MY JOURNEY as a WRITER
I am a writer! I write blog posts, letters, notes, and pages in journals.
As a young girl, I owned a little diary with a lock and a tiny key. This small diary was filled with the minutiae of my days. I did not write of the awfulness in my household. My diary did not contain secrets like a child’s diary in a healthy home may have. The secrets of my life were too big and too scary. I knew the consequences of putting on paper the secrets of the abuse I suffered would lead to more abuse and punishment. I was an obedient little girl. I wanted to be loved by all – even the abusers in my family of origin. The guilt and shame I felt thinking I was bad and somehow deserved the abuse could not be noted in my diary as a little girl. Of course, at that age I did not have much insight into my life yet. I only knew that I kept getting abused and hurt by my family members and others. They told me I was bad and worthless. I believed them.
As a girl in grammar school, I had a group of girlfriends. We would see each other in school. Later I usually went straight home. One friend and I would write letters to each other to be read the next day. Notes passed during school and letters written after school contained girl talk – open and sweet.
I attended a different high school than my grammar school friends. A close friend and I would talk on the phone as teenagers do (or at least used to do before texting and Facebook). High school and college years were filled with academic papers to write. I excelled in writing papers.
Many kids do not like writing a thank you note or a birthday card. I did. Words came easily to me.
As a young adult in my relationship with Tom M. (my now ex-husband), I lived in various geographical locations including California, Southern Illinois and Germany. Computer access was neither easily available nor quick during those years. Once again, I found myself writing letters to friends and family members. These letters (as my childhood diary) contained newsy, fact-like thoughts. I did not write of the abuse occurring in my life with Tom M. Facing the truth in my personal life was not happening yet. Oh, I could write of feeling lonely or depressed. I was not totally numb. Only acceptable subjects were covered in these letters. Still, I was writing.
The years before Megan’s birth in 1994 were stale years in many ways. Domestic violence, human trafficking, abuse and torture were continuing with Tom M as the main perpetrator. I was in denial of the truth of my daily life. There was little connection to the spiritual. I self-medicated with alcohol mainly in the evenings.
Megan’s birth had awoken a need in me to escape my relationship with Tom M. or at least to face it. I sought a spiritual life via church.
Finally, I entered into pastoral counseling with Fr. Clement Marcantonio in late 2002. I stopped using alcohol to self-medicate and to keep the truth at bay. One day, I sat in an empty chapel section of the church. Pen and paper found a way to my hands and words flowed. This time I let the truth be known. Memories of the abuse and torture I suffered at the hands of my grandmother and mother surfaced.
Writing became a healing tool. The truth could be written down. I could share it in counseling (although I was not able to lift my eyes from the paper as I read it). Eventually, toward the end of my counseling with Fr. Marcantonio, I could look at him.
“It was none of my fault.” That message was clearly conveyed to me by Fr. Marc. It was one I needed to hear over and over again. I think most children who were abused need to know it was not his or her fault. Individuals in a psychological captive situations (whether adults or children) need to realize it is not their fault. It takes time to internalize that message even when you understand it on an intellectual level.
Writing pages and pages in journal after journal was excruciatingly difficult. Sharing each entry was PAINFUL to say the least. Yet, it was a healing experience of huge proportions. Facing the atrocities that occurred in my childhood and in my adulthood was one of the most difficult and most rewarding experiences of my life. I would not be here if I had not faced the abuse in my past and my then present life. With much certainty, I would not be alive if I had not faced my past at that moment in time.
As a person who did not consider herself a writer, I definitely was one without realizing it. If I had not been a writer, I most likely would have found a different way to communicate the abuse that happened in my past. We each use the tools that are familiar to use or easiest for us to use in order to heal.
Fast forward a few years later to my daughter, Megan, and I living in hiding as I was a protective parent attempting to protect Megan from further abuse from her father, Tom M., and others. Although I was not in pastoral counseling any more, I was still writing my thoughts, memories, and feelings in journals. The healing process continued. Writing was a life-giving tool for me.
After Megan and I were discovered and unjustly separated in the fall of 2007, I spent five days in jail immediately after being found. No charges of custodial interference were pressed then. Later when charges were pressed, I turned myself in to the courts. The additional, approximately 19 days I spent in jail were extremely difficult due to PTSD. I also was unable to put paper to pen. An important healing tool was not a given in that situation.
