Survivors Empowering Survivors

It’s Time to Write the Wrong.

After Laura’s article He Wrote It Down, the story of Laura and her cousin’s plan to dance on their shared abuser’s grave went viral, they quickly realized the healing power of permitting others to tell their story. …and Say It, Survivor was born.

Laura and Mary are committed to using their experiences as survivors and writers to facilitate people telling their stories as a way to empower and heal themselves through workshops, public speaking and offering a safe space for survivors to anonymously share their story.

Today, Laura shares with us the path that led to the creation of Say It, Survivor. Be sure to check out their upcoming events!


lauraI can’t say exactly when my abuse began.

Most abuse is insidious. It’s like the lobster in the pot. You just turn the heat up bit by bit, tiny increments- and before the lobster knows what’s happening it’s being boiled alive.

I know it didn’t begin where it ended, violently, on a cold, linoleum utility room floor- a dish of wet cat food near my head, the smell overwhelming

It’s funny, the things I remember.

I’m sure it did not start with an overtly sexual act. I’m sure it was with little boundary violations. I remember being held in a lap while I squirmed, trying to leave. That forced affection my first indication that my “no” was not enforceable. I remember being barged in on in the bathroom and pool cabana, again and again.

All easily explained.

Accidents. Misunderstandings.

I don’t remember much about life before my abuse. I don’t remember who I was, really. I’ve heard accounts. I can piece together a composite of the little girl I was. My nickname was Leave-me-lone Laura.

That was not to be my path. I was not to be left alone.

I told, eventually. My mother believed me, my father did not.

My cousin Mary had been abused as well. After I disclosed, Mary heard I’d told and tried to tell the adults in her life that she too was being abused. Her cries for help fell on deaf ears. She endured years more abuse. I did not.

Mary and I did not see one another again except for at our grandmother’s funeral. No one talked to me. Not my aunts, not my uncles, not my godfather. My grandfather gave me wide berth. It was as though I was invisible. A ghost. But I remember locking eyes with Mary. She’s the only one who looked at me. It was a knowing look.

That made sense, actually. I always knew Mary had been abused.  She’d tried to warn me, but I was too young to understand what she was talking about.

I think I laughed, actually.

When I think back and realize that in that moment at the funeral she was still in it, that she was still being harmed, it breaks my heart.

We would not see one another again for thirty-five years. We went from being very close, to being cleaved from one another. It felt like a punishment for telling.

Over time, I stopped talking about it. Make no mistake, though, I may not have been telling my story, but my story was being told.  Every day. It was being told in addiction, unhealthy relationships, promiscuity, anorexia, insomnia perfectionism. All of those things were my story being told- it was just my abuser telling it.

The Thanksgiving before last, I awoke to find a Facebook friend request from Mary. I hesitated to accept at first, not knowing what she’d been told, what she remembered. I decided that worst-case scenario I could un-friend her and be no worse for the wear.

Shortly thereafter, I found myself on the phone with my cousin. The decades disappeared. We began to catch up on each other’s lives.  The parallels were staggering. Same sense of humor, similar interests and talents. Same self-destructive behaviors.

At a certain point, Mary expressed confusion. She said, “I know your parents got divorced, but I don’t understand why we never saw each other again.” I was afraid to rock the boat- afraid to lose her again, so I hesitated. Then Mary said, “Let’s talk about the elephant in the room.”

And so we told each other our stories.

say-it-survivor

Two months later, we reconnected in person. We stayed up all night talking, looking at photos, filling in the missing pieces- trying to make sense of things. Laughing. Crying.

The next day we set out to dance on our grandfather’s grave. We got lost on the way to the cemetery and pulled into a police station to ask for directions. On a whim, we decided to report him, though he’d long been deceased.

The officer assigned to us, Officer Paul, treated us with such kindness, and such dignity. He led us through our story and filled out a formal report. He investigated and found another victim of my grandfather’s outside of the family. We met with her mother the following day.

