Trauma

#RecoveryInRealTime: Is it Worth it to Discuss Trauma Recovery in Public?

Publishing for a Change, LLC presents Gail Dickert, author of #RecoveryInRealTime as she shares her final blog post about her "Anti-workbook" for surviving multiple traumas.

For me, trauma started sometime between being born and turning 9 years old - Now, 30 years removed from the first identifiable awareness of recovery, I carry with me the scars of being a survivor of multiple traumas.

To be honest, I don't know life without a sense of doom, loss, unimaginable trust broken, and confusion about what might be to come...

Yet I wrote a book - and not just any book, but an ANTI-WORKBOOK, about how to recover from trauma, on the daily.

I wrote it two years ago, published it last year (2016), and then spent this summer marketing and making connections about the scope and purpose of the book. 

Now that I'm here, with my last blog post, I ask myself one big question: Was it worth it?

It isn't the first time I have written about trauma or spoken about it. (Or the first time I've asked if it is worth it!) I've been doing this #IndieAuthorLife shit for some time now (2003, to be exact). Before there was Facebook, before social media, before I could actually watch rejection happen through lack of shares, lack of likes... before I could watch acceptance happen through going viral for 15 seconds with comments and views.

But this round of advocacy was more difficult than other rounds. I realized that I am always going to have an ebb and flow when it comes to engaging publicly about trauma. I feel now, similar to how I felt after appearing on Our America with Lisa Ling (Where my intention was to energetically kick Exodus International in the nuts P.S. #MissionAccomplished).

I am exhausted...

I am not designed to submit my process to the masses LONG-TERM. I cannot live like this... 

It is especially painful because people who know me in real life - people who have been in my home, worked with me, or knew me OUTSIDE of my survivor status, have changed the way they talk to me... some have stopped talking to me or checking in altogether.

It is uncomfortable, isn't it?

Knowing someone brave enough to write about their recovery process is uncomfortable - it would be so much more comfortable if I never said that I was molested for over 5 years during junior high and high school by a neighbor that everyone thought was harmless.

It is not comfortable to know that I was sexually assaulted on a date and honestly, the only person who was there for me that night was... the above-mentioned neighbor... 

It is not comfortable to hear stories about my life as a closeted Christian and how every part of my sexual identity that wasn't hacked away at by the person who molested me was nearly drowned by the church leaders, youth ministers, and conversion therapy counselors.

It is not comfortable to know I watched a man die by suicide and had to wrap my head around why, after years of trauma, "the universe" would place me at that tree, on that day, during that hour...

It is not comfortable to understand that my mind will always be influenced by formative years of emotional abuse, as I witnessed physical abuse in a home with a father who struggled with addiction.

It will never be comfortable to do this and doing it makes a lot of other people uncomfortable too.

So... how could all of this be "worth it?"

The truth is that I do not know - and neither do you.

Some of us don't put our stories out there to sell the book, or gain the audience.

Some of us won't know if it was worth it even if the book sells or the shit we say goes "viral" for that coveted 15 seconds...

Some of us create like our lives depend upon it - we nurture these projects into realities because they keep us alive...

Some of us don't know if it's "worth it" in conventional terms, or if it's only worth it because at the core, it helped us feel heard or understood.

It's been an excruciating process to write, publish and then market #RecoveryInRealTime.

Here's what I would say, to anyone who is asking themselves if it is worth it to share their recovery process in public.

I would remind you: You will never have to be a full-time advocate. It is safe to speak your mind and put truth out there and then proceed with your recovery... without an audience. 

I would remind you: The day you stop explaining yourself is the day you stop being you. Maybe you actually enjoy explaining what you've been through because it helps others and it helps you feel seen after decades of oppression. But that doesn't mean you have to do it every fucking day.

I would say that to you, so I say it to myself...

Yes, it was worth it for me, but only if I walk gracefully and gently with myself through the grief cycle - making nice with Denial, allowing Bargaining, welcoming Anger, enduring Depression, and celebrating Acceptance... for as many iterations and lifetimes that it takes. 

