How Do Writing and Healing Come Together for You? #8

by Matilda Butler on May 15, 2011

Writing and Healing LogoPost #15 – Women’s Memoirs, Writing and Healing – Kendra Bonnett and Matilda Butler



Finding Healing through Writing

The article we are publishing today, by Carmen Ambrosio, examines her experiences with writing as one aspect of the healing process in her life. She journaled for many years but, as you’ll see, uses writing to help her through her struggle with multiple sclerosis. As with all of our writing and healing blogs we hope this helps you look as ways that you can use writing to find healing in your life whether through journaling, memoir writing or other formats and genres.

Have you found that writing is healing? If so, we invite you to send us your story of how writing has been a form of healing for you. Some find healing through journaling. Others find healing through writing their memoir. Perhaps there are other ways that writing has been healing for you. Just email between 200-600 words (or longer if you contact us first) to: Matilda (at) WomensMemoirs (dot) com. We are interested in publishing your thoughts on writing and healing on this website — either with your name or anonymously, your choice.

WRITING AND HEALING

Carmen Ambrosio

I write to enter the pocked landscape of what I was and am.

For many years, my journals resembled anger and hurt chronicles–logs of loss, frustrations and disappointments. Few lines of happiness or hope existed within. Those paper journals evolved unintentionally into a safe place for me to vent.

When I decided to start work on my memoir, I was determined to be more upbeat. I quickly concluded that citing funny moments exclusively was disingenuous. If I omitted difficult experiences, my memoir would be shallow, saccharine, incomplete and untrue. That was not my intention at all. Clearly, context and back story were required.

I decided to begin my book near 1991, one of the most pivotal years of my life. In May of that year, my father died of prostate and bone cancer. Five months later, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

Giving voice to emotions and memories, unspoken and unwritten for too long, and the ruts those events left, was extremely hard for me. Weeks passed before I was content with the chapters I had written. Initially, I could not articulate the voids. The scars are old yet remain painful and relatively raw. I had entombed the hurts of that year and deliberately shoved them far beneath all other feelings and experiences to permit me to function in the years since.

I found it almost impossible to revisit old (or more recent) pain without feelings of devastation resurfacing. Returning to 1991 felt like digging into blue ice and marrow. For now, I know that describing the feelings and sensations were necessary and worthwhile. In order to diminish the grief, I needed and wanted to retell how I escaped and dismantled emotional prisons of anger and denial that my father’s death and my diagnosis wrought. The passages which appear in my published memoir, however revealing, are merely brush strokes and word winds. Perhaps, someday I will write more.

My book includes descriptions of personal talismans and rituals that help me to cope: laughter, tears, hugs, gratitude, meditation, music and time with what I call my Scaffolding Team. I continue to search for ways to deal with the certainty of uncertainty inherent in having a condition like MS.

I think writing to heal takes courage, strength and honesty to delve into the gamut of unpleasantness, absurdities and indignities; to recognize all sizes and sources of joy; and to recover and renew hope. I have attempted to examine a broad spectrum of my own past in hopes of inspiring similar introspections and excavations by others.

Until a cause and cure is found for MS, we are told by doctors with their prescribed fluids, pills, probes, theories and tests, to expect partial healing at best, or a worst fate.

I, pen in hand, or fingers atop the keyboard before me, seek additional and periodic introspective forays inside. I reach for my journal especially when symptoms arise. And, I brace myself for life quakes that may leave my life shattered or cracked, fissured. I have moved from anger and denial to acceptance, but not defeat.

Hope is the sustenance that fuels and compels me to give voice, to try to mend my mind-body-spirit—all—one, as best I can. Thus I write.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Carmen Ambrosio is the author of Life Continues: Facing the Challenges of MS, Menopause & Midlife with Hope, Courage & Humor [This is the link to the Kindle version and the book cover on the left is the link to the print version.]

Carmen is contributing a portion of all books sold throughout 2011 to multiple sclerosis research at the Buffalo Neuroimaging Analysis Center (BNAC).

Visit www.bnac.net to learn about the CCSVI Treatment study.

You can reach Carmen Ambrosio through her website: www.ambrosart.com
Right Thought, Right Time™

{ 1 trackback }

Writing to Heal Takes Courage, Strength, and Honesty | Kat Collins
September 13, 2012 at

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Susan Weidener May 15, 2011 at

Dear Carmen,

I have no doubt you have encouraged the “introspections” and “excavations” of other women writers with your memoir. Writing is a statement of hope and a way to heal. Women are waiting for other women to offer honesty, courage and belief in their voice . . . so that they too can write the truth of their stories.

Carmen Ambrosio May 16, 2011 at

Thank you, Susan. I’ve surprised myself by baring more of my soul in my memoir than I expected. Once the book was finished, the relief and release I felt like were opening windows and filling my spirit with fresh air.

Pamela Jane May 23, 2011 at

Dear Carmen,

Thank you so much for your essay on writing and healing, and the ways you faced challenges in your life with courage and humor. It requires courage and resilience not only to begin but to complete and publish a memoir like yours. I’m sure it’s given you and you readers much hope and inspiration.

Pamela

Tiffany May 24, 2011 at

Thank you for this intimate and inspiring essay on how you write to heal. I myself am not a writer but I have so much admiration and respect for you and other writers. I recently read Dean Smart’s memoir Skylights and Screen Doors and he had a beautiful quote: “I wanted to heal myself through writing. I wanted to be freed from the images and the pain that I have lived with since the murder. I wanted to right the wrongs of my life, so I decided to “write” the wrongs instead, hoping to purify myself and heal through writing.” I wanted to share that with you. Much peace to you.

Carmen Ambrosio May 25, 2011 at

Pamela and Tiffany,
I appreciate your comments and the quote you shared. My latest challenge is one writers face all the time: what to write next? I thrive on Vitamin L (laughter) so I think I will begin there.

Terry June 19, 2011 at

Carmen, I think you bare more of your soul in this essay than in your memoir (although I realize it may not feel that way to you). It is great that you are continuing to write. I look forward to reading more!

Carmen Ambrosio June 23, 2011 at

Hi and thanks, Terry.

Jan October 24, 2011 at

I fully agree with you. Writing is a way to deal with life in a more indepth way. We only write enough when our pain has diminished or been released. Writing is a form of healing just like popping an aspirin can release a headache. Good work and yes, keep writing.

Carmen Ambrosio November 2, 2011 at

Hi and thank you, Jan.

Still writing,
Carmen

Kat Collins September 13, 2012 at

I just bought the book! I can’t wait to read it. I’m stuck in the middle of writing my memoir and realized I’m more afraid of sharing it with the public than I thought. My goal is to persevere in the hopes that I can fully heal, and help others heal.

Carmen Ambrosio October 2, 2012 at

Hi, Kat:

I think all memoir writers have similar moments of angst–should I? shouldn’t I? why the heck not? It’s your life and your book. Hearing from readers who find life events you share as beneficial made me glad I bared as much as I did. Please let me know when you publish your memoir.

Take care,
Carmen

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