Caught Between the Big and The Small


These last 18 months have been unique to say the least. It’s been a strange adventure, a horrible isolation, a great time to spend with family and so much more. The biggest thing it has been is in an emotional rollercoaster. The person I present myself to be and truly who I am is a happy, outgoing, full of energy, excitement and lots of plans and organization. That is who I am but that was not who I was, and the depression and PTSD had its chance to come back while I was vulnerable.  

This person I am now was created through an interesting past that has been repressed and hidden over the past decade. This year has brought all past events back to the forefront and caused me to unpack so much emotional baggage that I have put away for many years to focus on the present and future. I like to look forward for the sole reason that I refuse to look back. 

It took me some time but I am seeing a therapist who is helping me unpack and also encouraging me to write about this past trauma and has also helped me recall some of good memories which also have been repressed to help me become more present. She has encouraged me to write this in any format because, though it is a trauma of mine, it is unique and interesting. I am choosing to do so here. If you would like to follow some of my story, It might get plastered between some of the present things I enjoy. I rarely talk of this time in my life, because it is so unique that most will say words like that’s so cool, that’s amazing and you have lived such an amazing life. Though that’s not false, no one has ever said wow that was traumatic and a lot for you, how does it make you feel? So I will share, but forgive me if I don’t always agree with your positive statements. I have not fully recovered yet, I may never ‘recover’ but I am trying to process it finally.

To start out I will share a few short stories I wrote as a 10 year old. This story was in Africa when we camped on the side of the road and had a rude awakening in the middle of the night. I also decided I should paint to go along with each of them. Here is that start:

Caught Between the Big and the Small


Camping in the wild African grassland in a National Park for the first time was strange. We had unfortunately camped in what was to be the route of a column of army ants. In the middle of the night we were woken up by ants crawling all over us in our tent. We all jumped out of the tent trying not to stand on the ants because they were biting us. There was a whole load of ants making a black carpet of several square meters.

Immediately after we had shook ourselves off, my Mum and Dad quickly unpegged the tent and dragged it 15 meters away. My Mum started to clean the tent while Dad carried me over and started a fire. When the tent was nearly clean, a herd of elephants came to go to the river. We were right beside their path. We  made the fire bigger so they wouldn’t come to near to us.

It was strange to be in between the smallest and the biggest animals of the African grassland at the same time.

By: Mattea  Woodburn  age 10.  ( Tanzania 1998)

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  1. You do such beautiful things with a brush and water! (And paint, too) I’ll never forget the time Ash sat on a fire ant hill; she was covered in tiny little welts and the way she cried, even once we got home and she was taking a bath!

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