Book Review: The Other Side of the Wall by Kathleen St. Ours
Foremost, this memoir may be triggering for some readers. I found so many insightful parts of this story. The abuse described is difficult to read because it is disturbing to know that such atrocities can happen. I work as a counselor and listen to many traumatic histories, but to engage with it on such a personal account was eye-opening. I feel like I got an inside glimpse into what occurs with abuse, such as the degree of manipulation and dehumanization. I appreciate the author’s raw and honest sharing of her internal conflicts during this period of her life. I felt like I was there with her, and her strength touched me.
This memoir was not a story of trauma but a story of healing. The author invoked on a long journey to heal, and I admired her relentless pursuit to save her own life and find peace. I connected intimately with the art therapy process. I find that art gives me a way to express myself that other venues do not, and I savored reading about the impact that art had on the author. I was so proud that she decided to do an exhibit of her work. It was another beautiful example of a step in her healing process, and I’m so glad that she shared it. I even envisioned all the paintings she described and imagined them hanging around her home. It made me want to decorate my home with my own artwork.
Furthermore, I appreciated that the author included her therapy experiences and her relationships with her therapists. As a counselor, I know it takes courage to trust a therapist and develop a close bond. I definitely felt bad that she had to keep changing therapists, but I am so glad that she searched out a new one and chose the right fit for her. I was probably in the most awe of seeing the author learn and practice asking for help and support. With the love from family and others, I felt like a garden of safety was grown.
This memoir is an honest portrayal of mental health phenomena that can arise from trauma. I prefer to use the word phenomena because I value and respect that the author understood that she needed more people to support her as a child, so she developed internal others. I see it as part of her survival, and I love that she honored these different parts so well. I felt like I understood their individual purposes for her but also how they are integrated into her entire personhood at the same time.
This work could not have been an easy write. I want to thank the author for sharing this journey and letting readers witness this beautiful soul.