The Story You Need to Tell: Writing to Heal from Trauma, Illness, or Loss (May 2017) – A Review
I know the power writing — even making the commitment to write your story — has to heal. 24 hours after I made the commitment to write my memoir, Riding Grace: Triumph of the Soul, I experienced a miraculous healing of the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and memories of childhood abuse I had been dealing with for 12 years. The writing of that story provided further healing and an expanded perspective on the whole experience. It helped me glean the wisdom of it.
Now a book, The Story You Need to Tell by Sandra Marinella, has come out which explores the impact of writing to heal through process and true stories of others who have written their stories and experienced healing.
When writing teacher Sandra Marinella faced breast cancer in 2012, she decided to leave teaching and write to heal. And she did. Inspired, she dug out and read twenty-seven of her old journals. Here she learned the power of expressive writing to help her navigate the death of her brother, post-partum depression, her son’s mental illness, an alcoholic boss, a workaholic husband, and her cancer, followed by her son’s cancer. Journals I kept during my illness journey were not only healing at the time I wrote them. They formed the cornerstone of my memoir as well.
Although Sandra Marinella weaves her personal narrative and insights into The Story You Need to Tell, the focus of the book is on the five stages of writing to heal — stages that anyone facing difficulty can employ to make their lives better. During four years of research Marinella interviewed more than 100 writers — some famous — most not. These unsung heroes share their stories, which form the true heart of this book, and shed light on how writing can change us and redefine the way we live.
Integrated with these anecdotes of survival are significant findings culled from more than 200 research studies. These include:
- Expressive writing offers us physical, psychological, and social benefits.
- There are five logical stages to writing and healing.
- Neuroscience proves our brains are wired for stories — and we can choose the stories that will define us and give us meaning.
- We have the capacity to rewrite and edit our personal stories — and change our lives.
- We need to open up, tell our painful stories, piece together our shattered experiences, embrace the positive, find our wisdom — and claim our new stories.
Sandra Marinella has taught thousands of students and fellow educators, presented dozens of workshops at the Veterans Hospital, Phoenix, and the Virginia Piper Cancer Center, Scottsdale, and is expanding into a variety of health and wellness settings. She lives in Phoenix, AZ. Her website is www.storyyoutell.com
Alissa Lukara is the author of Riding Grace and created this website, Transformational Writers.