Rachel Thompson on RachelintheOC

About Rachel Thompson

Rachel Thompson is the author of the award-winning Broken Pieces, as well as two additional humor books, A Walk In The Snark and Mancode: Exposed. Rachel is published and represented by Booktrope. She owns BadRedhead Media, creating effective social media and book marketing campaigns for authors. For affordable group sessions check out Author Social Media Boot Camp, monthly sessions to help all authors! Her articles appear regularly in The Huffington Post, The San Francisco Book Review (BadRedhead Says…), 12Most.com, bitrebels.com, BookPromotion.com, and Self-Publishers Monthly. Rachel is the creator and founder of #MondayBlogs and #SexAbuseChat and an advocate for sexual abuse survivors. She hates walks in the rain, running out of coffee, and coconut. She lives in California with her family.

The Day I Became Anne Frank by Guest Sarah Fader (@osnsmom)

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Please welcome Huffington Post blogger and Stigma Fighters leader Sarah Fader to the blog today as she shares her story of battling depression. 

When I was a teenager, I began struggling with anxiety and depression. I would wake up to my heart racing uncontrollably. My mental health issues were like an annoying person that insisted on tagging along with me everywhere I went. As much as I told the person to go away, she insisted on staying with me. So I learned to live with her, as irritating as she was. She was a nuisance at first, until I began to use her. I learned that the pain that depression caused made me a better artist.

As an adolescent I attended the “Fame” high school in New York City. I was studying theater there. During my sophomore year I played the role of Anne Frank. Also during this time, I was suffering a great deal with clinical depression. I was having trouble eating, showering and functioning. I was in a tremendous amount of emotional pain.

I knew the pain was going to be there no matter what. It was an unwelcome guest, a tagalong and an annoyance. So I used it. As I played the role of Anne Frank, I thought about my emotional agony and I used it to convey how Anne felt. She was trapped. She was in love with Peter, but there was no future for the two of them. Her death was imminent. Her pain was my pain. I became Anne.

I’ll never forget that day. I held my scene partner, Nick’s, hands and looked into his eyes searching for something. Earnestly I thought, maybe he has the answer to my pain.

It was the best scene I ever performed during my time at Performing Arts high school. My classmates came up after the scene and congratulated me on my work. Little did they know that the reason that scene was so poignant, the reason that it was emotionally cathartic was that I was experiencing emotional turmoil. I wasn’t myself. I was consumed by a black hole otherwise known as clinical depression.

After graduating high school, I stopped pursuing theater for some time. Unfortunately, that left me with no outlet to express my intense emotions, so I developed an ulcer. I knew that I needed to find an alternative outlet for my emotions that wouldn’t reap havoc on my body. I went in search of what that might be.

Since that time, There have been moments when I’ve felt hopeless, moments where I’ve felt my heart pounding so hard I thought my rib cage would explode. There have been times that my entire body was tingling because I’d forgotten to breathe for an indeterminate amount of time. During these moments I’ve found a way to release these intense emotions.

Instead of using them to create a theatrical performance, I’ve transmitted these overpowering emotions into writing. I refuse to let my emotions stay inside of myself. Instead they will pour out of my heart and onto a page where they belong.

Writing provides me with a much needed release from clinical depression. When I write my feelings on paper I see what they are. They are no longer overwhelming. They are tangible. I can touch the words. I can read them aloud. I can see that they are just a series of words forming together to become coherent thoughts.

When I feel: I write.
When I write: I release.
When I release: I heal.

 

About Sarah Fader:

Sarah FaderSarah Fader is the creator of the popular parent-life blog Old School /New School Mom. Her work can been found on The Huffington Post. Sarah is a native New Yorker who enjoys naps, talking to strangers, and caring for her two small humans and two average-sized cats. Additionally, like about six million other American adults, Sarah lives with panic disorder. She writes a column for Psychology Today called Panic Life. She is currently leading the Stigma Fighters campaign, which gives individuals with mental illness a platform to share their personal stories. Through Stigma Fighters, Sarah hopes to show the world that there is a diverse array of real everyday people behind mental illness labels.

Sign up for my newsletter and never miss a post again! I will never share your email and that’s a promise. Follow me on Twitter @RachelintheOC or @BadRedheadMedia for social media, branding, or marketing help. Increase your blog traffic by participating in #MondayBlogs (a Twitter meme I created to share posts on Mondays — no book promo) and entering my free feature giveaway.

Starting OCTOBER 27: Author Social Media Boot Camp! Take a look: group sessions for authors on a budget. Now you too can get affordable, effective help FAST! Follow @ASMBootCamp on Twitter and sign up today here

At this writing, Broken Pieces is #1 on the paid Women’s Poetry list on Amazon. Click for a sample or go ahead, purchase a copy (eBook or print from Booktrope).

Saturated by guest Sarafina Bianco (@FinaBianco)

Please welcome author and domestic violence survivor Sarafina Bianco to the blog as she shares her story of abuse, suffering, and finally rebuilding. 

*Trigger Warning*

It’s been five years since I left the house on Sunset, but it seems like it happened last week. Time escaping me like morning dew as the sun rises. I still remember that hot July morning, limping out of a sociopath’s playground toward freedom. The week before he held a gun to my head. The morning I left, he threw me down a flight of stairs.

Leaving meant I would live, but life didn’t begin again once I escaped. Instead, I suffered the aftermath of my abuser, something my family and friends tried to understand. I should’ve been happier without him, they said. And I believed them. There we sat, thinking the year and a half I lost with him was all that would be taken.

But that’s not what happened.

My abuse was sexual, physical, emotional and financial. The aftermath of each haunted me. I lost my job because he was my boss. Three days later, a man and his wife chained my Beetle to their tow truck and stripped me of transportation and, more than that, the tiny shreds of dignity I was still holding onto. Then, a month later my house went into foreclosure proceedings. Jobless, carless and homeless at the age of twenty six. All because I loved with the wrong guy.

Standing in the yard of the house I was losing, I stared back at black shutters, wondering when they would fall like I had. My mums were dead. And in many ways, so was I.

In another sense, I was more alive than I’d been. He couldn’t rape me in the shower or beat me before breakfast. I didn’t have to hold my breath before speaking. And normal bumps and scrapes looked plunging shades of eggplant and red-violet, each a saturated and deep reminder that physical injuries disappear faster than emotional ones.

Sometimes, when my head was noisy, I’d inflict my own wounds, throwing myself against sharp edges of furniture or cutting my legs with razors to watch myself bleed, to remember I was alive. My life was reduced to this. Too much to handle, I made myself suffer the same injuries he did. To ease the excruciating depression, anxiety and panic, I battered myself, hoping physical pain would mask the emotional: my own personal form of bloodletting. In the interim, I showed signs of PTSD and body dysmorphic disorder. This was my life now. Unrecognizable. Unforgiving. Unbelievably broken.

I begrudgingly accepted help from people who, just a year before, looked up to me. And I was embarrassed about it. Survival, after all, is the commonality among us all: our abuse and abusers may differ, but we each face the unfair, unfiltered aftermath. It’s the place where we lose ourselves before we relearn how to live.

