Irv’s Photo: Healing Another Kind of Trauma

In an earlier blog, we saw that Characters in the stories we read or write often take up residence in our minds.

Have characters from the page come to life for you?
Do you feel like you’ve entered their world, see it the way they see it, feel what they feel?

Have you ever wondered how some characters are able to survive their wounds and overcome their grief to become authentic and fulfilled while others feel hopeless, stuck or depressed?

Like the two main characters in my short story, The Promise, the characters respond to trauma in ways that are varied, deep and far-reaching. Misty’s courage in healing in my story, The Promise, is inspiring.

Misty recovers from a violent and tragic childhood experience because she draws from healing sources in her life. Dance is the thing that makes her feel alive. Through dance, she gains intuitive understanding of her body as healer. She gathers strength from her pillars of support, the tight-knit group of dancers from the club.

Like Misty, the characters of Irv and Delia in my story, Irv’s Photo — based on my own life experience — must heal from their traumas. As we know, trauma comes in many forms, not always of a violent nature.

We’ve all encountered trauma in one form or another. Events as simple as being criticized by a parent, failing an exam or forgetting lines in a play can be traumatic for individuals. I sometimes call these “ordinary emotional traumas.” In Irv’s case, his traumatic experience happened when he was ridiculed by his teacher and other students as he stood up to speak in front of his grade school class. It still haunts him.

At such times, the nervous system becomes overwhelmed. The individual is not available to explore the world, feeling compelled to constantly “look over his shoulder” for “the threat.”

Often motion is paralyzed. Because part of the nervous system doesn’t distinguish between past and present trauma, if there is a perceived threat in present time, the individual feels helpless and paralyzed, before.

That is what happens to Irv. The situation from his childhood is recreated for him when he freezes and “falls flat on his face,” while speaking at his daughter’s sorority banquet. In that moment, daughter Delia feels embarrassed by her father, and for him, all at once. This becomes a memory of a traumatic nature for both father and daughter.

Noted in author Windy Lynn Harris’s review, “Readers will love this terrific father/daughter story about healing…” Years later after the banquet fiasco, Irv must summon the courage to reveal his innermost fears to Delia, to gain her acceptance so they can heal the past. Irv and Delia share an experience as they observe a father eagle feeding his chick on the grounds of Irv’s apartment. This becomes a memorable father/daughter moment for both of them.

A healing kind of moment.