Healing the Inner Storyteller

This post will be about the journey to discover the story that is The Library at the End of the Universe. This world, this magical library almost never existed. The idea first came to me sometime in 2015. I was living in NYC at the time, and was in some dangerous situations that I am still learning and healing from. Gaslighting, coupled with emotional isolation and sexual abuse does not make for a place where creativity can thrive. It took me years to realize that perhaps the reason all of my previous attempts to write a book had failed was not because I was fundamentally flawed, but that was simply surviving. Every choice I made toward the end of my time in NYC helped me survive and thrive, but the first step of that journey I am still on was to leave. Leaving almost always in the first step, and the most painful.

I began to see ideas for what is now becoming The Library at the End of the Universe when I was in that negative, all-consuming headspace. I was somewhere in between empowered, terrified, and stubborn. There was a part of me that was angry, wanted to grab the person who had spent months gaslighting me and attempting to convince me that I wanted him sexually and strangle them. This rage toward this person consumed me so much that, for the first time in my life, I failed to see the beauty in the world. If I could no longer see the beauty in the world, how could I trust myself to write a book–any book, especially one that exists in a place as magical as the Library of Thoughts?

If I had been diagnosed with autism at a younger age, I am almost 100% certain that I would’ve been given the tools and words for the abuses that I endured. I would’ve recognized the red flags when they presented themselves: older men giving attention and offering help when no help was asked for, or saying they see you like a daughter while ogling your body amongst others. I missed so many red flags when I was masking. Society needed me to mask as an untraumatized talented and gifted child, so I caulked up the holes in my trauma, buried them deeper. My traumas were buried so deep that even I couldn’t tell you the full story of what happened to me. Memories from the age of 7-12 were almost non-existant. I simply did not remember, and when I do, it was often accompanied by a soul-deep pain and feeling of intense inadequacy.

While I was living in that pain, in that intense identity-crisis state of impostordom, it was impossible to see or create beauty, yet I tried anyway. I tried despite the pain, despite the fear, despite the trauma. I put on my big-girl panties, moved home and began to fix the damage trauma had done to me: around the time I was being gaslit, the symptoms of my Ehlers Danlos Syndrome began to emerge, and coupled with gaslighting’s sharp knife of deceit, I got down to 85 pounds. I was a shell of the woman I was when I moved to NYC back in 2013.

Upon returning home in May of 2015 I began to seek answers. I was stuck in survival mode, merely existing and attempting to hang on to my inner storyteller. It took me years to realize that I was hanging on to something that no longer existed. My inner storyteller was traumatized, and often held back the pain to prevent me from feeling the full extent of it. I owe Her an immense debt of gratitude for that. It was time for me to focus on Her, heal her so that I could begin work on the novel that had been living in my head for years rent free.

Around 2018 I began experiential therapy after regular talked therapy had done little to heal my deeper inner trauma. I worked with a fantastic therapist, David Bell, to uncover old wounds and new ones, and to unravel how everything was related. David introduced me to something called Internal Family Systems therapy which finally helped me put into the words just how the trauma impacted me. For a person on the autism spectrum, for someone who has a hard time recognizing emotions in the heat of the moment, this was huge. This was a watershed moment for my recovery, and is the thing that enabled me to face my ADHD, my trauma, my autism and my brain head-on.

For those curious, Internal Family Systems is an approach to therapy that focuses on parts work. The idea that we are all comprised of parts, and there are no bad parts. These parts are either protectors, exiles, or firefighters. Protectors protect our inner child, and our inner wounds. These protectors may self-sabotage in an attempt to protect, but our brain always has a good intention. Unraveling that intention, and facing the exile face to face with all of the knowledge and compassion that our current self has in that moment can lead to groundbreaking changes. For me, one of the protectors was protecting my inner storyteller.

After all the years of abuse, gaslighting, and shame my inner storyteller was rightfully exhausted. It took looking the part in the eye, and showing Her my future to truly begin to heal: engaged, happy, healthy, working full-time at Custom Ink, getting to call many coworkers true friends. Showing them who wasn’t there: the bullies, the teachers who shamed me, family who’d abused me. I showed my Inner Storyteller all of the people who were there: my fiance, coworkers, friends, my therapist. After 7 years, after all of the healing, I was finally able to make some major headway with building the world I’d started creating during a moment of isolation in 2015.

I hope you all will join me in seeing this idea to completion.

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