That Which is Forbidden to Exist

“When we are told that something is not to be spoken about,
we understand that to mean that this something
should not exist-
should not,
must not,
does not exist.
In that moment, our reality and,
consequently, our lives
are distorted;
they become shameful and
In some way, we understand this to mean
that we
should not exist.

To protect ourselves,
we, too,
begin to speak only of the flat world
where everything is safe,
commonplace, and
the very small world about which
we can all have consensus.
we don’t see
the other worlds we once saw,
for it is difficult to see
what we are forbidden to name.”
~Deena Metzger Writing for Your Life~


This was not written as a poem; I separated the phrases so the emphasis fell where I wanted it to.
Altered literary art. heh

I’m combining this with a writing prompt I read on Laura Davis‘ blog:   Brainstorm a list of things that would be dangerous to face in your writing. Then write about one of them.

It is, of course, dangerous to name the forbidden.

But consider this statement from Literary Trauma:  “…psychoanalysis believes,” Deborah M. Horvitz writes, “that crucial to recovering from an experience of trauma is the capacity and willingness to incorporate that traumatic event inside one’s self as an indispensable piece of personal history and identity.  Since, in the fiction in this study [Literary Trauma], narrative is inextricably entwined with memory and the process of remembering, the greater one’s ability to “make story” out of trauma, which is defined differently for each protagonist, the more likely s/he is to regain her or his life after that trauma” (6).

Telling our story is crucial to our recovery, but we’re forbidden to do so because:

  • it will disrupt the family
  • it will ruin the family reputation
  • an important member of the family may go to jail
  • the family will disintegrate–children will be torn from parents
  • it’s better left in the past
  • it’s not happening NOW, is it? Why can’t you let it go?
  • PTSD? Is that even real?  Besides, you were never in any war.

I wonder if the stories we cannot share nest themselves in our bodies and manifest as sickness….



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