How Books helped me acknowledge my trauma

Books and trauma.png

Hello friends,

In today’s programming is another episode of “Fadwa overshares”. I would say I’m sorry but uuuuhhh… I really am not. I love pouring my heart into the virtual pages of my blog because I recently (as in the last year) found out that it’s extremely cathartic for me to just put it all into words without necessarily talking to anyone in particular. But also, in the hopes that someone who needs these words reads them and feels less alone. So I’ll continue doing what I do, and I hope you all get something out of it.

TW: child rape, sexual harrassment, abusive Relationship, panic attacks and other trauma talk in general.

It’s no secret to anyone who’s been reading my blog for a while that I’ve been through some bad shit in my life and that I deal with anxiety and bad PTSD from it. I won’t be going in detail about everything but if you want my #MeToo story it’s in this post here. It’s the most *important* part of this post, today, because it’s the one trauma that shaped my life in a significant way and that I feel ready enough to talk about (the other one I just hint to).

Book cover = goodreads page.

But anyway, the point today isn’t to overshare, well…it is but I’m not going to be pointlessly telling my life story. Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about how books have been my lifeline in some periods, how some have landed into my hands just when I needed them either for comfort or a reality check. All of these books are ones that I cherish, all but one, which is funnily enough the one that started it all.

Around three years ago, I had just come out of a two year long reading slump and was in absolute denial of my trauma, I’d subconsciously avoid anything triggering, wouldn’t recognize panic attack for what they were when they caught up with me and was just all around oblivious to what lay just underneath the surface. Then, maybe the universe played a cruel joke on me but the first book I picked up after that dreaded slump was The Storyteller by Antonia Michaelis and it caused me the worst panic attack of my life, I was shaking, hyperventilating and crying for a good chunk of the night. What triggered such a bad reaction? An awful and very graphic romanticization of rape, The MC gets raped by her boyfriend which the author manages to excuse and make it sound as if the rapist wasn’t to blame because “he wasn’t himself” and she even felt bad for him. It made me sick.

You’re probably wondering why I put this book on here too when all the others are so positive. It’s simply because no matter how much I hate it, it was what made me realize that I wasn’t as okay as I thought and that made me so invested in mental health issues.

Ashley Herring Blake - Girl Made of Stars

Don’t read that trashfire. Instead, you can read Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake, which, in my opinion, does the best job at discussing rape and sexual assault out of all the books out there. I’ve read this book back in June and up to this day, I can’t accurately express what it means to me or what it did for me, and just how much Ashley Herring Blake’s words have saved me in a way. I read it at one of the lowest, darkest, moments in my life. I was dealing with a lot of things and a lot of feelings and was for some reason also having a lot of sexual assault survivor feelings on top of everything else.

And eventhough I wasn’t sure I was ready for it, I picked it up. I read it in a day, I couldn’t stop reading but I had to take pauses, I had to fight my way through panic attacks and didn’t stop crying for the whole second half of the book. It might sound awful said like this, but it was what I needed, it was catharsis for a lot of feelings I had bottled up for a long time. I saw myself in the main character who was molested as a kid, I saw myself in her best friend who was raped then not believed and slut shamed. I saw myself in every word, every page of the book. And that is something you can’t put a price on.

Elizabeth Acevedo - The Poet X

Along the same lines, back in March, I listenened to The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo, which besides seeing myself in it, was the book that got me into audiobooks, but that’s besides the point. Xiomara, the main character, has a very curvy figure, gets cat called and sexually harrassed for it. Even when she tries hiding it. Even when she’s minding her own business. And that was my exact experience in high school. To put it bluntly, I was noticed for my ass, no matter how much I tried hiding it or how many times I said no, it didn’t stop (which you can read about in the post linked above as well).

