Exposed

Hours of enjoyment, that’s what was waiting for me in this boxed set. A Romantic Suspense collection.

Off the top, I have to say – I appreciated the clean-ness of these books. I find that when it’s less than clean (for me anyway) it’s like going to a party with a spot on the front of your favorite outfit …..  it takes the shine off the whole experience. I love an awesome,  distraction free, tale of mystery and intrigue.

These books were well written, with interesting characters, and a fresh slant on the idea behind the stories. I’m a fan of all three attributes but fresh slant is my favorite.

It seemed like before I knew it, I was finishing the last book. I’m a chain smoker when it comes to books. Finish one and light up another. I think I’ve mentioned I’m an addict.

I’m always sad when a story comes to an end. For a few seconds anyway.


Speaking of addictions: that reminds me……. of a idea I’d better save for the next post.


 

So….. back to books

Exposed

Exposed

A Boxed Set Book Bundle Collection of Romantic Suspense with seven great books

Hallowed Ground – Mary Alford …… Erin is devastated when Blake, her CIA partner, is killed in a terrorist attack in Afghanistan and she’s grateful to have the support of Blake’s best friend and fellow agent, Jax.  The team is sent to Afghanistan on a mission to find  Blake’s killers but it’s a set up. This realization set in when their unit was attacked and  none but two survived.  The details of their deployment could only have come from their superiors. With no idea who to trust, they carefully start digging and uncover more lies. Did Blake discover something he shouldn’t? Or was he part of something worth killing for? Working with Jax to find the truth has Erin realizing for the first time, Jax is a good man.

Fire – Lynette Bonner …. Kyra is a teacher by trade but helps out with manicure’s on the side. It’s a shock, on the first day of school, to see a new student in her class, looking much like a younger version of the good looking guy in her shop on Friday, the one who asked her out. Case Lexington is just as shocked to see Kyra and is living with fear she will blow his cover. He’s posing as a student, to help umcover the source of the drug supply killing local teenagers. Kyra wants to do her part in this search, motivated by the drug related death of her brother. Case is attempting to discourage her, afraid for her safety. A mere student has no credibility so, as a last resort,  he chooses to keep an eye on her by working with her. Not an easy thing to do. It’s been a very long time since he met a woman who could catch his interest, and she thinks he’s a student. The next shock is the source of the fatal drugs.

Jill Came Tumbling After – Lesley Ann McDaniel …. Jill Martin, a single mother of two, is looking for a job, after finding the courage sever ties with her alcoholic husband. Jobs are scarce but there is a new factory in town and, in spite of her obvious lack of skills, they hire her, effective immediately. Working to get the offices up and running she begins to see things that don’t seem quite right.  She is smarter than expected and  manages to figure out they are planning something that will be a hazard to the whole town, She’s torn between the need to tell and the need to keep her job. If they notice her discovery …. will she even live to tell?

Deadly Exposure – Lisa Phillips …. Bradley Harris comes home from deployment to discover his sister, a US Senator, has been abducted and the FBI suspect Alexis, her best friend and former aide. The whole town holds Alexis in contempt, but, knowing her as well as he does, Bradley has doubts about the accusations against her. Once he uncovers the truth behind her fall from grace, he wonders if any of them will survive the fallout.  Getting his sister back and saving Alexis too – seems like an impossible challenge.

Dead on Arrival – Angela Ruth Strong …. Peruvian Princess, Maritza Rosado and her father land in Washington DC and instead of the usual presidential welcome, they are  greeted with a gun battle that kills her father and his body guard and has Maritza running for her life. Hiding out in a soup kitchen is not going well, she’s been recognized by Levi Parker, fresh home from a mission trip to Peru where he learned of her.  Terrified to trust him, she does anyway, and venturing they discover someone has taken over her country. Not only that, they killed her father and want her dead. Devastation is finding out the betrayal is at the hands of someone they both trusted.

Termination Dust – Alana Terry …. Kimmie is afraid to move away from her abusive step father after the death of her mother. She is old enough to leave and make a new life for herself but she is afraid she would be forced leave her little brother behind, and he  would pay the price, in escalated abuse, for her actions. The family has lived in isolation and secrecy for so long, she can think of no one she can turn to for help.The local State Trooper suspects the truth of the situation and is trying to offer acceptable support,  encouraging Kimmie to leave before the abuse escalates. It happens, before her plans are in place, – she is forced to grab her little brother and run for her life.

For Love or Money – Virginia Vaughan …. Amy Sullivan left everything  behind with the lure of a family connection. When an aunt she didn’t know existed, contacted her  requesting a visit, it seemed like a dream come true. While finding a family connection is important to Amy, it’s not easy learning to love a stranger. Inadvertently she discovers there  is more to the situation than she has been led to believe. Her aunt has been hiding the fact she has terminal cancer. Amy was there for her mother and is determined she won’t be shut out now. Despite the growing closeness in those final days, it’s a shock for her to learn she has been left with a sizable inheritance. It’s an even greater shock to   discover someone wants it enough to kill her to get it.


‘Til next time – Happy Reading!