I wrote about the experience, published it on my blog, and the post went viral. Overnight, I began to get inundated with people telling me their stories. People saying, “Me too.” Many strangers, yes- but also people I knew well. Women and men whose stories I’d have said I knew. It quickly became apparent that this was no longer just our story. It was bigger than that. We became determined to do something with the experience, to give our pain a purpose.

I’ve come to understand that whatever story you aren’t telling is the one that is running the board.

It’s the one to which you’ve attached the most shame and it is in charge of your whole life. You either integrate that story as A fact of your life, or it will be THE fact- and our abusers do not get that. They do not get to tell our stories. They do not get to write the ending for us.


Bio:  Laura Parrott-Perry is the single mother of two amazing children and is devoted to a very handsome dog, indeed. She is the author of the popular blogs, In Others’ Words, and The Golden Repair on DivorcedMoms.com.  Her work has been featured on Huffington Post and in Boston Magazine.

She is also a survivor of sexual abuse.  And she’s talking about it.  Shamelessly.

Connect with Say it, Survivor:

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Survivors Empowering Survivors

I Spoke About Parenting as a Survivor, Because I Was Asked.

cissy whiteEven though I’m a socially awkward introvert with post-traumatic stress, I gave a talk on parenting after trauma last month. Why? Because I was asked.

Someone read the Trigger Points Anthology and wanted a keynote speaker who is a trauma survivor and a parent. Let me say it again. I spoke because I was asked. That never happens.

My experiences were treated as though they are useful, valuable and important. As though they matter. As though survivors matter. As though I matter. I didn’t have to scream or beg or fight to be heard. I was asked.

I joked with one friend, “The only time I ever get to talk about my childhood is in therapy, and I have to pay someone to listen. This time, I’m being paid.”

As a teenager, when I told my mother I was abused, she didn’t believe me. Not being believed almost ended me. And I can’t speak articulately about that yet or recovering from that. I can say that being asked to talk about my childhood and how it has impacted my parenting was medicinal. It was also liberating, terrifying and healing.

The opportunity for us to have conversations about life and trauma and parenting as peers, sharing the experiences we had as children and the way we live with them as adults and parents now, is very rare. It’s very different than our conversations as patients or clients. So often our lived experiences, opinions, insights and expertise are rarely heard, valued or sought. That silence and shame stuff is still pervasive.

So I said yes when invited to speak because it’s so radical to be asked. Just like I said, “yes, please” when asked to write about my experiences for the Trigger Points Anthology.

Because we need to hear each other to feel less alone. Being asked is powerful and life-changing. 

I made very conscious decisions about which parts of my life and experiences I would speak about. I talked mostly about the present and how the past impacts the present all of the time. I did not speak in detail about the abuse I survived.

Sexual abuse isn’t my story. Sexual abuse is the story of those who abuse. Being an adult child of an alcoholic isn’t my story. That’s the story of the person who drank. Having a homeless father doesn’t tell you a bit about who I am or how I parent.

These things all shaped me. They did and do impact me and how I parent, and sometimes explain why parenting is challenging. They contribute to my post-traumatic stress and contribute to my high ACE score. They are some of the reasons I do advocacy work, but they aren’t my story.

Nope. No way.

My story is about me and the choices I make. My story is about how I use, express, make sense of and recover from all of my experiences. My story is about how I learn to parent, to love, to trust and care about myself and my daughter. My story is about how I learn to inhabit my body and attempt to show up and be present without shame or apology or numbness.

The only story I sign, autograph and own is my own. I reject the notion that what was done to me, by others, is my story.

When I joined the Trigger Points community a few years ago it was the first and only one I’d ever heard of with, for and by survivors. I was jumping up and down, elated to find others craving, creating and needing community and conversations. Not clinical talk, therapy or processing, but just sharing life and stories about day to day.

Photo Credit: Margaret Bellafiore
Photo Credit: Margaret Bellafiore

So I said yes and spoke at the Partnering for Excellence conference, even though I was afraid. I said yes because I was asked by people creating trauma-informed and collaborative approaches to the mental health system, to children and families in the foster care system and to the wider community as well.

