If you have an itch or a yearning to write your memoir, I encourage you to go for it. Even if you are the only one who reads it, writing your story can bring unimaginable gifts.
Fifteen months ago, 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 time 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.
Writing gave me the courage I needed to address the pain I was feeling.
I literally went from telling no one but my therapist about my past, to throwing my arms up, and saying, okay...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 resonates with them . The events that happened in my life may are not the same, 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 that no one could feel the same way I feel, until I published my memoir. 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 very relieved to be validated by the how people relate to my story and very sad to be validated by number of people that can relate to my story. Those connections mean that many, many people have been traumatized in their lives.
Writing gave me the courage I needed to address the pain I was feeling. I wrote 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.
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 PTSD. I wouldn't have started writing a blog if I hadn't written my memoir. I was told to start a blog in order to market a book. Never, in my wildest dreams knew the world of connection that awaited me in the blogging world. 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 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. As I look to the future, collaborate on other writing projects, and think about what direction I'm going next, I feel eternally grateful for writing my memoir. If you ever wanted to write your book, I encourage you to go for it. You never know what gifts await you, who comes into your life and what new doors open and new dreams emerge.