I recently wrote a short story about a little girl. I wrote about her pain and confusion. I wrote about her loneliness and, also, about glimmers of hope and happiness she carried in her heart. I wrote about her amazing sense of intuition, intelligence, compassion, responsibility and her incredible inner strength and courage.
I was proud of this character in my story and was surprised at how easy it was to write about her. I felt her sadness and fear but did not need to become immersed in it in a personal way. I felt safe narrating the story knowing that this little girl would be okay. Actually, I knew she would be more than okay. She would grow up to be a strong woman. How did I know this? This little girl is me.
I have always used writing to express my inner most thoughts. This past year has been no exception and the consequences of this global pandemic have caused me to reflect deeply on the experiences that have shaped my life’s journey.
The short story I wrote takes place over the span of just a few months of my childhood. Yet, the trauma that occurred from the incident described, has been with me my entire lifetime. I did not write with the intention to help others or find healing yet to my surprise and delight, that is what has occurred from this simple story.
Detachment writing allowed me to speak through my young character’s voice; a voice that had been stolen from me, suppressed, and buried. I remember receiving feedback from my editor after one of my submissions to her. She asked, “What do you want this girl to say?” I realized then that I had the power to speak, through this character. I described what the girl was thinking rather than what she was able to say, and this was my “epiphany moment”.
I did have a voice! It shattered the silence and repression that had been my coping mechanisms; keeping me safe when I was young and vulnerable. Now, as an adult and the author of my own story, I had the liberty to express what I felt needed to be heard at the time.
Recently, I had the privilege to hear my story read aloud at an event honoring survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Being an observer at the event, the reaction from both the audience and the reader provided me with further insight.
I watched, listened and observed the little girl reclaim her voice.
Believe there is a way to heal from your pain
My message to those that have experienced trauma in childhood, is to believe that there is a way to find healing from your pain. I understand that this is not always an easy task. My sense of trust was violated as a child. I was betrayed and have issues with trust and loyalty. But from my experiences, I now say this: even though those horrible actions that occurred cannot be changed, the way we, the survivors, manage our lives and choose to remember incidences, can be modified to allow for growth and peace.
The deep, dark secrets we felt forced to carry can be safely revealed. I found a way to free myself from these secrets through writing with this detached approach. What happened in my past is no longer denied or hidden. It is not too late to express yourself!
I share my healing journey with the hope that I can reach just one person who has experienced a sense of betrayal, violation of self and/or shame from secrets. Perhaps my transformation will lessen the power that trauma holds for you. To my fellow survivors I say, you are not alone.
If you are interested in writing in a safe and supportive environment, I urge you to find a writing mentor who will guide you with compassion and understanding. Your story is more than “correct grammar and spelling”. Your story is the voice you bring to the young child within you who is finally safe to speak. Maintaining a detached style allowed me to do this. I found myself thinking of my character in a very compassionate way without feeling the pain within me that would cause me to disconnect from my emotions. I was able to feel emotion through my description of my character as she confronted different situations. Sadness, fear, anger, confusion. No longer locked up in silence. Now identified in words on paper in a story.
I chose to use a pen name for my story. I did not write it to share with family members or friends who I wanted to better understand me. The process of writing allowed me to feel free from needing anyone to understand me. Writing in a plain, unembellished way, my inspiration was to create a children’s story. I did not know what the content would be. Once the words started to flow, I allowed the character to lead. My fictional, detached style of writing, with the help of a compassionate writing mentor, led me back to hope and belief in myself.
Write your way to healing
Would you like to explore writing with a mentor as a way of healing, to regain your voice and be free to make the most of your life? Contact June Alexander or Sarah Cannata on The Diary Healer.