Thursday, December 29, 2011

Digging my way out with my fingernails

For 8 years now the work I love has hidden from me while I experienced every stress factor on the actuary list at lease once, usually more often.  I never called it Writer’s Block because the stories were always there in completed outlines with the research mostly squared away.  Instead, and with the blessings of a string of therapists, I’ve hidden behind the term PTSD.

I wish to take nothing from our valiant fighters who rightly suffer from the disease but I want to point out that PTSD is not limited to combat veterans.  It can happen to anyone who experiences things their psyche cannot process.  Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is what happens when various events taken together or in series become too muckin fuch for our brains to process.  Simply put, I lost touch with who I was.

I was my mother’s daughter until I became my husband’s wife.  When I lost both of them within a brief span of time I leaned on the fact that I was still “the baby of the family” with my “big sister” to go to when life became too much.  Then she died and I became the eldest living female in my extended family.  My mind went numb.

Nine months later, I put my home on the market and 4 months after that I sold it and moved in with my lovely daughter mere days before Hurricane Katrina destroyed, rearranged and/or demolished everything in the five Mississippi Coast cities I’d been familiar with for over a quarter of a century.  We deal less easily with change as we grow older.

Ten days less than two years after Katrina I lost my Prodigal Son in a stupid “accident'’.  After that the Stress Factors seemed to arrive more swiftly.  Less than two years after the loss of my son came the economically forced sale of my daughter’s beautiful, peaceful home and a move to a strange state for a brief nine months before another move to an even stranger place this time alone.  I don’t know how to be alone.  I ‘m not even sure I know me.  Who is this person who is no longer someone’s daughter, someone’s wife or someone’s full time mother?  I don’t know her and I’m not sure I will like her when I do but I have to try.

As I rapidly approach eighty, I have to remind myself that I am Peggy Ullman Bell, Author of SAPPHO SINGS, a semi-fictional biography of The Poetess of Lesbos that lived through thirty-five years of re-writes before finally becoming available to a surprisingly receptive public.  Then came Women at Gettysburg FIXIN’ THINGS an overlapping thirty years of writing and re-writes because my mother still lived in the Battle area and wanted bragging rights.

Now, thanks to eBooks and the one-hundred and fiftieth anniversary of our American Civil War, FIXIN’ THINGS is selling well and it’s time I find the Author in me again.  I can count the breaks between the traumas by the dates on my rare creative files.  Here’s hoping I don’t break too many fingernails digging my way out of this malaise.

Blessed be, Y’all.

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