Certain I couldn’t afford therapy, I knew it was time to quit holding so many secrets. So I started a tiny blog, sharing details as excruciating as the ones I’ve shared here.

Eight months after I left, strangers were reading my story. And one of them, a childhood survivor of abuse, reached out to me.

“There are free services,” he said. “My dad abused my mom while I watched. Non-profits offer therapy, if you’re lucky.” An hour later, I found one in St. Louis.

The wait list was long, six months until I could be registered. But knowing I would receive help pulled me out of some moments of sadness, and I kept writing my journey, hopeful my honesty would also be my release.

I started intense trauma therapy for survivors a year after I left.

It took a long time for me to trust anyone, including my therapist, but I kept non-violently fighting. If I didn’t, suffering wouldn’t stop. I had no choice but to keep trying, to push through the discomfort and depression. A year later, I started seeing noticeable changes. I’d stopped hurting myself physically. And my blog was being nominated for awards I didn’t know existed.

Life reminded me it was worth living just in time to rebuild.

After three years of therapy and five years of surviving, I changed career paths, making a life as a writer and advocate. I wrote my blog into a book, detailing the remnants of a broken life in hopes society might, someday, better understanding the inner workings of abuse. And I will stand beside any woman who wants to share her horrors, because we all deserve to be heard.

My life is – once again – moving faster than I’m ready for. The House on Sunset was released on September 22nd, a baby of a book waiting for people to judge it. Old fears surface and threatened permanence. What if it sucks? What if my message is lost in the sadness?

Then I remind myself I’ve lived through worse than someone telling me they don’t like my writing. Bad reviews and infrequent sales are nothing. If I can survive at the hands of a man who tried to murder me, I can certainly rebound from something as small as an opinion.

There’s no denying life gets ugly. We all face adversity. It’s what we do in the aftermath, the choices we make and the beliefs we hold about them that define us. Nobody else controls that. Nobody else determines our worth.

I know I’m stronger than the naysayers and critics now, because I’m sharing my story anyway.

Image courtesy of  marcolm at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

About Sarafina Bianco:

Fina_400x400Sarafina Bianco is the author of The House on Sunset, a memoir released on Amazon. She is a domestic violence survivor, blogger, columnist and activist. She is starting the Twitter campaign #domesticviolencechat, set to begin on October 1st: the first day of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. You can find her on her blog, Twitter and Facebook. She also writes for The Flounce and The Good Men Project weekly.

Sarafina lives with her husband and three dogs in St. Louis, Missouri.

Sign up for my newsletter and never miss a post again! I will never share your email and that’s a promise. Follow me on Twitter @RachelintheOC or @BadRedheadMedia for social media, branding, or marketing help. Increase your blog traffic by participating in #MondayBlogs (a Twitter meme I created to share posts on Mondays — no book promo) and entering my free feature giveaway.

Starting OCTOBER 27: Author Social Media Boot Camp! Take a look: group sessions for authors on a budget. Now you too can get affordable, effective help FAST! Follow @ASMBootCamp on Twitter and sign up today here

All content copyrighted unless otherwise specified. © 2014 by Rachel Thompson, author. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to use short quotes provided a link back to this page and proper attribution is given to me as the original author.

#MondayBlogs Giveaway October 2014

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Since I created #MondayBlogs in late 2012, even I’m shocked at what an amazing success it has become! Thousands participate each week, generating more than 5,000 tweets! And it is because of all of you that we can say that with a lot of pride and a big ol’ smile! As a thank you to all you wonderful #MondayBlogs tweeps, we launched an ongoing, monthly giveaway contest in April and we couldn’t be happier with the response!

#MondayBlogs is a terrific way to increase traffic, too!

The Featured Monday Blogger giveaway is our way to say thank you for participating in #MondayBlogs by giving you more exposure for you and your blog. Each Monday for one month, you could have a different tweet sent out by @MondayBlogs to all our followers and be featured on IndieBookPromo.com! But wait, there’s more! Following you, the lucky winner, on Twitter would enter others into the next month’s contest!

Nice bit of exposure, don’t ya think?

That sound like something you’d be interested in?

If so, enter now!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Featured Blogger September 2014
Morgan Dragonwillow at The Dancing Muse

Happy Sharing,
Rachel, Will, and Kate

The Power of the Survivor Memoir by @TruthIsHers

The Power of the Survivor Memoir

by staff writer Bobbi Parish (aka @TruthIsHers)

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Storytelling has always been a powerful, integral part of human life. We tell stories to entertain, impart knowledge, and record our history. A narrative is the easiest format for us to understand and relate to. Through it we connect with our past, information and other human beings in a way that would be difficult otherwise, especially before the advent of the written word.

Since time began, we have been telling stories through oral traditions, song and dance. Through the development of the written word, mass communication and international travel, storytelling has moved beyond the local tribe, town and clan. Now a story can be conceived of in someone’s mind anywhere and shared around the world with speed and ease. Because of this our world is flatter, more multi-cultural and most assuredly richer. The more developed the world has become, the more powerful the personal narrative has become.

For survivors of childhood abuse, telling their story is particularly powerful. At the very core of the after effects of childhood abuse is shame and a lack of self-worth that often dips into self-loathing. Those two forces pull the survivor into isolation, away from the eyes of the world where they believe others will easily see their glaring flaws.

MEMOIR

When someone tells their story of abuse and survival through memoir it is a commanding force against the shame and worthlessness. In that simple step forward, out of the shadows to state their truth, they are not only claiming their worth but also choosing to stand in the light. “Here is my story,” they are declaring, “I’m not ashamed of it or myself. It’s worthy of being told and also being read.” That’s a fierce statement from someone who spent years engulfed in the flames of shame and worthlessness.

The boldness of a survivor publishing their memoir empowers other survivors as well. That isolation that abuse victims seek keeps them from one of the most healing tools for their recovery journey: community with safe, supportive peers. Gathering with other survivors provides camaraderie and encouragement. More importantly, it shatters shame. Abuse victims come to understand that others feel the same way they do, experience some of the same aftereffects of the abuse they do, and struggle to recover just like they do. It is liberating to an individual who has known little freedom in their life.

COMMUNITY

When a survivor reads another survivor’s memoir, they join in community with the author. They see the life of another victim taken apart and destroyed by their abuser, like theirs was. They see someone else bear the crushing weight of shame and worthlessness, struggling to rebuild their lives while carrying that heavy burden. And they know they aren’t alone in their own journey to bear the weight of their own abuse. The survivor’s shame decreases and their world expands.

The awareness of childhood sexual abuse also expands with every memoir a survivor publishes. As a society we don’t usually talk openly about this topic. It’s a hush, hush taboo matter. To decrease the shame and isolation of survivors we need to discuss childhood sexual abuse. Honestly. Openly. Often.

The need to speak publicly about childhood sexual abuse is one of the primary reasons Rachel and I launched a weekly #SexAbuseChat Tuesday evenings on Twitter. Toward the same goal Athena Moberg, a Trauma Recovery Coach, and I launched a weekly Google Hangout for Survivors on Wednesday evenings.