At this conference, the Trigger Points Anthology was shared with staff in order to help professionals working to improve the lives of children better understand the challenges parenting survivors face. Professionals referenced our words, our experiences and the stories we chose to share. Our experiences mattered to others.

It's not trauma informed if it's not informed by trauma survivors is what I say. 

I chose to focus on how trauma in childhood was less an event and more an environment. How it was less a crack in the foundation and more the way the foundation was never poured. I was trying to explain how it feels as a child to live with trauma; as a child who has no adult concepts, words and language; as a child who might grow up to become a parent.

I spoke about how kids don’t realize, “This is trauma I’m living.” Especially young kids.

We don’t think:

I’m being flooded with toxic stress. My ACE score is rising by the second. I will probably need a lot of evidence based therapy.

Those are adult thoughts.

Kids think things like this:

I like animals. People suck. Get me the hell out of here. Here being the body, family or world.

Kid’s don’t have language or context or perspective. We don’t know what we are living would be easier without trauma. We don’t know that there’s an opposite of trauma to be had. As kids, it’s just life we’re living.

It's not so much that trauma and adversity are being minimized by us or our family members, it's that trauma is normalized. 

It’s the norm for us, and maybe for our parents too. It’s maybe been “traumatic” for months and years and decades. For generations. Day in. Day out. For many families, trauma and childhood might be synonyms. But I didn’t grow up thinking I was living with trauma. I thought I was just too sensitive or lousy at life. How we learn to live in a traumatic environment as a child is hard to unlearn as an adult when it’s your baseline.

Everyone brings the experience of being parented as a child to the forefront when becoming a parent yourself. And it’s hard to learn to parent differently when we didn’t experience a healthier and safe home and childhood. And when, as adults, it’s easier to find books on gluten free recipes than break-the-cycle parenting.

For so long, I’ve been in a fight, warring with shame and silence and what can seem like an indifferent world. Sometimes it can be futile and exhausting to volunteer or work hard to make social change, not knowing if we are making any difference.

Sometimes having not been believed as a child still stings my soul, leaving me feeling invisible and afraid to speak.

But here we are. We are here and we are hearing and seeing and supporting each other.

I know I'm not alone and feel it in my bones. 

We are supporting ourselves too and making the way easier for others who become parents after surviving childhood trauma.

And that’s my story, the one I author, autograph, share and tell again and again. For myself. For the kid I once was who had no words or language or support. And with the strength of this entire community I’m grateful to be a part of.


Bio: Christine Cissy White is a writer who believes it’s possible to live, love and parent well after being raised in hell. Possible, but not easy. She founded www.healwritenow.com and writes, speaks and consults about trauma-informed care from a survivor’s perspective. She develops Writing for Wellness programs and educates about the need for portable and affordable ways to heal traumatic stress at the Heal Write Now Center: Creating Hope, Health and Happiness in Massachusetts. She’s been published in Ms. Magazine online, Spirituality & Health, The Boston Globe and is a columnist at Elephant Journal. She’s writing a book with Nancy Slonim Aronie entitled: Your Childhood is Making You Fat, Sick & Dead: Write to Heal.

 

 

 

 

Survivors Empowering Survivors

Trigger Points Seeking Submissions for Survivors Empowering Survivors Series.

At times, survivors may be their own worst enemy. We riddle ourselves with doubts, constantly questioning whether or not we are good enough – as parents, partners, human beings – and determine our accomplishments to be irrelevant. Some aren’t cautious enough with the empathic residue left by their abuse, and find themselves unable to recognize when they are being used or further abused. At times we self-sabotage because there is no fear greater than the unknown, and for many of us, our wires misfired on the way to building happiness and aspirations, creating uncomfortable, sometimes unbearable feelings in the presence of simple joys and accomplishments.

Two of the most brutal side effects of childhood traumas in adulthood are self doubt and lack of self value. In order to combat the often self notion that you aren’t deserving of the recognition of what you have overcome and accomplished, Trigger Points is re-igniting the Survivors Empowering Survivors series, and are currently seeking submissions for guest posts.

