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    

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A Wonderful Podcast Interview Experience

I had the wonderful opportunity to be interviewed by Matt Papas of Surviving My Past. (https://www.survivingmypast.net/tools-and-insight-on-living-with-ptsd-with-author-and-survivor-alexis-rose/) I have been listening to Matt’s podcasts for a while, and find his interview style very interactive, relatable, and real.  He has a wonderful way of putting you at ease, and the conversation flows.

Surviving My Past exists to validate and encourage all who have survived the trauma of abuse. Matt is a survivor of Childhood Sexual Abuse, Narcissistic Abuse, and Bullying.

On his site, you will find blog posts written not only by Matt but also guest bloggers who have decided to share their story and let the world know that they are not ashamed! You’ll also find podcasts where he interviews Therapists, Life Coaches, Mental Health Advocates, Bloggers, and others who have a passion to help raise awareness and do their part to help erase the stigma of mental health challenges and survivors of trauma.

Check out his website and when you have some time, I would love it if you listen to my interview with Matt.  You will definitely be able to hear my very Minnesotan accent come through loud and clear.  https://www.survivingmypast.net/tools-and-insight-on-living-with-ptsd-with-author-and-survivor-alexis-rose/

 

Thank you for reading my new book, If I Could Tell You How It Feels, available in both ebook and paperback from Amazon.

 

 

 

Victim Yes, Survivor, Definitely!

vic·tim/ˈviktəm/Noun

  1. A person harmed, injured, or killed as a result of a crime, accident, or other event or action.
  1. A person who is tricked or duped

I don’t like it, but by definition, I was a victim. From the earliest of ages until I was twenty years old, I lived a life of unimaginable abuse, neglect, and terror. For years, I was threatened to stay silent or suffer the consequences. The message was always a simple phone call with a person on the other end saying, “Nothing has changed.”

My therapist worked hard to teach me that one of the nuances of a traumatized person is that they believe that they are somehow to blame for what happened to them. Whether it is the abuser’s message or a way for a person to try and make sense of what has happened to them, it is something that people who have been through trauma have in common.

The word “victim,” can be rather stigmatizing. It’s sometimes bantered about when we talk about someone who won’t or chooses not to change their situation. How many times do we hear someone saying, “she/he’s such a victim.”  It can be confusing, because we don’t want to be a victim by an abuser, and we don’t want to be a victim by not standing up for ourselves. Two very different situations, but still the same word.

I understand I was a victim. I understand how my many perpetrators victimized me. I have let go of the false belief that I had been a willing participant in the events that happened to me.  This knowledge doesn’t take away the facts of what happened or the feelings that go along with what happened, but it does assuage the guilt.

I was programmed (for lack of a better word) to hurt myself should I remember, tell and/or try to heal from all that was done to me. “They” were thorough in ways to protect themselves and make themselves untouchable. I know and accept that I was a victim of extreme and senseless abuse, neglect, and torture.

sur·vi·vor /sərˈvīvər/ noun 

  1. To remain alive or in existence.
  2. To carry on despite hardships or trauma; persevere.
  3. To cope with (a trauma or setback); persevere after: survived child abuse.

However, they could not touch the core of who I am and my innate need to remember and heal. They could not anticipate that I would eventually figure out the more I stayed silent and crouched in terror, that I was only protecting them.

They never realized that I would learn that when I began to talk, I was safer because if I were to suffer the consequences that they had threatened me with, then it would only bring to light that what I was saying was the truth. They could no longer hide in the shadows of my mind and strike.

My perpetrators can write me off as a liar and/or crazy, but that doesn’t have any effect on me. I know my truth, and being called crazy is just sticks and stones.

So yes, I was a victim, Now I am definitely a survivor!

Excerpt from my new book If I Could Tell You How It Feels, available in both ebook and paperback from Amazon.

Photo by Matthew Smith on Unsplash

 

 

A Little Interview

Thank you, Vinny, at awesomebookpromotion.com for this short 4 question interview.

Featured Author Alexis Rose

Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?

Hello!

