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I Never Wanted to Be a Stereotype

A Sociologist’s Narrative of Healing

Cindy Brooks Dollar

Trauma and its consequences are social phenomena. Coming from a working-class family and raised in a small, rural Southern area, this author's narrative offers a unique style of life history reporting whereby the author uses her academic standpoint to situate her life experiences in broader macro-social and cultural contexts. Weaving scholarship with personal narrative, the author highlights connections between self and social awareness, which is crucial, especially in a modern, Western context where the rhetoric of excessive individualism is prioritized. Discussing various issues, including objectification, violence, isolation, stigma, trauma, shame, integration, healing, peace, and love, she illustrates the application and significance of sociological knowledge to individual life. Many chapters include and conclude with excerpts from the author’s diary entries, which she has maintained for over 30 years. These provide a relatively unfiltered glimpse into her personal and social consciousness throughout various life stages, including adolescence, teens, young and middle adulthood. The book closes with a summary of existing research on trauma and recovery, which often promotes the use of body-based therapies. The author argues that these findings have important implications for sociology given the body’s symbolic socio-cultural status and how it is used to maintain existing inequalities and inequities, which (re)produce shared forms of trauma and differential access to recovery.

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Chapter 6. I’m Ready for a Conclusion



I’ve spent many years trying to convince myself that my childhood sexual experiences did not define me. I didn’t want them to determine my future. In forcefully trying to convince myself of this, I let them rule everything I thought, everything I did, everything I wanted to do. What I was adamant about not directing my life, did just that. I’m convinced, at this time, I saw power in trying to think a way out of my misery. I’ve learned, partly through my yoga practices, that overthinking and distancing doesn’t work well for me, but I wouldn’t have believed it without experiencing it.

Like pain, vulnerability and healing are universal human conditions. Life is sometimes filled with sorrow, sometimes joy, and sometimes it is benign. Life may appear to be segmented for our convenience or we may seek to segment pieces of life to investigate particular parts of it, but the reality of life energy is round. Everchanging but never-ending. Our feelings about life are connected to our body, our body is connected to our politics, and our politics are connected to our existential understandings. The extent to which we consciously recognize connection can vary, but the connection exists, nevertheless. The self, social, and spiritual are inextricably linked. Body, mind, social, spirit.

Within a year after studying yoga with a mentor, yoga had become more of a social practice than it was a personal one. Another way to...

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