Finding Peace and Healing in The Midst of Childhood Trauma
Witness Awakening is my story of how I, as an adult, reclaimed my life and inner peace after surviving childhood sexual abuse traumas and living with PTSD. I walk the reader through my healing process in order to describe what I needed to do to get to the other side of my healing, such as, inner child work, forming a spiritual connection and using many types of supportive help and means of expressing my inner pain.
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This book is like receiving a warm hug from someone who has lived the journey that no one wants to live, and that wants to help you through your journey. Marie understands. The warmth that comes from her words and stories is true, compassionate, and loving. Maybe they are words that you long to hear from your friends and family, but have not yet heard. Marie guides you through her life events to help you through your healing.
Marie gives you a chance to prepare yourself for what you are about to hear, she asks you to check with yourself after she bares her soul about her journey, and then she gives you the tools to make it through the difficult passages.
I have not lived this journey, but know people who have and this will be a book that I will be sharing with them.
Witness Awakening by Marie McCarthy is a well-written narrative of a woman willing to share her journey through the wildness of recovery from sexual trauma. These stories are never easy to bear, share, or write. I know. I’ve tried to write my own story for nearly a decade now. So as a writer, what I first noticed about McCarthy’s book is she speaks not only as a survivor, but also as a trauma psychotherapist. And because of this, she has the reader’s well-being clearly in mind. For instance, early on McCarthy offers a section on “Protective Tools” where she provides the reader with signals that what they’re about to read could be difficult and triggering. For instance, she uses the phrase “Shields Up” which alerts the reader that what’s ahead could be emotionally challenging, and that they may want to find a safe space from which to read, or choose not to read at all. “Deep Breath” signals that the difficult passage is complete, and that now it’s time to breathe.
Throughout the book, McCarthy (which is a pseudonym for the author) writes about her multiple sexual assaults, the re-remembering of her abused inner child and teen selves, and how she worked through many of the issues that arise with recovery from sexual trauma. Issues like the Inner Child, PTSD, childbirth trauma, depression, suicidal thoughts, binge eating, and much more. She shares her journal writings along with personal poems and art work, all of which help provide her with deep insight into what’s happening to her body and soul.
McCarthy’s journey towards healing has the potential to be of great benefit to the reader as well. Many abuse memoirs offer the details, the story, the journey, often leaving the reader triggered or ready to seek help but unsure where. This is where Witness Awakening does more than the typical trauma narrative. Instead, it offers McCarthy’s horrific sexual assault story in small bites tempered with reminders for the reader to check in and breathe. In the telling of her story, she also shares the many different traditional psychotherapy and non-traditional mentors who helped her: psychotherapists, trauma specialists, a shaman. At the book’s conclusion, there is a list of resources that include organizations specific to helping with sexual trauma, trauma memoirs that inspired McCarthy’s writing, self-help books, and the author’s own set of tools for helping with things like anxiety. This is truly an easy-to-read, well-rounded book for someone beginning the trauma healing journey, or for someone further along to be reminded that we all need to be gentle with ourselves forever.
Back when I was beginning to delve into my own history of sexual trauma, I longed for a book that helped me realize I wasn’t alone. Ten years ago, that book was an old edition of Ellen Bass’s The Courage to Heal from which I took deep solace. I wish Witness Awakening had been around then, too. Part-guide, part-memoir, part-self-help, this book is an important new tool to help women in the 21st century navigate their own unique healing journey from sexual trauma.