My name is Alexis Rose and I live in Minnesota. Besides writing, I love to be with my family and friends. I unwind by practicing yoga and spending time outside. Besides writing, I have a part-time marketing job for a couple of wellness centers and teach beginning writing classes. I have two cats and a wonderful emotional support dog that help me write every day.  Sometimes it seems like a zoo around here.

At what age did you realize your fascination with books? When did you start writing?

I have always had a fascination with books. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t love to read!

Writing came into my life purely by accident. I had never written anything more than letters or birthday cards, until seven years ago. A friend of mine wanted to know what it felt like for me living with PTSD. Because it’s such an invisible illness, she was at a loss on how to support me. At the time, I was unable to verbalize what it felt like to anyone, let alone to myself. I went home, thought about what I would like to say, and I wrote my first poem.

After showing it to her, she told me I had to start writing. I showed the poem to a few other friends and was invited to collaborate with a couple of artists, using my poetry paired with their artwork.

Three successful inspirational books later, I had developed a fierce love of writing. I took the chance to write on my own without a collaborator. Two years ago I published my memoir, Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph, and this month my latest book, If I Could Tell You How It Feels was released.

Who are your favorite authors to read? What is your favorite genre to read? Who Inspires you in your writings?

I don’t really have favorite authors to read. I’m a fairly equal opportunity reader. I love to give new authors a chance as well as the authors who have been around for a long time.

I read a lot of books on mindfulness. I absolutely love reading historical fiction. I love an author who does their research. I have a pretty good BS meter and don’t like a lot of filler in a book. I’m a person who will sit down with a book and escape into the character’s world. I simply love good books. I read both non-fiction and fiction at the same time. It makes both sides of my brain really happy.

Tell us a little about your latest book?

If I Could Tell You How It Feels is a series of essays and poems about living authentically with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

I write about the reality of living with triggers, flashbacks, and the challenges of working through trauma. I write with vulnerability about the tough subjects of family, friendships, loss, grief, parenting, and therapy.

Whether you are a survivor, someone living with a mental or chronic illness, a professional working within the mental health industry, or you are simply interested in learning more about the intricacies of living and thriving with PTSD, this book will provide new insights and an appreciation of this invisible illness that affects millions of people around the world.

This book is a labor of love for me. My main intention is to begin to break down the stigma of mental illness, especially bringing awareness to PTSD. So far the response has been really good.

 

 

 

 

Connect with the Author on their Websites and Social media profiles

Alexis Rose’s Website

Alexis Rose Facebook Page

Book Signing Bliss

I had a wonderful experience at a book signing yesterday.  It has been an absolute pleasure to see how quickly If I Could Tell You How It Feels, my life journey with PTSD is selling.  Meeting a variety of readers and getting to hang out with other artists was an added bonus.

I just really want to take the time to thank all of you here on WordPress who have bought the book, and the people I meet face-to-face who come to book signings, support me on Facebook and my friends and family.

My hope that this little book will continue to bring awareness to PTSD and begin to break down the stigma of living with a chronic mental or physical illness. Let’s begin to emerge from the shadows together.

Photo: Alexis Rose, author, and Janet Rosauer, artist

 

Thank you for reading my new book, If I Could Tell You How It Feels, available in both ebook and paperback from Amazon.

You Don’t Look Sick, Can’t You Get Over It?

Many of us deal with an invisible illness (physical, emotional, mental), and/but we don’t look sick!

Typically, if we are out and about and even within our own family, if we see or know someone that looks outwardly ill or has a visible disability, hopefully we feel compassion, give them space, and help them, usually without thought or frustration.

Sometimes, out of pure surprise, when people find out I have PTSD, they say, “You don’t look sick.” I don’t take offense to it because it’s a natural thought. It’s not coming from a place of dismissal, or maliciousness. But, I do take offense when the next words of “Can’t you just get over it?” are said aloud.

I don’t know why, but there is something about those six little words that rub me wrong. I had a doctor say to me once, “You look fine. You survived. Can’t you just get over it?” Strange, coming from a physician’s mouth, and I’m smart enough to never go back to that person again. But, whoa, that stopped me in my tracks. I looked at her, and said, “Did you really just say that?”

