Teresa Marsh “was born into violence and trauma” in Cape Town, South Africa.
Growing up, she was told she was “black and stupid, a lesser human being.” Now, the Greater Sudbury resident has put her past behind her.
“The first step to healing is acknowledgment, and the second step is beginning to tell your story,” Marsh, author of Enlightenment is Letting Go!, said.
In the recently-published book, she tells her own story, and lets other Canadians share the traumas and addictions they have overcome.
“To me, it doesn’t matter where you go in the world — you’re going to find atrocities, you’re going to find trauma, you’re going to find oppression,” she said.
Arriving in Toronto in 1992 with her three children, Marsh had an undergrad in nursing education and community health nursing sciences and a master’s degree in psychology.
She worked with high-risk youth in Toronto before moving to Vancouver to operate her private practice and work with First Nations. Marsh recently moved to Sudbury.
On Sept. 11, 2001, the day terrorists carried out several attacks in the United States, the phone at Marsh’s Toronto clinic rang off the hook.
Marsh said the terrorist attacks sparked people to relive horrifying moments from their own lives.
“People became retraumatized,” she said.
It doesn’t matter how badly we were traumatized — we can heal.
Knowing she wanted to help people other than her clients heal, Marsh prayed for her answer.
“That night, I went on my knees and I prayed and I spoke to my Creator about the position of the world,” she said. Sitting in her quiet space, she was inspired.
Marsh said the voices of her ancestors spoke clearly to her, saying “write Theresa, write Theresa, write. It was so profound.”
Now that her book is complete, Marsh said she looks forward to giving a voice to First Nations people in another book.
“The First Nations that know I’m going to do this, they’re waiting for this book and they need it,” she said, explaining that the stories will focus on residential schools and intergenerational trauma.
Marsh said her early life was similar to what First Nations people in Canada experience. She said is able to connect to them because she understands what they have been through.
“(In Africa), we were separated, and we didn’t see white people,” she said.
“There were certain beaches we couldn’t go to. At age 13, I realized, ‘Oh my God, this is what is going on.’
Oppressors...took over our country, put our leader in prison, and they are oppressing us — telling us we can’t live here, telling us we can’t walk here.”
Marsh said she wants others to know that they can overcome any form of abuse they have dealt with.
“It doesn’t matter how badly we were traumatized — we can heal,” she said. “Healing is for everybody.”
Enlightenment is Letting Go! is available online from major bookstores and from Hill Tribe in the Southridge Mall. On Aug. 14, Marsh will sign copies of the book at Hill Tribe from 1 to 3 p.m.