NO MORE SHAME PROJECT

In November, the three of us will be publishing our first survivor anthology. We had an overwhelmingly positive response to the anthology project. To move even further toward bringing the power of telling and sharing the survivor story into the public domain Rachel, Athena and I are thrilled to announce that we have formed No More Shame Publishing! Beginning in 2015, we will be publishing survivor memoirs in both eBook and paperback format. We are so excited to move our advocacy for abuse survivors into this new realm. Look for more details about the submission process soon.

In the meantime, look for the first #NoMoreShame Project Anthology to be published on November 17, 2014. The project tagline is: Every Survivor. Every Voice. Every Story. Join us as we work to make that a reality in the coming months!

You can connect with Bobbi on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ or on her website.

 

Sign up for my newsletter and never miss a post again! I will never share your email and that’s a promise. Follow me on Twitter @RachelintheOC or @BadRedheadMedia for social media, branding, or marketing help. NEW: Author Social Media Boot Camp! Take a look: group sessions for authors on a budget. Now you too can get affordable, effective help FAST! Follow @ASMBootCamp on Twitter.

 

All content copyrighted unless otherwise specified. © 2014 by Rachel Thompson, author. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to use short quotes provided a link back to this page and proper attribution is given to me as the original author.

 

Why Trigger Warnings Empower Survivors

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*Trigger Warning*

A talented author friend Amy Gigi Alexander pointed me to an opinion piece this past week in a journal (I’m purposely not sending you to it because, well, I’ll get further into that below), that stated with silly and outdated words (which the article author claims she used for effect) that trigger warnings for sexual abuse survivors are ‘poppycock.’ As is the right of the author and of the journal to share opinions, it is our right as readers to disagree. The reaction was swift: negative and uproarious from the survivor community (and I will say here, I like the journal — they typically publish great work).

The article author went on to say that while she herself is a rape ‘victim,’ she didn’t believe that trauma ‘victims’ could be triggered by reading content, and if we are, it’s because we’ve read too much misinformation on PTSD (which she claims is extremely rare and only exists in less than 2% of all (military, accidents, abuse) trauma ‘victims,’ and that all a trigger warning does is give us an opportunity to continue to ‘perpetuate avoidance,’ causing us to insulate ourselves from real life.

Finally, *trigger warning* she goes into an unrelated and extremely graphic description of a video of a young girl in third-world country being buried alive and stoned to death by a group of young men (with no warning and in far greater detail), which is where I stopped reading because, well, I WAS TRIGGERED.*

Let’s deconstruct.

TRIGGER WARNINGS

It wasn’t until I started writing my own book Broken Pieces, where I share my own experience with childhood sexual assault, rape, and other difficult topics, that I started to pay attention to and think about whether my content would trigger any readers who had survived such traumas themselves. I had a psychologist friend take a look, as well as an ER nurse, who had plenty of experience with trauma, particularly with rape kits in a trauma setting. With the exception of a few words (removed before release), they both gave me their approval. (Still, I do give readers plenty of warning that the material, while not graphic, can be triggering and is not appropriate for readers under eighteen.)

Survivors tend to be more empathetic than non-survivors — not always, of course, but in general terms, our survival tactics make us more prone and sensitive to stories of violence, trauma, graphic content (descriptive or visual), and even loud noises. The hyper-vigilance that many of us lived with for years, even decades, creates these types of reactions. That is, for me, one of the many reasons trigger warnings are quite helpful. It doesn’t mean I won’t read or watch any and all stories, but it gives me pause, and helps me make an informed decision.

As I read this piece, I initially became infuriated by the writer’s use of the term ‘victim.’ Victim is a legal term — the victim of a crime. Sadly, it’s taken on a much more negative connotation in popular culture, that a person (typically and sadly, female), is a ‘victim.’ It’s for this reason that I never use the word, only survivor.

PTSD

As I continued to read her dismissive disrespect of PTSD (and knew that her numbers were very low), I made a mental note to check a report I’d read recently that said that up to 50% of trauma survivors have symptoms of PTSD that affect their daily lives. I realize that she can pull any report that supports her assertions, as can I. Maybe she’s ‘more right,’ maybe I am. Right is unimportant here.

Let’s say her numbers are right. Let’s say that only 2% of all trauma survivors, of all types of trauma worldwide, have PTSD. That’s still awful, and I hope that those people are being treated with the love, compassion, and therapeutic options they need, and not as if they are running away from their problems, as this author states in her article.

GRAPHIC VIOLENCE

I cannot unsee the very detailed description of this young girl’s death, and this was my biggest issue with the article — that it contained extremely graphic content, as if it were some kind of fucked up social experiment. I would never have watched such a video or chosen to read about it in such precise and graphic detail — yes, I know these types of things happen in life, but I make the choice to watch or read about such content, and I would never share that without proper content warning.

I felt her inclusion of that video description was mean-spirited, to me and to many others, and disrespectful to survivors in particular.

MY FINAL SAY

For what it’s worth, I refused to comment on the article itself or share it on social media. The writer claims to have respect for ‘victims’ (please); her point is that trigger warnings are useless. I compliment my writer/survivor friend for bringing this article to my attention, and hope that it gives anyone who hasn’t survived some kind of trauma to at least be sensitive and compassionate to those of us who have.

At the core, trigger warnings are a yellow light — proceed with caution; not a red light that requires us to stop. Ultimately, the decision is ours. Providing a trigger warning is kind. It is compassionate. It empowers us to decide.

We’re strong, we’re survivors, and we don’t need you to tiptoe around us. What we ask for with trigger warnings is simply a choice – the same kind of choice our abusers took away.

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I’d love YOUR thoughts. Please comment or share your experiences below.

I’m also thrilled to announce that the selections have been made for the first #NoMoreShame Project volume! All writers have been contacted by Bobbi Parish. Take a look at our promo — it’s amazing! Find more resources here on the #NoMoreShame Project YouTube page and on my Advocacy page here.

 

*What is a trigger exactly? According to PyschCentral:

A trigger is something that sets off a memory tape or flashback transporting the person back to the event of her/his original trauma.

Triggers are very personal; different things trigger different people. The survivor may begin to avoid situations and stimuli that she/he thinks triggered the flashback. She/he will react to this flashback, trigger with an emotional intensity similar to that at the time of the trauma. A person’s triggers are activated through one or more of the five senses: sight, sound, touch, smell and taste.

 

(Photo courtesy FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Let’s Talk Suicide and Compassion

Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.
If you want to be happy, practice compassion

~ The Dalai Lama

An English fellow with a fairly large following left a stark, terrifying message on his Facebook wall last week, a suicide note: he had swallowed a lethal dose of pills, he had given up, he was done.

NC-Suicide-Prevention-Ad

Predictably, and with swift action, hundreds of people worldwide banded together to get him help and fortunately, help made it in time. We all breathed a collective sigh of relief. He was taken to hospital and it is our hope, got the psychiatric help he desperately needs. The wonders of social media — saving a life, yea? Lots of shit happens on social media — awful, terrible things. But this was one instance where I felt buoyed by the wonders of technology!