When I’m triggered, I don’t freak out and run through the streets ranting, raving and screaming; but I do get out-of-sorts, can become kind of spacey, decisions become impossible and I’m sure I look shut-down and unhappy. Or, there are times I look shut-down and have that ridiculous, I’m okay smile plastered sweetly on my face.

When I’m out with friends it usually not a problem because they are aware of me and know my “tells,” but if I’m with people who don’t really know me, it can become uncomfortable for them. I don’t like feeling like the elephant in the room, so I will try to talk about it.

I recently had breakfast with my good friend. We have known each other for years. We were talking about how after my recent travel experience, I realized that my family and friends have created a “new normal” for me because of my many deficits. When someone wants to hang-out, they tend to say that they will pick me up. When we go to restaurants, we tend to go to the same place, so I don’t get overwhelmed with menu choices.

My boss will end a meeting if she sees my concentration waning. A 2-hour scheduled meeting may end after 15 minutes. My breakfast buddy was nodding her head in understanding because she has had two knee replacements in the past year and has had to make changes in her life because of physical challenges. We were getting ready to leave, and wincing, my friend said her body was sore from the weather changing. My tongue-in-cheek response, was, “Really, you don’t look sick!” We laughed and laughed because that’s how easy the thought and words can form when we don’t see someone’s challenges.

For many of us who have survived trauma (I expect it may be the same for people who have a chronic physical illness), we can be the master of minimizing our experiences, with our own tired, worn out mantra of, “I survived it, so what’s the big deal.”

I know I have questioned ad-nauseum to myself and my therapist, why can’t I just get over it? It’s tired and worn out because why would I just get over it? And if I could, I would have chosen that a long time ago. I wouldn’t ever expect someone else to just be okay, would I? No, absolutely not. A person feels the way they feel until they have processed and passed through all the transitions of healing. And if there are multiple events, it will take that much longer.

I can’t even imagine the depths of grief that still lingers inside of me. Part of the grief is sadness for the life I know I was never destined to have because my decisions were pre-determined for me for so many years. But, despite that, I chose to make a good life from my lied to, tattered soul.

Part of the grief is sadness for the life I had for the first 20 years, and for the pain, the suffering, and the squashing of my potential. But I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished despite what happened to me.

So, when others say to me, “Why can’t you just get over it? You survived and have a good life with a great family and lots of great friends and support.” I say, “Yes, I did survive because I stuffed all the feelings, emotions, abuse, terror and pain down as deep as they could go.”

The plan was never to resurrect any feeling or memory, but PTSD doesn’t work that way. I know I don’t look sick, and I probably will never get over it, but I have learned to live with PTSD.

Thankfully, I did survive, but just surviving doesn’t suit me any longer; living and thriving is my gold-standard now.

(Excerpt from the Book, If I Could Tell You How It Feels)

 

Now in Paperback; Thank You for the 5-Star Reviews

If I Could Tell You How It Feels, is now available in both paperback and ebook formats.  I’m filled with gratitude that the book has caught on so quickly. In a week’s time, we already have some 5-star reviews that I wanted to share. Thank-You so much for reading and giving such wonderful reviews!


5.0 out of 5 starsA Thoughtful and Authentic Glimpse into Living with PTSD

With incredible insight and eloquence, Alexis Rose helped me see more clearly the intricacies of living with PTSD. Her thoughtful and authentic descriptions of the challenges in her daily life gave me a glimpse into the complexity of this disease that affects so many people around me right now. I appreciate the beautiful artwork that compliments many of her short essays – and how it adds another dimension to her important messages. Alexis Rose has certainly found her voice – and this book is bound to help many others find their voice as well. A great resource – Bravo!

A beautiful book that is filled with writings, poems, and pictures/images that describe the author’s experiences with language that is so descriptive you can often not only understand, but also get an idea of what it can really feel like to face some of the challenges of PTSD. It is a fast read, that you can do from front to back, or in snippets when you are needing something uplifting and hopeful. It is a book I will definitely buy a paper copy of in order to be able to have it on hand and within easy reach so I can pick it up when I am needing a little pick me up myself.

 

Thank you for reading, If I Could Tell You How It Feels, my life journey with PTSD