A holistic approach to recovering from trauma. Creative writing is increasingly becoming a go-to method for trauma recovery. There is great power in the written word, and even more so when those words are our own. Journaling provides a cathartic release of emotions because it allows us to not only process past experiences but also reflect on how we’re feeling in the present moment. In this way, writing is one of the most easily accessible self-care practices.
Give voice to what has been silenced. Healing from trauma can be a slow and painful process, especially for sexual trauma survivors, who are often shamed into keeping their experience to themselves. This companion journal to Jen Cross's book Writing Ourselves Whole is a space to put the pain on a page, and in doing so, release the hold it has on us and restore our bodies and minds.
Creativity as a tool for change. Trauma and violence leave a distinct mark on our lives, one that is not easily erased. Writing on our own or with a community or group can be an extremely transformative process for creating change both within ourselves and socially. It encourages discussions about mental and emotional health that lead to finding more approaches to healing.
Jen Cross has worked with sexual trauma survivors for over fifteen years and founded an organization that is devoted to creating spaces for survivors to write and talk about their experiences. In this self-help journal, you will find:
- A 60-day guided journey to healing from your experience
- Sixteen writing exercises that gently prompt writers deeper into their experiences and into renewal
- Follow-up readings, additional exercises, and suggested uses for your writing
If you’ve worked through books such as Start Where You Are, Healing the Wounded Heart, and Present, Not Perfect then Our Words Restore Us will provide further support and restoration for your healing process.
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About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Excerpt from Our Words Restore UsOur words restore us, and our writing can restory our lives.
In a quiet morning bedroom, on the bus or subway on the way to work or school, in the laundromat while waiting for the spin cycle to complete, at a kitchen table, at innumerable cafesover and lover, throughout the country, around the world, people are sitting down to write.
Early morning, over lunch breaks, during the wee hours of the night: we who have experienced something that interrupted our sense of ourselves, we who have been irrevocably harmed or violated, we who experienced something so outside our normal, our understanding of ourselves, that we lost even the language to try and express itwe are turning to the page. We who had language taken from us, we whose words were ignored or denied, we who were hurt even before we had the words for what was being done to us – we reach for words anyway.
We are a species made of words and story. When we are without language for ourselves and our lives, we often feel profoundly disconnected from community, even from the rest of humanity.
Writing can be:
- a way to release images and experiences that have been held in our bodies for years
- a way to discover what we didn't know we knew
- a way to restory ourselves and our lives
- a way to regain trust in our creative instinct and voice
- a way to heal in body and mind
As you reach for words, sometimes it is helpful to have someone with you. This journal guides you through a series of exercises I first developed for the Write Whole survivors writing group, offered through my organization, Writing Ourselves Whole.
In this guided workbook, a companion to my book Writing Ourselves Whole: Using the Power of Your Own Creativity to Recover and Heal from Sexual Trauma, we'll move loosely through a series of themes, beginning gently before shifting to more intense writing midway through, then broadening out to connect with community and self-care.
Journal writing can be a practice that changes us, helping us to find language for experiences that are fragmented within us, or that feel incomplete. This book is a tool as you grow your own practice; use it in any way that best serves you, your words, your writing, your healing.
Make the prompts work for you. Sometimes, if you’re stuck, you might want to try changing the pronoun in the prompt. Most of these prompts are in the first-person singular (“I”), but you can change to first-person plural (“we”), the second person (“you”), or the third person (“she/he/they”). See how the writing changes when the point of view changes. If you get stuck while you’re writing, you can just start over with the same prompt, you can make the prompt a negative (add a “not” in there somewhere), or use the phrase, “What I really wanted to write about was…”
What People are Saying About This
Praise for Jen Cross's other book, Writing Ourselves Whole
“Writing Ourselves Whole is a raw, powerful, necessary, wise and practiced guidebook to the revolutionary practice of finding the words, language and voice to transform suffering. It is chock full of insights, exercises,experience and the kind of fierce loveand teaching that transforms pain into power. Jen Cross is a brave and brilliant transmitter of the deepest healing and healing practices. To anyone who has experienced abuse,violation and trauma, this book is a way out of the darkness.”
Eve Ensler, The Vagina Monologues
“Writing Ourselves Whole is rich, intelligent, passionate, intimate, honest and encouraging. Jen Cross draws from her personal experience, her many years of facilitating writing groups with survivors of sexual abuse, and the wisdom of a variety of teachers and writers to provide guidance for writing and for life that's both sensible and inspiring. This book is a treasure trove!”
Ellen Bass, author of The Courage to Heal
“This is the most essential book on writing practice I know ... Every writing teacher, writing coach, writing workshop or group leader and every person with a history of any kind of trauma needs this book.”
Pat Schneider, author of How the Light Gets In and founder of the Amherst Writers & Artists method