Saturday, 26 September 2009

Looking At The Remains - A Ravaged Landscape

A few summers ago (when I was less of an agoraphobe/freak) a great friend and I, armed with a rather cumbersome, green tent, drove down through the stunning French Pyrannees into the arid, desert landscape of Northern Spain.

As we wound on roads cut through the rock and on to the lower mountain roads, it was obvious that there had been an enormous fire which had swept uncontrollably across vast areas of landscape; ravaging the hillsides, melting and twisting any road signs and killing all the vegetation and wildlife for miles.

A striking experience, to realise the power of the element solely through being witness to the complete devastation that it has wreaked upon the land.

My own landscape looks a lot like the one I have described. If I was to paint a picture of how I imagine ‘the inside’ to look, it would be a picture of something charred and shrivelled. (Though of course, if I WAS to attempt such a thing, the outcome would be little more than a brown and black puddle on a page).
I cannot remember most of the time when I burned and yet, the evidence is everywhere on my blackened landscape. I know the hundreds of tiny deaths. I see and even, in some places, FEEL burns of various intensities, but I cannot really, accurately, recall being alight.

I think I must have cried my way through the night, or rather, howled. I woke up half a dozen times making a hell of a noise.

Bloody therapy. It does that.

In one (of the many) ‘snapshot’ dreams last night, I had an image of a little plastic mould of a human being. Plaster Paris (remember that stuff?) was being poured into it. The liquid was filling the sides of the mould, just as smoothly and beautifully as a heavy, winter Stout fills a pint glass, but the centre of the mould remained empty.
A hollow human figure.

Somehow, this links to the fire but I can't think about it enough to articulate it cos my brain “slides” if I try. Trying to hold things steady in my mind sometimes is an impossible feat.

At this juncture, it is perhaps worth saying that the all these analogies may seem to point to all sorts of terrible things in the mind of readers who may identify with some of the feelings or images. However, I want, and indeed, need to make it very clear that I have NOT suffered physical or sexual abuse (as so many others who are in therapy have).
I can’t explain the whys. Firstly because there are possibly too many and they are too difficult and secondly because getting to the point has never really been my thing. (Actually, more truthfully, getting to the point in this instance feels painful and impossible).

Cumulative trauma is what my therapist keeps saying.
It’s hard to acknowledge that after years of trying to squash it, and then subsequent years spent trying to make sure that it was always ‘less than’ someone else’s pain.


  1. Funny thing about the ravages of a fire upon the landscape; seemingly so devastating and destructive and yet at the same time a harbinger of new growth.

  2. HI_

    Excellent post - your writing is amazing and I followed and hung on every word and defined image and feeling. The barren landscape is also known as the "clean slate" which allows for new beginnings - total new opportunity - it seems to me that you are at the beginning of something new and purposeful - life giving and free.
    Love and hope

  3. "charred and shrivelled"....well put. Powerful post. Yes, getting connected does bring out painful memories dear one.

    Blessings and thanks for being real!

  4. Powerful, powerful post. It is a long journey to get connected to the devastation of the past. Years are sometimes required. It is natural to say it couldn't have been that bad. It was. {{{{Safe Hugs}}}}

  5. jss... Thank you for your words. They suggest a hope that I don't currently have bt I appreciate hearing that idea of new growth.

    Gail, as always, thank you. Again, I cannot see new life but perhaps you see or hear something that I can't... Maybe I am short sighted... I'd like for that to be the case I think. x

    Just Be Real - Thank you for stopping by to leave your comment. I get the impression that your knowledge comes from your own experience.

    Wanda - Your hugs do feel safe because I know they are real. Thank you for being here and understanding. I'm sorry you are having such a terrible time yourself.
    I have to disagree on the 'it was bad' thing. I don't have anything like most of you here in this blog community.
    All tht is another post though...

  6. that picture really freaks me out. I think we as human beings are so fragile and vulnerable to so much. Stay safe. Sarah

  7. There is nothing to be gained from comparing your pain to others who had it "worse". Really, there's no such thing. That which damaged you, really did damage you (be it small or big), and that's what you need/want to deal with. It doesn't matter if you were or weren't physically or sexually abused, what matters is that you hurt. And that hurt has as much right to be there are any other inflicted hurt. And that hurt is legitimate, no matter what caused it.

    (getting off my high horse now.....)

  8. Marit -
    I... find your words very very hard.
    Not because I mishear you, on the contrary, I hear your compassion and your kindness... but just because this is something I struggle with enormously.
    I keep meaning to do a post on it... but... it feels so hard to even begin to write about.
    Thank you for stopping by and thank you for commenting so kindly.

    sorry my picture freaked you out!
    It's how I imagine a part of me to look. Probably the most accurate representation that I have ever come across.
    Thanks for sticking around. x