The Sandbox

Amnesia, Art, Healing

Coming soon...a book! 

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Preface

I did not take the short way home. Not by a long shot. It took fifty years living with dissociative amnesia, two years in damaging psychotherapy and another several in good therapy to get here.  Along the way I’ve written over eighty five hundred pages contained in twenty volumes. 

My story has been overwhelming, pouring out in buckets but, for a very, very long time not well understood.

Looking back I probably gave up hope of finding my story let alone telling it more times than I could count. But every time I gave up, usually in tears and at least one time literally on my knees, a few hours or days later, I would double down, more committed than ever to try again.

I experienced this ebb and flow of giving up and digging back in until eventually and what feels like miraculously I washed up onto the beach with the book you now hold in your hands. 

There was a quote I was attached to for months by abstract painter Joan Mitchell. She said when people asked her about her life, “If I could say it in words, I’d write a book.”

For me this quote became a taunt, a dare, a non stop question and quest: Despite all the pages, could I ever really say it in words? 

Could I ever write a book? 

For years I’d been trying to piece my story together from a place of relative chaos. I’d been in a non stop frenzy in writing, a detective drowning in a sea of their own paperwork, old files mixed up with newer ones with even older files on top of those. I was struggling to write a whodunnit before having solved the case, but still, I couldn’t help myself. 

Only now, years down the road, can I see with clarity that while it may be challenging to write a memoir when you suffer from amnesia it is possibly even more difficult to do as you begin to heal from it. If amnesia is like a thick solid wall of ice to protect one’s mind while enduring trauma then healing from it is like a blow torch, melting decades and oceans of stillness into a torrent of daily emotional tsunamis.

But I had to keep trying to write my story as it was in all the ways that I was trying that I was finding out what I needed to know. 

At some point I declared that what I was going through was a kin to Rip Van Winkle, waking decades later after a war, feeling and remembering only disjointed bits and pieces of my past. And I started to have some consciousness and compassion for this hazy, confusing coming-to that was happening.  

In early 2013 I began to, what at the time felt like, fall apart. Looking back, I would say that an unconscious journey had begun inside me to heal. The journey was triggered by an obsession, a sudden switch and change in my state of mind that took me to places inside not, for a very long time, well understood. It also sparked the beginning of an enormous amount of writing. 

That solid wall of ice, five decades thick, was beginning to melt. 

I knew something was up. 

Something, I felt, was wrong. 

Years later, I can see that something extremely important and right had begun.

It was the beginning of me waking up, the early stages of me crossing a long and important bridge, moving slowly, perhaps chaotically and unknowingly but always moving in the same direction: from a frozen state of survival to a fluid, present state of living. 

This book is my story of how I healed from long standing amnesia, how I found myself in pieces and how I put those pieces together.

Although my faith has waxed and waned, what helped me to hold on was the core belief that no matter how long standing or complex the trauma, the human heart, if given enough time, a warm bed and a safe net, will tick its way back to health. And that if I listened long enough and carefully enough it would lead exactly where I needed to go. 

 

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Stay tuned for more information on release date and where to purchase.