Monday, May 7, 2018

A Personal Legacy of Childhood Trauma

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Environmental & Science Education
Edward Hessler

Pulitzer prize winning author Junot Diaz's opens his personal history essay (The New Yorker, April 16, 2018) with these words.

Last week  I returned to Amherst. It's been years since I've been there, the time we met. I was hoping you'd show up again; I even looked for you, but you didn't appear. I remember you proudly repped N.Y.C. during the few minutes we spoke, so I suspect you'd moved back or maybe you were busy or you didn't know I was in town. I have a distinct memory of you in the signing line, saying nothing to anyone, intense. I assumed you were going to ask me to read a manuscript or help you find an agent, but instead you asked me about the sexual abuse alluded to in my books. You asked, quietly, if it had happened to me.

You caught me completely by surprise.

This is a story of the childhood trauma of rape. Moving. Touching. Sad. Heart-wrenching. Gut-churning. The essay is about breaking a silence, the stilled conversation. In it, Diaz tells the world  his story for the first time, one he hopes that maybe X will find and read.

Near the end of Diaz's affecting reflection on events in his early life and their effects on his life, he quotes Toni Morrison. Anything dead coming back to life hurts.

Diaz's haunting story hurts and a great part of this pain is knowing how may children experience and live with this for life. I never got any help, any kind of therapy. I never told anyone.

The essay is by no means easy so proceed with caution if you decide to read it (found here). For more information about Mr. Diaz see his personal website.

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