Session the 17th: The Years of Zorn and Tharn

Ike came with me, as always. On the way up there was a guy (with an employee badge) who looked at me clutching my cow, looked at the floor number I punched on the elevator panel, and just nodded to himself.

Yeah, we keep the crazies alllll on one floor.

No, all the stares in the world will not jar Ike from my arms. Were Obama himself to give me a hard look through the TV screen at me clutching Ike, I would… um, call the hospital to get committed. But not let go of Ike.


We talked about a lot of things (some of which have been covered in the past couple weeks, including this morning’s dream, the entitlement game, and basically the PTSD posts leading up to and through July 4th, and the reactions that started occurring after I saw Toy Story 3 last week). I spoiled Toy Story 3 for my bartender (he said it was OK to spoil though). I mean, good gods. The movie gets so intense that at the end, the toys are holding hands waiting to die together. Not a lot of animated films go that far in text, CGI or no.

So yeah, we also talked about … well, more or less, talking (retelling, like war stories) about my experiences so that eventually the memories get incorporated. Eventually. War stories do this for PTSD-suffering war veterans too. Eventually.

Sigh. Eventually.

Anyways, while I do talk about the pre-war and war years, so to speak, I rarely talk about the Years of Zorn and Tharn, that space of nothing but agony between cutting off my parents and, years later, establishing myself elsewhere. ((For reference, see here.)) That sounds short and easy, doesn’t it. But it wasn’t.

See, while the Years of Zorn and Tharn were marked by betrayal by some people who thought that my parents and I deserved a “second chance” (spit), whether or not my parents ended up killing me, they otherwise don’t offer many actual stories. These years are the kind of years any sane author would sink into a timeskip and not cover except in off-the-cuff references, because while there was a lot of (very justified) angst, paranoia, and PTSD, there were not a lot of incidents. It was one long solid block of misery.

Of course, the few incidents that did occur were rather incandescent in their scariness, and served to make the misery darker and more inescapable. Certainly more lonely as it became more and more obvious that I couldn’t rely on any connections that touched back to University. Even innocent people who sincerely wanted to help me—and not, you know, in the Biblical Ten Commandments sense—could accidentally pass information on.

I don’t even know how to describe the Years of Zorn and Tharn except to say that it was like running in that dark, suffocating tunnel in Coraline, where she knew that if she fell, she might not get back up again and it went on for years.

How can I even begin to talk about it coherently? And if I can’t, how can I heal the scars from it? I mean, heal faster than just letting the PTSD trigger into that region of my memory over and over again for the next few decades.

Yeah, I know, this is the part where healing actually gets Nintendo Hard rather than just horribly, horribly difficult.

4 thoughts on “Session the 17th: The Years of Zorn and Tharn

  1. Some thoughts you can consider and see whether they seem useful:

    – The goal of talking about it should probably be distinct from the goal of talking about it coherently.

    – It doesn’t have to all go in one story. Subplots or discrete chunks often work better. Stories are a chunk of space-time (she said, putting on her Pratchett hat) that mean something or convey something or resolve something. So there isn’t just one story of My Tour in Vietnam, there are sub-stories that each convey a different aspect of the experience, and some are funny and some are sad or horrifying. Also, telling it as more than one story means you don’t have to deal with it all at once.

    – Sometimes it helps to begin with the background: just describe a place where you lived, or a person you interacted with once, or a thing you had for dinner one time. Or a thing you had for dinner lots of times, because …and there’s your lead-in to a story with actual meaning.

    – Monotony without incident is indeed hard to fit into standard story forms. Maybe borrow the vignette or portrait forms of fanfic where the point is simply to spend a little time with a character or place?

  2. These are very useful suggestions. Thank you.

    I’ve never really thought before about applying basic storytelling techniques to my life even more. I don’t want to be a wallower in my pain, but of course there is a balance one can achieve. War stories are stories after all, and narrative non-fiction is an art form (and one I can do somewhat okay at).

    I never thought I’d blog an auto-biography ^.^ I began this blog as one of many, many ways to avoid pain, but instead it became a place to try to pin it down and expose it. And maybe rip its spine out if I succeed.

    Or at least get to the end screen.

  3. This isn’t about wallowing. This is about taking control. From They Used to Call Me Snow White … But I Drifted, page 153:

    Nora Ephron ends her brilliant novel Heartburn with a list of reasons why it’s absolutely essential to “turn everything into a story” when a friend questions why she has to give a funny answer to even the most serious questions. “So I told her why,” says Rachel, whose husband has just left her for another woman. “Because if I tell the story, I control the version. Because if I tell the story, I can make you laugh, and I would rather have you laugh than feel sorry for me. Because if I tell the story, it doesn’t hurt as much. Because if I tell the story, I can get on with it.”

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