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Number 9: Winter 2013

About suffering they were never wrong the old masters

Jane Haynes

The thing that I have found most difficult about my associations, or should I say intimacy, with trauma is that most people expect you to be diminished by it and of course you are. I have been diminished and permanently wounded and my natural inclination to pessimism has been intensified into something that possibly goes beyond even the philosopher John Gray’s vision of the world. I cannot take anything for granted which is exhausting and yet at my best I am still a celebrant of life and yes, I try consciously to seize every day. Carpe diem! indeed.  In the terrible sacrifice of life, Jay’s precious life, there also existed tissues of transfiguration, growth and individuation and that was most of my family’s long-term experience although you can never compensate children for a lost father.  I knew at the deepest level of being that if I could consciously endure the pain of Jay’s murder without becoming its victim I could, ultimately, be of more value to my patients, and not less. I also knew that when I returned to my consulting room I would not be able to hide behind the mask of an anonymous bereavement – I decided that my long-term patients had the right to know – and to dismiss what had happened to me. I kept my initial communication to the bare minimum but at the same time I knew a statement had to be made, as I did not want to take the risk of my circumstances being discovered in the newspapers. Whether they wished further to address it in greater detail, or to cross over, as many of us may do when we meet death, to the other side of the road was their choice.  Some people did, metaphorically as it were, cross to the other side of the road and relieved me of the exhaustion of sharing a part of my story. Others not only accompanied me along my difficult way but also, through their continued confidence in my therapeutic capacities, played an active part in my recovery and self-composure. It was different with patients who came into my care after the event, and with whom I had no desire to share the tragedy, although for several years it felt as if I was being dishonest in some perverse way and presenting a distortion of my self. In fact when new patients want to refer to my book, it almost feels as if they are talking about somebody else, and they will seem far more affected by my historical life than I now am.