Updated: Nov 4, 2021
Trigger warning: This blog discusses multiple forms of trauma, including abuse, violence and suicide. Find below sources for support and assistance.
Name: Maryann Samreth
Where do you live now?
I recently moved back home to the suburbs of Chicago after 9 years living in NYC. I'm here temporarily until I relocate to Los Angeles next year!
Industry: Trauma Writing Coach
What does it mean to you to have a voice?
I always say you have to believe you deserve to use your voice before you start using it. Having a voice in my growing platforms means I have the power to create social impact and influence change in the world. I have a desire to create a more compassionate world with trauma education, destigmatizing mental health, and encouraging others who have survived trauma to reclaim their identity and take up space.
How did you find your voice?
I started expressing my voice after a series of rejections. By the time I was 27 years old, I had experienced so much complex trauma: 3 layoffs in the fashion industry, a sexual assault by my ex's best friend, and a narcissistic abusive relationship.
After being in a dark season for so long I began to channel my inner truths into writing on my iPhone and expressing it outward on my once anonymous Instagram account, called Sincerely Miss Mary. I had a desire to be seen and use my voice but from a place of safety. I wasn't ready to share my challenges with friends and family, so I channeled my stories into a creative outlet of poetry.
This experience felt like a release of the parts of me wanting to come out...this part being my true self. Eventually, I embodied the person who was standing up for herself on this social media account and was brave enough to publicly condemn my perpetrator, revealing my identity behind Sincerely Miss Mary and the painful truths of my abusive relationship.
What event or series of events helped you find your voice?
Writing was a powerful outlet for my voice and eventually led me on a healing journey to recover from trauma and become the person I am today. I now guide others to write their stories and heal forward through the process as a trauma writing coach.
Push-back and criticism are unavoidable when I am in a position of using my voice on large platforms. I grew a huge following on Tiktok in a few months and reached over 1 million people giving breakup recovery advice and sharing my story in March.
I received a lot of internet trolls and criticism from friends and family members who were uncomfortable with me using my voice...however I received more love from those who resonated and related to my experience. Judgment from others is what I accept as part of my job. I'm willing to sacrifice a little hate if it means the positive impact is larger.
How did 2020 help you refine/redefine your voice?
My voice was amplified in 2020. After I got furloughed from my fashion job in April, I decided to go all-in as a writer and continue sharing my stories of healing from abuse in the digital space. It's amazing how many people you can reach on social media and digital platforms. When I officially left my job in July, I took further steps to take up space by launching a memoir podcast, Mental Breakthrough, growing a TikTok following to 17K, and now teaching others how to write their stories as a trauma writing coach.
The advice I give myself now and in the future is to enjoy the process of life rather than to focus on the destination. This lesson is one I'm still working on. It's easy to fall into the hustle culture as an entrepreneur, but it's not sustainable or healthy to be working 24/7.
I am now taking more time to rest and enjoy the process of building my coaching business rather than focus on the results. What's most important to me is showing up to this journey in an intentional, mindful, and balanced way.
Whose voice are you influenced by?
I didn't have a mentor during difficult moments of my life, which is why I fight hard to be the person my younger self needed. I grew up in an Asian cultural upbringing where you sweep problems under the rug and never ask for help.
I was conditioned to be self-sufficient from an early age. However, I believe the bravest thing you can do is ask for help. Now I am surrounded by the support of people who cheer on my success and celebrate my presence.
I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago called Woodridge. It was a predominantly white neighborhood where I constantly felt pressure to fit in and assimilate to the white culture around me. I grew up feeling like I had to suppress my Cambodian heritage in order to be liked by everyone else. It wasn't until I moved to NYC in 2012 that I realized I never had to hide my Asian heritage, I could be both American and Cambodian equally.
The Cambodian culture, before the genocide, was highly driven by creativity. We were a country of artists, writers, musicians, and thought leaders. Unfortunately, these creatives were the first to go during the Khmer Rouge regimes. The people in my family that were persecuted were my great-uncle, a famous writer; my oldest aunt, a storyteller; and my grandpa, a community builder who survived the genocide but died a few years later. I believe when I write I channel all of the gifts they passed on to me. I use my voice because they weren't able to. By writing my stories I honor their legacy that was erased during the genocide.
How has your voice influenced others, particularly those in your community?
Because of the inner work I've done from healing generational trauma, I understand what other people on this journey are going through. We heal through relationships and creativity. By writing my stories and sharing them with the world, I see the feedback of hundreds of people who reach out and tell me they no longer feel alone reading and listening to my stories.
As humans, we are all extraordinary and have individually lived experiences shaping us into who we are today. I empower those around me, including the trauma writing students in my group coaching program, to lean into their courage to write their stories so they can reclaim their identity and make meaning of the dark moments of their lives.
I support other women by cheering on their successes and helping them celebrate themselves. I believe the universe is an abundant place and one woman's success does not take away from another. Being in the fashion industry for 7 years I have experienced abusive female leaders diminishing and minimizing others for their success. Seeing this unhealthy behavior taught me who I didn't want to become as a leader.
To be able to support one another you have to come from a place of self-love and build an abundance mindset rather than a scarcity mindset. The universe didn't put a cap on how many women can succeed in the world, there's enough success and opportunities for all of us.
Where will your voice lead next?
I have many projects coming up within the next year. I am deepening my trauma education by getting a somatic trauma training certification and starting my somatic experiencing practitioner training program next January. Somatic Experiencing is one of the top trauma healing modalities for PTSD and CPTSD. I hope to build an additional trauma recovery coaching practice to help adults recover from childhood trauma, which is a current journey I am on personally. I will continue to amplify my voice through my podcast, Mental Breakthrough, trauma writing coaching practice, and creating trauma education awareness on my social media platforms. The way I use my voice is ever-evolving and I look forward to welcoming change on this journey we call life!