It was four years ago when I decided to set up my personal blog. It was an exciting moment for me because it meant I had finally gathered the courage needed to face my inadequacies and strengths as an aspiring writer.
I wanted to create a platform where I could interact with people that read my stories and articles that I write here and on different other platforms. I wanted to receive feedback from them, take criticism, and grow. And of course it was going to be a great place for me to share my thoughts and adventures. However, somewhere along the way, things changed.
Over the years, I have laid naked a little piece of me with every story, article, poem, video, and picture I have shared. As the years keep going by, more and more people come across my blog and they write to me. Whereas before these conversations focused mostly on reactions to the plots and characters I created, in the recent past, the tone of the conversations turned somewhat serious. Even more so after I shared some articles about a certain tumultuous period in my life. They became very personal and very real.
Since then, I have been receiving hundreds and hundreds of emails from women mostly opening up to me about the problems they have faced (or are still facing) in their marriages and relationships.
All of this happened right around the time I was trying to deal with the aftermath of ‘that period’ which i refuse to discuss over and over again. When I shared my story back then, I wanted to soread a certain message which i think I managed to do. However, by coming out like that, I opened a gate for people in similar situations to reach out to me and share their stories. Since then, I have been listening and listening. And the more I listened, the deeper I fell into the hell hole I was desperately trying to get myself out. Eventually, I crumbled.
I was attacked by a little bug called Vicarious Trauma.
Vicarious Trauma, also known as secondary traumatic stress is the indirect trauma that occurs when one “is exposed to difficult or disturbing images and stories second-hand.”
I was not even aware that I was falling further down the sunken place until I found myself in a very brief relationship with someone that demanded too much emotional support from me that left me literally drained of all emotions and energy to want to fall in-love ever again. It was then that I realized I had no more love and care left in me to give those that needed it the most from me. I took a step back and sought professional help.
The road to recovery wasn’t a smooth sail, obviously. Somewhere along the way I stopped blogging and abandoned all other projects I used to take on for fun and solely focused on professional writing that did not demand any sort of emotional commitment. I despised ‘peopling’ – hanging out with friends or family. LOL.
I would lock myself in my room and quietly prayed for the whole world to disappear. And through all this I kept listening and listening to those that reached out to me. In my work, I continued studying, researching and writing about the daily lives and challenges faced by women past and present. It was in the midst of this huge storm that I found the inspiration to write a book, Echoes of Betrayal.
Echoes is a book that endeavors to give a voice to all the emotions and thoughts that people that have experienced betrayal go through (perspectives of both the betrayer and the betrayed). It delves into the deepest parts of our souls and echoes those emotions and thoughts we wish people would know without us having to tell them. Every detail in the action, dialogue, and narration is as seen and experienced from the point of view of the narrator telling that specific story. Though fictional,most of the stories in Echoes were inspired by real life situations or issues faced by many in the communities we live in.
There are always two sides to every story. In my inspiration to tell these stories and complete this book, I had to undertake some deep research; having intimate conversations with couples,extended family, children, and even friends. I also had to conduct interviews with counselors, pastors, etc. And of course I had to do a lot of reading as well.
Naturally, given the nature of the stories I am telling in this book,I found myself disappearing into a very complex world that I had no business being in given the state of my mind at that time. I eventually made the decision to step back from the book and resume only after I had fixed the mayhem in my head. And I finally did!
I am really looking forward to finalizing the publication of Echoes of Betrayal. I hope you are too!
Back to dealing with Vicarious trauma, I struggled with it for a while because I am not a professional counselor and yet I inadvertently found myself in a position where I had to listen to people share their stories because they trusted me. I might have taken psychological studies during university and I might have been trained in psycho-social counselling in my line of work but the fact still remains that I am not a professional shrink. No one ever taught me how to deal with the stories and the images I encounter in my line of work and right here on my blog.
I have come to learn that in as much as I love listening to others, I ought to take care of myself along the way. Because of constantly listening to dark and sordid situations faced by others and constantly putting myself in the position of both sympathy and empathy, I slowly learnt how to shut down my own emotions and allowed those of others to engulf me. Every now and then I find myself feeling sad, enraged, and sometimes I even find myself crying when there is absolutely nothing wrong with my own life. I detach myself from others, resent certain people I encounter through transference, and I avoid relationships that demand emotional commitment from me.
These days I take very long walks to unwind and refresh my mind. I meditate and listen to classical music. I dance more and I exercise whenever I can. I have made it a point to have a very active social life, to make new friends, to relentlessly chase my dreams, and to smile and laugh more. I enjoy siting by the waterfront and watching the sun set. I would definitely love to watch the sun rise but I am too lazy to wake up that early in the morning. And yes, I do pray, quiet often actually.
This is why I encourage everyone that is or has found themselves in a similar position as mine to do the same. Take a break and feed your soul with some positivity!
My inbox is still very much open to those in need of a listening ear. Please do keep the emails and messages coming. And those with more effective tips on how to unwind, refresh and empty the mind, please do share with me and I will make sure to feed my soul with more and more positive energy!