You’ll know when it’s time to share your story

So much has changed since my memoir was published nearly four years ago. Before I wrote the book, 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 have been in a poetic place with my writing lately. It’s been easier for me to express myself in poetry. It’s a way to get to the meat of my feelings. I absolutely love the creativity of poetry. It feeds my soul, it takes me to places where I say to myself, “If I could paint a picture, this is what it would look like.”

The other day someone said to me, “I like your writing because it comes from an emotional place, it’s about the feelings. That is exactly how I would describe my style of writing and speaking. I know that feelings are universal and relatable.

When I have speaking engagements, I focus on feelings, and how I’ve learned to live a purposeful life while struggling with PTSD. But, aside from my typical sentence of, “I’m a survivor of unimaginable abuse and neglect for the first 20 years of my life, followed by threats to stay silent for the next 17 years,” I have not shared much of my story while speaking in public.

I’m not ashamed of my past. I’m not ashamed of my story. It is the truth of what happened in my life, to me. I didn’t choose it; the people in my life made those choices to traumatize me. What I believed was, if I shared my story, maybe the audience would compare their trauma to mine. I was fearful that they would minimize what happened to them and how the effects of their trauma impacted their lives.  If I kept the conversation about feelings, emotions, and symptoms then survivors of trauma could relate to myself and each other. 

I’m real and honest when it comes to sharing what it’s like to live with my symptoms and the effects of my trauma, but that comes without much back-story. My PTSD is from prolonged and pervasive trauma. That’s as deep I get when doing presentations.

Recently, I began to ask myself, am I shaming myself back into silence because I feel my story is so unrelatable? Am I sharing enough of myself?

A few weeks ago, I heard a speaker at my son’s school talk to the kids about the choices he made in his life. His past was the stuff of movies.  I remember thinking to myself, “Wow, he’s so resilient and brave.” The audience was listening with respect. I keep in perspective that there may have been plenty of times in that speaker’s life where people have doubted his story. People have openly disbelieved me.

Tomorrow, I have an amazing opportunity to speak to a group at EmpowerSurvivors which is a peer-led organization of healing support and education for survivors of childhood sexual abuse and trauma. Elizabeth Sullivan, founder of the organization came to hear me speak to a college class a couple of weeks ago. At the end of my talk, the instructor asked Elizabeth if she would be willing to tell the class about her organization. With no notice, and nothing prepared Elizabeth got up, shared her personal story and told the class why she founded EmpowerSurvivors.  Just like the speaker at my son’s school, I had tremendous respect for her resilience and bravery, and for sharing her story to this large group of people.

Then it hit me! I’m in a place where I am ready to share. I’m ready to be vulnerable and celebrate my bravery and resilience. I know that my presentations, interviews, and events will be a lot richer if  I’m not inadvertently shaming myself into silence. I’m grateful for all the healing I’ve done. It’s enabled me to share with others that a person can not only survive, but thrive in spite of a horrific past, and  PTSD.  I instinctively know that tomorrow as I prepare to speak with a group of survivors that it’s time to share my story.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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78 thoughts on “You’ll know when it’s time to share your story

  1. I was just reading and commenting on your post. We must have been reading at the same time. Its hard to come out of the shadows. Do it at a pace that feels right for you. No one can take your truth away when we begin to speak. We heal, we may have some deep scars, but each baby step is healing. I believe that getting out if bed each day is another step in the healing process. ❤️

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  2. I love this story. I’m the same way with critters. I cant stand the thought of an animal wanting for anything. I would adopt them all…except snakes, Im terrified of snakes.

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  3. My helping gene comes from my parents. Mostly my Mom. Many times I saw Mom going to a neighbor’s house who needed assistance. I remember during the big blackout of the 1960s our next door neighbors husband died from circumstances related to the blackout. My Mom went right there with candles and comfort. She was always helping. Like Mother. Like daughter.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Here’s a funny story for you. Growing up I was one of those kids who felt She had to rescue and feed every stray dog in the Community. One day I even talked my Dad into helping me save a baby bird fallen from its nest.

