English Language and Literature ETDs

Publication Date

Summer 7-5-2017


In May 2002, during an argument with my fiancé, Chris, about a small amount of money, I punched a wall and broke my hand. In that one moment of overwhelm I was angry, but even more than that I felt somehow disconnected from myself. I felt, paradoxically, as though I was not actually the one driving my fist into the wall. I’d never been good at handling conflict; nearly every time I became embroiled in an argument I had a sensation that the floor was opening up beneath me and that I was floating away. But when I punched the wall I also felt something I couldn’t wrap my head around until much later: I felt entirely “storyless.” At the time I understood this feeling primarily by what had happened thirteen months earlier, when my husband Malcolm went home with another woman after work. But when I started following the threads backwards, I found so much more. In this work, I excavate the effects of my parents' divorce, a variety of abusive high school relationships, rape, and abortion. I explore what it means to become a mother in the aftermath of trauma, and then survive the end of my first marriage that fell to pieces under the very same roof where my parents’ marriage ended.

In the end, I learn that I was never storyless at all, but that I had to find my own voice so I could stop lifting away from myself, seal up the earth beneath my feet, and tell my story on my terms.

Degree Name

MFA Creative Writing

Level of Degree


Department Name


First Committee Member (Chair)

Greg Martin

Second Committee Member

Bethany Davila

Third Committee Member

Stephen Benz

Fourth Committee Member

Marisa P Clark

Fifth Committee Member

Robert Wilder




Storyless, memoir, silence, divorce, abortion, abuse, trauma, rape, story, voice

Document Type



I had a sixth committee member: Emily Rapp. There's no space above for her name.

Available for download on Friday, July 31, 2116