Publishing for a Change, LLC presents Gail Dickert, author of #RecoveryInRealTime as she shares more about the writing process behind her "Anti-workbook" for surviving multiple traumas.
In two short weeks, I will take a break from publicly processing my #RecoveryInRealTime stories and refocus my efforts on different writing projects, supporting other social change advocates, and giving all I can to my first practicum year as I earn a MSW in Social Change. (I'll still be maintaining an incredibly exciting leadership role at a nature-based early learning center, where I've been since August 2010... read any articles lately about trauma survivors and over-achieving? Sounds familiar!)
Overachieving aside - this summer has been a wild one.
Learning more about the interconnected and necessary survivor networks online has been encouraging, yet overwhelming. (Oh Twitter, you slay me with your limitless communities and chats! Amazing!)
Coming out publicly with very vulnerable information about survivor life has felt empowering, yet terrifying. (Sometimes I feel like I'll be coming out for the rest of my life...)
Walking a fine line between advocacy and obsession has been character-building, yet challenging. (I want survivors and our advocates to have this resource or I want people to know I made it so I feel that I've contributed enough to the cause? Which is it?)
As I look out on the village of survivors, I ask myself a lot of questions. I know that for me, I cannot (and am likely to never want to) be a full-time advocate for survivors of trauma. As a multiple trauma survivor, I wouldn't even know where to start anyway!
Should I dedicate myself to advocating for victims of sexual assault?
What about Child Sexual Abuse survivors? Perhaps that is where I am to focus my energy?
Then there's conversion therapy and religious abuse - I can speak for decades about that topic.
Perhaps I should focus on acts of violence and the effects on community and individual psyche - maybe that's my area.
Of course I could always dedicate myself to anything LGBTQ - I mean oppression is far from over.
The list doesn't really end there, but today, I remind myself - there's no requirement to become a full-time advocate for survivors of trauma.
I struggled with this in 2003 when I first came on the scene as a writer and advocate - as I look back over the last 14 years of my indie author career, I know that this is not what I want to do full-time.
But it is a part of me.
And it will always be - which is why I was so proud to compile and design #RecoveryInRealTime. It isn't a book for the full-time advocate who has a livelihood of trauma-focused advocacy *Though, we thank you for how you choose this and ride its turbulent waves!
This book isn't for the researcher who is continually looking for new strategies for "healing" the trauma mind/body/soul.
I wrote the book for the rest of us - the part-time advocates who live full-time survivor lives.
At first I wondered if this book was just for me... then I started hearing from many of you.
I used to ask myself...
"Is it just me... or does it feel like a full-time job to read workbooks on trauma recovery?"
"Is it just me... or am I required to hyper focus to recover?"
"Is it just me... or will I never be separated from my recovery process?
"Is it just me... or have I been basically ruined and thus doomed to relive trauma for the rest of my life?"
As I heard from readers, I discovered...
It's not just me.
Many of us have varied involvement with our families, struggle with livelihood choices, face our social fears, walk uphill battles to find a faith that fits, read every single book that may keep us afloat, dedicate ourselves to musicians and artists who help us feel less isolated, thrive professionally because of our hyper vigilant minds, and ultimately, feel like we need a few months of the year when "trauma" doesn't define us.
There are 25 hashtags for each stage of the grief cycle in #RecoveryInRealTime. Every once in awhile, I read through all 25 for the Acceptance stage, just to remind myself that it does happen - Acceptance.
Just like the rest of the cycle, we do sometimes discover acceptance - maybe it is in spite of the trauma or maybe it is because of the trauma...
All I know is that, it isn't just me...
Some of us can only sustain an advocacy role in seasons and as this season draws closer to an end, I want to thank you for your emails, tweets, shares, and comments - and for buying the book so you have your own resource for #RecoveryInRealTime...
It's not just me...
Advocacy, for many of us, will ebb and flow.
It reminds me of this wicked photo I captured of the full moon in Aquarius (98.6 % full). It was a moon that on the other side of the globe, had been eclipsed on Monday... but on my side, here in Washington, DC area, it was cloud covered until finally, Tuesday night, I was able to spy the scene. (Shout out to In This Moment because #TheWitchingHour was blaring in my ears while I watched and waited for my lunar friend).
Advocacy for me, is like a full moon... you can count on me to have something to say each month, but sometimes there are clouds, so to say you saw it may involve making a special plan, giving it focus, and having an intention not to miss it.
But the moon is always there - like trauma, whether it is full, waxing, or waning to the eyes of others, the moon is the moon... is the moon...
So too it is for me and my relationships with multiple traumas.
Trauma is always there and sometimes it calls to me and requests that I give it my full attention.
But in a few weeks, it will be my private journey again.
For me, that is where it belongs ultimately.
Hidden behind my inner circle of friendly witches and clouds.
Eclipsed behind my wife, who is the Earth shadow that keeps life mysteriously powerful.
Sometimes I wish it could be a full-time role - I mean, after surviving multiple traumas, I know I have a lot to add to the conversations...
But also, after surviving multiple traumas, I also have the right to change the conversations.
And so do you.
So this post is for anyone who is a "Seasonal Advocate, but Full-Time Survivor."
I see you...
And no distance from any spotlights, pages, microphones, or cameras will ever take away the fullness of our orbits around something other than... our traumas.
Brave readers, keep sharing. I’m here with you... a little while longer... #RecoveryInRealTime happens today.