Our intention with this series is to offer a platform to which survivors can proudly speak about achievements – big and small. We’re looking to inspire and educate readers by introducing them to the difference you are making in your day to day, or how you are contributing to cultural change. Especially, as it pertains to parenting as a survivor.

We want to hear about:

  • A book you’ve published, are working on, or took part in as a contributor.
  • A recovery-focused workshop, class, center, non-for-profit or conference you contributed to or helped create.
  • A service you provide specifically for parenting survivors.
  • Your experience speaking or teaching on the topic of parenting as a survivor.

Other stories we are interested in:

  • A discussion you’ve had with your child(ren) about your abuse.
  • How you’ve found a way to channel your recovery in a healthy, productive way, such as creative arts.
  • A trigger you have experienced that you are struggling with; one you may or may not have learned to manage yet.
  • Your reaction to reading the Trigger Points Anthology and the impact it left on you.
  • An essay you have written based on one of the journal prompts from the Trigger Points Anthology.

If you have an idea based on something other than what is listed here, we encourage you to reach out to us.

it's in our nature

If you want to get a better idea of what the Survivors Empowering Survivors series is all about, check out these previously included essays:

“This collision between my work as an abuse counselor and my work as a birth worker who had indirectly referred a “woman in need” to an inexperienced doula, is what changed everything for me, laying the foundation for A Safe Passage.”      ~My Worlds Collided.by Jodi Hall

“Many survivors “know” that being sexually assaulted was not their fault. Now, I’m one of them. But the question I’ve worked to answer after a decade of healing and processing what happened to me is, “Well, then why didn’t I do something?”     ~The Freeze Response: How a Warrior Handles the Trauma of Sexual Assault by Amy Oestreicher

“If I was having a hard time and needed help, it didn’t mean anything other than that. If I was soaring and taking on the world, I still had nothing to prove. I was just as worthwhile, sitting alone in yana mudra in my apartment as I was putting on a symposium.”    ~Just Breathing, I Was Enough. by Anika Tilland-Stafford

“After years of struggling and feeling no one understood us survivors, I determined that the only way to create change was to start our own organization. So, I announced at a particularly irritating health professionals meeting that I would start our own organization which would truly present the survivors view of what we need in order to heal and if anyone wanted to join me, to phone me.”    ~We Just Have To Be Asked. by Liz Mullinar

**We prefer original essays tailored to the survivor community, which includes loved ones of survivors and those that are working with survivors on their recovery journey. However, we will absolutely consider previously published work. Please let us know if what you are submitting has been previously published, so we can offer proper credit.

**Send your essay in the body of an email to triggerpointsanthology@gmail.com, with SES Submission as the subject. Don’t forget to add a short bio (3 to 5 lines), including social media profile links, and a headshot if you would like. And send along an image to go with your essay if you have one you’d like to share.

We can’t wait to hear from you guys!

♥ Dawn & Joyelle

Survivors Empowering Survivors

Do You Carry This Guilt Inside of You?

Many parenting survivors struggle with guilt, as they simultaneously work on raising their children and re-raising themselves. The decision to add journal prompts at the end of each essay in the Trigger Points Anthology was to encourage readers to use the connection and shared experiences as prompts in investigating their own personal parenting struggles. We are honored to share a response to one of those prompts with you today. Frieda bravely allows us to witness her own battles, and I can assure you by the end, you will be celebrating her insightful triumph. Frieda speaks open and honestly and that takes courage. We thank you, Frieda. This is what the #SurvivorsEmpoweringSurvivors series is all about.


Frieda

I do carry a massive amount of guilt for the effect my struggles with my mental health have upon my kids. The thing I feel most guilty for is the ‘overspill’ they have witnessed whilst I’ve been in the midst of a crisis (triggered by doctors, dentists or just a bad day). My curious eldest has asked me questions at such times and I’ve answered him honestly, but I wish he didn’t know all that stuff because of the weight and darkness of it. I worry about them having a bleak view of the world because mine is so distorted and inevitably affects theirs. I do talk about this with them though, and try and point out the presence of helpers and good people – in the Paris attacks recently, for example.

