A year ago today, I anxiously waited for my memoir, Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph to go live on Amazon. What a wonderful, unexpected and humbling year it has been.
I took a huge risk by writing and publishing my memoir. My entire life was focused on keeping quiet, not telling, protecting those I loved, or who loved me. It took me a long time to understand that by keeping quiet, I was actually protecting the people who hurt me in my life. Writing Untangled was a way to announce in a really big way, that I will not keep quiet any longer.
I literally went from telling no one but my therapist about my past, to throwing my arms up, and saying, okay….what the f**k, let’s go for it, and tell everyone at once. My husband and children read the book before it was released to the public, but close friends, acquaintances, and long-lost friends learned the truth of my past when they read the book. Were there big reactions? You bet there were! Of course, they reacted. The biggest reaction was sadness that they didn’t know what was happening at the time and that feeling that if they knew, they could have helped. I get that reaction, I probably would have felt the same way upon hearing of a friend’s brutal past. But, they couldn’t have helped and it was imperative to my safety that I kept quiet. I used to feel guilty that I somehow hurt my friend’s feelings that I didn’t share my past, but I’ve learned to let go of that.
In the book, I talk about my life and some of the trauma I experienced. I write about how I repressed my memories and how I managed to raise a family and live a life where I mistakenly convinced myself, that my hidden past had no effect or impact on my life. The last part of the book is my healing journey. Untangled isn’t about naming names or the horrific specifics of what happened to me. I don’t feel people, especially those of us who have been through trauma need to read and be triggered by another’s specific tales of horror.
I do, however, explain in detail the feelings that went along with being hurt, traumatized, abandoned, neglected. I don’t shy away from feeling words such as fear, emptiness, loneliness, embarrassment, shame, etc. One of the most humbling gifts of Untangled is that when people read the book, they find it is relatable. The events that happened to me may not be relatable, but the effects, the feelings, the sense of no-self is something that a lot of people experience, or they know and love someone who has experienced those things.
We all have feelings, but we may not all be able to articulate them, we may doubt or judge our feelings, or that terrible feeling that no one else could possibly understand this kind of emotional pain. I lived with that terrible alone feeling until a year ago. Now from the feedback of the readers of Untangled, I know that I am not alone. Admittedly, the validation is a bit of a paradox…I’m so relieved to be validated by relatability and so sad to be validated by relatability.
One of the questions I get asked the most is why did I write my memoir? At first, I was writing as a way to incorporate another healing tool. For me, using the keyboard as a way to write, instead of using paper and pencil, provided a way to get down my feelings, thoughts and emotions without becoming overwhelmed. I was taught that for some people, using the keyboard was a way to incorporate bi-lateral stimulation. This method provided a way to create a bit of distance from the subject matter I was writing about. The first gift was while writing, I began to discern the difference between the truth vs my truth. For some, they are the same, but for me, being able to say My truth had a profound and healing impact on me.
Writing gave me the courage I needed to address the pain I was feeling. I would write even when I thought I had nothing to write about. I began to notice that I was able to write down what I couldn’t say aloud. It provided distance from having to use my voice. What I discovered was that writing actually gave me a voice. When I still couldn’t speak a truth, I found, if I read what I wrote out loud to my therapist, that I WAS speaking the truth. The bonus for me as that He didn’t freak out or go away. The gift of Untangled is that people also don’t freak out and run away. The book has been a tool for conversation.
It took me about ten months after I wrote the first real draft to publish Untangled. I was terrified going through the editing process, and finding people I trusted to be beta readers. I was purposeful of who I chose to do the initial reading. I asked one person who had known me since I was a teenager, so she could help me with some historical life information. I chose one person because she would be able to give me feedback on the tolerability of reading the book, and a third person was someone who did not really know me at all. A person with no vested interest in whether or not my feelings were hurt from her feedback. Then there were the meetings with the editor, As most authors know, I had to develop a really thick skin going through this whole process.
I am frequently asked if I was afraid for my safety when I released the book? To be honest, I felt a lot of fear for my safety, and took as many precautions as I could, but in the end, I just really wanted to share my story. I wanted to share what it looks like to live through unimaginable circumstances for 20 plus years, with continued threats to stay silent and still be determined to be live not just survive. I knew that this was my truth, and by publishing my story and continue to talk about the effects of trauma and the resulting PTSD that no one could ever take my past, my truth away from me again.
There are so many gifts from Untangled. The gift of writing, the gift of remembering, the gift of a congruent past, the gift of trying to remove the stigma of living with an illness. I wouldn’t have started writing a blog if I hadn’t written my memoir. I was told that I had to start a blog in order to market a book. I never, in my wildest dreams knew the world of connection that awaited me last October when I wrote my first post. Not only have I connected with survivors and mental health professionals, but I also have connected with poets, authors, thinkers, travelers, photographers, fun-loving lets blog for the heck of it people all over the world. I’m a better person because of all these connections. There are some people I’ve met that have changed my life. I’m grateful every day for my blog.
I’m not ready to leave Untangled behind. I’m excited every time someone purchases the book, I wish I could personally thank every person. I don’t ever take it for granted. I love getting reviews on Amazon, I love hearing the feedback. I hope that the readership grows each month.
I’ve been hurt, I’ve been threatened, I’ve been abandoned, but I wasn’t going to let the effects of what happened to me keep me from trying to have the life I wanted. I know what my goals are…to live with my past, live in the truth, and recognize and relish in the feelings of internal contentment. I didn’t realize that my sharing my story with so many people would propel the trajectory of my healing in such a profound and sometimes ineffable way.
Happy birthday Untangled. And by the way, Happy Birthday to me, because I published my memoir on my birthday last year. A day that I always felt sad because I was born, became the day that I told my truth, I day that I was re-born.
Thank you for reading my memoir, Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph