The Gifts of Writing a Memoir, Happy 3rd Birthday Untangled!

Three years 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 three years this 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 heck, 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 helpless feeling that if they knew, they could have helped. I understand that reaction, I would probably have felt the same way upon hearing of a friend’s brutal past. But, they couldn’t have helped me, 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 what my healing journey looked like at the time. 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 I experience from Untangled is when people read the book, and 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 experience that lonely feeling that no one else could possibly understand this kind of emotional pain. I lived with that terrible alone feeling until three years ago. Now, from the feedback from 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.

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 twenty-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 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.

Even though I released another book last January, 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 good reviews on Amazon, I love hearing the feedback. I hope that the readership continues to grow 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 sharing my story with so many people would propel the trajectory of my healing in such a profound and sometimes ineffable way. Never does a day go by that I’m not grateful for the experice.

Happy 3rd birthday, and thank you for reading, Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph

Thank you for reading my books: If I Could Tell You How It Feels, and Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph    

34 thoughts on “The Gifts of Writing a Memoir, Happy 3rd Birthday Untangled!

  1. I’m happy that by writing about your life, thoughts, and feelings have helped you, and that by reading of your experiences, it has continued helping others face their own truths. Congratulations on the 3 years! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. my thoughts are with you on this special anniversary of your freedom in a way, the day you decided i am not allowing the past to weigh me down but use it to lift me up. Warmest hugs and know your voice is a strong and special one.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Linda, I remember that you were one of the first blogs I followed. I had no idea that people had been through…“such a CrAzY life” either. Wow, its amazing the connections we find across the country and world isnt it! Go trauma survivors!! 😊
    Your comment and the fact that you may reread Untangled just filled my heart and…gosh…just wish I could hug you. So I am virtually hugging you, with the feelings of being so blessed we connected. 💞

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank You! I hope you complete and publish your book too. It was cathartic, but more than that I think the connections I made, for instance on the blog has been amazing. I had no idea what would happen when I published the book. I knew my close friends would probably read it, but no one else. I hope it continues to touch people so that all we k ow we’re not alone. Im glad we’ve connected 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Happy Third Birthday, Untangled!!! I am still so amazed by your courage, Alexis. I bought and read your book shortly after it was published. I was trying to write my memoir then, and I am still nowhere close to having my book written. How incredible you are!

    I know what you mean by this statement: “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.” Yes, me too! Before I discovered blogs, and so many others writing about narcissistic abuse, I thought I was the only person with such a CrAzY life. Now I know that I am far from the only person. This is both a good thing and a terrible thing to know.

    After reading this post, I have decided to read Untangled again. I think that may help me get unstuck.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ll have to read the book when I have time. I’m hopeful one day to complete my book and publish it. It must be such a cathartic experience. Congratulations on your healing and book. I enjoy reading your posts! I can relate! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. “Now, from the feedback from the readers of Untangled, I know that I am not alone.” You are not alone, and regardless of this sort of validation, I hope that brings you some comfort and positivity. You are loved here. You should be very proud of how far you’ve come and what you’ve achieved. Huuuuuuge Happy Birthday, Untangled! 🙂
    Caz x

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I wish you a happy third birthday. I read Untangled over a year ago I think which prompted me to write a post about silence and the silent treatment that abusers use to invalidate their victims. Thank you for having the courage to share your story.

    Liked by 2 people

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