I regret that I am not a better model of emotional regulation, as I can find it hard to contain myself and come out with all sorts of inappropriate and bizarre comments/observations (which the kids find hilarious) when stressed. “Do your silly thing again mummy,” they often request, but it’s not something I have much control over and I worry about the affect of this on them.

I struggle with self harm and this is something I do lie to them about. I keep it as hidden as possible, which is mostly possible, but I make up weak and off the cuff stories about fresh scars in the swimming pool and they’re clearly not convinced. There has developed a definite taboo around them asking, and I know they feel that and must be confused, but I worry that if I told the truth they would see self harm as a valid coping mechanism and I really don’t want to pass that on to them.

I try to own my emotional states by saying to them things like “I’m having a hard day today. If I’m grumpy, it’s not because of anything you’ve done”, or “Sorry, I’m knackered/in a bad mood, it’s not you.” I try my hardest, and manage well to not take my struggles out on them; that’s part of breaking the cycle. I try and limit my negative self-talk around them, but at times it’s really hard to keep that running commentary inside. Because of them knowing a lot of stuff that other kids their age haven’t generally come across yet, we talk openly about all sorts of things. They know they can ask me anything and I will do my best to be honest with what I know.

It took me a while to fully grasp the SD bit of PTSD, but that has been very useful to get my head around. I find stress very difficult to manage and understanding the physiological basis of that has helped me to take it more seriously. It’s not all ‘in my head’, well it is, but deep in the physiology of my brain. Fully grasping that has helped me prioritize keeping my stress levels as low as possible because that’s when I function at my best, which is what I want to be for my kids.

It’s hard to keep on top of, but at least I recognize what’s happening now and can try and do something about it. Finding out about PTSD was a big “ping” moment leading to a shift in how I perceive myself. I blamed myself for not coping better, for being a middle aged adult who’d had some good experiences, but still couldn’t ‘get over it’, still re-living parts of my childhood daily. I thought it was all my fault for being weak and unable to cope when everyone else was just getting on with it.

I thought I ‘let’ the past rule my present and to not be able to transcend it highlighted my weakness of mind. And anyway, loads of people have had loads more difficult experiences than me and they do ok, so why don’t I just stop fussing about it. It led me on to reading about trauma and discovering the work of Babette Rothschild, Pete Walker, Bessel Van Der Kolk, which again was a revelation to me, and let me off the hook some more for why all these memories were still so raw and unprocessed in my body.

It’s very much work in progress and self hate is my most easily accessible emotion. I wish I could do so much better than I do. I guess that’s a thing I find really hard about parenting – that wish that I could be the mum I imagined I could be before I had them. I wish I was able to be fully present, to share their joy and spontaneity more, to take them out on trips instead of needing to stay within my comfort zone, to have attracted a wider support network including other children to substitute for lack of biological family. I wish I had the resources to get male role models on board. I do my best, but the reality is, it often isn‘t good enough. It’s limited and a bit barren at times when I wanted it to be full of vitality and colour.

Part of me believes I don’t deserve my kids, especially as I actively (as a lesbian) chose to have them. I feel that I wouldn’t have passed the test if there was one, and I certainly don’t live up to my own expectations. I remember the heartbreaking moment of realization that “breaking the cycle” was beyond me, that I was damaging my kids with the sharp edges of my own brokenness.

But then I see parents out and about casually humiliating their kids or being really disrespectful and I think at least mine don’t have to put up with that. My psychologist, who used to work in forensics, said to me last week “It’s not all those other people you should be comparing yourself to, it’s the people locked up on secure wards who’ve had more similar experiences to you. You’re doing fantastically.” And that’s hard to hear, hard to let in, hard to think about those people with no freedom as a result of having messed up childhoods, but part of me feels reassured by that. Maybe I am doing ok; maybe my kids will grow into relatively unscathed, content men.

