Thursday, August 8, 2013
When I was approached by WOW-Women On Writing to host author Donald Dempsey for one of his recent blog tour stops, I wasn't sure I'd have enough time with all of my other commitments. But after reading the synopsis for Betty's Child, I knew I had to make the time:
Betty's Child is the story of one young man's ordeals with poverty, religion, physical and mental abuse, maternal insanity, and the dire need for confidence and direction as he attempts to come of age.
Synopsis: Donny Davis is struggling to coexist with his mother, a single woman who moves from place to place, always just a step ahead of the law, scamming churches, and running bad checks. She has already been incarcerated for these self-same illegal activities, but refuses to alter her lifestyle; a lifestyle that includes bringing home men she knows little or nothing about. One of these men eventually assaults Donny. He feels trapped, as his mother makes excuses for her boyfriend's actions, but he fears more for his younger brothers than he does for himself. Scarred and sullen, Donny shamefully attends the church his mother is scamming. He stays silent, but something within him begins to rise up, and his youthful indignation swells to an outright full rebellion. As his life with his mother grows ever more fraught with peril, Donny's world begins to completely unravel. His beloved dog is taken from him. One of his younger brothers is brutally attacked. He loses the few friends he has when the family is moved by the church they attend. And then, the very pastor who has control of them begins to accuse him of his mother's sins.
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I related on many levels to Betty's Child. I related to young Donny's struggles with being raised by a mother with untreated mental challenges. My heart ached for him remembering how hard it is to endure abuse but not be able to tell anyone or to think no one would believe you even if you did tell someone. And I understood his pain with having to witness and be exposed to situations that no child should even know about. As things went from bad to worse in his world, it seemed there was no light for him. But all he needed was that one person to believe in him and give him the love and guidence he needed to stay on the right path.
One aspect I appreciated in Donald's book was his sense of humor. Each of us, especially those who have lived through trauma, needs to hold on to that one positive thing to help get us through it all...to keep us focused on what's ahead rather than to dwell on what was. The fact that Donald is able to tell his story with some of that humor mixed in shows that he has not allowed his situation to control who he has become. And that is tremendously important for a person who has experienced childhood abuse and trauma.
I admire Donald for being brave enough to tell his story. I am sure that many will be helped not only by his sharing his experiences, but also how he's chosen to cope and deal with them all.
Be sure to check this book out as well as Donald's other stops along his WOW blog tour. It is well worth it.
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About the Author: Don Dempsey experienced childhood abuse and neglect first hand, but went on to have a fulfilling family life as an adult and to own his own business. "If you're lucky, you make it to adulthood in one piece," says Don. "But there's no guarantee the rest of your life is going to be any better. Abused kids are often plagued by fear and insecurity. They battle depression and have trouble with relationships. In the worst cases, abused children perpetuate the cycle." But Don is living proof that you can overcome a childhood of abuse and neglect. "You start by letting go of as much of the guilt (yes, abused kids feel guilty) and as many of the bad memories as possible. At the same time, you hold on to the things that helped you survive. For me, it was the belief that you can make life better by working at it and earning it. It helps to have a sense of humor, too."
Thursday, May 2, 2013
Judy's family endured horrific tragedy when a plane crashed into their house, January 22, 1952. Not only did all twenty-two passengers and the captain perish in the crash, but Judy's sister Donna was also killed while her sister Linda was severely burned. One can only imagine the grief that this family felt.
The Replacement Child is Judy's account of both this terrible accident, and her family's struggle to deal with the aftermath, as well as being the child brought into the world in an attempt to fill the void left behind by Donna's death. Bringing one child into the world to replace one that was taken out of it so tragically is bound to create even more pain, and Judy discusses this beautifully.
I thought it was brilliant to mix snippets from the actual crash day around her own story so the reader can get a complete picture. A piece of my heart hurt for Judy in each chapter as I read not only about the accident itself, but also how her parents chose to deal with it (or not to), how the family's struggles affected Judy personally (and how she was treated) and having to be the caretaker for her older sister as she had to endure many painful reconstructive surguries throughout her life.
I am glad not only that I got to read this brave story, but also to have Judy here. It's important for families to deal with grief, especially when the tragedy is this severe, in the best possible way and together. As we all know, each person in a family is affected by trauma and grief differently but are also affected as a family unit. Judy's story shows the importance of making sure such families are given the proper resources and coping tools, as well as to ensure each individual has what he or she needs personally. And she also shows us that by being courageous enough to continue moving forward after tragedy, we not only help ourselves, but can also make a difference in others.
Judy is with us today, and you have a chance to win a copy of her powerful memoir, The Replacement Child. All you have to do for a chance to win is to leave a comment with an email address. And if you'd like to 'Follow' us, that would be wonderful too. OH! And if you help us spread the word about the contest (eg: Facebook, Twitter, etc.), you'll have a bonus entry. Just be sure to send me the link so I can count it for you. We'll draw a winner on May 9th, 2013. Good luck! And thank you so much to Judy for joining us here today. You are very brave to tell your story and you are welcome back anytime.
Monday, February 11, 2013
But it can't be an option. We have to keep moving forward because, like a shark, when we stay still too long we run the risk of drowning in our own anxiety, emotions and feelings of being overwhelmed. How can we stay on track, though? How can we spark that motivation? The answer is by setting realistic goals and sticking with them.
Believe me, I know what it's like. This past summer, my long-term relationship with my partner ended. He finally moved out at the beginning of December. I truly believed that once we separated, things would be instantaneously better. Obviously, that was a very unrealistic view.
It's tough being a single parent to four children while struggling to maintain some sort of balance. I was trying to keep the routines going, help make things easiest for the kids but forgetting that I also needed to deal with the break up. I needed also to grieve the loss of the relationship (because it is a loss) and allow myself to feel all the emotions that go along with that. I fell into a pit of depression and anxiety, turning to a few of my old maladaptive ways of coping. Not healthy at all.
I am back on track now and I found what helped me was setting small, attainable goals for myself. With each one I achieved, I felt a bit more confident and motivated to continue. Now I am getting out there doing what I have to do, and if there are days where I don't feel quite as strong, I allow myself a break.
I found a great article on the esperanza blog called 'Putting the GO in Goals'. Very good article that stresses five steps in staying motivated by setting and keeping our goals: Keep it simple, be realistic, strive for five, ditch the downers and praise--don't punish. It's funny because these are very similar to the steps I put into achieve my own daily goals. And you can do it too.
Check out the article HERE, and please feel free to share your own tips.
Anxiety & Depression Magazine | Putting the GO in GOALS | esperanza