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Queer Book Nook July 2024

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Wounded Yet Whole Confessions Of The Healing Mind

Trigger Warning – It should be noted in this review that there are mentions of Domestic Abuse/Emotional Abuse.

Inspired by last month’s Book Nook on Skylar Burton’s book dedicated to Louis Tomlinson and this month’s theme of One Direction memories, I decided to write this month’s column on another author within the One Direction and OT5 Solo fandoms: Katarzyna Stomska. 

Born in Poland, Katarzyna (Kat) has lived in Scotland for 18 years. She has written poetry for 30 years, but only began to self-publish in 2020. As a narcissistic abuse survivor, Kat told No Stunts Magazine that she “found poetry an incredible healing tool,” and that it helped her to deal with “feelings I wasn’t able to voice otherwise.” Not only is she a poetry enthusiast, Kat has been in the One Direction fandom since the band was first formed in 2010. Obviously, as the boys settled into their solo careers, Kat loyally followed their progress, finding solace and enjoyment in their music. 

Wounded Yet Whole Confessions Of The Healing Mind is Kat’s third book of poetry, The book is split into two sections: the first is poems which detail Kat’s journey as an abuse survivor, and the second is filled with poems inspired by songs she has found “healing, reassuring, and comforting.’ 

The first section is very raw. The subject matter of the poems perfectly follows the mental and emotional cycle that abuse survivors suffer when they leave their abusers. It’s a common misconception that, if a victim of abuse manages to leave their situation, they make the decision and quickly adjust to their new life. For those who go back to their abuser, it’s assumed that either they exaggerated the extent of the abuse or even that the victim is weak-minded. However, nothing could be further from the truth. The thing about living with a narcissistic abuser is that it’s one giant game of gaslighting. The person being abused often loses their sense of self and ability to trust their own decisions. It’s a cycle that slowly sucks the life and the fight right out of them. 

In this first section, the poems follow Kat’s frame of mind as she grapples with her situation and begins to break free of the cycle. The process is long, often following a “one step forwards, two steps back” pattern, as Kat attempts to reprogramme her mind, establish her agency, and begin to trust herself once again. 

We asked Kat which of the poems meant the most to her, and her response was two poems: “Naked Vulnerability” and “Emerging From Underneath.” Interestingly, “Naked Vulnerability” was one of the poems I had strongly related to! Kat explained that the poem was the story of how she chose to reveal her abuse and the reaction people had to it, stating, “I felt exposed to the judgement of others who often had no idea how it feels to fight every minute of your day to survive.” 

This is exactly what I felt from reading the poem! The uncertainty of how people will react, if they’ll treat you as less or blame you, are huge factors in this situation. The section below particularly struck me:

“Naked vulnerability entangling my

 body infinitely

while I piece together the broken past

 the unsteady present and  

yet to be found future”

I feel Kat has managed to capture the sheer nakedness of standing up to the world and declaring that something this personal and traumatic has happened to you. I have to confess I read this poem several times before I could move on. 

The second poem Kat selected, “Emerging From Underneath,” is also an important one, as it deals with the feeling of empowerment and relief that comes with finally allowing those around you to help you to heal, as well as learning to love and trust yourself again. This was my favourite part of this poem:

“Emerging from underneath 

Your toxic love

I emerge like a phoenix

No longer buried 

Ready to fight

Never taking my freedom for granted.”

As a fellow abuse survivor, I resonate very strongly with Kat’s journey. I’m not ashamed to confess there were several moments I had to put the book down and take stock of my emotions. If you’re someone who has had experience of being in an abusive relationship, I recommend pacing yourself and plenty of tissues when you read this book. However, please remember that these poems offer a sense of comfort in how they validate Kat’s experiences and the experiences of anyone who has suffered this kind of abuse. Some of the content might be harder to read than others, but the overall body of the work will make you feel seen and heard as a survivor.  

The second section is inspiring as you have the list of songs that inspired the poems and then the poems themselves. Music, as well as poetry, is designed to be evocative, often rousing memories and emotions that we weren’t expecting. Choosing to write musically inspired poetry can be tricky, as what the author gleens from a song may not be what the reader resonates with. However, Kat seems to have managed to dodge that particular pitfall, as each of the entries are perfectly chosen and expressed. The songs aren’t all one theme, such as sad or romantic etc, but instead there’s a variety, allowing the reader to read the poem that resonates with them in that moment. As Kat stated in the book, “even in our darkest times there are songs that can heal us and make our journey a little easier.” 

 As much as this section can be read in order as the songs in question play in the background, the author recommends that the poems and songs are listened to at random, stating that “intuition” will help guide people to the right message for them. Each poem in this section – and there are over 100 of them! – is special, but there are two that stand out for me in particular: “Walls” and “Into The Wild”.

“Walls” is an acrostic style of poem, meaning that “Walls” is written vertically on the left hand side of the page and each line begins with a letter within the word. This is a very popular form of poetry as its simple structure forces the author to be creative with their word choices, getting the message across without overdoing things. It’s a delicate balance to achieve, but “Walls” manages this perfectly – 

“Wondering what we had I

Apprehensively try to escape

Loneliness hitting me like a ton of bricks

Losing my mind


Hoping the walls I have built before don’t come back again.” 

Walls is one of my all time favourite Louis Tomlinson songs and I feel that Kat captured the essence of the song – the first stanza in particular – wonderfully. To know that you risk losing something so important to you because you’ve had to close yourself off as a means of self defence is something that most people can relate to. This poem does lack the same level of hope for the future the song contains, but I think it’s all the more beautiful for it. The poem acknowledges the fear that letting your internal walls down can carry and that the anxiety of the act can be crippling.

Into The Wild is another poem which struck me in this section. I had never heard this song before and the experience of listening to it for the first time as I read the poem was very memorable. I feel the voice of the singer sets the tone for the song and the poem, portraying a muted hopefulness. It’s the second last poem in the book and I feel that the placement was chosen perfectly. Consider the lines below:

“Longing for peace within

Covered with thousands of invisible scars”

The idea that peace is possible through healing is an important one, but it’s also equally important to note that the survivor will always have the scars of the experience. This isn’t a bad thing at all, as those scars make up the new person that person will become. I like to think of it as a form of Kintsugi (the art of repairing cherished Japanese vases with lacquer and painting the seams with gold.)

The cracks and holes are filled with the new person the survivor is becoming. They’re scarred, but all the stronger for it.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who has a love for poetry, or has survived an abusive situation, or is looking for healing through musical inspiration. Even if the journey of healing from abuse isn’t something you can relate to, there’s some good advice and beautifully tragic words in that section which many will appreciate. In terms of musical poetry, I feel that this is a section any music lover will enjoy.

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