On not paying prices

My process as a writer is a bit like a pregnancy. My brain gets fertilized with an idea, often something that enough of my clients are talking about that I am pointed by them in a particular direction. Then the idea grows and gestates; I walk to work turning concepts over in my head. I get a first chapter. I get a last chapter. Then, like labor and delivery, I sit down to write, spilling out most of a book in bursts of a week at a time. These writing weeks as a ways of working came into my life back in 1992, when my good friend Maria Root and I went to Maui with our computers and our snorkel gear. Each morning we woke up, still on Seattle time, sat our laptops on our laps, and spent the hours before it was light enough to safely get into the water pouring our ideas out onto the screens. Then visits to the reef, and back to the computer. Subversive Dialogues was born that week; I have a photo of me happily sitting on the lanai, 23 years and five computers ago, filled with the energy of creation.

Another book is trying to be born, and so at the end of March I head back to the islands, this time to the Big Island of Hawai’i, which has become one of my favorite places on the planet, armed once again with laptop and snorkel gear, planning to pick up enough malasadas and poke on the way to the house I’m renting to keep me fueled for the first few days. This next book, tentatively called “Not the price of admission” is about the challenges that adult survivors encounter in their emotionally and sexually intimate relationships. What I keep hearing from clients and friends alike is how much the experience of being raised in other-than-loving families creates a sense that one must pay prices for the privilege of being, if not loved, at least tolerated in a relationship. Those prices are many; boundaries, having preferences and a voice, being safe, having to quite literally pay for someone else to stick around; these, and so many more, are the themes that resonate for people who were raised believing that they were unworthy of love and care. This volume starts somewhere in the middle of Your Turn for Care, because soon after I finished that book two years ago I realized that much of what I said there had applications to the other relationships of adult survivors. That realization planted the seed, and I’m about to see how Madam Pele, the fire goddess whose embodied manifestation is that island, does in the role of midwife. I’m hoping that the week I spend there will allow much of the new book to get onto the screen.

I continue to very much value your comments and feedback on all of my work. Because the work of a therapist and a writer tends to be somewhat solitary, it’s always a treat to discover that my work is showing up in your lives. Thanks to my clients, my students, my colleagues, the people who continue to teach me so much of what I know about how to do this work.

Finally, if you’d like to hear me discussing how I became a trauma therapist, and what keeps me doing the job, you can listen to a new podcast interview with me. I talk about being a trauma therapist on the The Trauma Therapist Podcast of the West Coast Trauma Project. Guy McPherson, the podcast host, interviews me about how I became a trauma therapist, and what keeps me inspired and engaged in this work. I share some early stumbles on the path to understanding trauma, and discuss what a new trauma therapist, or an experienced therapist new to trauma, can to to enhance their capacity to work well with trauma survivors.