I don’t know this man well, other than a few retweets here and there and reading a few of his blog posts. We’re not good friends, but he seems like a nice enough guy who has been going through a rough time. We’ve all known rough times. Having compassion for another is part of being human. So when I saw people criticize him for leaving his suicide note on Facebook, telling him to just get it over with, calling him a ‘coward,’ and other such bitter ‘tough love’ armchair psychobabble, I was appalled. Shocked. Upset.

But not all that surprised.

SUICIDE PREVENTION

September is National Suicide Prevention Month.

‘According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nearly 3000 people on average commit suicide daily. Suicide rates are at an all time high for veterans. In addition, for every person who commits suicide, 20 or more others attempt to end their lives.’

About one million people die by suicide each year (WHO). World Suicide Prevention Day, which first started in 2003, is recognized annually on Septembr 10. World Suicide Prevention Day aims to:

  1. Raise awareness that suicide is preventable
  2. Improve education about suicide
  3. Spread information about suicide awareness
  4. Decrease stigmatization regarding suicide

This is most staggering to me: 90% of people who die by #suicide have a diagnosable/treatable psychiatric disorder at the time of their death. Youth is especially at risk (bullying, gays, etc. Read more here at The Semicolon Project).

MY EXPERIENCE

I’ve not personally tried to kill myself, though the thought crossed my mind when I was in the midst of experiencing the childhood sexual abuse I write about in Broken Pieces (I was eleven). It wasn’t until recently that I’ve been able to recognize and admit that. Not because of the stigma — if anything, I’m an open book. No, it’s more because I didn’t realize that what I was feeling — that complete desperation of wanting to make it just stop, and looking for ways to make that happen — was me actually considering it. Looking in my folks’ medicine cabinet and opening bottles of mystifying names colors stumped that lost, young child. A good thing, I realize now.

Fortunately, it never went further for me, despite depression, anxiety, and PTSD — I sought help as an adult and continue treatment (medical and therapeutic) to this day. The few times I’ve attempted to stop meds, the gray closes in. So, I accepted long ago that I will continue to go with what works for me. Because, despite what anybody else says about me or how they think I should be doing things, my depression belongs to me and not to anyone else.

COMPASSION

A few years ago, an ex-lover shot himself in the heart. It was as shocking as you would imagine it to be. We hadn’t seen each other in over twenty years though we had been in touch. In fact, we had chatted that day at lunch and I had no idea that anything was wrong. Those closest to him knew though, and, as I discovered later, not only was he an alcoholic, he had suffered from depression (most likely untreated bipolar, given his predilection for high-risk behavior — drugs, bull-riding, black-diamond skiing, etc).

Many people who knew him felt what he did was incredibly selfish — he had a young son, debts, etc. I didn’t agree, and I still don’t. What’s lacking in that attitude is compassion, and let’s face it, respect. His burden became to heavy to carry any longer. It was his life. I felt the same with the fellow I mentioned at the beginning, as well as with Robin Williams’ tragic death. Who are we to play judge and jury with someone else’s life?

If someone is in pain and we know, we reach out. That is what good people do. Even if we don’t know what to do or how to do it, we reach out. That’s where compassion comes in. Being there is often enough. Calling someone names or making judgments about them says far more about those who say those things than it ever says about the person they are targeting. What are these people thinking?

(Compassion is my watchword for this year, and I’m trying really hard to have compassion for the people saying these really awful things, but I’m not perfect. They really pissed me off. The best I can come up with is that they must be speaking from a place of their own great loss and pain, and I hope they follow their own advice and seek help as well.)

Before you make a flippant comment, remember, this IS life or death.

We can never judge the lives of others, because each person knows only their own pain and renunciation. It’s one thing to feel that you are on the right path, but it’s another to think that yours is the only path.’ 

~ Paulo Coelho 

#MondayBlogs Giveaway September 2014

MB-FINAL-LOGO-KLM

Since I created #MondayBlogs in late 2012, even I’m shocked at what an amazing success it has become! Thousands participate each week, generating more than 5,000 tweets! And it is because of all of you that we can say that with a lot of pride and a big ol’ smile! As a thank you to all you wonderful #MondayBlogs tweeps, we launched an ongoing, monthly giveaway contest in April and we couldn’t be happier with the response!

The Featured Monday Blogger giveaway is our way to say thank you for participating in #MondayBlogs by giving you more exposure for you and your blog. Each Monday for one month, you could have a different tweet sent out by @MondayBlogs to all our followers and be featured on IndieBookPromo.com! But wait, there’s more! Following you, the lucky winner, on Twitter would enter others into the next month’s contest!

Nice bit of exposure, don’t ya think?

That sound like something you’d be interested in?

If so, enter now!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Featured Blogger August 2014
Shikha at Shikha La Mode

Happy Sharing,
Rachel, Will, and Kate

Shame (An Excerpt from the Upcoming Broken Places by @RachelintheOC)

An excerpt from my upcoming release, Broken Places, coming soon from Booktrope! Continuing along the same vein as my third book Broken Pieces (available from Amazon in digital format, print from Booktrope everywhere), I continue to write nonfiction essays and poetry about love, loss, grief, sexual abuse, and relationships in raw, sometimes graphic detail. This, is Shame.

*Trigger Warning — contains graphic language and references of sexual assault* 

 

SHAME

Shame doesn’t like to talk. She prefers to walk through a room, the center of attention, the girl that all the boys dream of, all eyes on her, flash and heels and lips and eyes, and hair.

freedigitalphotos.net

freedigitalphotos.net

Shame is the one everyone talks about but nobody talks to.

Shame wears pretty, tiny bits of clothes, fancy makeup, and drives a cool red fast car, the kind all little girls dream of when they play with their Barbies. She has all the hottest boyfriends, and even the occasional hot girlfriend, who shows up late to the cool kids’ parties as if she’s too good to be there anyway, and besides, ‘this place blows,’ she tells her jock hottie of the day, as she sashays her tiny hips poured into her ‘$1200 a pop paid for by daddy’ jeans out the door to the next coke-fueled gig.

Shame has a secret. Shame saturates herself with distractions, partying all day and all night because she’s desperately sad, filled with the loneliness of the lost, her heart a shell scraped so deep because she left it in an alley one night with her pride and her virginity when one large man pinched and shoved and filled and grabbed in ways she cringes to remember, in tears and rages, in nightmares and flashes she can’t ever discuss with another human.

Because he was an animal and that makes her one, too.

Shame carries this animal in her skin, unable to shake his eyes boring into hers as she fought and kicked while he held her down, sticking his furious cock into her. As she watched from above, she wondered aloud why he even needed to bother with a live girl, if all he wanted was a hole, he could have just as easily found some sort of household appliance to stick it in. A hole was a hole was a hole.

But he didn’t hear her mumbled words.

Nobody hears Shame. They follow her, watching her every move, but they don’t see her. They don’t see her terror, how she shakes alone in her room at night, how she wakes up covered in the slimy sweat of the animal, smelling his stink, flashing on his fetid breath, his flaccid penis finally moving away from her face, forever wiping his semen from her lips in the hour-long, skin-burning hot showers she takes

every night,

every night,

every night,

scrubbing away that which will never fucking die.