Thank you to the people who showed me how limited our connections really are - I needed to do a little cleaning/clearing of where I put my energy. And more, of course, thank you to the friends who showed just how real our connections are...

Most of all, thank you to the newest readers who have invested in this process for yourselves and with me as well. We mirror the hope that we will find #RecoveryInRealTime - brave survivors - reach out via email/social media anytime, if you need a reminder that we are not alone. 

I'll be back around for another season of advocacy, I'm sure... but until then, I'm recovering, in real time, for the rest of my life. 

Namaste, my friends.

# Recovery In Real Time: Shit Survivors Say (to Ourselves)

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.

Maybe it's the therapy or maybe it's how we are consistently editing our negative self-talk... but whatever it is, survivors have a litany of mantras for getting through a tough memory, a terrifying event, a family gathering, a triggering moment, or a typical day in the life of PTSD or anxiety.

I was going to list some stories about how this plays out for me, but it reminds me of one of the hashtags from #RecoveryInRealTime (flip over to page 85 if you have your copy handy).

#SurvivorVoicesAreClear

"I know from my experience - The longer I evolve as a Survivor, the clearer my story and my desire to share it manifests in a way that is concise. It isn't that the story is perfect or doesn't require ongoing edits from a wiser or more evolved version of myself. The message morphs but the tone of peace and sanctity of my truth freely and accurately echo through the past. I find hope in the belief that my Survivor voice will get clearer in the future." (Recovery In Real Time: A Trauma Survivor's Anti-Workbook"

It is still a miracle that I add a day to my invisible "I survived" chart every single morning. Every single day is one more day that I show them all that they cannot break me completely and that I am in fact, a survivor... and every single day, my voice gets clearer. 

I see this in many survivor networks. This week I made time to connect with advocates on Twitter who lead a #SexAbuseChat every Tuesday night. As I followed, liked, retweeted and engaged, I noticed how many resilient mantras survivors create for ourselves!

I'm sure many of those Twitter advocates (who are slowly becoming online friends), have probably blogged about positive self-talk so after I get a few links I'll list them here, but for now, I just want to offer a simple list of Shit Survivors Say (to Ourselves). And I don't mean BAD shit... I mean, shit that shows we are doing the work, making sure we are taking steps forward, and being our badass-selves in recovery:

When exhausted from expectations, we say, "I'm really doing enough and need to calm the fuck down."

When faced with a tense, high-energy, complicated event, we say, "This situation I'm in right now will never be as bad as (fill in the blank of trauma)."

When recovering from another disappointing friendship, we say, "I will not let that asshole determine my capacity to trust."

When facing a flashback or anniversary of a trauma, we say, "Don't make me explain myself to you when I'm tired."

When looking in the mirror after a nightmare, we say, "Today is (insert date) and this is a day you can handle."

When deciding whether to post our public thoughts/feelings about the trauma, we say, "In the end, my voice is my voice and I will not be censored to keep others comfortable."

It isn't always eloquent, but it is direct self-talk that combines grace and tenacity.

It isn't always easy to describe, but the shit we say to ourselves, the good quality shit that keeps us from the edge of a knife or the bottom of a bottle is the shit that proves #SurvivorVoicesAreClear. We are all getting clearer every single day that I choose to live as a survivor.

Stay tuned for updates as I network with the advocates who are NOT seasonal, such as myself...

One more post to follow here at Publishing for a Change, LLC.

Thank you, to my brave readers... keep sharing. I’m here with you... a little while longer... #RecoveryInRealTime happens today.

 

rss Block
Select a Blog Page to create an RSS feed link. Learn more

# Recovery In Real Time: For the Seasonal Advocates...

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).

DSCN0058.JPG

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. 

Private.

Hidden behind my inner circle of friendly witches and clouds.

Eclipsed behind my wife, who is the Earth shadow that keeps life mysteriously powerful.

