“What makes you vulnerable makes you beautiful.” – Brené Brown

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Researchers conclude the popularity of Facebook and other social media platforms attributes to more than mere entertainment, personal connection, or a transfer of information. The popularity of such platforms is largely a matter of perception.

According to psychologists Hazel Markus and Paula Nurius, a person has two selves: the “now self” and the “possible self.” Creating a Facebook profile, Instagram feed, or personalized blog offers the opportunity to establish a third self: your “hoped-for possible self.” Anyone who has written a resume can relate to this concept. Some desire the perception of an expert, put together, without struggles, with all the best in life – and it is possible to be perceived in these ways.

It is easy to get caught up in the social media revolution and focus on the perceived self instead of the actual self. It is easier to hide your struggles than risk vulnerability by sharing a personal story or traumatic life event. Today’s featured author, Heather Cruz, sets the example of vulnerability.

Heather’s husband committed suicide when they were both around 28, leaving her with a 7-month old daughter. She wrote as she was processing her grief and experiencing her trauma in real time. Vulnerability became the foundation for her writing and her blog. Her blog became the foundation for her book, and both her blog and her book give Heather a platform to reach others. See how this writing journey affected Heather, and how she views the writing process as it relates to helping others.


My name is Heather and this is my story. The Widow Next Door follows me from marrying my best friend and succeeding through an infertility struggle, to becoming a widow and ultimately a single mother. This is the journal of my life after losing the love of my life to mental illness and suicide. My hope is to help others out there who may be traveling a similar path as I am.

What prompted you to begin writing?

I started writing 1 month after my husband’s death. It started as a personal blog journal to help with my healing. I made the journal public in hopes to help others traveling a similar path.

How long did you know you had to write your story?

I knew right away that it would be a good avenue for healing. While it only took a few months to realize I wanted to make something more, I still never actually got the final push and published for about five years.

What role (if any) did writing play in processing your grief?

It was HUGE! Right away I felt some relief just getting the words out of my mind. Now, since the book was published, I feel that it has finally come full circle. The trauma I had been handed now is spun into something positive. It brought on a new meaning. I took back my “power” over my life and experience.

What has been the response from those who’ve read your book?

The response has been overwhelming. Whether it was the response to the original blog posts or the book, both have been so humbling. I’ve been told how well I write, and all I can really comment is, “I just write how I feel.” Many have commented how raw, real, and truthful it is. That’s exactly how it was meant to be. I was true to my story and left nothing out. It means the world to me when I’m told that my story meant something to someone else. It’s amazing how many people have been able to relate, even in just a small way.

What advice would you give to others going through difficult or traumatic events as it relates to writing?

Write it down! When you have a thought, scribble it on a piece of paper, write it on your phone, record an audio memo. Do whatever it takes to get the thought out, and documented somewhere. Not only does it help to get it out of your head, it helps capture the feeling of that moment, and work with it later.

Describe the process of using your blog to write your book. 

For this specific book, it was the perfect method. I was writing my journey, day by day. The best way to be “in that moment” and be able to be 100% true to the process was to share the story as a journal. I chose this method simply because that’s how it all began. I didn’t set out to write a book. When the decision was made, I felt that the best way was to keep it all intact. It makes the most sense going in order and kept the reality of it all intact. 

What methods/motivators kept you focused on writing?

I knew that writing helped. When life was getting overwhelming, or something was really bothering me, I wrote it out. I looked forward to it. I didn’t need any other motivation than that.

What has been your greatest personal change through writing this book? 

It has certainly given me a sense of purpose. I was given this life for a reason. I needed to make something positive of it, and I have.

What were your thoughts and feelings once the book was completed?

A major sense of relief and accomplishment.

Do you think you have helped others through your work?

I have. I’m so thankful to those who have reached out and told me that I’ve helped them. It makes the journey worth it.

Heather Cruz is the author of The Widow Next Door published on February 16, 2018. She is in the early stages of her next writing project focused on dating after widowhood. You can connect with Heather at www.thewidownextdoor, Facebook/thewidownextdoor, or Twitter and Instagram @widownextdoor, and purchase The Widow Next Door here.

“To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable; to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength.” – Criss Jami


Is there a story you have to tell hidden behind the fear of vulnerability? Do you have a memoir to write? A personal story you feel apprehensive to share? A traumatic event to which others could relate? To those contemplating writing such stories, take Heather’s advice and “just be real.” Need help? Start here.


Resource: Taplin, Jonathan. (2017). Move Fast and Break Things. New York, NY: Hachette Book Group.


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