“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
― Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
I was born into a house of lost dreams. My alcoholic father, a man who never wanted children but had five, raged against the hand life had dealt him. My overwhelmed mother did what she could to keep the peace, but my parents discontent brewed with the morning coffee, bitter and strong. Whenever I asked what was wrong I was told to shut up. Everything was fine. My job was to be invisible and keep quiet.
When I was nine, my eighteen-year-old sister Kathy married Jack, the man who sexually abused me and threatened to kill me if I told anyone. When I turned thirteen the abuse stopped, but the threats increased. A year later, on a muggy July afternoon, Jack shot and killed Kathy as she walked out the door to leave him.
I blamed myself for my sister’s death, certain my silence had killed her. An avalanche of grief, guilt and shame buried me in a dark abyss. I turned inward and remained silent.
Over the years writing helped me lay the ghosts of my past to rest one word at a time. I read the stories about my life aloud in workshops, to friends, to anyone who’d listen. My desire to be heard was stronger than my fear of being in the spotlight. So I stood up.
In a class at a writer’s conference I shared a synopsis about the memoir I’d been working on for many years. Afterwards, I overheard two women talking about me. “She’s so lucky she had such a traumatic life,” said the first woman. “Yeah, she has so much good material to work with,” said the second. Instead of being upset I embraced those words of wisdom. My past taught me how to be resilient, how to be compassionate, how to step around obstacles others might have fallen over.
I’m currently looking for an agent and/or publisher for my memoir, Unspoken: A Journey From Silence to Truth. My story is about a young girl who losses her sense of home due to abuse and a family tragedy, who travels the world as an unsettled woman in search of herself, and in the end finds her way back to the home within. The story takes place in fifteen different locations over the first thirty-one years of my life.
The path I walked on my healing journey led me back to love, to forgiveness and to the peaceful home within myself. Now, I want to learn how to speak in my most powerful and authentic voice. I want my words, both spoken and written, to make a difference. And I want to stand strong in my truth, no matter how much it scares me.
Everybody deserves the chance to pursue their dreams. What are your dreams? Let’s encourage each other to accomplish whatever makes our hearts sing, let’s live this one wild and precious life fearlessly, and let’s inspire each other to share our stories… and never be silenced again.
Reviews from early readers of Unspoken:
“What an amazing story about a woman getting over, getting through and getting up.”
“Right now I have very little time because of many pressing deadlines so I skimmed your manuscript in the manner I used to when was a book judge for the Canada Council or an editor at Vancouver Magazine and had a pile of fifty manuscripts to get through in a big hurry. After my quick review of your manuscript, I can definitely say it would have stayed on my desk as emotionally important, polished, professional and potentially publishable. I think you can feel confident that you’ve got a property that an editor would, at a quick glance, separate from the rest for a cover to cover read.”
“Once I started your book, I could hardly put it down. I want to send you my congratulations not just for the result, but for the courage it must have taken you to put down on paper passages of your life you would have loved to be able to forget. I think your book could help other women who have had to struggle with the same demons. I truly hope you can find a publisher who can see that.”
“Your story is heart-wrenching. And heart-opening. I can’t stop reading your words. Your book has made me late for a dinner, and has kept me up two nights in a row. I’m forcing my eyes to stay open because I want to keep reading. It’s pure art. Your writing transported me into your mind, your heart and your body. Powerful writing, fully vulnerable and simply stunning. You’re such a strong woman. Full of bravery, creativity and enormous love.”
“I’m alone in the office today and read your book in one sitting. I couldn’t put it down. So beautifully written and engaging. I think your book will help thousands…millions heal and live a life full of love.”
“I just finished your book. I went through many tissues. So many similarities to my life. Growing up we look at other kids thinking we’re the only ones whose lives are so messed up. As adults we come to realize that most of us have had secret lives that we suffered through with shame, guilt, grief and embarrassment.”
“I read your book over the weekend — it moves fast from the ominous to the painful to the tragic to a sort of redemption, as the curse of your early family life slowly dissipates. A well-told and moving account.”
“Your book has a great story arc, a satisfying ending, interesting characters, and I felt like I was watching a movie, with all that travel. An impossible to put down book; I was up late to finish it last night.”
“You are bold; stubborn, intelligent, very sensitive, caring, creative, single minded, fiercely independent, all in one.”
“I loved your book. It has the drama, the emotions, and the thrill, all the important elements a successful book demands. The allegories, metaphors, symbolism and the imageries you used to describe emotions are exquisite. We will read the published book in our Book Club and I will invite you to talk about it. I’m looking forward to the day.”
“I related to your story so many times emotionally, spiritually and intellectually. I saw you get stronger and stronger and stronger and stronger!!! It’s always a mountain in front of me, when I am trying to transpose my revelations into actuality, into action, into pure self.”
“I found your book riveting. Your story of a stolen childhood both angered me and broke my heart. But you haven’t made this into a whiney, resentful narrative. You tell a story of horrors without self pity, leaving all the anger and grieving to your reader. You’ve written something memorable.”
“Let me start out by saying I am not an avid reader….I do however read the occasional book that resonates with me, and let me say Unspoken did exactly that. I found myself swinging from a feeling of sincere empathy to one of appreciation and familiarity with some of your travels and your journey. Your unyielding spirit of adventure is encouraging to me to keep that spirit alive.”