When asked by Karen to do another guest blog on overcoming the hurts sustained in my own experience with an abusive childhood, my response was, "I guess I never thought about it." The human spirit is truly amazing. It has the ability to triumph, not even realizing it is, in fact, triumphant.
My novel, The Boots My Mother Gave Me (An Amazon Breakthrough Novel Quarter Finalist) is a Dysfiction inspired by a true story, about a young girl coming of age while overcoming an abusive childhood.
For some reason, at an early age, I simply knew I wanted a different life than the one I was growing up in. Maybe it was an innate resilience, or naive faith. Whatever it was, it was enough to spur me forward, searching and reflecting for a better way. In the words of my lead female in the novel, Harley LeBeau, "Within each of us, there lies the innate ability to survive, triumph and overcome, rewriting the scripts of our own lives, having some power over our fate and the fate of generations to come. Nothing has to be just because that's the way it's always been.”
Scars from childhood cut especially deep. Who was it that said, “Childhood is what you spend the rest of your life trying to overcome.” I remember Sandra Bullock’s character, in Hope Floats, said that. I think her name was Birdee. Birdee Pruitt, I believe. Although, the saying has been around for some time.
In my book, I write about my amygdala…my “Almond,” as my ten-year old self referred to it. I learned about the amygdala in my fifth grade science class. The amygdala, being an almond-shaped group of nuclei, resided in my brain as part of my limbic system, pivotal in monitoring my emotional sensors. Turns out, my soul, my feelings, my emotions actually resided in my brain. I found that lecture life-changing and empowering.
I always thought my soul resided in my heart or my gut, as it always seemed to ache there when I was offended, hurt, or otherwise affected. From that lecture on, I employed my almond, envisioning it as some sort of superhero shield. You know, armor. Mind over matter, right?
Words have power. Things people say, especially people who are supposed to love you, can build you up, yet tear you down just as easily. My father was mostly verbally, mentally and emotionally abusive. The words from his mouth penetrated my most internal thoughts and emotions, defining my self worth. With one word, intonation, a look, my father could make me feel ten feet tall or lower than a slimy slug, dragging its disgusting body through the muck.
After I learned about my almond, I found myself on a road to emotional and psychological freedom. It empowered me to realize, the only power words have are the power we give them. Just because somebody says it, does not make it true. Just because someone says I am worthless, does not mean I am, in fact, worthless. Usually those hurtful words are only a reflection of how that person feels about himself, internally. It’s not a new concept: Reflection of ill feelings, spewed to an innocent party, in an attempt to make them feel as empty, angry or as damaged as the person saying them.
Let me clarify, I was not in denial of the things being said or the inappropriateness of those things. I allowed myself to hurt, when and as needed to release those bruised emotions from my being, so as not to damage my true potential with a build-up of the same anger and resentment. To hate through anger and resentment, hurts no one but the person holding on to all of that. Truth and forgiveness are two vital keys to clarity and freedom. But, most often, I simply refused to accept those hurtful words, choosing to release them, bouncing them off of my ever-shielding almond, freeing my soul from unnecessary grief.
I guess what I am trying to say, is that when it comes to matters of the heart, sometimes it’s most productive to consult the mind. Not as a means of escapism, but as a means of realism. We’ve all been assaulted by words at some point in our lives. And there is some truth to the thought that taking a punch would be easier than bearing a verbal assault, especially from someone who is supposed to protect and love you unconditionally, such as a parent. It hurts. But, as I prefaced earlier, just because someone says it does not make it true. And that is where the realism comes in…the consultation of the mind.
Sometimes my father would tell me I was worthless because I was a girl. Now, lets break that down. Lets get real. Yes, those words from his mouth hurt my heart, so to speak. But was it the truth? Was it fact? After consulting my brain…my almond, I could deduce that it was not fact. It was, in fact, a lie. The only way it could become the truth was if I allowed it to manifest into my own realism, accepting his words and then acting them out by being worthless. To give an abuser that kind of power is absurd. Truthfully, my father didn’t believe his sentiments to be true either. He said such because he hated his own mother for abusing him. I am truly sorry he was abused by his mother. I wish he could have had a different childhood. Lord knows it would have changed the direction of his life, and maybe he would have been the person I knew he could be. In the same breath, I was not willing to sacrifice the forward progression of my own life simply because he chose otherwise.
With the help of my almond, I was able to rectify that if I wanted to be worthy, I should do things that made me feel as such. Therefore, I challenged myself to be the best I could be, as a person and as a life achiever. Not necessarily to prove him wrong, but to prove myself right. At the end of the day, we know, in our heart of hearts, who we are at our core. And we know if we are proud to be that person staring back at us in the mirror. Believe in yourself, know yourself, define yourself…live your truth (not anyone else’s), and you will be proud of that reflection.
It’s a bit of a warrior mentality, I think, to rise above. There are certain Native American cultures who believe each person has two souls. One, being the body soul or shadow soul, resides in the heart. The other, being the free soul or real soul, resides in the brain. I like to think of it as such: The body soul is the one that takes all the hard knocks, the one that bears pain, joy, happiness, grief, anger, etc. Some Native American cultures believe the body soul is the one that remains with the human form after death…finally resting peacefully, quiet. The free soul is the one that is eternally free, hopefully logical and untouched by pain and despair. The one that truly defines us, as we see ourselves, free from others’ disparagements, to be ours and ours alone. This is the soul that certain Native American cultures believe lives on forever. If I have but one free soul that lives on forever, I want to define and cultivate that soul of my own merit, free (being the operative word) from others’ devices.
I hope you will enjoy a video excerpt from my novel, The Boots My Mother Gave Me. This reading is from Introduction: My Almond...Harley LeBeau's superhoero armor, so to speak in managing growing up in an abusive household.
This book is also an
Original Music Soundtrack. "Brooklyn James' soundtrack to her novel, The
Boots My Mother Gave Me, does more than give a clever feminist twist to the
title. Her songs serve as chapters themselves, underlining James' deft ability
as a storyteller and songwriter." -Margaret Moser, Austin Chronicle
To listen to free music clips from the soundtrack, visit: www.brooklyn-james.com OR
The Boots My Mother Gave Me and other Novels by Brooklyn James can be found on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/author/brooklynjames
Follow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/BrooklynJames7
Thank You Wodke Hawkinson for hosting me!
In : Guest Posts
Tags: abuse child abuse healing recovery authors books
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