I just finished writing my memoir, called Small Town Secrets. I began writing it when I was in the middle of a storm. In 2013 the storm swept everything I knew away. The storm was called depression, and although I was living in the eye of the storm, I couldn’t see what it was doing to me or those around me.
The secretive parts of my story are things that we just do not talk about. The family secrets. I was hiding in shame and embarrassment of addictions and mental health. A saying we often hear is “the calm before the storm.” Through the writing process I had a different perspective – “the calm after the storm.” Writing has been so therapeutic for me. My manuscript is currently at the publishers and I am excited, nervous, and relieved. A few people read the story and they encouraged me to go forth and share it with the world. Their hope and mine is that it will help someone else. The hope is that someone will realize that despite our pasts, and despite mental illness, we can succeed in life.
Small Town Secrets tells the story of a young girl who grows up feeling abandoned by her father, isolated by abuse, and who turns to a life of addiction. She self-medicates through alcohol, and avoidance of feelings. An incident happens in her 40’s that causes a great whirlwind and ‘it’ spirals into a storm.
At times in life we come to a crossroads. Unfortunately people I know and most likely you do too, have chosen to take their own lives. Their storm became hopeless. Fortunately my decision was to go through the storm. At times I felt unprepared, like a person in the middle of the winter without boots or a coat. But I persevered, and I found a way to accept life on life’s terms.
Life has few answers and many questions. For me the biggest question was, “Do I speak out about mental health and addiction?” The alternative was to continue to live in secrets, but the secrets were destroying my authentic self. My authentic self required humility and honesty.
I shared the wholeness of me, not just the parts I wanted others to see in my world.
In the end I do hope that someone can benefit from knowing they are not alone.
About Charlotte Edwards
I am a mother, a friend, and a co-worker. I work as a social worker and each day I live with the effects of PTSD and the struggles of being in recovery from alcoholism.