Nobody talks to Shame. They look at her, they stare at her, but they don’t embrace her. She’s not one of them. She’s this creature, this thing nobody will ever love or soothe, or even acknowledge. Shame knows this.

She was born out of fear and terror and hurt. She knows that she is nobody’s friend.

Because, after all, who wants to be friends with Shame?

(copyright 2014, Rachel Thompson, not to be reprinted without the author’s permission. Broken Places, 2014.)

 

If you enjoyed this excerpt, please leave a comment below. Want to join my street team, The BadRedheads (no red hair required!) and support my marketing efforts and get previews and cool swag and stuff? Learn more here. Be sure to get my occasional and completely non-critical but kinda cool newsletter here. Okay, off you go….

 

 

 

 

Transcending the Pain of Sexual Abuse by guest Liz Ferro (@GirlsWithSole)

Girls with Sole

Please help me in welcoming Liz Ferro, founder of Girls with Sole to the blog today, as she shares her journey through the pain of sexual abuse and hardship that lead her to a place of healing and supporting others through fitness.

When I was born I was given to the foster care system. After living in four foster homes amongst trauma and turmoil, I was adopted at age two. At the age of eight my next-door neighbor began sexually abusing me and continued to do so for about a year. When my mom discovered what was happening she made the fatal mistake of sweeping it under the rug. Maybe if we ignore it – it will go away. Well, much like anything that needs healing –ignoring it can often do more damage than good.

[tweet alt="" hash="" url="http://wp.me/p2cVUa-Ny" p=""]For much of my life I felt helpless and out of control[/tweet]- like I wanted to run away from myself. I wondered if I would ever feel at home in my body.

Today, when I look into the mirror and study the lines on my face, as I often do, I know that I’m the same person that I was all those years ago….but how can that be?

I lean into the mirror and do my best to see if I can catch a glimpse of that person somewhere deep inside the reflection but I don’t see her. Perhaps she sunk to the depths of my ocean colored eyes. It seems that the deeper the lines and wrinkles of time begin to show on my face-the harder it is to remember that girl, and the smaller the chance of ever seeing her resurface. Never to be forgotten, and possibly to help future generations of cast aways find solace, the memories of her have been scrawled on paper and placed in a bottle that tosses among the ceaseless waves of my brain.

Ocean waves, like old memories, often seem playful and harmless just before they come crashing down on us with a thunderous force but I don’t have to worry about rogue waves anymore.

Over the years, an abundance of salty tears have washed over those bottled memories, transforming them into shards of faded patina sea glass and leaving behind only a mythical, beautifully mysterious, and yet, tragically misunderstood mermaid of who I used to be.

Like buried treasure that is never unearthed, those memories are buried too deeply to see the light of day. They will permanently remain on the map, however, and I’m glad that they exist because they are a big part of what makes me the treasure that I am today.

The old feelings of self-hate and patterns of self-destruction that was my life for so many years were actually the spark that ignited my passion to create the non-profit, Girls With Sole, that uses free fitness and wellness programs to empower the minds, bodies and souls of girls who have experienced any type of abuse, or who are at-risk.

The girls that I work with everyday in Girls With Sole programming are blown away by stories of this mythical creature. Surely she couldn’t have existed. They look at me now and ask me:

“How can it be?”

With all the things that happened to you – how are you so happy, Ms. Liz?

Finish Line FeelingThey participate in Girls With Sole programming; they read my book, Finish Line Feeling and before they know it, they come to me and say:

[tweet alt="" hash="" url="http://wp.me/p2cVUa-Ny" p=""]“You inspire me and give me hope for a good life, Ms. Liz”[/tweet]

I am sure to let them know that it took time and effort to get there. I worked hard on self-healing and took a microscope to my interior – carefully investigating the scariest parts of my mind, my heart and my soul. It took a long time, but with the therapeutic effects of running, biking and swimming….I found my way out of the deep darkness and into the blue skies of a life that finally felt free. The heavy weight of self hate was completely washed away and I came to the realization that the rest of my life would be dedicated to bringing this same realization to girls who need it.

My whole life I was told I was wild and crazy. This was never meant as a playful or funny compliment- like the two wild and crazy guys played by Dan Aykroyd and Steve Martin on the old Saturday Night Live episodes. When I was young I had a sizzling energy, that, combined with my mistrust of the world, and my inner anger…..created a neutron bomb of wild behavior ready to go off at any given moment. I was prone to sudden, angry outbursts that were beyond alarming to those who witnessed them. I was always considered “too much” of everything that was unacceptable. I was too loud, too wild, too sensitive, too destructive and disruptive, too obnoxious, too talkative, too moody, too crazy, too much of a perfectionist, too hard on myself and others – just “too much!”

I was the kid that adults couldn’t stand. Teachers were frustrated with me and I spent more time in the principal’s office than in the classrooms of my grade school. On the first day of Kindergarten I was sent home for punching a boy in the face at the finger-painting easels.

I was kicked out of the Girl Scouts.

I made most of my friends’ parents very nervous, many of them asking my mom what she was going to do to tame me. Ritalin was often suggested.

In high school I was suspended for a week from school for taking part in a food fight. When the principal called my mom to tell her, he told her that I was an “animal.”

In college I jumped out of moving cabs when the people I was riding with angered me, and put myself in the most precarious situations because I was the wild child; the hell raiser; the party girl. Storms brewed inside of me that kept the glowing embers of self-hate and misery alive. It was excruciating for me at times to be in my own skin. I longed to feel at home in my own body. Thank God I kept running and swimming, and it was both of these things that kept me from turning to drugs and even from suicide. I knew I was “wild” and that people worried about me and for my well being. Sometimes I was even a little afraid of me, if truth be told.

When I was a young adult I was told that “a room full of psychiatrists wouldn’t be able to figure out what was going on in my head.”

Members of my own family often told me I was crazy, wild, directionless, and begged me to tell them what was wrong with me.

For most of my life, being a wild girl was considered a bad thing. Therefore, in my mind, I was a bad thing. I became a people pleaser and desperately wanted other people to like me so that I might like myself. I desperately hoped someone would help me recognize that I had at least one redeeming quality.

The quality that was unanimously recognized by all was that I was athletic. I took this and literally ran with it. I nurtured it because it made me feel whole, awake, and alive! I was a good person when I did physical activities. My body and brain thanked me graciously. In sports, taking chances and pushing things a little too far is a good thing. You can channel negative energy into something so rewarding and productive. I found an answer to my apparently questionable, yet unanswerable behavior that boggled so many minds.

I quickly recognized that athletics and fitness made me feel special and could do more for my mind and body than therapy alone could ever accomplish. Being an athlete helped ease the pain of repressed childhood sexual abuse and built my strength both emotionally and physically. Soon this strength spilled over into every aspect of my life.

