I tell people right away that I’m a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, but I didn’t used to. I held that shame and fear of judgment in tightly for years, a filmy veil of anxiety separating me from everyone else. I didn’t feel I could really get close to friends or even lovers, always holding back this ugly secret. If anyone saw the real me, the tainted, used me, they wouldn’t want to pursue any kind of relationship.
It’s a common mindset after trauma – to be in victim mode and not even realize it. Total nonsense, of course, because I’m awesome. Ha! But this is what shame tells you, one of many horrific stories we learn to believe.
Therapy and meds helped me a lot to overcome those lies, but the damage is incredibly deep, it never truly leaves us. I moved from victim to survivor, but it took a lot of work, and if I’m totally honest with you right now, I still argue with myself sometimes; I minimize, or tell myself that it could’ve been worse, which is just so incredibly fucked up. How much worse would it have to be? I was only 11 when a man stole away my childhood…and then he came back for more.
Eventually, I found the courage to write and share my story, despite the voices in my head telling me to shut the hell up, that nobody would care to read about yet another victim, that talking about something that happened 30-plus years ago would be seen by total strangers as a pathetic bid for attention (when truly, who cares? It’s my story, dammit, and I matter).
I moved beyond surviving into thriving. Writing, no publishing, my story, became such a huge part of my recovery, I truly had no idea the impact on so many others and myself.
That’s where I changed my paradigm and fooled that wretched little voice: I made friends with Shame. She’s been with me longer than almost anyone, and she has a lot to say, too. So, I let her speak, and Broken Pieces was born. I released it in 2013 and it’s still #1 on Amazon’s Women’s Poetry list, #2 on Women Authors, and Top 20 in all of Memoirs, which blows me away.
It’s won gosh, like 10 awards, but more importantly gave rise to a huge community of survivors, and that means more to me than anything else! #SexAbuseChat (every Tuesday at 6pm pst/9pm est) on Twitter with survivor and licensed therapist Bobbi Parish, the #NoMoreShame Project Anthologies (published by the Gravity Imprint of Booktrope), and a 100+ person strong private survivor support group I moderate on Facebook are all the result of that first book. So is the Gravity Imprint!
Broken Places followed in 2015, with more amazing reviews, awards, and top rankings. I’m writing the final Broken book now, Broken People, for a Winter release from Booktrope. Apparently, Shame still has more to say.
I’m still just as busy as ever with writing, business, publishing, my advocacy work for other survivors, and most importantly, being a mom. Beyond surviving, I’m now thriving, though with occasional triggers, I stumble my way back.
My kids vaguely know something bad happened when I was younger – my son will be 11 in September. He’s very protective of his mama, and I love that about him. I’m raising him to be respectful of all women, including his almost-17-year-old sister with whom he bickers constantly over the Xbox and Squeakers, our girl cat. He has a lot of females in the house to learn from!
The lessons are there, though, and that’s what matters; I tell them both often, “you get what you give, and you give what you get.” Give mad, get mad; give compassion, get compassion. Him: Give money, get money? Me: Welcome to Capitalism (and book marketing).
I survived, and now I thrive, because I give what I get.
Rachel Thompson is the author of newly released Broken Places (one of IndieReader’s “Best of 2015” top books and 2015 Honorable Mention Winner in the San Francisco Book Festival), and the multi award-winning Broken Pieces, as well as two additional humor books, A Walk In The Snark and Mancode: Exposed. Rachel is published and represented by Booktrope.
She owns BadRedhead Media, creating effective social media and book marketing campaigns for authors. Her articles appear regularly in The Huffington Post, The San Francisco Book Review (BadRedhead Says…), 12Most.com, bitrebels.com, BookPromotion.com, and Self-Publishers Monthly.
Not just an advocate for sexual abuse survivors, Rachel is the creator and founder of the hashtag phenomenon #MondayBlogs and the live Twitter chat, #SexAbuseChat, co-hosted with certified therapist/survivor, Bobbi Parish. She is also the director of the Gravity Imprint for Booktrope, bringing stories of trauma and recovery (fiction and nonfiction) to life. Read more about the Gravity authors and their books here.
She hates walks in the rain, running out of coffee, and coconut. She lives in California with her family.
