Healing can be a lifelong journey. We take one step at a time, we find crumbs of wisdom along the way, and we gather tools and knowledge that help us live kinder and freer lives.
I asked two of my sisters in crime (Åsa-Saga and Anna from the Write Your Self team) to share the best tools and crumbs they’d found, and then I added my own. Try them, share them, find your own.
Ok, I’ll go first. Anna Viola Lovind’s favourites:
The Body Keeps the Score, by Bessel van der Kolk. Understanding trauma, how it works in the body and mind and nervous system of a human being, has been a crucial part of my healing journey these last few years. Knowing the facts has helped me stop blaming myself for everything and finding adequate help to resolve what’s still stuck in my system. This book is a great source of knowledge and a good place to start.
A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf. Because to me, my creative journey and my healing journey has been inseparable, and this essay – as relevant now as it was a hundred years ago – helped me understand the specific challenges women face on this journey. I became wiser, fiercer and kinder to myself for reading it.
Hotel New Hampshire, by John Irving. Irving often writes about sexual abuse – a victim himself as a young boy – and he does it in a way I had not encountered before reading this book the first time. So very sensitive but also irreverent. The firm message being that whatever crap happens to me, I’m not ruined. Bruised for sure, but not ruined, because I’m a human being and human beings get bruised. And we still keep dancing.
Also, anything by Sark. This magical human bean writes one of a kind, biographical stories about love, art, abuse, womanhood, writing and a life lived to the max. She helped me see how valuable it is to share your own, naked stories. Succulent Wild Woman is maybe my favourite.
AUDIO & VIDEO
I often listen to the podcast Insights at the Edge, and these interviews are two of my favourites:
Tara Brach on radical acceptance, shame and emotional healing.
Megan Devine’s powerful take on grief.
On Youtube you’ll find this video about an Icelandic woman who seeks out her rapist, and an unusual, provoking and brave story of healing begins.
Åsa-Saga Hammarstedt’s favourites:
The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse, by Ellen Bass & Laura Davis. This book was my bible during my healing process. A friend who’d been through the same thing as I told me about it and it’s been immensely helpful (even though I was abused as a teenager and young adult, rather than as a child).
Body Confidence, by Astrid Longhurst. I’ve read this book so many times, my paperback copy is completely worn to pieces. The book and the exercises in it has played an important role in my recovery, to re-claim my body, make it feel mine and safe and build a loving relationship to it.
The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron. Simply the go-to book about creativity, flow and healing.
AUDIO & VIDEO
The TED-talk The Power of Vulnerability by Brené Brown. A central theme in my healing process has been to learn how to be human again, in a way that I wanted to be. This video has inspired me in that process. To dare being vulnerable.
For me, the path to healing has been through the body, and yoga has been part of it. Since I live in a cottage in the woods, I find my yoga teachers online. My favourite is Adriene Mishler. I’ve returned to her videos Yoga for after disaster and Yoga for stress relief over and over again, at those times when it’s been hard to be a human being.
Self-care has been a key concept for me – and I really needed to learn it. Australian Leonie Dawson has written a lot about it and this post in particular touched me. Our situations were different – she writes about a post-natal depression – but I recognised something of myself in her journey from darkness to light.
I’ve also felt strengthened by the way she writes about burnout.
Anna Sundström Lindmark’s favourites:
I want to share three books. I didn’t include any works of fiction here but I could have, because I find I relate just as easily to fictive characters as real human beings. And there is healing in the relating. But anyhow:
The Grief Recovery Handbook, by Russel Friedman and John W. James. Grief is emotional, not intellectual. This book helps you practice not judging emotions. I took a course in this method and this course was absolutely crucial for my healing, it helped me in my creative practice and it influenced the writing courses I offered. I’d love to share more about this but the book in itself is a well of insights.
During my years in therapy, I returned over and over again to the book Happiness, by Dalai Lama. The challenge for me has always been to free myself from the intellect. To do one thing at a time, to choose kind thoughts. As a writer, this has been central to my work. Writing is intellectual work, but what I’m drawn to in other’s writing and what I want to offer in my own is something else; the personal, immediate, pure – what we teach in step 5 in the Write Your Self method.
Lately, Eckhart Tolle’s books have helped me with this too. Right now, I’m reading The Power of Now. It’s not a quick read for me, it’s difficult and takes practice, but I feel better every time I do it. The message is not new: worrying is pointless, the present moment is all we’ve got and the only way to happiness; the same stuff that provoke me so much when I’m in a rough spot. But it gets me back on track.
Anna Viola is a writer, editor and conceptual designer at Write Your Self. She believes in vulnerability, creativity and the powerful medicine of our stories.
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