"Wave," a new book by Sonali Deraniyagala, out on 3/5/13, tells the harrowing, nightmarish story of the author's experience of surviving the catastrophic tsunami in Sri Lanka in December, 2004. In that disaster, her husband, two young sons, and parents perished. The book is a narrative of pain and resilience.
Back in the day, during my internship at the Massachusetts Mental Health Center, a teaching site for Harvard Medical School, pathology was emphasized in our work with patients. Understandably, as we needed to recognize and treat those matters which limited functionality. We sought balance in our work; we still do. The challenge is to embrace pain and then try to find ways to add contexts that might make it tolerable enough so that relationships and individual consciousness are possible.
On a day to day basis, distractions are available. Among these are: Exercise, meditation, vocational success, observation of nature, cooking.
The pain remains. As Ms. Deraniyagala notes: "I am left feeling as if I've blundered into a stranger's life."
That profound alienation is a carapace. A pretense that the author uses to try to make it seem as if the traumatic events she went through happened to someone else. The words reverbate, and have me thinking of a patient who told me of the effect on her life of having been through horrors in Somalia: "I don't feel as if I am from this world."