Editor's note: This story contains references to rape, sexual assault and post-traumatic stress.
In less than two weeks, author and UNC alumna Anne Reeder Heck is expected to release her memoir, “A Fierce Belief in Miracles: My Journey from Rape to Healing and Wholeness.”
In this memoir, Heck talks about her intent to heal the emotional and physical aftermath of her trauma. The story details her journey in healing, as well as the transformative power of clear intention and trust.
Staff writer Caroline Nihill sat down with Heck to talk about her memoir and her experience through healing. This interview has been edited for content and clarity.
The Daily Tar Heel: How did you come to the conclusion that you wanted to write this memoir, “A Fierce Belief in Miracles”?
Anne Reeder Heck: I really wanted to find a true story of someone who had found their way through to the other side of trauma, and I wanted to know that it was possible and how they did it. And I couldn't find that story. I wanted something that was uplifting and even now when I can search the internet, there are very few uplifting stories about someone being raped. What really was the deciding factor was my daughter was born in 2003. When I brought another woman into the world, I knew that I needed to get really clear about my intention for healing. So I stood in my living room, and I stated out loud my intention: “This is my year of strength."
DTH: Where did your belief in miracles and intuition start and where has it led you?
ARH: I had some experiences (with) some spiritual teachers, who were really pivotal in me getting to that point where I was willing and open to trust. I'd been studying with some spiritual teachers, and I also was really desperate. I was having many problems with walking, and with breathing and it all felt really associated with the trauma. For me, it was getting to that point where I was so ready to just be open-hearted and to believe that it can happen. I really think that that's what miracles are about, you know, believing in miracles is a belief in love.
DTH: How did you utilize your intuition and belief in miracles in the process of writing your memoir?
ARH: I use a process of listening, really listening within. That guided me to my editor, I asked for support and I really had to sit with, “Who can I ask for particular support?” When there were challenges that arose, the most important thing is for me to get quiet. What I'm looking for is to get beyond a particular challenge or to find support for something then that becomes the intention.
DTH: What was the writing process like?
ARH: I was really called to write my book. I resisted it for a number of years because I felt like it would be challenging, and then finally when I got to the point where I was committed to doing it, I really felt like I had done enough inner work that I could manage to write it and not be so emotionally affected by it.
I was wrong.
And so the challenging part about that was the reading and rereading and editing re-traumatized me. And so I had a number of episodes of post-traumatic stress, and it had to just lay it down for a while and really make self-care my priority. It was a great learning for me that self-care comes first, that as driven as I was to get it completed, that wasn’t what was important.
DTH: What other spiritual and emotional aspects of healing would you suggest to assault survivors and those who have gone through something traumatic?
ARH: Listen to what your needs are. It's important that each person trusts themselves to take the action steps that are going to serve them, and there's no one right way to do that. When you're wanting to address something emotionally or spiritually, it's not always easy to get a clear grasp on what that thing is that needs the healing. It's important that you really follow your intuition. That's not an easy thing for everyone and involves getting really quiet and attentive to what's being brought into your experience. The most valuable part is that you listen and you trust yourself and you move from there, that you let go of what other people's opinions and ideas are to do your own spiritual and emotional work.
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