Today I realize that being a wild and crazy woman – an authentic and thriving version of the girl that scared so many – is a very good thing. I’m still my wild and crazy self…but I have honed my prowess of fiery energy and learned to channel it in a positive way. Girls With Sole does this for our youth. It provides them with the fundamental tools to believe in themselves, to love themselves, to be fit and well in mind, body and soul, and, like me, to take great pride in their wild woman status.   Once you harness this power, and use it wisely and in a healthy way, you can accomplish anything. The girls in my programming quickly begin to learn this lesson – the lesson that took me over twenty years to figure out for myself.

Today I’m too happy, too energetic, too helpful, too loving and caring, and too wild and crazy…in all the best ways possible!

Transcending the pain of our past isn’t easy, but we all have the choice to rise up from the dark depths of pain and into the light. Oftentimes on our way out of the murky darkness, those same things that hurt us become the treasure we can share with the world!

About Liz Ferro:

Liz FerroLiz Ferro is the author of Finish Line Feeling and the Founder and Executive Director of Girls With Sole.

Liz has been featured on the NBC TODAY Show, and in Family Circle Magazine.

She is the recipient of the 2014 SELF Women Doing Good Award; the 2012 Longines Women Who Make a Difference Award from Town & Country Magazine; the 2011 American Red Cross of Greater Cleveland Hero Award; and the 2011 Classic Woman Award from Traditional Home Magazine.

Liz lives in Cleveland with her husband, two children, and their rescue dog, Rico Suave.

#MondayBlogs Giveaway August 2014

MB-FINAL-LOGO-KLM

Since I created #MondayBlogs in late 2012, even I’m shocked at what an amazing success it has become! Thousands participate each week, generating more than 5,000 tweets! And it is because of all of you that we can say that with a lot of pride and a big ol’ smile! As a thank you to all you wonderful #MondayBlogs tweeps, we launched an ongoing, monthly contest in April and we couldn’t be happier with the response! The Featured Monday Blogger giveaway is our way to say thank you for participating in #MondayBlogs by giving you more exposure for you and your blog. Each Monday for one month, you could have a different tweet sent out by @MondayBlogs to all our followers and be featured on IndieBookPromo.com!

But wait, there’s more! Following you, the lucky winner, on Twitter would enter others into the next month’s contest! Nice bit of exposure, don’t ya think? That sound like something you’d be interested in?

If so, enter now! If you’re already entered, please tell a friend. And don’t give up — one new winner is chosen every month. You never know when your chance will come!

Tweet this: [tweet alt="" hash="" url="http://ow.ly/Aim2B" p=""]Enter: August #MondayBlogs giveaway for a #free promo on @IndieBookPromos and @MondayBlogs[/tweet]

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Featured Blogger July 2014 Maria Savva at UK Music Directory

Happy Sharing, Rachel, Will, and Kate

Need social media or author branding advice? Follow Rachel @BadRedheadMedia also or connect to her site here: BadRedheadMedia.com 

Talking with Maurice, a WWII story by guest @ScottTheWriter

 

Image courtesy of  stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Today please welcome author and journalist Scott Bury to the blog as he shares the inspiration for his latest non-fiction work, Army of Worn Soles, the true story of his father-in-law, Maurice Bury, a Canadian citizen drafted into the Soviet Red Army during WWII.

“Can you imagine what it’s like to look into a man’s eyes and have to kill him?”

What can I say? Nothing.

And all I can think was how lucky I felt to have been born in Canada a generation after the war, to have escaped even the call to go to war.

I am sitting in the kitchen of Maurice Bury, the subject of my latest book, Army of Worn Soles. My girlfriend (now wife of 33 years), Roxanne and her mother are in another room.

Army of Worn Soles - FULL RESOLUTIONMaurice has told Roxanne and me stories from time to time: about eating fish-head soup because that’s all the food there was; about soldier marching until their boots wore off, and then having to wrap newspapers around their feet because the Red Army could supply no more boots to its men.

One of my favourite stories was about how, when Maurice was in the Ukrainian underground, the “boys” would sneak into the rail yards at night and switch the destination cards on the sides of the boxcars. It seems more of a prank to me than any serious military action.

“You don’t understand: the card on the side of car tells the railway men where the car is supposed to go. When we switched them, the supplies would go to the wrong place, so the fighting men would not have what they needed.”

I do not appreciate how serious that was until years later, when I read William Craig’s Enemy at the Gates, the story of Nazi Germany’s disastrous siege of Stalingrad—disastrous for both sides, and ultimately Germany’s high-water mark, its furthest reach. There’s a brief mention of how German General Paulus sent repeated urgent requests to Berlin for more ammunition, reinforcements and warm clothes as the winter set in; what arrived was a boxcar full of condoms.

I have heard snippets of Maurice’s story from Roxanne, too: that her father had been in a German POW camp and had escaped. Sitting in the kitchen, I want to know more about this and everything else Maurice did in Ukraine, Russia and Germany between 1941 and 1945. I want the whole story from beginning to end.

With the dishes cleaned and put away, I sit across the kitchen table from Maurice and ask him about fighting. As usual, though, he doesn’t start at the beginning, but with another anecdote from near the end of the war.

“We were on the train to Finland in 1944. We were nervous, because we knew the Finns were tough fighters. They beat the USSR in the Winter War in 1941, and in 1944 the Soviet Union attacked them again.”

“Why?”

“To gain back the land they lost in 1941, of course. The Finns came close to Leningrad, and were helping the Germans.”

This is new to me.

Maurice sits back in the kitchen chair. “They were tough fighters, the Finns. Very tough. But before our train got to the front, Finland capitulated. The war there was over, and we were sent instead to the Baltic countries: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania.”

I ask a stupid question: “What was it like?”

He’s leaning back, looking relaxed. But his eyes burn into me. “Do you know what it feels like to be ordered to kill another man? Can you imagine what it’s like to look into a man’s eyes and have to kill him?”

We’re quiet for a while. There is nothing I can say. When there’s enough moisture in my mouth to speak again, I ask “You were close enough to see the enemy’s face?”

“We had to put the bayonets on our rifles and jump into their trenches,” he answers. His hands are moving, miming the action, I guess, of affixing a bayonet to the end of a rifle.

“Why?”

He shrugs. “Orders. You obey the orders, or you get shot. That’s the army.”

He tells me about marching across the Baltic countries. “It was easy fighting. The Germans surrendered, retreated. Sometimes, they left behind some of their toughest fighters, the real fanatics who would never give up. They were dangerous.”

“How did you deal with them?”

“The Red Army had special shock troops with better weapons, better training. They would go ahead, surround the Germans and destroy them.”

“How did the people there feel about getting rid of the Germans in favour of the Soviets?”

He shrugs again. “What’s the different?”

That makes me think. What was the difference? Foreign soldiers in charge of your country, your town, your own home—did it matter which country they came from? And in eastern Europe in 1945, the Poles, Ukrainians, Lithuanians, Latvians, Estonians, Czechs and people of so many other countries traded Hitler for Stalin. The question became, which would be worse for each of them?

That conversation would became the beginning of a decades-long, intermittent research project into my father-in-law’s experience in the war. I learned some shocking things, some details that I never dreamed of before. But more importantly, I learned just how deeply culture influences your understanding of history, and how the generally accepted version of the history of the Second World War is incomplete and slanted in favour of the successful governments of the West, particularly of the US and UK.

