Female Veterans Programs

Collette: A Sneak Peek Into Our Journaling Workshops

Our women’s journaling sessions have begun as a new arm of Clear Path Women Proudly Served. Already, women are learning to share their stories, connect to each other, and feel at ease with thoughts that used to buzz about. Collette attended our Appreciation day in October and participated in journaling. In her own words, “At first I thought, I have no idea what to write, I am well adjusted, I have a good life, it's fun, but what will I have that's really meaningful?  Then it happened- I wrote from a place I had no idea was still just dying to be heard. A place I didn't know, a girl who is afraid of what someone will think, a woman who didn't know this girl is just there, looking for a voice, to be heard, to be seen, to be understood, to be free.”

Collette has now set her sights on completing a memoir and helping other women to find their voice and their confidence. Here is an excerpt from her memoir in progress:

My mind is a maze; it is so hard to know what is real and what is not. As my head begins to fill with memories it feels like darkness rushing in.

Darkness. All around. No light, no sound; nothing. I am deep in the maze. A hot, dark, constricting I can’t breathe kind of maze. I am running out of time and air.

I suck down the last breath of air in my airpack. There is nothing left for me to inhale. I can only breathe out. My lungs are screaming, my heart is beating out of my chest, my muscles are burning. I am not going to get it out. It feels like death.

Why am I suddenly remembering so vividly being in the woods with Benji? I was only in first grade; I should not have forgotten what happened. I smell the damp moss and dirt. Dirt has a dirt smell. It’s a smell like rain, only darker. It feels cool and wet. I am laying in a forest, between Benji’s legs, while he keeps telling me “be quiet, I have a knife, I will cut you.” I don’t like it. I don’t know what to do. I feel dark, cold. I feel gone.

And then I am gone. I am back in the garage, watching my brother Chris jump on Benji, and pound his head into the concrete floor. Thud, thud, thud. Chris sits on his chest, pounding his head into the floor, and he doesn’t stop. Thud… thud.

I feel nothing as I watch. I just stand in the corner, small, quiet, I am so quiet now. I feel just like I did in the woods. Mom comes out, screaming. She can’t get Chris off at first, but she does, and Benji manages to run away. Mom tries to call after him, he runs. She asks Chris what happened, he walks away, I am gone again.

Our program accommodates whatever level of participation you desire. For some, it is beneficial to have a group with whom to discuss memories and experiences. For others, there is a need to write for themselves and keep their work private. We accept participants as they are. Our prompts are sometimes about our struggles, but oftentimes about our joys, triumphs and everyday lives.