Last year, when I told someone close to me that I was going to start writing about my journey through trauma, they responded by saying that I should use my words to bring light and beauty into this world—not to focus on darkness and pain.
They had never (and still haven’t) read anything I’ve written about trauma or my healing journey, but I sat with that for a long time and still periodically turn it over in my head because my goal is to empower, inspire, and give hope.
At the early stages of feeling that it was important for me to begin this type of writing in a public space, it had never once occurred to me to think of it as focusing on darkness and pain. Yes, I write about difficult things, but my hope is that by naming things and giving voice to some of my experiences (which are the mirrored experiences of women around the globe), I can bring light and hope to these areas for others who are walking through similar things, and ultimately empower anyone who reads my words to hold greater spaces of radical love, understanding, and acceptance for themselves—and for others.
I think the aversion to or hesitancy around writing or speaking about trauma and areas of shame is a common one, and I understand why some might say it is focusing on pain and darkness rather than beauty and light. However, I view it as something powerful, empowering, and hugely important.
My Goals in Writing About Trauma
>> My goal is not to fixate on trauma or stay stuck there.
>> My goal is to be real, authentic, and vulnerable, and inspire others to step into and own their power, voice, and truth.
>> My goal is to be a shame-shifter by shining a spotlight on areas that most people are too afraid to discuss—even when it is uncomfortable for me to go there—so that the culture of shame can begin to be transformed.
>> My goal is to be honest about my own struggles and experiences with shame, not-enoughness, abuse, and trauma recovery so that others who are walking through difficult things can know that they are not alone and perhaps have the courage to reach out for help, or to do the work to heal.
>> My goal is to be to others the person who I wished, at so many dark moments, I had in my own life.
>> My goal is to use what I learned through my own trauma recovery to shine a light on a pathway out for others.
I was with a friend recently who made the comment that he thinks it’s sad when musicians write a song about heartbreak, because then every time they play the song they’re taken back to that place and reminded of the pain, instead of writing about “happy” things.
I found that interesting, because I look at it in a completely opposite way: how amazing that they have taken their pain and turned it into something beautiful. I also know that the process of moving through pain by expressing it in some creative way—and getting it out of the body—can be itself the most powerful act of healing.
Writing has always been an essential part of my healing, with every trauma that I have walked through, even though I don’t share it all in a public space. I’ve learned to hold strong boundaries for myself around what and when I share, to honor and hold sacred the safe space of my own healing.
That conversation with my friend shows, though, that we are all different. Some will always see this voice that I feel so passionate about being in the world as wrong—as being stuck, fixated on pain, and droning on about darkness and trauma, rather than happy things that uplift.
And I am okay with that, because I know with every fiber of my being that there will also be those who read my words and find within them a lifeline that allows them to begin to climb out of pits of darkness, pain, and deep trauma.
Words that allow someone to hold a space of compassion for themselves.
Words that give someone the courage to walk away from an abuser.
Words that let someone feel the fullness of their own inherent value and worth.
Words that are like a hand reaching out into the loneliest night and holding tight.
Words that breathe the whispers of hope when it has all but been given up on.
Words that cause someone to begin breaking down the walls of their own shame.
There are enough people dancing around the pain and darkness with masks held to their face in a death grip. And I spent enough years of my life being one of those people.
I’m more interested in stepping right into the heartbeat of darkness and turning on a light.
I write about trauma because I want to use my voice and my words to begin healing the wounds of the world.