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Post-op Orders following Infant Surgery without Anesthesia

The following was my response to the writing prompt I offered to the ReStory Your Life Meetup group that I used to lead, in which each member had PTSD. I told the group to write up a recipe for making the type of person each of them had become. Start with a recipe for making the traumatized self, then the recipe for making the healing  self. Here’s mine:

First, don’t touch her.

Second, don’t let her cry.

Third, isolate her from her brother.

Fourth, put her out in the cold, so she thinks she is ice.

Fifth, repeat the first two steps.

Put a pair of eyeglasses on her nose. Tell her school is the only important thing in life.

Don’t buy her that gray coat she loves so much.

Ok, do buy it but resent her for it.

Don’t ask her what her  favorite color is or what animal she’d like to be or what musical instrument is her favorite.

Then, feed her lots of fear, so much she wants to throw up. And let her eat all the candy she wants every day.

Finally, as she grows up, assume she is still weak and helpless because that’s how she was at two weeks old.

As stated above, isolate her.

And when as a 22 year old and suicidal, abandon her. ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

To heal, give her a friend, one who was suicidal as a teen-ager, so she feels understood.

Then, give her a room, a small room, like the tiniest house with its own roof of black tar; a red door; and a beautiful green-leaved courtyard as she looks out in the morning.

Give her a cat, a stray, brindled. Give her a watercolor paint set.

Give her an easel, classical music, a job housecleaning, and a therapist who allows her to cry and cry and write  and cry.

Give her books and journals and tons of time alone to learn to learn what she really feels.

Provide her with a pick so she can slowly break the ice—grow from numbness to feeling, from frozen to warm.

Tell her to take long walks in nature. Insist she visit the ocean often.

Encourage her to make more friends.

Then, nudge her to do research at the nearby medical school library so she can find out  that she had surgery at one month old without anesthesia and has had post-traumatic stress her whole life due to the early operation for pyloric stenosis, a stomach blockage.

Instruct her to write her memoir manuscript, The Autobiography of a Sea Creature, so she can probe that early experience and resolve some of the trauma associated with it.

Finally, introduce her to her guru within. Sit back and watch joy lead her moment by moment, day by day.

2 Responses to Post-op Orders following Infant Surgery without Anesthesia

  1. What a telling and elegantly expressed piece you wrote for this Meetup, Wendy! It brings together the past and the present, the pain and the healing, and touches beautifully on some of the treasured times, places and projects that have aided your healing. Your self-expression is always an inspiration for me, and I’m sure this piece was that for your group.

  2. Thank you, Fred! I like what you said about bringing together past and present. It’s so important, in order to heal, to make these connections. Somehow it finishes something; perhaps integration is the better word. The stark contrasts shed light. By setting past and present side by side, we see things anew. The words “full circle” come to mind and a feeling of profound satisfaction. The group’s pieces were amazing. Each read hers/his to the group, which was affirming for both the writer and the listener. It was so clear how far each person had come. Again, the words “full circle” resonate.

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