Today, The Writing Well’s guest blogger is Carolyn Graham, a writer and wellness coach who leads seminars on enhancing immune system function and teaches mindfulness meditation for relaxation. I met Carolyn through Jedwin Smith’s writers group in Atlanta two years ago. The “poet” of our group, Carolyn is an inspirational and generous spirit, who just returned from a solo canoe trip through Utah’s Green River.
She’s currently writing The Gift of the Circle, where she tells of her healing journey and the strategies she used to reclaim health after eight years of suffering from the catastrophic effects of chronic Lyme disease. She hopes sharing her story will help others suffering from Lyme disease and from the scars of childhood trauma.
The Gift of the Circle, the book I’m writing using prose and poetry is the story of my healing and robust living — a legacy — a crucible of inspiration wrought from tragedy.
Peaks of glistening triumph
sparkle in the aire.
Canyons of my soul,
array my eyes with splendor.
Shadow sculpts exquisite beauty.
Healing in tandem from chronic Lyme disease and childhood sexual abuse may seem like a puzzling challenge. Yet, the Adverse Childhood Experience research conducted by the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control shows a strong link between childhood trauma and the manifestation of serious illness in adults.
In my case, the secret I held about being sexually abused as an adolescent compromised my immune system and opened the door for the attack of an autoimmune disease in the form of Lyme.
After suffering for eight years from the catastrophic effects of chronic Lyme disease that contributed to mental illness, I discovered a long-sought method to heal myself.
On January 4, 2010, I was shown the pathway to health — a way to heal the past in the present while riding myself of a debilitating sickness. In You Can Beat the Odds, Brenda Stockdale describes research-based strategies to enhance immune system functioning. I knew, as I finished her book on a sunny winter day, I’d been given a process for getting well — a Divine Gift.
At once, even before I was fully recovered, I knew I had a calling to write my story of healing — a mission to offer hope for others seeking well-being.
While writing The Gift of the Circle, opening up about my trauma of sexual abuse, was a significant step in my overall recovery.
Other than with my therapist, the first time I publicly shared my abuse experience was during a writers workshop led by author, Jedwin Smith, when I read aloud my story. When I started to read, I was scared no one would like me after that. When I finished, I felt triumphant; better than that, I was warmed by the compassion extended to me by Jedwin and the other writers. Shame about what happened in my past began to evaporate.
Through my writing, therapy, and using strategies for enhancing my immune system, I’ve reclaimed my well-being — wholeness — my birthright.
In The Gift of the Circle I call the process of reclaiming my birthright my journey homeward.
On the eve of my 70th birthday, at the end of a fifty-mile solo expedition on Utah’s Green River, Divine Destiny orchestrated a miraculous grand finale to my journey that ushered me homeward to bid my past farewell:
I’m a child of the earth.
A child of shimmering light.
A child of death and shadows.
I’m clothed only in tanned, wrinkled skin.
Story lines score my face.
I am the seeker and the sought,
Homeward bound — closer than I know — tiring from the journey. Lost.
I’ve few belongings, plying a river in a simple craft,
Destiny my compass.
The river carries a secret on this day full of light and sky.
Indeed, the river of life carried a secret — a birthday gift I’ll never forget. The story of my homecoming will end The Gift of the Circle in a grand pas de deux with Divine Light.
In the kaleidoscope of human experience, reality has no boundaries and miracles are borne in the mystery of Divine Inspiration.
And so I write.
I write to continue my own healing.
I write to foster hope in those seeking a pathway to freedom of the soul.