All posts by

Shawna Ainslie

Dear Mother, There is so much I need to say to you, because you are a sister to me. In a new way, now. We share a fear of seeing anger in a man’s eyes. We share a fear of those we love being hurt, and hurting those we love. We share a fear of hurting. This love is beyond friendship. We are betrayed. I want to hold you. I want to make myself safe for you. Always, you can cling to me. For hours, I have walked my floors

  I woke up wanting to tip my hat to tornado survivors today. I grew up in Tornado Alley. I remember standing on my porch as the wind whipped and changed and the sky turned green. When we lived in a house in the Ozarks, we would look left at the bull pasture, to see what the heifers had done. If they were gone, it was time to go inside. Once, we saw a small twister touch down in the field, bounce back into the sky, and puff into dust.

As a teen, I once was grounded when my mother found a story I had written about sexual exploration. That incident catalyzed a series of events that resulted in me living a double life for years: I kept fake diaries; I lied to my friend; I shamed myself daily because I had desires that I couldn’t seem to control. My body was developing. I had been open to the rawness of being. But I closed myself down piece by piece in an effort to stay safe in an emotionally hostile

We drove out to the dunes in a caravan of rusted trucks and shitty 80s two-door sedans. I was with Rusty and Dusty, not twins, but inseparable since childhood. They sandwiched me between their heavy bodies and lit up a joint, the windows rolled shut despite the high heat of summer and a faulty air conditioner. It took about 40 minutes to reach the dunes, a miniature, unexplained swath of fluid desert where we local kids drank and made out around bonfires. That day, it was a cookout, followed by

My kids are parked in front of Frozen. Again. To be honest, I love this movie. I cry beginning to end. It taps directly into my deepest hurts as the child of an abusive household. Conceal, don’t feel? That could have been the mantra of my youth. Watching this movie is healing for me. It stirs my emotional trauma in a way I can access. It’s safe to wander my mental jungle while watching a cartoon. When Elsa sings that she doesn’t care what anyone is going to say, I

I had reason to search for paper. I went looking for clean, lined sheets. In my room, there stands a bookcase filled from the top down with materials related to my life as a writer. The top shelf holds my collection of self-help books, words of wisdom for growing my creative mind and maturing my writerly process. The middle holds the journals I filled with poetry beginning at age six. Then there are foreign language books–German, Arabic and Spanish, because they stimulate my desire to learn more. To continue growing

My friend hit the nail on the head when she said sensed birthing in progress. I am being reborn in many areas of life. Following a physical rebirth that I will write more about another time, I had the intense sensation of gaining control. In reality, I have let go of control and begun accepting, and I will write more about that another time as well. This post is happening for a different reason.  Without further ado, there is a creative birthing happening outside this blog. I’m happy to announce one

If you are a reader of Sheila’s Writes a Memoir, I apologize. I’ve taken her memoir down so that I can begin writing the pieces of my own life. Sheila was a great help to me when I first considered writing about my own abuse. She was a separate person with a parallel experience of abuse and sexualization. I could write her story much more safely than my own. Fiction is a wonderful buffer for the exquisitely painful reality of one’s own truth. I am grateful to those of you

Dinner was a shocking success. No tears over spills or claims that you are the worst mom ever because you prepared something nasty. That they would vomit right there if they had to take even one eensy bite. No. They swarmed the table like locusts, eating everything and asking for more. And when it was done, truly done, the serving dishes bare, they sprang from the table and pattered away like a sudden Summer rain. You sit alone. There are only the remnants on plates: small bits of rice and

Some stories are harder to write than others. Fiction offers a buffer, a safe distance from reality, even when the story lines are harsh or graphic. Life is visceral. I prefer my pretty fictions. Some stories are harder to hear than others, even though we are human in our curiosity. In our inability to look away. I have a true story. It is my creation. Not my birth, but the components of my life that make me who I am. I have wanted to tell it for years. I wanted

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