Hometown Trauma

Hi friends and allies!

One of my Twitter friends is the inspiration behind this month’s topic: Hometown Trauma.

To save you from a boring definition, this gorgeous first paragraph from The Wild Truth, a memoir written by Carine McCandless, will explain what it is like to suffer from Hometown Trauma:

The Wild Truth, Carine McCandless

Carine and her brother were brutally abused by their father. (Her brother’s infamous death in Alaska by poison berries is revealed in the Krakauer book, Into the Wild.) Carine’s trauma is encased not only in that f***ing house, but in the highway exits that lead to it.

A place scarred by memory is like another death a victim must grieve as a trauma survivor. Trauma lives in the body, and it also lives in its environment. The gut-wrenching tension I experienced whenever I approached my hometown in Flathead County felt like a car wash nozzle at full-force aimed at my stomach. My body told me I should not approach, but for years, my guilt and sense of obligation to uphold a family expectation told me I should.

My intuition already knew what I didn’t understand. The trigger of familiar sights and places drew from a deep memory of loneliness and a sense of fatherly abandonment. Driving the familiar highway as a teen, I would constantly scout the oncoming traffic for a sight of my father, hoping to catch a glimpse of the man who should have been home more often, to protect and celebrate me. A father’s role in grief is a large burden on any child, and until I was 42, I tracked the same highway with the same hope: that I was worthy of my father’s time and attention.

It was never my responsibility to fill my unmet needs. But driving the familiar roads allowed me to hold onto the mythical father who had me in his best interests. The highways and the landscape of my hometown are still scarred by the emotional death that came with reality’s bitter truth. For me, Flathead County is a tear-stained pillow that never dries. I haven’t been ‘home’ since 2014.

RELATED NEWS: Montana’s neighbor, Idaho, suffers from dangerous ACE scores. Read one man’s story of depression and how the Idaho legislature recently recognized ACE scores to promote trauma-informed care.

What the heck are ACE scores and why do they matter?


Negative Space by Lilly Dancyger is a memoir of a woman who investigated her idyllic childhood through her dead father’s artistic journals only to discover her memories did not portray the reality of his drug addiction.

MY WRITING: Ouch! This was a doozy of a month. The consultation with the agent didn’t go well. I might have ranted about it on Twitter. I’m OK now, and feel I have an excellent revision in the works.

I didn’t impress the agent. I did, however, have a craft article published on WOW (Women on Writing).

WELCOME NEW SUBSCRIBERS: Erika, Laurie, Anna, Andrea, Leah, Katie

Without you, this would not be a growing community. Thank you!


My dream boat in the foreground. Photo by my husband, Charlie Beaton

Please feel free to leave a comment. Wishing you well.

Love, Barbie