(And if you just began to sing that song from the movie – now musical – Anastasia, I applaud you, because I’m doing the same thing.)
In fewer than seven weeks, my second book, Villain, will be released. But in a way, it’s hard to believe that Shattered: Memoirs of an Amnesiac was only released six-and-a-half months ago. Sales are going well – I give my honest and most sincere thanks and gratitude to those who are still reading or who have read the memoir – and several people have contacted me about some of the content within Shattered. It’s prompted great conversations about the nature of abuse, rape, assault, mental illness, law, justice, fairness, as well as the reliability of memory. After all, can anyone trust an amnesiac? Can anyone trust an amnesiac with DID?
In my conversations with readers, their answer always seems to be yes: I am a reliable narrator. And I must tell you that I am, but how can that be if my past doesn’t exist? If I don’t recall twenty-eight years of my life, how can anyone be certain that any event I’ve written about hasn’t been skewed, or at least enhanced for dramatic effect?
The simple answer is that you can’t be certain. I can’t make you believe me.
But the honest answer is that, when I set out to write Shattered, I had one major goal in mind: I would tell the truth of my story. I would tell people what it is like to live with DID and amnesia. I would talk openly about rape and abuse. I would discuss losing a child. I would discuss my own vices and bad habits. How? Well, I did my due diligence: I pulled journal entries. I read through old emails. I interviewed friends. I spoke to family members. I obtained medical records. I was granted access to police reports. If I didn’t hold something in my hand that gave me the evidence I needed, then I simply didn’t – and couldn’t – write about it.
One reader recently asked me the following: “How is it possible that so many bad things could happen to one person?”
And I answered as such: “How is it possible that so many bad things happen to so MANY people? My story is one of millions. I chose to make mine public. It was my decision to share and my hope that others would then feel comfortable coming forward to say, ‘I’m not alone. I’ve had this drama. I’ve lived a disjointed, messy life. I get this.'”
Is Shattered a dramatic, messy read? In a way, it is. But is it linear, logical, clear, honest, and to the point? Absolutely. Because if readers cannot trust me, the narrator – a real person of flesh and blood, not someone I created for fictional enjoyment – then what good would I be doing? What purpose would I serve?
I think it’s easy to fall into one of two traps. The first trap goes like this: “Oh, you think you had a bad life? Let me tell you about MY tragedy.” The second is the exact opposite: “Oh, wow, you went through THAT? I guess what happened to me is nothing.”
And both responses, while honest, are – if I’m being honest myself – wrong.
One, there is no gold medal for Pain and Suffering. If your trauma is one rape or nine; if your trauma is the loss of a parent; if your trauma is childhood neglect; if your trauma is the loss of a spouse – ALL of that is valid. It’s not better and it’s not worse – it’s yours and it’s valid. Comparisons are never needed, and trauma survivors don’t really like them, anyhow.
Two bears a similar repeat of what I just mentioned: ALL trauma is valid. It’s not better and it’s not worse – it’s yours and and it’s valid. Comparisons are never needed.
I chose to share my deepest traumas – the ones I could prove, anyhow. Not everyone wants to do that, and not everyone is ready to do that. But in an effort to bring my past into the light, and to have a comprehensive record of a life that hasn’t been easy but still exists as mine, I wrote my memoir. Knowing it’s helped trauma survivors brings me satisfaction. More stories can be told. There are millions.
And I’m always here, as one of you, to hear yours.
Next week, I’m hoping to have a cover reveal of Villain set for everyone to see. More of the past – new things I’ve learned – will be revealed. The nature of good and evil will be explored. The adversary and the angel will meet.
Which side will you be on?
–For more excerpts from Villain, as well as the cover design reveal and other information, please visit this blog every Thursday at 10 a.m.