“…the word survivor” * Sharon Olds poetry * PTSD

We are all doing the best we can in Denver.

I worry for those walking with PTSD not knowing to name the beast.

I worry for the victims, definition large,

of the shooting in Aurora, Co.

I worry for those of us walking with PTSD

not knowing WHY the sudden fear,

that terror that comes with an event

seemingly so disconnected to them.

I worry for everyone connected in any way to the shooting.

PTSD comes on like a shadow and haunts and haunts and haunts.

I pray that all of us get the help we need to grow free of the fear,

the terror that keeps us from seeing the world for what it is

not what is was in one moment in time.

PTSD robs us of our ability to see what is before us

as we live in what may be long behind.

PTSD proves that to ignore history is to repeat it





Peace, sort of but not really so much,



That Year

by Sharon Olds

The year of the mask of blood, my father
hammering on the glass door to get in

was the year they found her body in the hills,
in a shallow grave, naked, white as
mushroom, partially decomposed,
raped, murdered, the girl from my class.

That was the year my mother took us
and hid us so we would not be there
when she told him to leave; so there wasn’t another
tying by the wrist to the chair,
or denial of food, not another
forcing of food, the head held back,
down the throat at the restaurant,
the shame of vomited buttermilk
down the sweater with its shame of new breasts.

That was the year
I started to bleed,
crossing over that border in the night,

and in Social Studies, we came at last
to Auschwitz, my ignorance
I felt as I recognized it
like my father’s face, the face of a guard
turning away–or worse yet
turning toward me.

The symmetrical piles of white bodies,
the round, white breast-shapes of the heaps,
the smell of the smoke, the dogs the wires the
rope the hunger.  This had happened to people,
just a few years ago,
in Germany, the guards were Protestants
like my father and me, but in my dreams,
every night, I was one of those
about to be killed.  It had happened to six million
Jews, to Jesus’s family
I was not in–and not everyone
had died, and there was a word for them
I wanted, in my ignorance,
to share some part of, the word survivor

Sharon Olds from Satan Says

~ by Step On a Crack on July 25, 2012.

8 Responses to ““…the word survivor” * Sharon Olds poetry * PTSD”

  1. The heaviness on my heart continues, as do my fervent prayers for all. God bless you–love, Caddo


  2. Oh honey. Just, OH. Or oh no! This stirs up so much. I can feel myself in warzones so easily. Your post speaks to me, as you know. My shrink doesn’t believe in C-PTSD, so she “helps” me under whatever the hell category she wants to place my fractured head when i melt
    n. And i recognize it, and i walk through it, and i squirm, i sweat, cry, can’t breathe …
    …. and i TALK about it … and that helps, but if you don’t KNOW it or LIVE it, no one will understand the little battened down shelter you retreat to as you come out: numb and feeling like you’ve been tazered.

    It’s funny, J … great big tragic things seem more easily resolved. When people are FREAKING out around me, i feel calm!!! I fucking do! When little stuff happens during the day, that sort of adds up, something like the Aurora shootings triggers my “cycle”. I pop!

    Friday, i was reeling from the news … then i realized i’d deleted my entire library of photos, and my dad called to say strange things to me, and Don was off coaching … I had to take extra anti-anxiety medication just to keep from pealing my skin off. Then i wrote a blog post where i was screaming at myself for being selfish and dishonest, which is what i often do, and people who read my blog think i’m yelling at them. JE***, help me! 🙂

    Ah, actually, i feel a little better now. You really touch me, you know. We have the same ARMY BOOTS on girlfriend, and i take up probably, well, i’ll take just half. It’s no fun having sweaty feet alone. Love, MEL


  3. Thanks for this honey. You know it’s a fucked up horrible thing and how we process it or choose not to is where the healing happens I suppose. Anyway, talking about like you are helps a lot. Love you, neighbor. xo- Sean


  4. hey Jen. Just wanted to send you some PEACE.


  5. Jen, This is terribly difficult for you and I am concerned. I’ve not been up to date on posts, but I’m not oblivious either! Are you able to get the help you need right now? PTSD, and this just brings it all back to the forefront. I’m sorry you are suffering so much. Do know I’m keeping you in prayer. Is there anything I can do for you? Edie


  6. Jen, I read a post once and can’t find it…but I wanted to leave a comment and don’t think I did. It was about you being “just mom”.

    Jen, Keeping you in thought and prayer. It’s okay to “just be mom”, or to “just be”. Congratulations on being there for your son. It’s the best job in the world and you’ve accomplished the hardest goals in life. Even though you’ll be entering a new chapter in life…the chapters get bigger and better! These chapters are all building blocks from being an amazing mom! Think about when he calls you and says “Mom I wanted you to be the first to know”…. and it will go on and on. I know it’s hard for you to imagine, because you didn’t have that…but you do now from your son! Some time from now…there will be pitter-patter of little footprints…and you’ll still keep on nurturing and loving! Sending you hugs! Take care and stay safe, Edie


  7. According to a pilot study published in the latest issue of the peer-reviewed International Journal of Healing and Caring, veterans with high levels of PTSD saw their PTSD levels drop to within normal limits after treatment. They reported that combat memories that had previously haunted them, including graphic details of deaths, mutilations, and firefights, dropped in intensity to the point where they no longer resulted in flashbacks, nightmares, and other symptoms of PTSD. The study involved veterans from Vietnam, as well as more recent conflicts. ;

    Most up-to-date posting from our personal blog page


    • Thank you!! Yes there are more and more treatments being discovered for those of us who live with PTSD. I have found Brain Spotting and meditation to be of the most help.

      Thank you for you contribution!

      Peace, Jen


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