Private.

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.

rss Block
Select a Blog Page to create an RSS feed link. Learn more

# Recovery In Real Time: Validation vs. Depth

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.

The truth is that I didn't just "write" Recovery In Real Time...

I spoke it into existence.

I literally carried a voice recorder as I walked in circles around a favorite small park and I spoke most of the words in the book into existence. For months, I transcribed them, asked myself if they had value and after sharing them with my wife, recognized that what this project represents is a lifetime of grief and recovery, in a digestible format.

My wife hugged me after she read the first draft of #RecoveryInRealTime and simply said, "I cannot believe what you've been through and how much you've brought to life through this project."

Everything she said to me, everything she did and everything I felt can be summed up in one word: Validation.

No family member, friend, or partner prior had ever heard and seen "all" of what I have been through and held such sacred space for me the way she did that night. 

Survivors, we understand this, don't we?

Our need for validation - it's as if there is a tiny funnel through which validation gets "in" and yet on the other side of our hearts exists a severe wound of insecurity and shame through which validating statements rush out.

It's already been 2 years since I showed my wife the project - now it has been edited, shared, reviewed, and is "out there" for public consumption. 

Yet, I still need validation?

Why do I still hope that various celebs who have influenced my trauma recovery will "like" or re-tweet my posts? Will I really feel "better" if Maria Brink (of In This Moment) knows about the project? Am I going to be saved from my endless shame if Tori Amos knows she's been saving my soul for over 25 years? Will I sense an energetic shift if Alanis aligns with this style of advocacy? Is Mariska Hargitay going to provide me with the sense of security I've been looking for since I was 9 years old?

I'm almost 40 years old!

What is it that I'm seeking?

Here's the truth: I am a survivor of sexual assault, long-term sexual abuse, emotional abuse, domestic violence, religious abuse, and a witness to suicide...

There's not a damn thing ANYONE can do to end my quest for validation!

And that statement has more power than anything else I've written or produced since I started this indie author journey in 2004. 

Trust me when I say this - no matter how many tweets are seen, posts shared, or in this case, books sold, what I need for recovering from trauma isn't validation alone.

I need depth.

I need long walks with old friends, who can remind me that I've always been a sensitive person and there's no shame in that.

I need phone calls and quick texts from my wife, telling me that she loves me and respects every choice I make along my journey.

I need an online community that steps up with positive, honest words when I'm floundering in a sea of negativity.

I need cards and notes from my mom, who can feel my disappointment, fears, and depression in her bones.

I need the risk and rush that comes from taking a chance on a new friend, no matter that I'm scared shitless of rejection. 

I need time alone in nature so I can listen to its wisdom and find a safe way to breathe and face the stillness or chaos of my own presence.

I need...

Depth, if I'm going to recover in real time.

Now, don't get me wrong - validation gets us from one stage to the next. It has immense value. I hope for validation - from peer advocates, from mentors, from celebrities and gurus! I'm going to hope this project is seen and heard around the world of survivor-focused, trauma-informed communities.

But I don't need that to recover.

What I need is depth. 

Validation is welcome, but rather than cross my fingers and hope to become recognized in the future, I cross my heart and hope to live... in the depth of who I am today. 

Trust me, validation helps - it works wonders. Many of you have written to me to tell me that this book has validated your journey in ways no other book has and I know it was worth it because of your feedback! 

being_valid.jpg

We validate one another.

But we won't save each other's lives with our affirmations and validations.

Consider this: My book will not feed you if you're starving in the ocean of your flashbacks, fears, and grief - but it may keep you afloat until help arrives. 

And when help arrives, put the books down, shut down the computers, turn off the music, click off the television...

And be in the depth of the community of people who see you, just as you are.

(And if you haven't formed and found that depth yet, don't let go yet. Help is on the way!)

Brave readers, keep sharing. I’m here with you. #RecoveryInRealTime happens today.

 

rss Block
Select a Blog Page to create an RSS feed link. Learn more