Life Always Gets In The Way (and that’s a good thing)

Startling Depths

I want to die all of a sudden. A terrible thought that has been my way of coping since 19.

An automatic thought formed from childhood to survive it

Especially negative when I don’t catch and stop it.

I have a life worth saving.

Writing is revealing, agonizing, and achingly healing.

A vague sense of emotional truth I cannot articulate.

I used to be very good at memorizing.

All my brain cells performed at their highest performance to survive my childhood.

Memory verses. All English, not Tagalog.

So much so that I couldn’t read the Tagalog Bible.

I could not even pray in Tagalog.

Trauma can physiologically distort the functioning of the brain.

Our brains can hide and erase memory to protect us from unbearable pain.

I don’t think I have forgotten much.

Was my tolerance for pain so high that instead of not remembering, I remembered everything?

Then, because I remembered I developed an anxiety disorder at 12 and full depression seven years later.

Freud suggested that traumatized people will attempt to revisit injury in all its complexity and form, in order to master its terror and regain emotional control. That’s what all my dreams are. Representations and symbolism, so many to mention. Most are recurring. My critic wonders if they’re worth saying.

These are the questions I have to ask myself as I write my novel:

What do you want?

What do you feel?

What do you carry?

What do you most want me to know?

What are you most afraid of?


What do you have to gain by changing?

What do you have to lose?

I’ve revisited these questions so many times in 20+ years of therapy. I finally got the courage to divorce my husband of 14 years after two children. However, I could not do it alone. The decision to divorce had to be separated from judgment and shaming.

My younger sister could not separate it from that. As a result, we have been estranged for almost a decade. She’s okay with it, I’m okay with it. It’s a necessary estrangement.

Life is not a stage.

Life cannot be performed on the stage.

Life cannot fit on the stage.

Certainly, not on the stage of my childhood.

And not the theater of my childhood religion.




All difficult and necessary.

I could get lost in all this depth.

Finding my voice took many years and happened only through my children’s eyes.

My childhood happened through them.

My childhood trauma healed through the childhood I gave them.

My fears often played out in my dreams and mostly devoid of my children’s presence.

Startling depths.

Must continue.

Dolcelyn Imperio-Smith, Psy.D.

Written by

Psychologist turned Writer.

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