    My Mom was not too keen on me being the neighborhood Marlon Perkins (TV show Wild Kingdom). In the morning when Mommy opened the door leading to the basement and outdoors Mom would often find animals resting, sleeping and recuperating. Lol!

    To this day I still feed the stray cats in the neighborhood. They don’t come in the house because my landlord would have a fit but I put a Bowl of dry cat food and fresh water Daily.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I agree with you 100%. Obviously we can’t alleviate all the evil in the world but on the other hand we don’t have to add to it. Just reaching out to folks in our neighborhood who are in need can make a difference not just at work but also at home. If you can help someone who is struggling good or at least say a prayer for them.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What a wonderful gift to yourself to rewrite your story. I love the commitment to have an impact on your community. Its great to be in a place in your life where the focus is on helping others. There is so much negativity in the world right now, that all of us that can focus on helping from a place of love I keep hoping and believing can begin to tuen things around. Maybe Im a bit polyana that way, but thats okay.
    Have a great Sunday! ❤️🙏🏼💐

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  7. I admire your bravery, courage and tenacity. I made a vow to myself upon reaching age 60 to rewrite my story.

    The story of my past is not my current situation. Yes the Challenges and conflicts of Yesteryear have impacted who I am today but I don’t dwell on what happened long ago. The past cannot be changed. For whatever time that I have left on this earth my desire is to make the most of my Golden years. One of my Goals is to be a positive influence in my Community. To make an impact for a better life especially for People with disabilities.

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  8. ibikenyc

    I am here because Linda Lee @ LadyQuixote posted a link to you on her blog.

    Thank you for speaking up. You are and will be helping so many people.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thank you, Brigid. That means the world to me. I have loved that we have taken our book journey’s at the same time and can celebrate each other where the path unfolds for us. Have a lovely weekend 💐

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Rosy

    [image1.jpeg]

    I posted this on my page the other day.
    The Dragonfly symbolizes change, transformation, adaptability, self-realization. She reminds us how to travel light; rid ourselves of anything that no longer serves us.
    I envy how they change direction without effort, teaching us the value of being flexible in any situation.
    You are my beautiful dragonfly.

    Sent from my iPad

    Liked by 3 people

  11. blindzanygirl

    Thankyou so much A,exis. Your encouragement means a LOT, I WANT to share my truth. Very much. I get very wobbly after I have done it, especially when people react badly, and then I go and delete things lol. Stupid me!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I loved your poetry today. Its hard to share and Im sorry to hear that your bravery and honesty was met with criticism. I will never understand why people do that to one another when they share their story. If you are up to it, keep writing your truth. Poetry is a wonderful way to get those words and feelings out. Take good care of yourself my friend. ❤️❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  13. blindzanygirl

    Alexis, this is a brave write. I wish you the very very best as you sharebyour story.

    I was ready to share mine, and wanted very much to. I said one or two things here in WP that I think shocked people. They ran away. I also received emails with steange and hurtful fomnents in. Prople only want to hear about lught and nuce things. Well, that is how it seened to me. So, I have struggled and struggled with my Blig – wanting to write hi estly, doung so, making mtself vulnerable, then feeling uncomfortable with peopke’s fespinses, and then feeling I should delete my Blig compketely. Having had cancer and going blind has made me very very vuknerable to critucism. And so I have had a bad week ir two. Tiday, I decided only to write pietry. I din’t know whether this is the right decision or not. As you say, you are in a way sharing more of yourself in poetry than in any otber way. We can be so vuknerable can’t we! I too have had people not believe me. But oh, GOW I want to telk my story. Thankyou Akexis for being brave and honest,

    Liked by 5 people

  14. For many generations stories like yours were hidden and disbelieved. I consider it progress that you and others are able to talk openly about your struggle and be heard with respect and compassion. J.

    Liked by 3 people

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