Post #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
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™