Self compassion and forgiveness are things I’m still trying to make friends with, but being an introvert, I spend most of the time in my safe cold corner with my back to them. It’s hard to believe I am worthy, it’s hard to get over my deep ambivalence and let go of the self hatred as it feels like my identity is founded on it, and what would I be without foundations?

Part of me thinks that to be compassionate to myself would mean feeling the pain of all that happened instead of the hard faced denial which keeps me at a safer distance from it. But another part of me wants to feel more whole, wants to find life easier and feel less alone and less alien, and I know that can’t happen until I stop nursing this fetid resentment towards myself.

In terms of celebrating the good work I am doing as a parent – I am always open to learning from my children. I tell them many times a day how much I love them. I apologize when I mess up. I so want the best for them and do whatever I can to support them. I try to own my “stuff.”

A recent parenting success took a long time to unfold, but I feel really glad to have got there. My boys, aged 9 and nearly 12, are arguing a lot at the moment, petty bickering which can turn into full on fighting. I find it really stressful, and cannot relax or tune out, I’m vigilant around it and without realizing have assumed they experience it similarly. It has been hard not to react to them from a place of stress “Will you stop arguing, it’s really stressing me out” or, “Ok, it’s bedtime if you two are too tired to get along.”

The other day they were playing a long game of Monopoly whilst I was doing various jobs in the kitchen and I noticed my stress levels rising as they bickered constantly. But then I kept noticing that they were still playing the game quite amicably together, and I fully realized something which has been gradually dawning on me. My associations with conflict are that it will soon turn to violence, which is why I find it so intolerable, but I realized they experience it in a completely different way – that it is part of a normal range of communication for them. When I acknowledged this, it felt like a real breakthrough and I was able to let go of my vigilance and stress around it, and leave them to get on with it. And then of course I realized my vigilance and stress added nothing useful to the situation anyway!

Another time, a few weeks ago, I was feeling very triggered by their arguing, which had got physical and I felt like I would explode with the stress of it; I couldn’t think what to do to help them. I felt like shouting out my frustration and punishing them, but I knew that wouldn’t help, so instead I made hot chocolate and toast and invited them in to my bed for a story and they soon made friends. I feel a lot of compassion for them, and it feels so good when I get it right.

I would say that’s one of my parenting strengths – a willingness to look at myself and see what past things I might be bringing into a situation in order to prevent projecting things onto them or blaming them for things which are more to do with me. Sometimes it takes me a while to get there.


Bio: Frieda Blenkinslop is a single lesbian mum living in the UK with her two energetic boys, 9 and nearly 12. Her dream job is running the Nurture Room in a primary school, working with children who struggle with their behaviour. Frieda is currently working on completing a counseling course and enjoys running a couple of times a week to shake up her mood. You can follow Frieda on her personal blog: notesfromthelooneybin.

Survivors Empowering Survivors

How Can This Be Funny? Using Humor to Heal

Kelly Wilson possesses one of the most powerful healing tools that any survivor can own — a sense of humor. The reality is that survivors struggle through dark moments and dark days, but that doesn’t mean that fear and depression hold our personalities captive. We are a community of men and women that are very often in tune with laughter and joy, because we have survived more misery and suffering than most. I already knew Kelly was an incredibly talented woman, but after reading her post Beating PTSD with Awesome Stand Up Comedy, and watching her hilarious stand-up videos (You gotta watch! Links at bottom of post), I knew I had to beg ask her to be a part of the #SurvivorsEmpoweringSurvivors series. Today, Kelly challenges us to channel our inner twisted senses of humor, and use laughter to take back the control.


Kelly-Wilson-headshotAfter I had my oldest child, I knew I was a writer. After I had my youngest child, I knew I was funny.

My oldest child, who is now thirteen years old, was born in a tornado of trauma that threatened both our lives. After a few days when it was certain we would both live, I discovered that my best friend had also had her baby in the midst of trauma. However, her baby died.

