Iris M. Williams

As I study the books I’ve written (mostly for children), I have come to appreciate the duality of my literary assignment. Familial situations such as divorce (or separation), death, and bullying are very real elements of our society. Sadly, while these events may occur to adults, the impact upon the lives of children is real.

As a survivor of childhood trauma, I understand how important it is to address things when they happen. When my father died, I was six. I was simply told that he was, “dead.” My six-year-old brain didn’t have a frame of reference for that word. Based on the fact that my father never came back to our home, hugged and kissed me, or told me he loved me again, I quickly figured out that being “dead” wasn’t a good thing. Even seeing my father lying still in a shiny blue box didn’t fully satisfy my curiosity about what it meant to be “dead.” For years the questions that surfaced went unanswered, and subsequently, my emotions went unresolved. It hurt that my father was no longer in my life.

Like most children, in the absence of information, I made things up.

While the mantra of a six-year-old child can at times be sweet, it can also be debilitating. I convinced myself that somehow, I was responsible for my father being “dead.”

I spent many years consumed over guilt, confused, and hurt due to false information. Lack of information ultimately led to low self-esteem and worth. Untruth colored every decision I made. Every relationship I entered was deep down an attempt to recapture the love I’d lost.

At the age of six, I didn’t know that the heaviness in my heart was sadness. I didn’t know that the emptiness that threatened to take permanent residence in my life was directly linked to unexpressed feelings.

That six-year-old child didn’t have the words to recognize she needed help or to even ask for help. If only she’d been able to say, “I’m hurting. Can you help me?”

Instead, I put on what would be the first of many masks. The masks covered my pain (or so I thought), and also protected those around me who because they loved me, would be in pain if I were in pain. Know this: children don’t want to hurt those they love.

So, I was happy to pretend that I was ok.

Let me be clear: Unexpressed pain causes you to live a life of lies.

Lies became my drug of choice to numb the pain. Anytime something unpleasant happened, instead of feeling the emotion and working through the crisis, I created a new mask. It wasn’t long before wearing a mask (lying) became a habit. The problem with any habit is that they quickly become impossible to break without experiencing more pain.

I wore a mask so often and so long until at some point, I didn’t recognize the person in the mirror. I’d put on the mask to defend myself against pain. However, in the process, I’d successfully defended myself against love. A person can’t love you if they don’t know who you are. You can’t love you if you don’t know who you are.

All of this because as a child, I hadn’t been given information or allowed to properly express a natural response to trauma.

As I began to seek solace for my soul, writing became more than a passion and a hobby; it became therapeutic. I found myself writing stories about children who resembled me. These children knew the pain of separation due to death, bullying, and molestation. I found healing in giving these children something I never had – a voice and words for their pain.

Now that I’m a multi-published author and actively seeking healing, I am excited to share my life with others in the hope that they too can find their voice, their healing, and their love.

One of my favorite authors, Maya Angelou, reminds us to give and teach.

Writing, it’s what I do and my way of giving and teaching.