​Poetry As A Form Of Therapy

By @Aunty_Vicki

Have you ever been though traumatic event?  I have, several in fact. Initially I was offered traditional counselling for several months. Rather than explore the details of the events, the article below aims to educate others with some of the things I learnt along the way to recovery.

Traditional counselling as I understood it, was a process of me just talking about what came to mind about the event and how it has impacted on my life since. The counsellor asked few questions, mostly just allowing me to talk about what was on my mind during the session. Sometimes the counsellor asked open-ended questions about how to repair the damage, or things like “where to from here?”. They would ask questions that would make me think about how I was going to get my life back to relative normal (pre-event), or as close to it as possible. While this method is good for what is on the surface, or conscious part of my mind, it still left a lot buried deep in the subconscious mind.
One day, several years later, something still buried in my subconscious was bought back to the surface by what is known as a “Trigger”. This is an action or event that causes a physical and or physiological reaction. In effect, I was bought back in time to the original event, with all the original feelings of the trauma that I had been though before several years earlier. It was like a “Groundhog Day effect”, as I see it. To all intents and purposes, I was in the same state as the day of the event, back at square one.
While this trigger event had happened and I was feeling like I had lapsed back to the traumatic events, I was also following my path of transition (which I will discuss later). However, much to my delight, I discovered the poet within me. At last I had found a safe way to assess my subconscious and let out those ingrained feelings that had been locked away. Using verbal images to relate what I was experiencing and what was running through my mind, what I had felt then and now.
As my poetry skills developed, I started using a wider variety of writing styles, different rhyming patterns. Some poems didn’t rhyme, others only line 1 and 3 rhymed, or line 2 and 4. What styles work for you is up to you. My counsellor became interested in my poetry and from time to time, I would email some of them to her. Some of my poems are published in articles, social media and other websites, for other people to learn more about from what. 

Poem: The Flower

Growing up in a family tree

Some finding the atmosphere happy, thers wanting to go bush

A wild rose has a sweet scent and many thorns

hybrid plants are a mix

Aesthetically pleasing but incomplete with missing scent or other features

Could the same be true of other living creatures?

I am a flower in a way

Coming into bloom

As my body continues its path of change

Bits of me rearranged, Am I a Rose? 

Perhaps a Poppy when in red

on ANZAC Day

Honouring those who gave their all for the freedom we have today

So, can I be myself, Loving all in full bloom

or am I to be plucked and put in a vase on a shelf?

Cast aside, pruned and sent to a compost heap

While others dress alike as sheep

In good time you too shall bloom,

in between times,

I hope this poem lifts you up high into the sky,

you are already a soaring butterfly
At last I was beginning to feel better as I continued my path, the poems in effect, disposing some of my baggage. The poet within then started writing about pleasant experiences and observations, a wider variety of subjects, from simple things like the beauty of a sunrise, to potential futures in parallel universes, a model of my ideal world, and how to improve the world in which I physically live.
I found the 3rd person narrative method to be useful, looking at myself as if I was looking from the outside inwards, rather than trying to look from the centre of what I had experienced, outwards though the clutter of triggers, painful emotions and memories. With this technique, I have disarmed most of the triggers, although I know some of them will be there in the background for the rest of my life. Unfortunately, some of them are still in the foreground too, and will more than likely be a part of me for the rest of my life.
Transitioning has also created a few triggers. Being gender-fluid, my gender state changes at random intervals, hours, days, weeks, months and so on. The most common of these triggers is being addressed by my original birth-name and birth-assigned pronouns, which is a Transphobic and Dysphoric trigger; which is often described by Transgender people as “dead naming”.
After test driving many new identifying names, I legally changed my name and gender a few months ago. Test driving a name can be likened to method acting, where you make a number of people you feel safe with, aware of the new name you have chosen for yourself and identify with, and ask them to use it during the test period, to gauge how it feels to be addressed as you identify. This way you hopefully find a “best fit” name that you and those who you value in your life can address you as. I went through several test names over a number of years before formalising my name as it is today. In an ideal world, I would have gotten rid of my original birth-name completely, instead my birth-name is now a middle name and is only to be used to refer to my qualifications when applying for work, paid and voluntary, saving many trees and a lot in reprinting fees. Anyone trying to use my original name for any other purpose is likely to be given either a gentle reminder of “My name is Vicki and I am a she”; or sometimes slightly stronger words if they are winding me up; other people I simply ignore until they address me correctly.
Depending on the nature of the event that has you in counselling, a new name is appropriate way of leaving the unpleasant parts of your past behind you. Sadly, the catch is, those who have known you the longest will find it hardest to adapt to your new name; where as new contacts will only know you by your new name that you identify as. Some people move city for that reason after completing their transition, to leave behind their birth-assigned lives and avoid the dead naming.

The Cipher

Smiling images,

near and far,



Encoded from conception,

Something to relate to,

This method is old,

not new.

More of my poems can be found here on Facebook:https://t.co/5LgZPmNumO.

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