And that book made me feel so seen, so validated in all the bad ways that made me feel, because whenever I complained I got said that I should be glad. Flattered. Pleased that I was attracting so much attention. And I wasn’t. So there was something wrong with me, right? Well, Elizabeth Acevedo told me that no, nothing was wrong with me, but a lot was wrong with a world that thought boys that they were entitled to a girl’s body, that it was okay for them to make us feel uncomfortable because “Boys will be boys”. I saw myself in Xiomara’s anger, in her sadness, in her frustration, in her love for music and poetry. I saw me between the folds of The Poet X.

Ashley Herring Blake - How to Make a Wish

Another Ashley Herring Blake book that made me come to term with something is How to Make a Wish, I read it a year and a half ago, I think? And although this is something I’ll be very vague about because I’m just not ready to share it on the blog, it made me realize that some things I’ve dealt with my whole life weren’t normal and just how much they’ve affected me and shaped me as a person without even knowing it. It gave me a new look into my life, and made me make some changes that were painful but necessary. And no, my mom is not emotionally abusive, that’s not what this is about. My mom is actually the sweetest, most supportive person I know.

Jen Wilde - The Brightsiders

The last book I want to talk about here is The Brightsiders by Jen Wilde, in which I found something I didn’t expect to find, something I didn’t even know I needed until I found it. I went into it expecting teen celebrity drama but from the first chapter, I realized that the main character, Emmy, is in a very emotionally abusive relationship, and although I didn’t have it as bad as her (I think?) I found myself nodding to the audiobook as I saw some of my experiences and feelings mirrored in hers. Although I’ve been out of said relationship for a while now and that I only read this book last month, I still felt validated, and like I wasn’t overreacting. Because no one had used those words to describe the relationship I was in, so seeing them on page, about experiences I saw myself in was freeing in a way.

Aaaand that is a wrap! Thank you for tuning in for this episode of “Fadwa overshares” and that you’ve taken something out of it. If nothing then you at least not to read that awful trashfire of a book I first mentioned.


That’s it until next time!

Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.

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22 thoughts on “How Books helped me acknowledge my trauma

  1. This is such a lovely post Fadwa and I’m so happy to hear you found parts of yourself in these books and that these books helped you, in one way or another.It is the best thing whenever that happens 🙂 ❤

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  2. It can be powerful to read about a charter who has gone through a experience you had or something like it. It can be powerful just knowing such books are out there and you can read them when you wish to and that your experience, whether a health problem, home school vs. “normal” school, (my experiences), or surviving a traumatic experience. It says, there are other people like you and your not alone. And everything will be Okay. I got that reading Teagan’s Story: Her battle with epilepsy, by Talia Jager. It has been said and I quote “The pen is mightier than the sword.” Have truer words been penned? Words have real power.

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  3. I’ve had these exact same thoughts floating around in my head for so long it feels comforting that someone else out there is feeling them too. I have been in a really long bad emotionally abusive relationship, I still can’t believe I managed to get out of it. And books were a big part of that awakening. I remember the exact books that helped me see it for what it was. I do not think I would have been where I am currently without them. Words can be life changing. Thank you for sharing yours.

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  4. It’s a wonderful post! And I agree, it’s so helpful, cathartic and new to find yourself and your struggles/experiences between the pages of a book. To see yourself in the thoughts and feelings of the characters, the good and the bad.
    I think we downplay a lot of the times the things that happened to us, the people around us do. Maybe because they wouldn’t know how to respond if they didn’t . But it’s not healthy and therefore so important that we can have books to touch us, to tell us what we felt really was there and wasn’t okay and to help us feel all the feeling we were negating ourselves to feel

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  5. This is a beautiful & personal post Fadwa. I think seeing ourselves & struggles in books can be just as therapeutic as venting to a friend. It really does show us that we are not alone, and that others have walked similar paths that we have. It also can give us a new perspective on things.

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  6. Hi, Fadwa. Thank you so much for writing a post like this.
    Yours was one of the first book blogs I ever read and you are one of the people that inspired me to start my own blog and share my own views so I hope you know that you gave someone else the courage to write their thoughts and feelings.

    Also, I found so many books that have a diverse rep and helped me see myself more because of you so I will add all of these to my TBR.

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