Author Site: rachelintheoc.com
BadRedhead Media Site: badredheadmedia.com
Twitter (Business): @BadRedheadMedia
Facebook Broken Pieces Fan Page:https://www.facebook.com/BrokenPiecesByRachelThompson
Facebook (Business): https://www.facebook.com/BadRedheadMedia
Author Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/j9oaH
BadRedhead Media Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/koN8r
16 responses to “Guest Post: This is the Reason Writing Your Story Helps You Thrive by Rachel Thompson”
Everybody benefits by telling their story, even the supposedly “normal”. Growing up I got to listen to Studs Terkel interviewing (His home base was WFMT in Chicago). He believed that everybody has a story to tell that is worth hearing. He interviewed everyone who would let him, from Presidents and entertainers to factory workers, welfare mothers, and Skid Row “bums”. He was kind and encouraging in listening even to people with whom he hugely disagreed – no “gotchyas” or argument. And they all did have a story to tell, we all do. Great post – reblogging
Thank you for your comment and the share. 🙂
Thank you for sharing that, Robert! I always heard his name growing up and I love that you listened to him. I truly believe that as well. When I hear people discourage others about writing (that they’re not ‘good’ enough), I balk — some may not be as talented as another, but that doesn’t make them any less deserving to share their story with the world.
Thank you for sharing, also. I so appreciate you and all your amazing support. xx
Reblogged this on cabbagesandkings524 and commented:
A Must Read
This gives me goosebumps, because it’s so true.
“I survived, and now I thrive, because I give what I get.”
We are taught at young age to hide the shame, don’t let anyone know. People like yourself that are brave enough to step out into the light and share it – changes it for everyone. Somewhere there is a lost soul reading this and getting the courage to speak out. Thank you ❤
firstname.lastname@example.org – Rachel is such an inspiration for so many of us. She’s awesome! ❤ Thank you for your comment.
Thank you, SA. We are taught that about shame, though i believe much of it is instinct as well — we hide it because it feels so foreign and wrong, so we feel isolated and bad. Those feelings are so complicated for young children, and many people never resolve them (probably why addiction is so common in survivors — 80%!).
As always, my goal in writing my truth is to help others, not make a ‘ton o’ money’ so I truly hope someone reads this and can identify. Hugs, girl.
this is powerful. Thank you.
“That’s where I changed my paradigm and fooled that wretched little voice: I made friends with Shame. She’s been with me longer than almost anyone, and she has a lot to say, too. So, I let her speak”
I love that.
Love and Light to you and yours. Thank you for your voice.
She’s an amazing writer, isn’t she. 😃
Beyond amazing XO
Oh, thank you Nicole! It helped me so much to dig deeply into Shame and personify her. Most people hate Shame, but I figured, I need to embrace the shame, learn about it, explore it. What a growth experience that has been for me.
Love and light back, my lovely.
My own journey of healing from childhood abuses (verbal and sexual) took an interesting detour when I started using hypnotherapy as a healing tool. I’ve had some otherworldly experiences (an angel came and healed shame) and several epiphanies and deep healing experiences, using that modality. It’s part of what I write about. In fact, I’ve healed so much about my abuse, that I barely identify with the victim I used to me. These days, I talk openly about being sexually abused, with close friends. But my older brother, who molested me for about 2 years until I got pregnant, has chosen to keep the whole thing a deep dark secret (as our father dictated several decades ago), so his wife and family don’t know. If his family finds out, it will rock their world because they are not where I am, as far as dealing with it all. And the more I heal, the less I care about things like that. I love the idea of putting the whole healing journey down into a book. One day… For now, I blog about it (but not a lot about the sexual abuse… yet); mostly about healing from the verbal abuse my mother took out on me due to her mental illness. So great to have discovered your blog!!
Thank you for sharing. I’m so sorry this happened to you, but so glad you’ve found peace and your voice.
I’m so glad you’ve found peace through hypnotherapy, Mariner. That’s amazing, and what a wonderful therapy to share with people. How awful it was your brother — I suppose he has his own demons to deal with. Focusing on your own recovery is so healthy! Good on you.
Sending continued healing vibes your way. xx
Thank you for sharing. I’m so sorry that happened to you, but thankful you’ve been able to find peace and your voice.
Thank you for your heartfelt story. I admire you for speaking up.