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.
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!
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.