Slice of life: Writing is painful but it heals

At the launch of red cotton and feeling and ugly by Impepho Press, I realised how comforting it is to push your traumas away and have them exist in the periphery of your life. 

I realised how confronting your traumas, through a device such as writing, actually makes them tangible. That idea seemed like a daunting re-traumatisation of myself.

Um yeah, I suppose at that moment, being in the African Flavour bookstore with the authors, I saw how it can initially present itself as a re-traumatisation. But sharing such words and sharing such traumas in a communal space — where those people share or might be sympathetic to what you have experienced — might be a healing experience.

It’s sort of like attending to a wound that has been festering under a Band-Aid. And writing would be touching this wound. It leads to the healing of the wound. I don’t know if that makes sense.

Writing as healing forces you to articulate feelings that exist subconsciously. It simultaneously creates an element of escapism, because you can allocate the traumas and experiences to a fictional character, which creates a safety buffer through anonymity. The exercise is paradoxical as it forces healing while simultaneously creating a safe space if the writer is not ready to own the story. Writing as a healing exercise also holds a space for ownership and self-actualisation. Writing does a looooot!

Being there, I realised that writing as a device is a necessary roughness. It’s a necessary painful process that you have to undergo in order to heal. I will be attending to my wounds.Lethabo Mailula (24), an LLM candidate and gender activist working at the University of Pretoria, as told
to Zaza Hlalethwa

We make it make sense

If this story helped you navigate your world, subscribe to the M&G today for just R30 for the first three months

Subscribers get access to all our best journalism, subscriber-only newsletters, events and a weekly cryptic crossword.”

Zaza Hlalethwa
Zaza Hlalethwa
Zaza Hlalethwa studies Digital Democracy, New Media and Political Activism, and Digital Politics.

Related stories


Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Latest stories

We need to declare a state of emergency on policing

Never was the saying ‘Who will guard the guardians?’ more appropriate than at the present

Playing the market in Zimbabwe. A citizen’s tale

Zimbabwe’s stock market is riding on a digital wave that has given more citizens access to immense wealth opportunities

PPE supplier challenges Special Tribunal’s power to impose R38M sanction

The Special Investigating Unit countered that the concourt should not entertain a cynical attempt to claw back the millions made in the scandal

Davos: How SA can build a digitally competitive future based...

There are many examples of this. Kenya is using blockchain-enabled AI solutions for the unbanked to secure loans

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…