Guided Writing Sessions

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Guided Writing Session: September 8

Thanks to all that joined the session.

Listen to the Audio Playback

Writing Prompt 1: What is your self-worth founded upon?

Writing Prompt 2: What myths do you promote (and believe) about yourself?

To share a piece of writing, click 'Reply', post your work, and click 'Submit'.

The playback links will be accessible through the end of September. The writing prompts and responses will remain here in the Writers Circle.

My Myth of Sin

My mother-wound was made by a wounded mother, who was wounded by her mother, and so on, going back through metered time, to the beginning.  

Everyone is at least slightly wounded by the act of being born as flesh.  The shock of physicality, with breathing independently, shoves us into life, sometimes yowling.  

Pre-birth, we live in symbiosis with our mother, cradled in divine waters as our cells divide and grow into these bodies.   Bodies that lull in the comfort of love that simply is.  Our  every need is met before we even express it.  Our lives are ease and mystic dreaming.  If we are lucky, most of our infancy will be in these states too.

In being born, we move through undulating passages of shifting space and strange sensations.  We are no longer simply energy in frequencies of harmony.   We now have a separateness to us, too.  We will grow into asking what this means.  

I believe that we all start out as oneness, no need for differentiation, before we’re born.  Then comes the different existence of living as a body.  At some point, we start telling ourselves stories about what’s happened.

For me, the mother of all my wounds occurred when I was four.   Long ago, but it can feel like yesterday.  The more often I recall it, the less it overwhelms me.   There will always be a gasp there.  How can there not be?   The only constant element in my life that day was my body.  My familiarities of family, friends, and places were yanked away.  

That day’s scarring remains my Achilles heel.  Its echoes draw me in, with reports of fires on the news, or tales of foster care. It’s only with remembering that the past has slowed itself, from flood into slow flow.  I don’t get it so confused with my now.

Everything in my life changed, in one day.  I was cast out of the Eden those early years were.  Years of living as small animal and running as a pack.  Its other members were my cousin Annie and our friends Shirley and Barbara, who lived down the hill.   Life was simple.  My only requirement was someone to play with.  Other needs were met by Mama, or one of my two aunts.

I understand the distraction in Aunt Fanny’s eyes, now.  We’d been robbed, earlier that summer.  She must’ve been terrified, tied-up while a robber carted away our few memories of affluence.  She talked to our priest, but remained haunted.   The trauma of her powerlessness was there, like a swallowed ghost.  Fanny was in no shape for supervising children.

Our system was designed around her functioning as mother.  Mott worked as nurse.  Mama served as model/assistant/colorist of photographs at Cookie’s studio.  It took both their earnings to keep us seven kids in food and school shoes.  Pioneers of divorce, they banded together for survival.  They formed a complexity of mothers.

They couldn’t afford to admit that Fanny needed help.  They had no idea what that help might be. It was the fifties.  Society said “Persevere.”

That day began like any other.  I woke in the pink room I shared with Mama and my baby brother.  Mama was in the bathroom, having strapped Larry into his potty chair. She bussed the top of my head with a quick kiss, rushing.  She bounded out, to catch the bus.

Normally, I would’ve stayed with my brother until Fanny gathered us for breakfast. But the bag of Cheerios to reward Larry with was empty.  I was hungry.  I was four.  I went downstairs, to the kitchen.

I sat at the table, with its scent of oil-cloth.  Fanny was stirring something in a pot. Bobby and Annie were bickering.  Suddenly, two men came rushing in. I recognized the large black man from the fields beyond our house.   He swooped me up.  The skinny white guy rushed the others out, shouting “Your house is on fire!”.  Fanny looked confused.

We stood in the backyard, watching the flames shoot up from the top floor.  Firemen rushed up.  Everything felt chaos.  Fanny startled into wakefulness.  She asked “where’s Larry?”  Even before I answered, I knew I was in trouble.  The rule was big kids look out for little.  

I didn’t think in terms of sin, those days.  Things just were, and you liked them or you didn’t.  Good and bad just were about if people liked what you did.  Good for yes, bad for no. For the first time, it dawned on me— I might be bad.  I so wanted to be a big kid. I’d failed my fledgling dream of bigness. 

Instead, I’d made Fanny cry and sputter at me.  Hers was a helpless anger, folding in on itself.  She wouldn’t look at me.  She turned away.

I wanted my mama.  She’d know what to do. Or Mott would.  Everything would resume being right. But I was wrong.  My grown-ups had been replaced by strange versions of themselves.  Mama’s was too loud— screeching and strangely ugly.  Mott’s was suddenly passive, dazed.  Fanny hadn’t been herself in a long while.  

After what seemed forever, Mama appeared, escorted by Cookie. A fireman was talking to them.  My hope rose.   I wanted her to save the day, but first, to save me.  Show me calmness in her eyes.  Instead, she ran past me. Was I invisible?.  

It  felt like energy was pulsing from her body, pushing everyone away. Her eyes were full of sparks.  Suddenly she was running towards the front-yard, her head lowered.   Like an animal charging. Bigger than herself.  

She was out of sight when I heard the sound of breaking glass, and screams.  I wanted to go see, but Cookie wouldn’t let me.  Instead, he took me to Mrs. Folks, next door.  He joked about his name, saying  we’d have milk and cookies.

Mama was taken to the hospital.  I went into foster care.  My wound formed in the space between my need and her capacity, my capacity and her need.  




Dear Devon,

This is a powerful piece of writing!  "My wound formed in the space between my need and her capacity, my capacity and her need."  Your spare style is beautifully suited to oversized, dramatic events, of which your life has had more than its share.  You evoke the innocence and visceral sensitivity of childhood.  "It felt like energy was pulsing from her body, pushing everyone away. Her eyes were full of sparks.  Suddenly she was running towards the front-yard, her head lowered.  Like an animal charging. Bigger than herself." The reader can feel this rupture and this pain. Thank you so much for sharing this work with us. 

Mark : ) 

Thanks for appreciating my effort.  I have visited the incident often in my memory, but never understood it quite this way until this writing.  Thanks for your assistance in bringing this practice of writing into my life.- Devon