School Nursing

The Relentless School Nurse: Heal Write Now – Honoring the Voice of Survivors With Cissy White

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Cissy White

Please take the time to learn about the work of Cissy White. She is a brilliant writer, speaker, survivor, activist, an expert on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and parenting with high ACEs. Cissy is adamant that the voice and lived expertise of survivors must be heard and honored through inclusion in decision making and policy development. As Cissy says, “it is not trauma-informed if it’s not informed by trauma survivors.”  

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The New Story of My Life….                by Cissy White

Note: The title of this piece came from a writing prompt given by Donna Jenson during one of her online writing circles in which I’ve been an eager student. I’ve been in a strange and new place where I’ve felt my own voice changing some when it’s always been clear, strong, and singular (even when I’ve not felt those things). Now, my voice is a bit wobbly as my center feels more firm. My feminist fury, rage at injustice, and my mid-life spirituality are all figuring out how to co-mingle and exist and community in my psyche, soul, and skin. I still don’t totally sound like me even to me and I’ve decided to share the writing anyhow because it’s writing in transition. We don’t have to be all the way to wherever there is to say where we’re at right now.  

The new story of my life is neither new or a story. It’s truth.

In the shape of my new days I’m filled with easy love where my labored lungs are able to exhale without effort. That’s my wish. I’m singing the song of play, and joy, and bounty. That’s my hope.

The story of my life is not a script needs to change. I’m done ripping at roots, transplanting flowers, and finding new seeds. What I want is my hands in the dirt, to know and remember that the nutrients are already there, were always there, and nothing is missing. That’s my now.

I’m no longer burdened by the intrusion, insensitivity, or indecency of others.

My life is not a syllable-filled story. It is muscle, bone, and matter. It is blood and cells and heart-bursting life force.

My past is not just tragedy, fiction, or a police report where my self is overpowered and I am made a stranger or character actor in my own home.

I recoil at the notion of our lives being stories we just need to describe differently, as though facts and history can be glossed over with happy thoughts. What of accountability, facts, and justice? What of clarity and truth-telling and using both at bricks and rocks to create bridges and paths in which moving on and over is possible?

There’s nothing wrong with me, inherently.

The story of my abuse does not bring me shame. In fact, it’s not even my own. It belongs to my abuser, and their abuser, and so on. I’ve been impacted. I understand that and complexity.

I get that lives are sometimes careless, cruel, messy and criminal. I get how some people are tie-dye shirts in the washing machine bleeding out onto anything and into everything in the shared orbit.

Sometimes tragedy is the result of sharing the same cycle as someone spinning out. It’s not always personal.

Humans are the ones who wash and the ones to be washed. We are the ones who dirty and the ones who get dirtied.

I’m not an either or an or.

I know who I am, where I am, what I’ve lived and lived through.

I also know people can change.

I take no responsibility for what was done to me but that does not mean I don’t remember it all or take responsibility for creating a world filled with less pain.

I will not forever be at war with my life, my symptoms, myself or my past.

I’m tired of scribbling out the same lines, crimes, deeds, and stains left tattooed in me.

I’m also aware that me, in my pain has left marks and scars on others and that we, in our pain, leave scars on others. The scars are not all the same.
I’m going to take what I can bundle up and give back so that I can return to my rightful place and space in my soul. I’m going to own myself, even my own mistakes, but not more.

I’m more than old or new, broken or healed, weak or strong. I do not need to be a new me.

In my dreams, I am fluid, flexible, and free. I am running out towards the light and unafraid to be seen. Even the pen as my sword I can sometimes put down long enough to dream new dreams.

Today, I want only a spoon to feed myself with. Today, I’m hungry for a fork sharp enough to stab the dreams on my plate. Today, I want to feed on hope so I can savor, delight, devour and taste it all without leaving behind crumbs, juice, or regrets.

There is bounty enough for all of us. I want my biggest stress to be about where and how to share abundance.

I have always been and will remain – underneath it all. Dirt is older than pain. The soil, the land, the earth, my soul is ever present for the returning to.

You Matter Mantras

  • Trauma sucks. You don’t.
  • Write to express not to impress.
  • It’s not trauma informed if it’s not informed by trauma survivors.
  • Breathing isn’t optional.

You Are Invited Too & To:

“Christine Cissy White is a speaker, journalist, memoir writer and health activist. She’s the founder of Heal Write Now, a trauma-mama and trauma survivor. Her survivor-led activism in the trauma community has been written about in places such as Atlantic MonthlyThe MightyHuffington Post & Revelist. By day, she works for the ACEs Connection Network (ACEs Too High (journalism) and ACEsConnection (social networking site).

Speaking Topics:

  • Parenting with PTSD : Breaking the Cycle without Falling Apart
  • It Feels Like This: Parenting with Developmental Trauma, Hope & Healing
  • Self-Care as a Second Language after Developmental Trauma: Portable & Affordable Healing After ACEs
  • It’s Not Trauma Informed if it’s Not Informed by Trauma Survivors: Why Survivor-Led Advocacy Matters
  • Writing to Heal Traumatic Stress: The Beauty of Community & Truth-Telling

She knows it’s possible to live, love and parent well after trauma while post-traumatically stressed….. It’s possible but it’s not easy.” – retrieved from

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