It was an honor to share my story and experiences at The Legacy Show this month!
The most rewarding part? 100% of the ticket sales go to She’s the First… and I’m happy to announce that because of that, The Legacy Show has just officially sponsored their first student! (Pics below of Safina the new scholar!)
What’s She’s the First?’
When I was 18 – a week before my high school senior prom – I randomly found myself in intense pain. I woke up six months later, only to learn that my stomach had literally burst to the top of the OR and exploded, and after both my lungs collapsed and 122 units of blood, I almost died. Here I was, suddenly displaced from my former life as a carefree, audacious, musical-theatre-loving teen, and thrust into a world of tubes, bags, beeping machines, and a world of crisis where everything became minute to minute – a fight from physical, emotional and spiritual survival.
It took me a long time to tell others I was sexually abused. The more I tried to repress what had happened, the more anxious I became, until I couldn’t handle keeping these secrets locked up so tightly. Shocked, upset and as overwhelmed I was living in three worlds — part of me functioning normally in school, keeping up my grades, and telling people I was “fine”, part of me replaying traumatic memories in my head, beating myself up for not saying no, for not running away, for not fighting back, and part of me in a numb, apathetic space of disconnect — a place I created in my head as a survival instinct. If I created a frozen, “numb” space to exist in, I could alleviate the sense of shame I felt.
Reaching out to someone I knew loved me unconditionally calmed my anxiety. Telling someone what had happened made my “dark” secret come to light. By sharing my story with others, I was better able to understand it myself. I gained compassion for myself and from others. When I fell into a coma and endured 27 surgeries, I was only able to move on once I could speak of the pain and suffering I felt.
Here’s the story I shared at The Legacy Show
The Power of Education
What I learned is when you don’t know where you’re going, its stressful and anxiety-provoking. But the most important thing I learned about a detour? You can still live a happy, healthy fulfilling life. I even got to college – at 25! And...I’m graduating college this year, at 30 years old!
That’s why I’m so excited to support a great cause like She’s the First.
It’s been amazing to use theatre to help support wonderful causes empowering women and young girls, and since 2012, I’ve been touring my program and performances to go from survivor to advocate.
I want to show the world that we are all deserving of whatever education in life we desire. We are capable of pursuing anything, no matter what we’ve been through.
Gutless, Grateful…and Empowering Women Worldwide
Having been affected by illness, dissociation, disability and chronic conditions, I aim to provide hope, help and resources, starting a vital conversation on how we each work to build a culture of empathy and empowerment through knowledge and communication.
My one-woman musical, Gutless & Grateful, has been a major fundraising event, featured gala performance and keynote for some amazing causes and non-profit organizations, including the first annual benefit for the Eating Recovery Foundation, Sexual Assault Resource Team of Rensselaer County, the Ostomy Association of America, Take Back the Night, and various empowerment events for young women across the country.
The performance can also expand into a three-component program, Post Traumatic Gifts, winner of seven national awards and part of the official directory for Arts and Health in the Military – also the keynote presentation at the 2016 Pacific Rim International Conference on Diversity and Disability in Hawaii, and will be the featured keynote at the 2018 International School of Social Work Conference in Ohio.
Part 1) One-Woman Musical Theatre: Gutless & Grateful, a 15-character, 9 song Broadway-style performance that’s both comedic and poignant, which chronicles surviving nearly a decade of medical and emotional trauma with humor, creativity and grit. Through interwoven song and dialogue, I share a primal piece of live-storytelling – a powerful message that it’s possible to overcome obstacles through developing inner resources and the power of education.
Part 2) An educational session/speech: I discuss theatre as a means for social change, how to develop a resiliency toolbox through the arts, and how creative expression can cultivate a compassionate, trauma-informed community.
Part 3) A Q&A session and interactive segment: Expressive communication exercises including storytelling, theatre games and creative prompts to stimulate personal and artistic growth, to strengthen group resiliency, and celebrate diversity. Learn more about my creative workshops here.
I share my story to help others find the story within them. Once we can speak about it, we’re unstoppable.
You can see learn more about the program at this link: https://amyoes.com/trauma and view details, professional references, my CV, learning objectives, videos and a comprehensive booking history here.
What does empowerment mean to you? Comment below!
Interested in learning more about Gutless & Grateful? Send me a note!