Making Stories of Our Shame


Article by Shasta Ockerberg

Photography by Shasta Ockerberg

Treefort 2021, Boise Idaho— It's easy to write a fairytale, ending with a true loves kiss or a victorious achievement. But it's a rare occurrence when an author steps out and writes reality, the failures and disabilities, the heartbreaks and defeats. Suzanne Roberts, author of Bad Tourist: Misadventures in Love and Travel, led a workshop at Treefort about writing our shame, facing our fears and confessing our traumas on paper.

Suzanne Roberts writing during the exercise. Photo: Shasta Ockerberg

One of the exercises she led required participants to write out the things they were most afraid to speak about. Looking around the room, pens scratching ferociously across notebook paper, the emotions filled the space. One participant rubbed away their tears, another sniffles under their mask. Many would look off into nothing, trying to find words for the things they feared speaking out loud. No one knows what the other wrote, and no one ever will.

At the end of the exercise, Roberts asked everyone to take that piece of paper, that nightmare they've held on to for so long, and rip it apart. The trauma doesn't define you, and it doesn't control you.

A participant tearing up their piece of paper. Photo: Shasta Ockerberg

Roberts discussed ways to approach this topic, and other ways to express your horrors to the world. "You only have to be mortified once when someone reads your stuff, then you're free." Many were worried that their traumatic story had already been told, but no one ever tells the same story, and no one will ever tell it like you do. 

Paper that were torn as part of the exercise. Photo: Shasta Ockerberg

For more Treefort coverage visit and follow Boise & Meridian Lifestyle Magazines.

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