1. Who are you and what inspires you today?
Hi, I’m Angie Rooker. I’m an author, poet, Reiki Practitioner, Life Coach, and an advocate for the authentic voice in others. The things that inspire me today resonate with resiliency...the ability for the human spirit to fight through darkness in order to reach a place of healing and hope.
Hope is the very thing that keeps us alive at times. I am inspired by survivors of abuse who share their stories. I am inspired by Craftivism.
I am inspired by communities coming together to support speaking up against injustice. I am inspired by the fire that lives in the hearts of at-risk youth. I am inspired by expressive arts, and people claiming their powerful voices in the midst of threatening silence and indifference.
2. Please tell me a favorite story about your childhood?
This is a hard question to answer, because my childhood is difficult to recall. As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I worked very hard in my life to shut my childhood out completely. Everything that jumps out at me when I reflect back, in a way that opens up the past without re-traumatizing myself, I consider how imaginative I was growing up. I was always creating games and forts and tea parties.
I think at one time I created an imaginary radio station with my tape recorder and interviewed my stuffed animals with late breaking news. I had a lot of magic in my heart. Actually, another really fond memory comes to mind. There was a Native American man who lived down the street, and he was always in his garage making things, handmade items. One day he gave me a handmade jade necklace, and I treasured that necklace so much. I would play hide and seek with it.
I was always very empathetic and sensitive to energy, and I could sense where I hid my necklace. I would hide it then days later try to remember where I had left it and called out to it to tell me where it was. That was when I really started learning about paying attention to the subtle energies around me and to listen to the voices in different stones. I didn’t have a lot of friends, so my imagination was what keep me engaged and creative.
It’s disappointing how seemingly disconnected youth can be these days, with electronics and less of a push to lean into their imaginations. I loved that about myself, and it is something that I encourage in my own two year old. I have introduced her to amethyst and rose quartz and she calls them her friends. I hope to offer tradition to her in the sense of encouraging her to learn about energy and stones as well as being creative and playing innocently in her imagination.
3. What positive life principle did you learn from your parents/caregivers - that still informs your life today?
My mom encouraged art and playfulness, and my father encouraged stillness. Both have been necessary components in my healing journey.
4. Was there anything in your past that caused you pain, struggle or hardship? Share briefly if you feel comfortable.
There was so much, that it was unbearable to cope with. I self-medicated and self-harmed in high school to numb out and disconnect. I was bullied tremendously by peers all throughout my life. Elementary, Middle, and High school. On top of the abuse, the bullying pushed me further into self-harm. I felt completely disposable. I really didn’t have anyone advocating for me, so I was pretty lost for a long time. The friends I made finally had no clue how much I suffered. It was a very dark time until I reached out for help at 17 and voluntarily admitted myself to a treatment center.
5. If relevant describe a difficult event or circumstance in your childhood, teen or adult years that caused you to "act-out" or "act-in" in a detrimental way. How has your emotional pain been a wake-up call for growth?
So my poetry was my only saving grace. It was the only place that I could air what what was going on, but even then I couldn’t access much of the pain. There were some circumstances in high school where I attempted to share my work and early art, and was publicly humiliated. I took a creative writing class to help encourage my creative voice, and the teacher called my work “too flowery”.
Lack of validation in my creativity led me to act out in ways to extricate my creativity completely. I burned all of my old books of poetry and artwork. I didn’t want it as a reminder of the pain that expressing myself had brought. It has taken me a lot of time to reclaim and encourage my creative voice to emerge again without impending shame and guilt.
6. What is the main thing that you have needed to heal in your lifetime?
I don’t even know what to pick, honestly. That statement makes my heart heavy with grief. But I think I can answer it. I have spent a lot of time working in the nonprofit sector working with others, fellow survivors most of the time, encouraging connecting to ourselves in ways where we can embrace our past, embrace our mistakes and our shadow nature.
I have spent a lot of time encouraging other to see the value in themselves, that everyone has potential and light in the darkness. I have worked a lot in the area of compassion, especially in the area of my PTSD. I was ashamed and angry for so much of my life. Wanting to be normal, whatever that is. I wanted to not be held back or feel like I was broken all of the time. So for myself, compassion and forgiveness towards myself- for feeling like a constant train wreck, when really what I was was a miracle.
Many survivors don’t make it, especially when alcoholism and addiction enter the picture. Seeing myself as a relfection of grace, and affirming that I am enough exactly as I am has been constant work for me. Patience with the healing journey as well. I rushed around in my early 20’s wanting to be “better now”, so that I could function on life’s terms.
I also had to spend a lot of time healing my relationship with my faith. I was completely bankrupt in that area as a teenager, constantly angry and bitter that a Higher Power would have allowed me to suffer in so many ways. So I really can’t pick just one. They are all interconnected on my healing journey, because the wounds are deep rooted.
7. What is your greatest strength as a result of that healing?
My first answer would be how I engage in advocacy in the community, and have served either professionally or as a volunteer to make a positive impact in my community, but my life has taken a new shift. Since I am a Mama of a wonderful, lively two and half year old, I see tremendously how I had dedicated so much of my time serving the community in order to redeem the past.
