Twice in my twenties, I found myself lying on my back, crying out for help: once on a beach the morning after failing to muster the will to slit my wrist and the second, about two years earlier, lying on a cot in the attic of an abandoned house, where I cried out “help!” to a small window filled with turquoise light. (The night before, I had taken 250 Extra-strength Bufferin and, much to my dismay, had woken up alive.)
No doubt, these scenarios are re-enactments of lying on my back in surgery at twenty-six days old, unanesthetized, and paralyzed by a drug to keep me still. Did I go out of my mind? I think I did. My brain froze with trauma. I cried out for help then in whatever way an infant can who has no words or ability to fight or flee. Dr. Louis Tinnin, in his latest post on his blog Infant Surgery without Anesthesia, offers insight into the plight of the infant undergoing unanesthetized surgery. He discusses Edvard Munch’s famous painting “The Scream” –what Tinnin calls a “silent scream” for help.
Through re-enactment, our souls tell us what needs to be resolved so that we can heal and thrive. Until we pay attention and resolve the trauma, our souls keep reminding us. Here are the drawings of my silent cry for help on the beach that day in 1976: