So much has changed since my memoir was published five 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.
In the past two years, I began to fully understand the power of telling your story. Everyone has a story, and all stories are powerful. But many who have been through trauma cleave off their past, minimize their past, or live in fear of their perpetrators. Not acknowledging your story (even if its to yourself) can stunt a person’s state of being; keeping a person from living the life as a survivor/thriver.
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. Our stories may differ but feelings are relatable no matter what city, state, or country we live in. Those feelings of love, pain, joy, sadness, loneliness, fear, abandonment, hope, and sorrow to name a few are what connect us, empowers us, and gives us the ability to empathize with others.
Recently, I took a program to earn my peer support specialist certification. Part of passing the class was having to tell our story. We had 10 minutes to share our story. It was over Zoom and everyone had to have their cameras on. It was frightening to look out and see 16 people staring back at such a close range as I told my story. I usually take a wide brush stroke and focus on my healing journey without much context. This was a situation when I had to give more background. My other classmates also had to share, so I felt out of respect for their authenticity and vulnerability I had to share too.
My story was quite a bit different from my classmates, but I kept reminding myself to keep going, we all shared the same human feelings and emotions. When I was finished and took that final exhale, I felt empowered. I know that my story has power. It has power because each time I tell it I own my right to live, survive, and thrive. I lived, despite the efforts to silence me.
I’ve learned not to be ashamed of my past or my story. It is the truth of what happened to me. I didn’t choose it; the people in my life made those choices to traumatize me. My passion, my mission in life is to destigmatize PTSD and other mental health issues. I’m real and honest about what it’s like to live with the symptoms and the effects that prolonged and pervasive trauma still has on my everyday life.
There are times and places to tell your story. Not everyone has earned the right to hear it and you get to pick and choose what and how much you share. That’s the beauty of your story ~it’s yours!
In the last five years, I have become more vulnerable when speaking and writing. I’m able to celebrate my bravery and resilience. I know that my writing and speaking engagements 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. As I become more involved with survivors and lend an ear and a supportive shoulder I want to instill in them that there is Power in Sharing Your Story.
Thank you for reading my books: If I Could Tell You How It Feels, and Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph