I was needing help with improving my writing about a year ago. I wanted to write more books to help people deal with trauma. As I lifted up my prayers, I received an email about a free writing workshop for female veterans in Charlotte, NC, two weeks later. I almost didn’t go because I felt some concern about hanging out with all women veterans for the weekend, but I am glad that I attended. I had retired from the Air Force 14 years ago and had packed away my former career. However, I had a strong feeling in my gut about attending this workshop.
In this writing workshop, I learned about a female Navy veteran who had been traumatized by male managers in positions of military power. They had groomed and isolated a young lady named Nicole Strong while projecting sexual abuses upon her repeatedly. During the weekend workshop, the facilitator Tracy Crow shared Nicole’s story. Tracy helped Nicole to write her debut memoir about resilience, overcoming, and healing from the horrible abuses placed upon her. Tracy had over 30 years of writing experience in developmental editing and knew how to take a written narrative and formulate Nicole’s story into a compelling book called, “Darker Than Navy Blue: A Sailor’s Memoir of Tragedy and Healing.”
I knew I had to talk to Nicole and learn about her experience in writing about her story. So I reached out to her and had a lengthy telephone conversation with her. I know how hard it is to have to relive bad experiences. The record of abuse plays over and over in the conscious. It’s not easy to “own your story” if it owns you. What I learned from Nicole was that she was able to write about her career in the Navy. She shared hidden insights that occur in military services.
Nicole shared that she had written about 150,000 words in her original memoir draft. She admitted she was full of anger for the unjust behavior she experienced in her Navy career. Her mentor and editor, Tracy, helped Nicole carve her story down to about 50,000 words. Nicole managed her feelings in her book, and the reader could decide for themselves—did Nicole survive many negative experiences, or is she thriving despite her past? Writing can be very healing when it addresses past traumas.
The writer can share what they learned from their experiences, and they can unburden themselves from the darkness of their gone by years. What I valued from Nicole’s story is the authenticity and transparency in her book. Most everyone has dealt with some kind of negativity in their life—divorce, death, the suicide of a close friend, etc.
The gift of writing a memoir is sharing your experience with others. The stories allow others to come forth and acknowledge their deep hidden secrets. We have more in common with each other than we sometimes realize. As Nicole shared stories with me about her new life outside of the Navy, I smiled.
It was full of funny stories about the antics of each of her children, her pygmy goats eating habits, and putting up fences to keep out the predators. Nicole shared that it had taken almost ten years to write her book. It was no easy feat; however, it has liberated her to live a life of meaningful purpose.
Sharing her story has helped other women and men to understand what it was like to be a female navy enlisted person in a male-dominated career. Unfortunately, many females are sexually abused in the military services and some men, too. Bringing awareness to a problem opens up the possibility of positive change and sheds light on what needs to change. I admire anyone who bravely shares their story. It takes guts and backbone to spell out a story of abuse. The best thing of all is the healing in sharing the story and helping others to open up about their lives. More people are writing about their stories these days. It brings about a movement of hope and encouragement for elevating humankind.
For more articles about standing up for yourself and sharing your story, check out: https://goodmenproject.com/author/consultwithdawngmail-com
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