Sometimes a creative outlet opens the doorway not only to our imagination, but to healing from past traumas. Patti Sue Dumas, a graduate of The Women’s Home and resident of Jane Cizik Garden Place turned to writing in the face of loss and grief. Picking up the pen felt like stepping into her purpose. Raised in a bookworm family, Patti Sue was never a stranger to writing, her first publication came in junior high school in a teacher’s magazine. It wasn’t until she moved to Jane Cizik Garden Place that Patti Sue flourished as a writer. She keeps hard copies of her work, including pieces she wrote while she went through our treatment program catalogued in binders on her bookshelves.
Her home computer, which she received as an unexpected but fervently hoped for donation, serves as her daily writing station. Patti Sue feels the computer came as an answer to her prayers for a writing computer and so the machine is dedicated solely to her work. Emails, internet searches and all other computer needs she takes care of in the community computer lab. Since March 2014, she has written over 40 pieces. Though Patti Sue has written prolifically, most of her work remains private as she works to build a manuscript.
The loss of her uncle this past March became the catalyst that rekindled Patti Sue’s passion for writing. Committing her feelings to paper allows Patti Sue to process the grief of loss, it is a chance to be heard without receiving an immediate response. Writing gives Patti Sue a confidence in her voice and thoughts that speaking off the cuff does not, the ability to revise, to go back and choose the perfect words for her message allows her to express herself in a new way. Patti Sue has no trepidation performing, having sung and spoken pieces she’s written with little notice. She and a friend were attending a pastor’s retirement dinner and when the speaker invited attendees to say a few words, Patti Sue’s off-handed mention of a perfect song had her friend arranging musical accompaniment. After her performance her friend complimented Patti Sue on her lack of nerves. The preparation Patti Sue puts into her work in private empowers her to share in public.
Though her narratives are fictional, the emotions behind them are Patti Sue’s own and seeing people moved by her work when they laugh, or cry and when they lean in anticipating the next turn. Seeing her audience become engrossed in her words means seeing a group of people care about what she has to say.
Though Patti Sue’s writing often focuses on heavy subjects such as death or illness, her stories hinge on the belief that even in painful times there is hope. “I want to give hope to the wounded. It is my belief that if a woman is only able to help one person in her lifetime…she has lived a life of success.” That one person could be Patti Sue herself. “I know my writing has changed my life for the better. That is the most important thing.”