The Essence of Being Grounded: A HippoCamp Recap of Writing About Trauma to Heal Ourselves and Others

by Trish McDonald, guest blogger

This post is part of a HippoCamp 2022 recap series, with guest blog posts written by HippoCamp attendees. Learn more about our conference for creative nonfiction writers.

Karen Carnabucci is the essence of grounded. In her presence, I am safe. As a woman with adverse childhood experiences, I know immediately our speaker is authentic, wise, and generous.

A psychotherapist for over thirty years, Karen has specialized in trauma-informed treatment. This informed her HippoCamp session, Writing About Trauma to Heal Ourselves and Others.

“Trauma is defined as damage to our nervous system,” she says as she lists different types of traumas:

  • Acute
  • Chronic or prolonged
  • Complex—varied over time
  • Collective—as experienced in a pandemic
  • Ancestral—as an entire people or tribe

When writing about trauma, Carnabucci suggests we ask:

  • “Who am I writing this for?”
  • “Am I giving inspiration and hope?”

When teaching about trauma, Karen suggests her students think about the following questions:

  • How do I choose companions?
  • What criteria do I use?

She suggests focusing on three areas of strengths or as she calls them “Gifts” when choosing companions:

  1. Personal—Are my companions empathetic listeners?
  2. Relational—Are my companions sustainable connections, an example might be a pet.
  3. Spiritual—Are my companions people that nourish my spirit?

Close your eyes if you feel safe to do so, breathe in and out, feel your feet on the floor, you are grounded to the earth. You are packing for the journey, doing your own work, helping to lift up others. You are speaking from the voice of the Tree…

Thank you, Karen Carnabucci, for your message of hope.

>>See more HippoCamp 22 recap posts, content, and more here.

Meet the Contributor

trish mcdonaldTrish McDonald is the author of Paper Bags, a story of self-discovery, metamorphosis, and gender equality. According to her DNA profile, McDonald is 86% Irish. For a storyteller, this “blarney” heritage comes in handy when writing about issues of childhood trauma. With a background in nutrition, McDonald writes about emotional hunger. An avid camper, she lives in a tiny house in an RV park in Southwest Florida. Her writing has appeared in Oldster Magazine, Maudlin House, and Shout-Out Miami.

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