• Vol. 10
  • Chapter 10


You forgot to mention trauma. Writing about mental health is not the same as writing about trauma. My heroine spoke about trauma all the time – more than she spoke about poor mental health. She spoke about child abuses in the Catholic church. She spoke about her time in care, in reform, in the Magdalene Laundries. She spoke of the soul-abuse, the imprisonment and emotional torture.

I can relate, I understand. Dark walls lit with candles and crosses, whose glow never quite reaches into the shadows. Shadows where devils and demons and violent proponents of God's Wrath unleash their vengeance on little girls and boys. Where choirs of angels can't penetrate the webbed silence of the confessional box.

We confess and confess. You can scream with rage and cry with guilt, shave your head, tear up a picture of the Pope live on television. You can tell everyone everywhere that you're fighting against the silence of abuse. Perhaps the voice of an angel might sing a prayer so loud that God has no choice but to listen.

But no. The spiders climb the tree of rust, the death of chainsaws and steel, the totemic pedestals you tried to climb down from. They'll resurrect you back where you didn't want to be, and in a litany of your courage they'll praise every single thing you stood for, ever –

Apart from trauma.

It is still being erased, by those too frightened to believe you. It is still phrased as mental illness. Trauma is not mental illness.



The conflict in your soul, I saw it too. I felt it. The conflict in your soul comes from loving those who have harmed you. The conflict of allowing your trauma to be erased. You believed the patterns of scapegoating and accepted them as truth. The axe of trauma buried itself deep in you as it did for so many of us.

It isn't fair. I want to take that weapon, pull it out of your soul. I want to lay it to rest, once I've used it to liberate the truth of your song from the trapped webs of Catholic silence. The trapped webs of traumatic guilt and the nightmare history of the laundries. I want to pierce every web that wraps up your voice. I want to free it through time, again and again.

Magda. Shuhada'. Survivor of trauma.

You were never ill. Only the world around you was.

Twisted, woven, smashed, distorted, reshaped, replaced, revised, rewritten.

Only, not to me. I hear your words in your voice. I choose to listen to you, not myself. I don't wish to erase any part of you, to ignore or make excuses for. It isn't necessary. You don't need it.

The heart is a blaze in the centre of its fire. It burns eternal but is never consumed.