BOSQUE FARMS — The day she wondered if she could take off her seat belt, open the door and jump from a moving car was the day Jean D. Stouffer knew she needed to make a change in her life.

She didn’t make that leap, but instead Stouffer took another leap — one that led her down the path of healing from childhood trauma and releasing long-held pain and sadness.

Stouffer’s father died when she was 5 years old, leaving her mother to raise her and her siblings — a brother, age 6, and sister, 8.

Jean D. Stouffer, author of “Sometimes I Cry,” lives in Bosque Farms.

“My mother could never grieve. It started with a glass of wine at night and then went way off the rails,” Stouffer said. “We were left with chaos.”

Looking back now as an adult, Stouffer realizes she didn’t process what happened during her childhood, but rather simply moved forward in life, taking all the expected steps — college, marriage and children, then a move to New Mexico.

Something just wasn’t right. Stouffer said she wanted to cry and would have all the usual emotions. Then the day in the car happened.

She and her husband, Dan, had been out of town, and the morning they were driving home to Bosque Farms, they had a minor spat, which was unusual.

That’s when she contemplated making that jump from the car.

“When we got home, I found an apartment, grabbed my purse and a blanket and a pillow and just left,” she said.

For more than three years, Stouffer lived alone and finally found the tears she had been seeking. It was the memory of the death of their dog, Molly Mongrel, that started the flood.

“I had never processed the grief of Molly. We had adopted her as a puppy, and I should have been able to cry,” Stouffer said. “She was steadfast, through all the ups and downs, raising kids. I was sitting in the apartment, thinking about her and the dam burst. There was this incredible sadness and pain. It does take courage to keep going, to keep processing those feelings.”

It took the advice of her therapist to help her understand and come to terms with the feelings about her mother. He kept telling Stouffer her mother abandoned her and she had the right to get angry.

“The day I got angry with her was the turning point. Once I got angry with her, I could start to see what a wonderful human being she was.”

Stouffer’s mother eventually went into treatment for alcoholism, and she got to know her as an adult.

“She had a great sense humor, loved music, was intelligent,” Stouffer said. “She fell off (the wagon) a few times. She was sober when she died 40 years ago.

“She was a neat lady. I would love to have a conversation with her now, knowing what I know now.”

During all this, Stouffer was writing what would become her first full-length book. Poetry, stories, even a chapter told from Molly Mongrel’s perspective on her last day.

Talking about her book is scary, Stouffer says, since it is so intimate.

“There are parts that are very dark. I worked through a lot of depression and anger.”

Then she put it on a shelf, never giving the idea of publishing it much thought. Then about five years ago, she mentioned it to a friend who had a similar childhood and was encouraged to get it published and onto shelves.

In late 2019, Stouffer was taking a class through the University of New Mexico’s continuing education program and connected with writing coach and editor, Carol March.

“She thought it was good enough to put it out there for others to read. She eventually edited the manuscript and guided me through the whole process.”

After publishing her memoir last year, Stouffer entered the book in the 2022 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards competition and was named a finalist for Best Autobiography/Memoir and Best First Book, New Mexico.

“While I didn’t win, I thought being considered a finalist was worth celebrating,” Stouffer said. “I think my book appeals to people who’ve had difficult childhoods and who have grown up in dysfunctional families.”

After 3 1/2 years of working through so much, she and Dan began to date again. Stouffer got to know her husband all over again and came back to her marriage a different person.

“He was willing to flow with that. It wasn’t, ‘Oh, you’re a different person. I’m out.’ Neither of us dated (while separated) and he was willing to go through it, flow with it.”

In one of the posts on her website, Stouffer wrote, “while I don’t regret any of the experiences I had, I do regret the hurt I caused Dan when I walked out. I am beyond grateful that we’ve been able to work things out. I cherish him, and I cherish our time together.”

Her book is “a gentle book,” Stouffer said, full of allegory.

“Even if yours isn’t an experience with alcohol, there is so much dysfunction in our families today. In the process of learning to grieve, you have to have the courage to feel,” Stouffer said. “I was afraid the pain was so much it would engulf me and sweep me away.”

She encourages anyone needing to heal to find someone to lean on — a good friend, a pastor, the right therapist.

“Let yourself feel. Acknowledge yourself. We are so quick to say, ‘You’re so stupid. Why did you do that? Why did you say that?’ Be gentle and loving with yourself.”

Stouffer was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and received her bachelor of arts in English from Ohio Dominican College. She worked as an editor and office manager before finding her calling as a hypnotherapist.

For more than 20 years, she helped people heal addictions, change un-adaptive patterns and learn how to lead more fulfilling lives.

Although now retired, Jean continues to teach relaxation techniques to cancer patients.

She lives, gardens and writes in Bosque Farms with her husband, Dan, and their canine buddy, Sevie the Super Dog.

Her writing has appeared in several guided imagery anthologies and in a variety of privately published works.

“Sometimes I Cry” is her first full-length book. For more information about Jean Stouffer and her writing journey, visit

Her book, “Sometimes I Cry,” is available for loan at the Bosque Farms Public Library and for sale on Amazon.

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Julia M. Dendinger began working at the VCNB in 2006. She covers Valencia County government, Belen Consolidated Schools and the village of Bosque Farms. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists Rio Grande chapter’s board of directors.