Maurice always challenged me to question my own assumptions, and even though it made me uncomfortable at times, even though it burst some illusions about the righteousness of many people I had been taught were heroes or admirable people, the good guys.

And that’s just one reason why, ten years after his death, I still miss Maurice.

About the Author: 

Scott BuryScott Bury is a journalist, editor and writer living in Ottawa. His articles have been published in newspapers and magazines in Canada, the US, UK and Australia. He is also the current President of the authors’ group, BestSelling Reads.

His first published novel was The Bones of the Earth, followed a year later by the erotic comedy One Shade of Red. Other published fiction includes two related short stories, “Dark Clouds” and “What Made Me Love You?” His first published fiction, “Sam, the Strawb Part,” is a short story; all proceeds from its sales go to a charity for children with autism-spectrum disorders.

His latest book is Army of Worn Soles, the true story of his father-in-law, Maurice Bury, a Canadian citizen drafted into the Soviet Red Army just in time to face the German invasion of 1941, Operation Barbarossa.

Scott Bury was born in Winnipeg, grew up in Thunder Bay, and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Carleton University. He has two sons, two cats and a loving wife who puts up with a lot. You can read more of Scott’s writing at Written Words and Scott’s Travel Blog, and on his website, The Written Word. Follow him on Twitter @ScottTheWriter.

Why The Time Traveler’s Wife and Nutella Is A Perfect Combo

I have been tagged by the lovely folks over at Sweatpants & Coffee for a blog hop featuring books and chocolate. Check out their recommendations here and then scroll below for mine.

“I hate to be where she is not, when she is not. And yet, I am always going, and she cannot follow.”

~ Henry DeTamble

I had heard much hoopla – both positive and negative – about this book, The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, when Houghton Mifflin released it in 2003. I tend to listen more to word of mouth rather than critical reviews (which I typically find stuffy and overblown), so I asked my own trusted non-book club of sorts: my mom, two sisters, and niece, avid readers all.

  • Mom: Loved it!
  • Older sister: Meh.
  • Younger sister: Good-ish.
  • Niece: Fabulous.

Two to two. As the middle child, it fell to me to be the tiebreaker, once again. Sigh. Of course it did.

Image from Wikimedia Commons

Image from Wikimedia Commons

Settling into my favorite cozy black and white velvet wing-backed chair (purchased on clearance at Pier 1 years ago for just this purpose), I settled in with my favorite chocolate: Nutella.

Duh.

First Date. (Henry is 28, Clare is 20.)

It is obvious that I’m hooked from the very first page, because when Clare meets Henry for the first time, she already knows him and he’s never met her before. It takes place in a large library (The Newberry) where he works (historian). History! Books!

I mean.

Give the title of the book, this makes sense. Of course, it makes no sense, but if you are the type of (geek) reader that I am, you have placed yourself in the hands of the writer. And Niffenegger is deft. The back and forth can be a tennis-match like, I won’t lie. Keeping track can be a bit exhausting. (That’s the biggest complaint I have read about the book.)

The Time Traveler’s WifeSo, don’t. Don’t keep track. Let it go and enjoy the damn story!

It’s gritty, sad, filled with gorgeous language, a moving story, a plot that skips along, some (non-explicit) sex, punk rock music, longing, intense love, humor, and time travel (which is kinda sorta explained – a DNA chrono something — but not really and I’m okay with that).

Here are a few things I’ve gleaned from multiple readings:

  • The book is FAR FAR FAR better than the movie which, while I loved the cast, was a sappy, boring love story and didn’t do this master work justice AT ALL. Don’t waste your time. I’m so sad about it I can’t even tell you (no grittiness, no punk, no fighting, really, no Ingrid!). Come on.
  • Clare’s name is spelled without the typical ‘I’ (as in Claire). This may be me, but I found her to be an extraordinarily giving person, so I think that the author did that purposefully, leaving the ‘I’ out to subliminally make us know from the beginning that she would give everything she had to Henry (my mom says I’m crazy).
  • When Henry travels, he is naked wherever he lands. When he meets Clare as a child, (he’s older, she’s younger, eventually they meet in middle), people complained that it bordered on pedophilia. Given that I have my own experiences with childhood sexual abuse, I personally didn’t have any issues because, a) it fit with the story and, b) he never once made any kind of untoward moves, and was unbelievably uncomfortable in that situation.

He has no control of where he lands, which leads to wildly humorous and many times, inappropriate, albeit often hilarious, situations (naked in the library quite frequently ‘Oh, that’s just HENRY,’).

  • These are not perfect characters and some complained that they are stereotypes: Henry drinks, hard, fights and steals (mostly to survive); Clare waits and waits and waits some more, then has a baby. I can’t disagree.

But she also has her own career and becomes a well-known artist, making her own money. See, here’s the thing: it’s a BOOK. It’s a love story. She’s very feminine. He’s very manly. Is that a bad thing? If he was girly and she was manly, chances are this story would have been very different!

But now, I know, how absence can be present, like a damaged nerve, like a dark bird.

This is one of only three or four books I go back to again and again. I recommend it on a cold and rainy night and I promise, if you get past the dates and times and read the story, you too will fall in love. Add some Nutella (or you favorite chocolate), and you’ll enjoy it even more!

Broken by guest @Nikki_Blue1

Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Four years ago, my life was picture perfect. I was a suburban housewife with two beautiful children who wanted for nothing. The house was perfect, the cars were perfect. Hell, even the dog was perfect. It seemed as if I had it all, but on the inside, I was unraveling.

When I was just fifteen, I fell wildly in love with a boy who eventually hurt me in ways I’d never imagined possible. But I loved him and believed every promise he made it would never happen again, knowing inevitably that it would. I rode the addictive highs and lows of our volatile relationship for over three years before breaking up with him one last time. That decision nearly ended my life.

I flailed through the years that followed, never sharing with anyone the horrific details of what I’d run from. I used alcohol to numb the pain and my sexuality to replenish the control that had been taken from me time and again. The satisfaction from each conquest was fleeting and I was left unfulfilled.

Eventually, I met and married a man who I knew would never approve of the things I’d done, so again, I hid away vital parts of my life. By doing so, I lost a little more of myself every day, but as I grew unhappy in my marriage, fragments of the person I’d fought to conceal clawed their way to the surface from the depths of my subconscious. With her came chilling memories of the life I’d buried long ago. I guess you could say my painful past had come home to roost, demanding to be acknowledged, and how I did it would become the catalyst that blew my life apart.

In a roundabout way, I tried to include my husband in my awakening, but he forbade me to write BROKEN, the tale about the rebellious, teenage girl who had been physically and emotionally abused by her high school boyfriend. He scoffed at me, saying it was a terrible idea for a book. According to him, things like that didn’t happen, especially not in upper middle class society. I rolled my eyes when he left the room, wondering if there were also unicorns and cotton candy clouds in the sugarcoated world where he’d been raised. I may have even flipped him off when he turned his back. What he didn’t know when he closed the discussion was I’d begun days earlier, saving the word document I’d named Raspberry Chocolate Mousse among the plethora of dessert recipe files where I knew it would never be found.