I needed a way to transform the pain, and what better way to do that than help others. I found most of my value and worth in the work that I did with kids and women and survivors and those in recovery. Something shifted recently that made me consider the value that my daughter holds for me - exactly as I am. So my greatest strength now is to stop being a superhero to redeem the past, so that I can be more present to my family.
8. What is your favorite creative healing modality? What makes you feel alive, passionate and whole?
I love mixed media, because it helps me create order out of chaos. My memoir, Torn Pages, is named that because of the process that I go through in order to create a new work. It’s the process of diving into destructive energy, ripping through images to find pieces to mend together in a common theme or vision. It reminds me of my own life, which is specifically why I named the book Torn Pages.
9. Please describe the details of your creative process and how it has evolved.
My creative process has always been riddled with guilt, shame, and feeling incompetent compared to others. I moved from a place of jealousy, fear of others being better than me, and often shut myself down from exploring my expressive potential. I have moved from that place, and instead embrace and encourage those that inspire me. I move forward now in faith in myself, which allows me to be able to be present to others and their talents. Other people’s art inspires me to try new things, when before I would just shut down feeling sorry for myself.
10. Describe yourself as whole and healed. Who are you in your essence?
That feels like that will be ongoing. PTSD will never go away completely, but it can become more manageable. Addiction and alcoholism will never go away, but recovery can be more manageable. Peace is accessible now, in longer periods than ever before. I can get out of myself and be of service to others. Whole, for me is embracing my shadow and my light, and finding stillness and contentment in both extremes.
Healed, for me, is accepting that I am a work in progress, but that I do have strength to draw on in order to be present to others. Healed, to me, is working more towards seeing this as a long journey rather than a sprint, and being ok with that. Every day I will heal a little more, I will be able to be present to and manage my pain a little more.
11. If the major healing theme of your life had a book or a movie title what would it be called?
That is exactly what my memoir is about- Torn Pages. It’s a collection of art, poetry, journal entries, and narrated storytelling of the last seven years of my healing journey. I literally tore up my writing into sections, and then categorized everything to find patterns, to create a whole from all of the pieces. That has been my life’s work, creating a whole from the pieces to create a work of beauty.
12. How has your past pain informed your life purpose? How do you specifically want to contribute to life?
When I was in treatment, my caseworker told me that my pain was not in vain, that it would help others. Her statement seemed impossible at the time, but it truly has come true in my day to day. My vision for my art and memoir is to offer a voice to the collective pain that so many carry.
I read so many autobiographies, and each one helped validate my experience and my pain. I want it to also highlight the importance of expressive arts as a healing modality, as well as bring to light some of the other tools that I have obtained on my healing journey. It will help others, I just have to get out of the way and allow the voice to come through so that it can reach who it needs to.
13. What strength-based inspirational advice would you give someone who has similar challenges?
You are not alone. Your pain doesn’t have to be carried alone. I once was told that the tools that I forged in order to protect me from getting further harmed would at some point start to work against me. That I would shut out the bad and the possibility of good entering into my life. I can offer that it is tremendous to carry this weight, but that no one has to do it alone.
That I totally get why it’s so hard to trust the process of opening and letting others in. I would offer that you have it within you to create your own safe journey, Your own safe space of healing, for whatever your individual needs require. And that the ones that don’t get it, or offer more wounding aren’t the only ones in the world, There are safe and healthy people who are supportive. I would offer them a story that was offered to me, about the Fable of the Porcupine…
Fable of the Porcupine
It was the coldest winter ever – many animals died because of the cold. The porcupines, realizing the situation, decided to group together. This way they covered and protected themselves; but the quills of each one wounded their closest companions even though they gave off heat to each other. After awhile they decided to distance themselves one from the other and they began to die, alone and frozen.
So they had to make a choice: either accept the quills of their companions or disappear from the Earth. Wisely, they decided to go back to being together. This way they learned to live with the little wounds that were caused by the close relationship with their companion, but the most important part of it, was the warmth that came from the others. This way they were able to survive.
Moral of the story:
The best relationship is not the one that brings together perfect people, but the best is when each individual learns to live with the imperfections of others and can admire the other person’s good qualities.
14. What famous inspirational quote sums up your life journey?
"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." - Lao Tzu
15. Create your own quote to inspire others on their life journey.
"You are enough. Just as you are."
Angela Rooker is an artist and poet based out of Wichita, Kansas. Torn pages is a collection of seven years of poetry, artwork, and personal musings pulled together in four parts.
Each section of this book dives into the personal day-to-day struggle of coping with the aftermath of childhood trauma.
This is a story of reclaiming voice, of reclaiming personal power, a return to life.
The images and writing invite the reader into the depths of PTSD, as well as uplift and encourage with individual pieces that reflect Angela’s spiritual awakenings as a result of embarking on a pathway to peace and healing.
This excerpt displays the text only, since this site prevents posting multiple PDF images of the mixed media work. Angela is currently working on a putting together a website, where she will have more flexibility posting images of the artwork that is included in this book.
**TRIGGER ALERT FOR CHILD ABUSE**
Click HERE to Support the publication of Angela's Book: www.inkshares.com/books/torn-pages