in and collecting my archive. Then, I can cull through it and pick out what matters and what doesn’t. The thing with graduate study is you oftentimes get demands disguised as advice. The important thing to remember is to consider it, pick it apart, and apply it the way you feel you need to. And that will be my challenge this year. How do I take something so raw and personal and make it into something an audience can swallow? Is that what I want to do? How personal is too personal? Can I show the world my insides and be able to call it art? Does anyone care?

These are the problems I need to work through. I’ve always loved a good challenge.

Happy Shooting!

8 thoughts on “Coming Out With Trauma

  1. Deo!!! This is ugly and beautiful at the same time. It is honest and raw and where real art comes from. The unfortunate thing about art is that the best art comes from the hardest moments in life. No one likes to hear how happy Taylor Swift is with her current boyfriend, we would all rather hear the dramatic break up story. The true, real, and raw emotions that everyone can relate to up to a certain degree, no matter how great or sucky your life is at the current moment. Going into a wedding, I’m all butterflies and happy, but Miranda Lambert came out with a new song called “Vice” and it is so fantastic in relating to her divorce that it is way more compelling and thought provoking then any love song!
    Now, don’t think that I am dumbing down your struggles to a simple love story or break up song. You should feel encouraged that through all the struggles, you get to tell a story that will be thought-provoking, eye-opening, deep, and personal that no one else an tell but you. No one else has your story to tell so if you don’t who will? In the words of the great Lin-Manuel Miranda, you need to answer the question “who tells your story” and no better a person to tell it than you!

  2. Darn! I just wrote a whole paragraph and lost it. Not that what I said was too important. Look at my This is Me Page and my Incest page for the gist of it. I found it very therapeutic. But be aware people don’t want to read about it. They rarely even stop by for a post on incest. I’m 81 so don’t have much to lose, but when my book first came out I was more embarrassed than happy.

    • Thank you for your insight! I have already found through critique by my professors that people don’t want to read about it. At first, when I got that feedback, I was a bit heartbroken. But now, I’m more determined than ever.

      People don’t want to read about it, because they want to pretend these horrible things don’t happen. I want them to have to face the uncomfortable feelings that they will get when they read. Maybe then it won’t be such a taboo! I’m so thankful for your blog, thank you for sharing it with me!

  3. I’m beginning to wonder if the only way people can stomach this kind of terror is when it is presented in fiction. I wonder how they think us, the people that suffered these traumas are supposed to feel? They can’t bear the reality of it. I love (uhm, don’t mean love, but find it important) the dream you related, of how the neurosis get exposed.
    I mentioned Roger Ballen with one of the photographs and gave the site address. Google his name as well, there are many sites dealing with different aspects of is work. Your perseverance is inspiring and, indeed, heartening. It instills courage.

  4. Pingback: MFA Thesis Exhibition: PERSIST | Deo Photography

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