Heiden, Emily

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This thesis is a collection of eight personal essays that the author crafted over the course of three years at George Mason University’s Master of Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction Program. The essays follow a chronological order. Essay 1, Origin Story, is meant to delve into earlier years; Essay 2, The Iowa Story, jumps to the author’s 22nd year of life; Essay 3, Oxygen, took place two years later. Darien, Connecticut, Essay 4, describes teaching high school in an especially singular environment. Essays 5 and 6 both took place during the Darien years, and are meant to serve as reminders to both the author and the reader that life is made up of no one tone or mood. Essays 7 and 8, Before You Decide and A Kindness, took place in Virginia, where I currently reside. The collection is entitled Silence because to tell many of these stories involves breaking a socially imposed muteness and set of cultural codes. It is my aim to tell the stories that need telling, regardless of such pre-existing constructions, which limit us and keep us alone in our emotions and experience, and thus perpetuate a cycle of stigma and shame.


This work was embargoed by the author and will not be publicly available until April 2030.


Women, Storytelling, Family, Dating, Rape, Abortion