The moment the garage door closed in the mornings when my husband left for work, I sat down to write, always listening for it to open again. I wrote until the children woke and after they left for school. Every spare minute I could find I wrote, ripping scabs from the wounds only I could see. I sank into a very dark place as they bled into words across the screen. The pain was excruciating and there were times where I wondered if I would survive it, collapsing to the floor with my knees to my chest as I prayed again to God to relieve my anguish. So many times I wanted to throw in the towel, but something inside pushed me to hold on as the memories threatened to hack me to pieces. After nearly a year, I was able to stand again. I stood taller, stronger, but good as I felt, I didn’t realize my newfound strength had yet to reach full throttle. It was just warming up.

By reliving every moment in vivid detail– the bad and the good –I gained clarity. I’d called out my demons by name, associating my fear of the dark with the car trunk my high school boyfriend had locked me inside of that rainy night, and I related my anxiety during storms to the thunder clapping around me while I lay in the gloomy space. The dread once brought on by rumbling skies waned to a slight jump every now and then, but to this day I fear what I cannot see in the shadows. Still, though, the reasons for my sexual behavior had not been found. I continued to wonder why promiscuity had felt so natural from a young age, and why I’d had a penchant for rough sex. Still, I felt defective.

With a finished manuscript, I took to social media to connect with other writers while I waited for the rejections from literary agents to roll in, and soon after, they did. I received a few requests for the full manuscript, but they were all returned with a common theme– the violence and sex between the two teenagers was too closely related; it fetished it. They asked if I was willing to change the tone of the story, but I refused to pretty it up for mainstream media’s acceptance. Doing so would have meant changing what happened to me and that was impossible. That was when I decided self-publishing was the route I would take, all the while, keeping my life secret from my husband, again. Dishonesty in my marriage was a dance I’d mastered.

While learning the business of self-publishing, I stumbled into a group of small press and self-pubbed BDSM erotica writers. I was drawn to their wicked humor and frank discussions regarding sex. They were like-minded and for the first time in my life I felt like I fit somewhere. At that point, I had little understanding of BDSM and definitely didn’t consider myself a player, so when their snarky conversations switched to kink related stuff, I retreated to the sidelines. As I did, “fetish” moved to the forefront of my brain. I asked myself, and many others, why the rejections included that particular word, and what I learned answered every question I’d ever had. I won’t go as far to say trumpets sounded as angels sang from the heavens above, but my self-revelation was nearly as glorious. I knew I wasn’t defective– I was kinky, and had been from a young age. It was then my life made sense. All of it. Even certain aspects of the physical abuse I’d suffered through long ago fell into place; why I was drawn to the type of men I had been in the past.

More empowered than I had ever been, I took back the last bit of control I’d been drained of by divorcing my husband. He still doesn’t know about my past or who I truly am, but he briefly met the strong woman I’d begun to evolve into as our marriage fell apart, and as expected, he didn’t like me.

When I set out to write BROKEN, I had no idea it would turn my life upside down, making it right again in so many ways. The first draft helped me face wounds I thought would never heal, but they have. The second draft– written with all of the missing pieces– made me whole.

About the Author:
Profile PhotoNikki Blue is the sex-positive co-founder of Vagina Antics, a 2013 Top Sex Blog and has written for SexIs Magazine. Thanks to her project ADD, Nikki is currently working on the second book in her memoir-fiction-Women’s Fiction-memoir-BDSM erotica-memoir-New Adult-memoir-BDSM-New Adult, erm, memoir series, and cataloging her shoes by heel height. She is a southern social media whore who still refuses to admit she watches The Real Housewives of Anywhere. She is known to have big hair, a filthy mouth, and horrible taste in movies.

BROKEN: A Memoir of Sorts | Website | Facebook | Twitter

The Worth of Self by guest @DelSheree

Image courtesy of Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Being open to sharing our stories connects us to so many others and creates a bond we didn’t know existed before. Today I’m grateful to be sharing this post by author DelSheree Gladden as she opens up about her story.

I think there is a moment many of us have in life where we wonder what we are worth. It could be wondering what we are worth to the company we work for, to our friends, to our families, to our self. Everyone worries about how others see them. It’s hard not to. We are creatures who need social interaction, validation, and acknowledgement.

Worth can be determined in many ways. To an employer, it is spoken of in the terms of money. Is an employee efficient, or are they costing the company money? It’s a little harder to define worth when it comes to family and friends. Many factors come into play like reliability, support, friendship, and so much more. One of the most difficult to define it self-worth. How do you judge your own worth without letting others opinions and judgments affect your reasoning?

This is a topic that is very important to me, because I know exactly how much your own view of yourself can impact your life. When you grow up in a home with a parent who consciously tries to break you down, it doesn’t take long for you to internalize their words and actions. As I child, trying to uncover who you are is difficult enough without someone else there constantly telling you the opposite of what you want to believe.

When I was away from my mom’s influence, it was confusing, because I felt like I had things I was good at, like I was a nice person overall, like I tried to be good and kind. Of course, I made mistakes and fought with my siblings and got into trouble here and there, but overall, I felt like I should be someone she cared about. It didn’t make sense to me that she honestly didn’t seem to like me. No matter what I did, I never felt accepted by her. I didn’t know what I was doing wrong and I had no idea how to make it better.

As I got older, I started to understand that my mom suffered from severe bouts of depression. Her own mother had done many of the same things to her that she was doing to my siblings and me. Her own self-image was severely warped, and she projected her anger and frustration at the way she had been treated onto us. For reasons I don’t fully understand, I bore the brunt of her contempt.

It affected me deeply to constantly feel like I wasn’t worth her time. It really wasn’t until high school that I made a few new friends who seemed to know that I needed their help. They began helping me see myself more clearly. It isn’t an easy process, shedding an identity you’ve come to believe and stopped questioning. Even as an adult, I fear being rejected by the people in my life. I constantly worry about making mistakes and making them see me as someone not worth their time.

I’ve come a long way, with the support of family and friends and writing, to see myself more clearly, but it has taken me years and years to rebuild my self-confidence, and I know I still have years of work left to do. The worth a person sees in themselves is so important, more important than how anyone else in this world sees them. The advice to “think before you speak” has more merit than some might realize. The way you treat another human being affects them, for good or bad. You can either be responsible for building someone up, or tearing them down. Either one only takes a few minutes, a few words, but rebuilding what has been broken can take a lifetime.

About the Author:

DelSheree GladdenDelSheree Gladden was one of those shy, quiet kids who spent more time reading than talking. Literally. She didn’t speak a single word for the first three months of preschool, but she had already taught herself to read. Her fascination with reading led to many hours spent in the library and bookstores, and eventually to writing. She wrote her first novel when she was sixteen years old, but spent ten years rewriting and perfecting it before having it published.

Native to New Mexico, DelSheree and her husband spent several years in Colorado for college and work before moving back home to be near family again. Their two children love having their seventeen cousins close by. When not writing, you can find DelSheree reading, painting, sewing and trying not to get bitten by small children in her work as a dental hygienist.

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