Going back to my writing roots

Since the home invasion (if you haven’t yet, you can read about it here), I’ve been battling with my writing. I can’t seem to immerse myself as fully into my make-believe worlds as I used to. This is problematic, because if I can’t see, hear, smell and feel my characters, I can’t write about them. The robbery changed me in a fundamental way, and things I used to do I can’t do anymore, which means I also have to adjust my writing routines and rituals. I used to listen to music while I wrote – headphones on, music blasting my eardrums to an early death. I can’t do that anymore. I need to hear what’s going on around me, and if I can’t hear, I get panicky, and when I get panicky, I can’t write.


Part of my process involved a few weeks of ‘daydreaming’ about the new story and characters. It required me sinking deep into my imagination, shutting out the rest of the world, and just concentrating on the people in my head. But now, unwelcome thoughts intrude, and the story falls apart. I have to keep my mind constantly active to keep out obsessive thoughts – that means reading a lot of cracked.com, or watching a lot of really bad television, but nothing creative, because even reading fiction cuts off the outside world, and that drives me fucking nuts.

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Aftermath – recovering from trauma

2015 was supposed to be a good year.

I had high hopes for my writing career, and many plans for the new year. After the home invasion, when my family and I were held captive for 3 hours, most of my plans for 2015 went down the drain. Three months later, and I still find it hard to write (as witnessed by the three-month long gap between posts), and most days I spend just trying to stay out from under the bed.

Recovering from trauma is difficult, and takes a long time, and we are all dealing with it differently. There is no “one size fits all” quick fix here. My oldest son started getting aggressive – he hits his little brother and throws his toys around, but much more worrisome, he is starting to exhibit signs of self-harm. My husband pretends it didn’t happen at all, and sleeps a lot to get away from it. He’s never truly experienced anything that violent, and he has no coping skills to deal with it. Me … well … I don’t sleep, I have severe anxiety and I get panic attacks. I don’t want to be home (at all, the less I can be here, the better), and every time I read about yet another attack (and believe me when I tell you, there are plenty right now), everything comes crashing back, and the little progress I’ve made disappears.

I can deal with what happened to me, in my opinion it wasn’t that bad. It could have been much worse, and judging by what others had to deal with who were victims of the same gang, we got off lightly. I can’t deal with what happened to my son. Over and over again, I replay that moment he ran into our room with that big smile on his face, the moment they grabbed him, the moment I begged them not to hurt him, the sudden fear on my child’s face as he realised Mummy and Daddy weren’t having some kind of late-night party going on in their bedroom. I remember the moment they started trying to tie him up, his voracious fight, the moment of blackness when they pistol-whipped me, coming to and seeing them choking him, but most of all I remember my impotence to do anything about it. I hate myself for failing my child. Realistically, of course, there was nothing I could do. My arms were tied behind my back, and I was disoriented from the blow to my head, but that doesn’t stop the feelings of self-loathing and failure. I keep running it over in my head, wondering what I could have done differently. I should have done more to protect him.

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Hello everyone. I know it’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything. Today, I’m breaking from tradition and instead of giving writing tips as I always do, I’m going to tell you the true story about the night we were held captive in our home during a robbery. Bear with me here, it’s quite long, but I’ll try and write it down as well as I can remember it.

On 5 January, we caught someone skulking in our yard. I saw him in time and we phoned the police. He came back on the 6th and the 7th, and then all went quiet. We stood guard in the house for a few days, but he stayed away, and we started relaxing, thinking we may have scared the guy off for good. Unfortunately, that is exactly what they were hoping for.

On the night of 15 January, I told my husband that I just couldn’t do it anymore. I was just too tired. He tried to reassure me, saying that they wouldn’t be back, and I should go to bed. He said he’d stay awake, but also being dead tired, he fell asleep somewhere along the line.

In the early morning hours of 16 January 2015, four armed men broke into our home.

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