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!