The confusion and grief that followed this news was overwhelming. As I trekked to and from the hospital each day to visit my oldest child in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, I found myself processing our near-death and healing through a filter that included immense grief for my best friend.

Everything that everybody said to me – regardless of the comfort that they intended – made me question my foundational philosophies and faith. If someone said I was blessed because my child had lived, I questioned if that meant that my friend was being punished. As another person said that my trauma was somehow part of God’s plan, I wondered what kind of God would take babies from their mothers. This was the tip of the iceberg.

During that year of being a new mom and getting very little sleep and wondering if I was going to make it, the only way I could avoid drowning in depression and hopelessness was to write. I had always been a writer, even as a kid. I wrote pages and pages of earnest questions and my changing ways of thinking, even as my fingers trembled and my heart fluttered in my chest.

About two and a half years later, I was pregnant with my youngest child and placed on mandatory hospital bed rest. I was in the hospital for 28 days – which I joked was as long as rehab without all the “perks” – because my uterus had sprung a leak and my baby kept sitting on the umbilical cord and cutting of his supply of oxygen. Every day was gambling on whether leaving the baby in the womb was safer than taking him via emergency c-section, and he still had eight weeks to cook.

I wrote about those experiences as well, and those stories have a certain twisted humor about them because I was trapped in a hospital and my baby’s life was threatened every day and let’s face it – I was going a bit crazy.

Kelly CFC-front-coverIt wasn’t too many years later that I decided to write a book about my experiences with grief and trauma, particularly how the nature of grief is cyclical and that the stages of grief theory hadn’t really helped me as I had expected. It was a very somber, earnest, and real look at the nature of the grief process from a survivor of abuse who had undergone a significant amount of trauma before finally breaking down.

It was also boring. As I shopped it around, an agent asked me, “Memoirs are a dime a dozen. What makes yours different? What makes you different?”

People of all ages had told me for years that I was funny. I cracked jokes without even meaning to, and especially in inappropriate times and places. I had just completed a stand-up comedy class and hadn’t done too badly, if I do say so myself.

Could I make this grief memoir funny? Was it even possible to make fun of trauma?

I went back through early versions of my stories to see if I had culled out the funniest parts, the segments that I thought may be too “offensive” or misunderstood.

Sure enough, I found them – what turned out to be the best parts of my book.

kelly stand-up-for-blog2

The brain is hard-wired for humor, we just don’t understand why or how. And while neuroscience is just beginning to understand the importance of humor in treating trauma and mental illness, I have plenty of personal experience and anecdotes to encourage others to at least try it as part of a larger treatment plan.

When I hang out at comedy clubs and hear other comics, I learn a lot about comedy and I leave feeling better than when I arrived. When I recognize that something is funny – especially when I’m angry or in pain, usually about my PTSD, depression, or anxiety – I write it down and feel more control. After I took a series of Improv classes at a local theater, my depression started to lift more frequently and I started to feel more even.

To me, making humor out of grief and trauma and mental illness is a no-brainer. Not to say that all of us need to take the stage and become stand-up comedians. But seeing our traumatic experiences through the lens of comedy can certainly help inject some light into those dark places where we need to hide, and make our trips into the darkness shorter and easier to manage.

Watch more videos here.

Bio:

Kelly Wilson is an author and comedian who entertains and inspires with stories of humor, healing, and hope. She is the author of Live Cheap and Free, Don’t Punch People in the Junk, and Caskets From Costco.

As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, Kelly writes and speaks about finding hope in the process of recovery. Through both stand-up and improv comedy, she brings laughter to audiences of all ages using a wide range of subject matter, including silly songs, parenting stories, and jokes and anecdotes revolving around mental health issues.

Kelly Wilson currently writes for a living and lives with her Magically Delicious husband, junk-punching children, dog, cat, and stereotypical minivan in Portland, Oregon. Read more about her at www.wilsonwrites.com.

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Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6548683.Kelly_Wilson

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Amazon Author Page – http://www.amazon.com/Kelly-Wilson/e/B0030ZX24S

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Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/kelly-wilson-i