Reliving Trauma

During my Great Day presentation, someone asked me an interesting question that I wanted to pose to the rest of the poetry community:

“Do you feel you are reliving your trauma by reading past poems you’ve written about it?”

I was caught a bit off guard by this question because I’ve never thought about the concept. A therapist I work with once mention that she was confused as to why a client of hers would talk about sexual trauma during a group because talking about it was reliving it. I disagree with this, and I disagree with the idea of someone reliving their trauma by writing about it. Yes, I’m sure someone can be triggered by reading about trauma similar to their own, but the idea of not being allowed to talk about it because talking or writing about it is reliving it… that just sounds like so many different types of wrong to me. Writing and talking through trauma is processing it. Yes, processing is hard. But what is the alternative?

In terms of being triggered by your own work… I didn’t have an answer because I’ve never thought about it from either my or someone else’s POV. I suppose it is possible, but I’d image some aspect of the poem has already been processed before being put on paper, at least enough to allow the person to sit down and open up about it.

It was an interesting question, and I really wasn’t sure what to say in response to it. So if anyone wants to give their input, feel free.

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