Tales From a Trauma Queen

Updated: Dec 10, 2019

Me with my dog Brownie at my childhood home in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I'm guessing four years old, so it's circa 1973. Cute shoes. Dog looks a little miffed with my heavy-handed petting!

I don't often publicly talk about it, but I’ve had a pretty traumatic life. A few years back, I had a therapist who was treating my PTSD give me an assignment to list out every traumatic experience I could remember. I came up with 125 things! I listed them all: being raped during my senior year of high school, being stalked and harassed for two years in college, learning that two of my close friends were actually serial killers, surviving a tornado while camping in a tent, being sexually abused by neighbors starting at the age of four, suffering beatings from a boyfriend (even while pregnant with his baby), having a car stolen while I was a single mother, releasing a child for adoption, having a warrant out for my arrest, nearly dying from toxic shock syndrome (I was even given my "last rites" by a priest!)--and so many more accidents, illnesses, deaths, violations, and heartbreaks. I've often thought of telling these stories because they are tales of survival, resiliency, courage--and ultimately--of healing. Instead, I have held space for others' tales. I find others' lives so much more interesting!

For the past quarter century I have taught and coached personal narrative writing. In college classrooms, in intimate workshops and with my clients, I encourage intrepid writers to mine their memories for the golden veins of truth that have shaped their lives. Some find this navel-gazing or ego-centric, but memoir writing is a powerful process in which we excavate our lives and find beautiful, and sometimes raw, remembrances that help us understand our journey and connect with others in a profound way.

You know, your life need not be especially dramatic to warrant exploration. It is often the subtle reflection from the keen observer that can be the most jarring and poetic. I think of Sting's memoir "Broken Music" in which he reflected on falling for his beloved Trudy: "being in love, is to be relieved of gravity". Indeed it is. When you look back, for instance, at your story of falling in love, you may remember floating as well. It is this clarity of hindsight that connects you to who you were, who you are, and to those who share in the human experience!

I invite you, dear friend, to join me September 29, 2019 for a Memoir Writing Mini-Retreat in the beautiful, secluded space of Holistic Care Approach. I, of course, have some wacky creativity and writing activities up my sleeve, but I also guarantee that you will come away with practical techniques for writing about your own wild and precious life! It's time to tell your story.

P.S. Maybe it's time to tell my story, too. I mean, I've already thought of an apt title: "Tales from a Trauma Queen"! 😂

Here is the link to sign up (we only have 4 spots open though): www.shamamagroup.com/events

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