I am extremely grateful that was I released until my trial. As I awaited trial, I was able to use my writing tendencies to first write a timeline for my attorneys. This timeline ended up as the beginning of the www.hopeforus.wordpress.com site. Words flowed. I can look back now and see how healing writing www.hopeforus.wordpress.com was for me even with it being so very difficult to write. The lawyers appreciated my contributions to my case. The trial ended up in a hung jury and then the charges were dismissed.
Those of you who know my story and read my blog regularly know that I completed more therapy as well as NeurOptimal neurofeedback. This therapy did not consist of me sharing my writings. I talked without reading my thoughts on papers. Writing though continued to be a way for me to process whatever was occurring in my life at the time as well as dealing with the residue of the past. As the PTSD symptoms lessened, writing did not.
Therapy ended as I began my journey to become a virtual life coach. Of course, crafting a website takes writing skills. My blog has a life of its own. I like sharing my words, thoughts, and feelings with you via the blog posts. Especially during my healing process in Germany and Spokane, I read one survivor’s blog posts on a regular basis. Her posts were filled with honesty, authenticity, and support for other survivors. If my blog posts can help even one person to not feel alone and to feel supported, I will be grateful.
All these years, decades actually, I have been practicing my craft – writing! It took me decades to realize that writing is a passion of mine. I’m a late bloomer, but that is fine. Writing fiction stories or editing other people’s works never held interest for me. I write from the heart.
Carrie Fisher was interviewed by Terry Gross of NPR on November 28, 2016. (See: http://www.npr.org/2016/11/28/503580112/carrie-fisher-opens-up-about-star-wars-the-gold-bikini-and-her-on-set-affair.)
“I think I do overshare,” Fisher says. “It’s my way of trying to understand myself. … It creates community when you talk about private things.”
– Carrie Fisher
That part of the interview resonated with me. At times I know certain people think I overshare. Sharing from the heart via the spoken or written word has a necessity to it for me.
Carrie Fisher also stated:
“I do believe you’re only as sick as your secrets.”
As a child and as an adult who was forced to keep secrets, I think it is important to be able to speak and write about the horrors of abuse, trauma, torture, human trafficking, domestic violence, childhood sexual abuse, ritual abuse, and spiritual abuse. Eli Wiesel and others recognized the necessity to speak of the Holocaust. None of this is pretty. It is real though and true.
One gentleman around my age who recently read some or all sections of my websites (www.roadtofreedomandpeace.com and www.hopeforus.wordpress.com) confided his reaction to me. With tears and compassion in his eyes, he told me he was grateful I was no longer in the abusive situations. This gentleman also told me that he never experienced even part of the world that I had. This person was willing and able to read my story. His world view was changed. I am sure when he hears of stories from others or in the news, he will think differently because he is aware of the reality of my life.
If oversharing brings understanding, if compassion is forthcoming … maybe individuals who have not experienced abuse will have a desire to change the world of abuse and trauma that does exist for others.
“Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.”
— Benjamin Franklin
Processing life and its experiences is easier for me to do when I write. I agree with Carrie Fisher that community is formed when you are able to talk about private things. The community may consist of both survivors and those whom never have experienced the exact abuse or trauma. Change can occur. Secrets do not bring change. Openness, truth and authenticity may.
Elizabeth Gilbert in her book, “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear” offers her thoughts on creativity whether it is writing or anything other type of creative endeavor. (http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24453082-big-magic)
“What do you love doing so much that the words failure and success essentially become irrelevant?”
– Elizabeth Gilbert
The answer to that question for me is writing. I will write … (whether I continue sharing blog posts or mainly keeping a private journal) … I will write most likely for the rest of my life … or as long as I am able …
‘(As Joan Didion said, “I don’t know what I think until I write about it.”)’
– Elizabeth Gilbert
I write to understand myself. Processing life for me includes writing. The act of writing brings me peace and inner joy.
Through most of my life, I wrote but did not recognize it as a passion of mine. I was one of many people who thought a passion has to turn into a paid career or success in some tangible manner. Not anymore!
Oh, I hope, wish and pray that my writings do resonate with someone. It is my desire that others benefit from my writings. Helping one other person on this earth would bring such gratitude. Maybe that person would help someone else. A chain reaction of understanding, compassion and love might occur! What joy that would bring to each of us on this path on this earth.
What is your passion? Is it hidden from you? Have you left it on the road behind you? Is it waiting for you to be picked up again? Are you actually living your passion now and not realizing it?