I first “met” Christine Macdonald in some of my earliest days on social media in 2009 or 2010. Back then, the Internet felt like a small place. Twitter felt like a place full of promise, in particular. Sowing digital connections to new and interesting people those days felt easy and uplifting.
Desperate as I was for any semblance of human connection — especially to people who seemed to understand me — I spent a lot of time on Twitter. As an aspiring writer and author, I found my way into some writing circles where, every day, folks with a love of the written word would share advice and encouragement. Some documented their creative projects in real-time.
Christine was one of those chronicling the writing of her first book.
And she certainly had what seemed to be an interesting story.
Describing herself as a former exotic dancer, Christine’s tweets were full of wit, humor, and sometimes jaw-dropping anecdotes about cocaine-fueled parties in Waikiki, Hawaii, in the late 80s and early 90s… all squeezed into 140 characters.
Christine started a blog, too (because, well, anyone who was anyone had a blog those days), and began publishing longer stories and tales from the “past life” she had lived nearly two decades earlier.
Her blog even received a “Blog of Note” award from Google at the time, launching her public attention and her readership into the tens of thousands.
What I didn’t know then was that, behind the scenes, Christine was really struggling to write her story in full — and, not just because writing any book is an extremely challenging, oftentimes excruciating creative project.
It was because writing about her past — the full, whole, and true story of her life — included writing about her past traumas.
In order to tell her full and true story, as she had dreamed, Christine had to face the shadows of her past. Her book would never get written until she did. But every time she tried to write about them, she got triggered, and stopped.
It was a vicious cycle.
After years of coaching hundreds of writers and storytellers, I’ve seen firsthand how “taking ownership” of the stories of our lives — reclaiming our stories to become their full authors — is not like what a lot of New Age self-help books want you to believe.
There isn’t one, single, simple decision to be made, and, poof!, the work is done.
For so many — especially for those who have experienced one or more forms of trauma — the task of “taking ownership” of the story of your life is a long journey. What works will be unique to you, but you will likely want to surround yourself with personal support (including professionals, like a therapist!) and give yourself an abundance of time and practice, and forgiveness.
(If that sounds overwhelming, reframe the burden and consider the gift: healing is a creative experience and one that can live alongside you, throughout your life. You can find healing through countless means and experiences.)
Today, Christine is the author of the new memoir, Face Value: From Working the Pole to Bearing My Soul. It is the book she always dreamed of writing.
But how did she finally do it?
Christine joins me on The New Story Is podcast for an uplifting conversation about the experience of writing her book — including what it took to get the book published, and what it feels like to finally hold her book in her hands, all these years later.
You’ll learn how this former exotic dancer found her way into the dizzying underground of Waikiki, Hawaii in the 80s and 90s; how she escaped patterns of substance use and trauma, and how the experience of writing gave her her voice — and compelled her to actually find some healing.
I invite you to take some time today or this week to listen to this interview with Christine Macdonald.
(Seriously… it’s a conversation over a decade in the making!)
So, please, go have a listen to our interview at The New Story Is, Apple Podcasts, or Spotify. Then come back and hit reply to this email and let me know what you thought of our conversation!
Of everything I thought I knew, avoidance was on top of the list. But how much did I really know about avoidance at the time?