• Janet Bernstein

April 2020 Sister Spotlight: Alinda Quinn

One of our many 2019 upgrades to our membership was a Sister Spotlight each and every month! We have loved reading the many stories of our sisters, and excited to continue this for 2020.

Our April 2020 spotlight is Alinda Quinn. She is a 'newer' member to our organization, having been involved for less than a year. But she is loved and appreciated by so many, especially following our last retreat and the truths she shared there (read more in her story below.)

We typically post these blogs in an interview format, but since Alinda is a beautiful writer, we are sharing her story in her own words. Enjoy!

I am a Native Texan and the oldest of three children. A chaotic childhood and two tiny siblings required that I learn some useful leadership skills and develop empathy at a sprinter’s pace. Having experienced early sexual trauma, as an already painfully shy little girl, around age 5, I began to retreat into the vibrant world of books—visiting places where anything seemed possible, and the odd ducks were celebrated. Unable to tell anyone what was happening to me, my truest self-expression occurred in my journaling and in writing poetry. One decade and hundreds of lines of iambic pentameter later, I graduated high school and then went on to earn a BA degree in Psychology from Texas Woman’s University. In the crazy busyness of my junior and senior years at TWU, I married a childhood friend who understood my wounds, and I had my first son, Zach. A move to Wichita Falls followed, as did a baby girl named Harmony and an MA degree in English. Most of my paying gigs during those years were associate faculty positions or stints in social services, aimed at filling the gap while my husband focused on his career. All the while, I kept writing, too, and in 1998, I began composing my first novel, inspired by my understanding of the suicide of Virginia Woolf. I also volunteered as an advocate for sexual trauma survivors and a crisis/suicide hotline counselor whenever I could.

During my graduate studies, I became interested in the various ways that stories are constructed, and I plugged into the power of narrative. I was fascinated with the nuances of language and how words could be strung together to MAKE meaning. There is profound healing when pen meets paper, when voice is born. So, I turned up the volume. That spark—over time—burst into flames and thrust me onto a path that changed my life. My third child, Keegan, was born shortly after the family moved to Plano in 2002. Medically fragile, requiring six surgeries in two years and ultimately diagnosed with Autism at age four, my ginger baby’s road was a bumpy one. I fought for him to be seen and heard. A life of meaning-making became essential.

In 2010, I finally completed that novel, Daughters of Icarus, a story of love between women, the complexities of choice, and how shared grief can fuse our hearts and souls together. Icarus healed me in many ways. I saw connections now between my greatest passions: writing, trauma recovery, teaching/mentoring, and survivor advocacy. I began writing for money (pennies) at the end of my teaching day. By this time, I was a single mom with one kid in college and two at home. My meager writing business was born rather unceremoniously, and I called it Scribewoman Consulting. I have added life coaching to my services, and I am currently working toward certification as a trauma recovery coach. I was fortunate to transition to full-time writing in 2015. Amid the mess, the tears, and the prayers, I crossed paths with Alatheia. The Greek Goddess of truth (authentic truth) became the model for my non-profit organization who lies smiling patiently at me from her tiny incubator. The Alatheia Initiative is a rigorous one-year program in which creative expression and self-care/wellness forge a path to recovering from trauma. The Live Your Truth program continues to develop every spare minute I have, and I’m happy to share it with anyone who wants to hear about it. My biggest obstacle is funding. That’s why I work. A lot. And very hard. But I’ll never give up on her. I wondered for a few years if I was strong enough to lead other women out of the darkness of their abusive pasts.

Then I found out just how strong I am.

In early 2017, a dangerous romantic relationship slowly infected my world, doing great damage, planting doubt in my heart, and eroding my love for myself. On April 24, 2019, I made the decision to end my life. I believed that this wildly spinning merry-go-round was breaking the best parts of me. Today, I am committed to recovery—every single day, no matter how hard it is. And I have learned this: the best part of me is this moment. When I stepped back from that ledge, I created meaning. I narrowed my options to die or thrive. Something in between was no longer a life worthy of me. I researched and engaged in every therapeutic activity I could find. That’s when I called Janet Bernstein, my dear, open-hearted friend, to get input on my new book idea. Her surprising invitation for me to speak at Every Heart Project’s retreat last November led to a bold step in vulnerability—I was transformed. I shared it ALL. That dream where you are naked in front of a crowd? Lived it. Survived it. And fell in love with it. This group is one of my safe places. I am loved here, and I don’t have to earn it. Here, my story matters to others, and THAT is where the magic really starts to happen. I am working on my memoir—illustrating a lifetime of silence and fear, wondering where I belonged. Can you guess the ending? I will never be silent again about things that matter. I will shout the truth for myself and others without apology. I’m still scared, every day, but I get up and make my bed anyways. I have found the place where I belong—sitting with and listening to others who honor me with the gift of their naked stories.

What am I up to? I love being a mom as much as ever. Zach has brought a gift into our world, my phenomenal daughter-in-love, Rachel. They live in Austin and work for UT. Harmony is all grown up and moving up in retail management. And Keegan, the little engine that could, is heading off to college in 4 months. They are my greatest joy.

In addition to my usual writing workload, I’m preparing to recruit coaching clients, individuals who crave and deserve healing. Today I believe I can harness enough hope and love (and I do NOT have to do it alone) to do the work assigned to me. I support some great causes. A few favorite organizations include The Turning Point (Collin County Rape Crisis), Treasured Vessels Foundation, and My Possibilities. Perhaps the most special organization in my life currently is The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. I walked in their awareness walk last October, and I’ll walk this year. I’ll walk every year. Contact me if you want to join my team—Thrive Alive!


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