Bye Misery: More Hope in Survivor memoirs

I don’t want to go to therapy sessions with people.

I canceled quite a few of my own back in the day.  

Because therapy, if you’re doing it right, isn’t just complaining about who done ya wrong.  It is the hardest thing that you will ever have to do in life. I promise you.

I would read those books because therapists would stop me in the middle of my sentence and say, “You know, you should read ___.”

As if that book was going to heal my entire life.

Being so young, I would. I read fast. So I’d be done in a day. Then I would be pissed passed heaven.


“They stopped me from revealing something that I never told anyone to read this depressing stuff.”

(Grab yellow pages. Switch therapist.)

Eventually when I started going to a therapist I made it clear that I wasn’t reading nothin. That’s right nothin. You read it. Just tell me what it is about.

And, I didn’t want to hear anyone’s sad tale on Oprah because I was just too through. It was too much. I was on overflow.

Many of the stories I couldn’t relate to.  That left me feeling more isolated. They were all so doggone severe.

I read once that the genre was called “misery lit”. That’s kind.

There I was in the bottom of the pit and I was reading books that offered no hope. Why?

It seemed like they went through this terrible storm, they almost died, and then they wrote this bestseller that is on every single therapist’s bookshelf.

As if some of them were saying, “Ha! Told y’all I would make it.”

Okay? But I didn’t want to do that whole thing. 

So what about if you just wanted to figure out how to heal, be filled with joy, feel, you know normal.  Once I start on that, and finally get out of this bed I’ll let you know what I want to do next.

I wasn’t surprised at all when a lot of those stories started turning out to be fake. It seemed as if it became more of a contest for who went through the most “stuff” rather than the what could be extracted from the journey or the blessings that emerged as a result.

Marilyn Van Debur Atler was one of the first speakers that I heard that I could relate to. 

She was crowned Miss America in the 1950’s.  She is a Survivor of sexual abuse/rape at the hands of her wealthy father over the course of most of her childhood.  When I went to see her, I wasn’t sure what I might learn.  I wasn’t in a hopeful space. 

However she really helped me to understand that I wasn’t alone in feeling silenced.  I don’t think I have shut up since.

When I read her book that she published years later, I appreciated her message of acceptance with a Survivor’s healing process. 

Most Survivor’s may continue to heal for a lifetime.  Mrs. Van Debur Atler makes you feel very comfortable with that because it is realistic.   While you can always strive to be better you won’t be able to live life as if nothing happened.  Something unnatural and devastating did. 

I love the new direction that I see memoirs that Survivors are writing going in now. 

They have so many lessons to share.  They are more thoughtful.  They are more hopeful.  The mirror that is being held up to society has been shined and now it is just gleaming. 

We can see ourselves.

A more recent example:

Silent No More was co-written by Aaron Fisher by (victim #1 against Jerry Sandusky) and his counselor Michael Gillum M.A.  I did not complete this book in a short period of time.  Aaron’s mother also adds quite a bit to the book.  When you read her account, my goodness.

This is a great book. 

It tells a story and educates us at the same time.  I didn’t put it down with a sense of terrible sadness.  I felt sad for Aaron, his family, and all who were touched by this horrible devastation.  Still, I was so very proud of the way that Aaron was handling his healing process.  I also knew that if someone read that book, a lot of people might get help.

Look, I’m not saying that there isn’t value in those other books.  Obviously to a lot of people there was.  I’m just glad that we are expanding.

If you will, please feel free to share your thoughts.  Are there any memoirs that you have been or are reading that you think others might find interesting? 

I’ll be sharing more of my own suggestions soon. 

FYI, if you wrote one, feel free to share.

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Tonya GJ Prince

Tonya is a Social Justice Info Expert with over 23 years experience. She holds a BS in Organizational Management & Development. Her cat MiaBelle is her co-writer.
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Post Author: Tonya GJ Prince

Tonya is a Social Justice Info Expert with over 23 years experience. She holds a BS in Organizational Management & Development. Her cat MiaBelle is her co-writer.

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