Sticks and Stones is a mixed-media performance in which I hold up my shirt to expose my stomach to a projection beam. The projector imprints sections of text in varying sizes of font and varying shades of skin tones onto and across my stomach. Projected onto my stomach are sections from my personal journals relating to the source of my trauma and how those around me dealt with the knowledge of the event. All of the emotions that flooded from me at the peak of my depression—the self consciousness, pain, sadness, anger, loss of hope, numbness, inability to connect—seemed to centralize in the pit of my stomach. When any of these emotions began to consume me, I would cradle my stomach, with the hope that this form of nurturing would somehow exorcise the demons from my core.
As I collected the transcribed correspondence between my family members and me from my journal entries, I started to recognize that the words of my family members held so much weight. Even now, after seven years, I refer back to those words and adjust my behavior according to what was engrained into my psyche—“pull yourself together, it’s time to stop feeling sorry for yourself, don’t tell them.” The words tell the story of my family members’ frustration. The lack of control the situation produced colonized my body and mind and metastasized to the bodies and minds of those around me. Very early on, my family members and I had the expectation that my pain and suffering would disappear with time. As I have come to realize that it will never truly go away, I have found ways to make living with trauma much more manageable. And through the experience of finding manageability, my family and I have discovered acceptance and a newfound understanding of one another.
The trauma my family and I have endured, as the result of my dealings with post-traumatic stress disorder is evidence of the damaging effects communicative repression has on not only the individual but also the entire family unit. Their words are the affirmation of their suffering in reaction to my own. I am unmasking the wounds we have inflicted upon one another for the past seven years in an attempt to raise awareness of the need for divulgence when dealing with trauma.