RE-MEMBERING – Structure for recovery and trauma memoirs

At our recent memoir and life writing retreat I came across an article in Womankind magazine about Gloria Anzaldua’s theory of the stages in reconstructing self after trauma. And blow me down if it didn’t also work for structuring trauma memoirs! I’m not saying it’s the only way to heal or that the stages of recovery or stages of a memoir need to follow this order, but for anyone struggling with either trauma or finding a structure for the writing of traumatic events, I hope this will help.

GLORIA ANZALDUA

As with the stages of grieving first put forward by Elisabeth Kubler Ross, there is often a to-ing and fro-ing between stages or phases of emotional growth, sometimes all in one day.

However, a familiarity with how other people have found the experience and stages to identify can be most useful. And for writers having some kind of structure, any kind, is very welcome, especially when grappling with wrestling real-life trauma onto the page.

TRAUMA MEMOIR STRUCTURE IN 7 EASY STEPS!

  1. THE EARTHQUAKE – this is it! The trauma hits and our world is turned upside down. The story we’ve been telling ourselves about ourselves is destroyed and our old beliefs and identity collapses.
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  • LYING IN A HEAP – this is when we’re lying in the debris of our old lives, not knowing who we are anymore. Not knowing which way to turn. We may try to pretend that nothing has changed, we may try to return to who we were before, the lives we used to lead, but find it is no longer possible.
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  • ROCK BOTTOM – we realise the damage has been done and there is no going back to who we were. We are stuck, unable to move, unable to find a way forward. We have fallen to pieces and can see no way to stick ourselves together again.
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  • CALL TO ACTION –  you break free from your old ways of coping and reconnect with spirit. We let go of all that no longer serves us and begin to see a way ahead.
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  • RECONSTRUCTING OURSELVES – now is the stage where we collect all those thousands of little pieces we fell into and attempt to put them back together again. Not as the old “us” but a new creation made from the same stuff rearranged, re- membered.
  • THE BLOW UP – returning to the world and reconnecting with others as our new selves.
  • EXPRESSION – here we experiment with our new reality and new self, expressing ourselves in creative activities – writing, art, dance music, healing, teaching, spiritual activism.

 If you’re writing a trauma memoir you’re in stage 7! YAY! I can certainly relate to all these stages and applaud all of you who, like me and Gloria, have picked up all those mixed up, broken pieces of yourself off the floor and created a brave new you and wonderful new life filled with creative expression.

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Creativity is a powerful tool for healing emotional pain. Write it all out, paint it, dance it, play it on a guitar, whichever way works for you. Create beauty from the pain. 

Let me know if this structure is helpful to you, in understanding your own trauma journey, or for structuring your trauma memoir. I hope it works for both!

With lots of love

Edwina xxx

LIFE WRITING AND MEMOIR RETREAT – October 21 – 23 2022 Springbrook QLD.

Put yourself in this picture 🙂

This is the view from the top of our very own waterfall (well it’s not really ours, it belongs to the the Yugambeh people of the land, we just get to admire it for a weekend) situated just a short walk from our cosy nun rooms on retreat at the Theosophical Society Education and Retreat Centre in Springbrook in the beautiful rainforest of the Gold Coast hinterland.

I love this retreat centre for its calming peaceful energy and the blessing of the beautiful women seekers who grace the walls in the dining hall.

This retreat is specially designed to help you write that memoir or life story and is beneficial for anyone wanting to get some of their stories out of their heads and onto the page. The workshops include lots of writing activities with prompts for writing from life, as well as helpful advice and methods to begin structuring your memoir. Life is huge! How do we organise it to make it a compelling read for others?

Let me show you how.

Come along and join the fun of retreat. Prices include two gentle yoga sessions, four writing workshops covering all aspects of writing from life, all meals and cosy single accomodation with bathrooms shared between two women. ONLY $480 for the whole weekend!

You can BOOK HERE but remember to check in with me to ensure availability.

Writing can be a lonely business but it needn’t be. Connecting with other writers on the same adventure is one of the greatest joys of the writing life. Treat yourself to some time out of the usual busyness and demands of life. Be inspired by fun creative workshops, relax with some gentle yoga and connect with like minded women in a tranquil natural environment.

Put yourself at the top of your TO DO list for once. Refill your tank and renew your love of writing and life.

With lots of love

Edwina xx