Book Review: Writing to Heal the Pain
Writing to Heal the Pain: Stories & Poems by Mateja Klaric is a collection of mostly essays and some poems. It takes the reader along on the author’s attempts to find healing after having her career stolen away from her in a way that left her with anxiety and PTSD.
The author explains that writing was the tool she used to survive a killer curve cannonball that shattered her career in TV, radio, and journalism. All of a sudden, she was fired without justification. She chose to go public, which resulted in her being blacklisted across her industry. She went to court and after 2 1/2 years she won, but in the end found herself still without income and close to bankruptcy.
She experienced thoughts of suicide, but support came from unexpected sources. In “How to Sack Properly — The Smart Manager’s Guide”, she writes: “Some of the targets might commit suicide. Think of this as collateral damage and brush it off. Never forget, targets are inferior and thus less than humans. You owe them nothing.”
After the implosion of her career, she was left with nothing. “Who are you when you don’t have a job, a purpose, a calling, a means to make a living? You turn into nobody and you are being treated accordingly.”
When she began sending out job applications, she was ignored or received nasty remarks. Friends weren’t helpful either, and she was met with remarks suggesting that she’d be just fine. She faced classic victim-blaming, as many people ended up blaming her for her situation. She was also ghosted and shunned.
The author writes about how difficult it was looking for a job when she was over 45 and had no references from her work that lasted more than a decade.
She struggled with the loss of her established identity as well as the loss of income. She writes: “I’ve lost my identity six years ago, and I still haven’t found it. This wouldn’t bother me much if it weren’t for the world that we live in. And this world demands identities. It has to be clear for each and every one of us who we are and what we do.”
She explains that writing was an important step in cleaning out the initial wounds. It was also a way to try to seek out an income. She has tried strategies that many bloggers will have some familiarity with, such as a donation button on her website, Patreon, Medium, and self-publishing.
In one of the poems, she writes:
“As if there was a hole
where my chest used to be,
that’s how it feels.”
The author’s pain oozes out of the book. Many of the essays were first published a few years ago, and there is a rawness to them.
I felt a connection with this book immediately. While I wasn’t fired, I faced workplace bullying and subsequent blacklisting. A lot of the hurt and damage the author described were things that I experienced to some extent myself. Her story shows how hard it is to rebuild after having so much stripped away. This is a poignant example of just how hard it can be for writers to try to support themselves online through their writing.
It saddens me that people are faced with challenges like this. While she pursued a court challenge and won, it changed nothing in a material sense. People deserve better than this.
I received a reviewer copy of this book from www.netgalley.com.
Originally published at https://mentalhealthathome.org on August 7, 2019.