My Story

SELF-HELP THROUGH STORYTELLING


Who would have thought after thirty-four years of marriage that I would come to this chapter in my life? I certainly did not.   I married my college sweetheart, raised three wonderful daughters, and had a successful and fulfilling career.  I had always assumed I would have the normal, fairy-tale marriage, but life has a way of changing the definition of normal.  Or my normal had always been a dysfunctional existence.  I decided to write my story—along with his story—when I realized I needed a self-help book to get me through the challenges that I had been facing:  marriage to an alcoholic, living with a spouse’s PTSD and depression after Vietnam war trauma (and early childhood loss), betrayal, separation, divorce, a husband’s rising mental health issues, tragedy, loss, and grief.  I had previously read several self-help books, but none included reactions to divorce, challenges with PTSD victims and the aftermath of war, or the impact of rising mental health issues on the family.  I appreciate the concepts, theories, and practical applications within the pages of these books, but stories speak to me more.  How many times have I sat in classrooms or conference sessions, bored and restless, until the teacher or speaker began to illustrate his point with a story? How that always perked me up!  As a school psychologist and former mental health therapist, I was bound and determined not to become embittered or see my emotional health decline because of grievous events that had already occurred and were still happening in my life.  I wanted to use my background and education and weave self-help concepts and tips into my storytelling. To relate to and help others. To show others they are not alone. To give them hope. To remind them they can get through this. — January 17, 2019

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WRITING IS CATHARTIC

I sat at my breakfast table and wrote for one solid hour immediately after my husband walked out of our home. I continued to take notes in an effort to analyze my marriage, comprehend our separation along with the pending divorce, and understand his addictive behavior.  I was abruptly halted when I was faced with another tragic event ten months later. My writing continued in full force during the next couple of years. I penned most of my words in an old, gray cabin while seated at a worn, stained, oak table settled in the middle of a sparse kitchen anterior to a screened-in porch. The kitchen windows and the porch screen provided the lens through which my eyes could gaze upon the tranquil view of the Arkansas River Valley, as it lay at the foot of the mountain and fanned out to the eastern horizon. I sat for many hours at that kitchen table in the rustic cabin that belonged to my husband’s family–the cabin is perched on the top edge of his beloved Mount Nebo. I am convinced that I could not have recovered and reached peace had I not let my thoughts and emotions run down my arm into the pen and onto the paper. — January 3, 2019