Tricia Barker experienced a profound near-death experience during her senior year of college, and this experience guided her to teach overseas, in public schools, and at the college level. Currently, she teaches English and Creative Writing at a beautiful community college in Fort Worth, Texas. Many of the classrooms at Trinity River Campus overlook the beautiful Trinity River which reminds Tricia of images from her near-death experience. Tricia’s memoir in-progress, Healed, chronicles the moment of her accident, her near-death experience, and other moments of trauma that affect many women. The book focuses on being of service to the world as one way to heal from trauma. Tricia’s poetry has been published in several publications including The Binnacle, The Paterson Literary Review, and The Midwest Quarterly.
"[After my NDE] I was so young, and innocent, and full of love -- this 22 year old young woman -- and I was oblivious to the darkness; I was oblivious to how to protect myself in this world. And I think part of my work is to remind young near-death experiencers how to protect themselves. Part of my story is kind of a tough story. I lived in this blissful, happy state of connection with everyone. I loved teaching and I loved my life so much, but when I was in South Korea, I was asleep in my bed and an acquaintance of a friend came in and raped me in this foreign country. I was shocked and horrified. I was this sensitive soul who was completely open to people. I tried to fight in that moment. It was totally shocking. The South Koreans look at foreign women in a different way than they look at South Korean women and all of my Korean female friends said don't even bother going to the police... so I just tried to spread the word as much as I could to other English teachers. Tell them that there are dangers that you might face and to really protect yourselves.
"But in that moment in time, [I asked myself] did I manifest this? I went through this horrible moment where I thought I could I have brought this into my life? It took many years for me to realize that, no, I'm just a young woman who was walking through this world and I experienced this. And part of my journey is to heal it within myself and to help other people heal. So it is possible to heal, but it certainly took away a lot of that light and connection for a time. I felt like something was shot right through me and I could see my energetic form and it looked as if I had been shot. It looked like I had this wound that went through me. When I met with other rape victims and rape survivors, I saw that there were different levels of healing that had occurred, as if they were sewing themselves back together in a way. And it was beautiful, but it was also very painful because when you saw someone who was just wide open with that wound, then you saw that they had a long way to go; there's a lot of healing to be done. It's a long journey.
"I didn't know why I was fated to have that until years later so many of my students -- male and female, even young boys and young girls -- would come to me and tell me their stories of being molested or raped. Sometimes in a crisis situation, I would have to call CPS [Child Protective Services] and deal with something that was going on in the home at that moment and I was so good in those crisis situations because I understood all those things that didn't happen for me I had to make sure that they were supported, they were loved, they called the police; I had to make sure that everything was done correctly and right for them. And so I can't tell you how many students I've met over the years from all ages -- from junior high, high school, and college, and at various levels of recovery from this. They were drawn to me. I was a safe person that they could talk to. And so that full circle. For many years, I was undoubtably angry and upset and I had to go through the whole healing process, but I realized whatever our wound are, they prepare us to be so much stronger and so much more loving in this world. So I clearly see what I didn't receive, I can give to others."
"Two to three years ago I was walking up the stairs at my campus and I heard this booming loud message from God. It said, 'Your mission is done. Your mission is completed. You do not have to teach. You can do whatever you want from this point forward.' ... Then I thought... I want people to know my story, my near-death experience, so I started writing a book and I thought well maybe the book can be a platform where I can reach even more young women and men at college campuses. Maybe I can do more speaking events. More events where I can work with larger groups of people. And so that was where I thought the natural progression might go..."
"I went into the classroom believing that angels would work through me; believing that even if I met this kid who was a gangster and he was going to drop out, if I just gave him some information that might help his life later down the road, then I was doing a good job. I didn't look at success in the academic way of did he graduate; no, you never know what spiritual message, what imprint you're leaving on someone to help them in their life later. So I went in with a different idea of how I wanted to help students. Certainly I wanted them to stay in school and succeed and have great jobs -- all of those things, but I went into teaching with this pure love for all people so even the most rebellious, angry student, I was able to take my ego out of it and go 'What's going on with you ?'... And with that kind of energy you can transform people pretty quickly."