Here’s hoping you are also experiencing many hours of good reading. I don’t want to be the only one finding exquisite treasures, not when there are so many to be found.

 

Send Down The Rain

Send Down the Rain   Send Down The Rain – Charles Martin

Charles Martin’s newest book.

Life for Bobby and Joseph was never the same after their father left with another woman. Damage was so severe that it sent them on downward spirals, lasting decades. Their  single mother did her best to provide for them, but the threat of draft was  something beyond her control. It felt like an automatic death sentence, for both of them. For her, the thought was unbearable. Although he was younger, Joseph was able to cope in ways his brother never was. The day Bobby’s draft notice arrived, Joseph was the  son his mother sought out.

I have to tell you, this tale is as gripping as all his others, and once started it’s impossible to stop – without good reason.

The good reason, this time, was Thanksgiving dinner with the family. I was able to work around my obligations, be fully present for family time, and still steal enough moments to finish this book.

There is so much to see and hear in these stories, making it impossible to take it all in in one reading. I will be reading this one again.

Charles Martin books are raw, real, and yet, tell a story that repels and draws all at the same time. You cannot help but connect with the lives of the characters, laughing and crying right along with them.

PTSD, bullying, human trafficking; friendship, love, fierce loyalty to family – are all part of the basic foundation this time.

The characters are well developed, and it’s interesting to see the way their lives intersect and, in some cases, are woven together.

I love the twists and turns you don’t see coming.

If you like a story that digs deep, making sure you think and feel, this is the book for you.

 

Flowers in The Snow, and more

This is going to be another, very basic, catch up list.

Distracted by a great number of compelling reads, there was not much writing going on this summer, and the lineup of finished books is growing longer.

The books on this list were well worth reading and I wish there was time to enlarge on them all, as enticement.

There is no time though, there are more almost ready to be added. What can I say, I’m addicted.

One book I would recommend is Flowers in The Snow. It follows, in a way, after The Book of Negroes.

I mentioned The Book of Negroes several posts ago and noticed very little traffic on it. I wasn’t sure whether readers were distressed to see something, seemingly, politically incorrect, or if there were other reasons.

Several weeks ago, at our writers group, it was my turn to present a reading for critique. I revised the post a little, for clarification, and mentioned that the Book of Negroes was  the record book of black loyalists taking advantage of an opportunity for relocation. Relocation sponsored and paid for by the British Commonwealth. There are two versions of the record book: the British version kept in Kew London, the American version kept in Washington DC.

The response to my reading was positive and several said they felt inspired to read the book as well.

One of the books in this new list has a character, a literature professor, teaching her students to notice how much can be learned by reading books thoughtfully.

That’s why I don’t shy away from tough subjects. There is much to be learned from them.

Learning is always a good thing.

Some of the books in this list are more thought provoking than others but there is still something to be gained from all of them.

I’m hoping you will feel inspired.


Flowers in the Snow The Edenville Series – Flowers in the Snow book 1 – Danielle Stewart

 

Finding Faith  Love’s Compass – Finding Faith book 4 – Melanie D. Snitker

The Face of the Earth  The Face of the Earth – Deborah Raney

 

Nearly  Nearly – Deborah Raney

 

Glamorous Illusions  Grand Tour Series – Glamorous Illusions –  Lisa T. Bergren

Where the Hurt is  Where The Hurt Is – Chris Kelsey

Tides of Deception  Lantern Beach Series – Tides of Deception book 1 – Christy Barritt

If You Believed in love   If You Believed in Love – Staci Stallings

Sorrowful Road  Detective Allan Stanton – Sorrowful Road book 3 – Alex MacLean

IntroductionsIntroductions to four spunky female sleuths – Christy Barritt

Squeaky Clean Mysteries – Hazardous Duty book 1

A Holly Anna Paladin Mystery – Random Acts of Murder book 1

The Sierra Files – Pounced book 1 (spin off of Squeaky Clean series)

The Worst Detective Ever – Ready to Fumble book 1

New Year's Revolution   New Year’s Revolutions – Chautona Havig

The Nostradamus Equation Sam Reilly –  The Nostradamus Equation book 6 – Christopher Cartwright

In Honor Bound   The Chastelayne Trilogy – In Honor Bound book 1 – DeAnna Julie Dodson

Happy, and inspired, Reading!

Experiences along the way

There were some things I wanted to experience, on my trip to Nashville and beyond. I wanted to find out if some places were as good as they said they were.

I probably shouldn’t use the word they, I should probably be truthful and say he. He is a funny man, given to hyperbole. Are these restaurants really the greatest, or is it just his opinion? And, if it’s just his opinion… is it one I could agree with?

This fellow is funny, fearless, has attention deficit disorder, and is always coming up with good ideas and catching them on video. He has a You Tube channel with thousands of followers and I’m sure some of his friends cringe when they see him and his cell phone coming their way. Many more don’t, though, and he manages to post some great stuff. Fun, entertaining, and touching, all in the same video sometimes.

He loves to eat in restaurants, and share the experience on line. He likes Mexican, Chick Fil A, Waffle House, In and Out burger, and many others. I did get to Waffle House and Chick fil a. I tried southern sweet tea and a fancy salad with thick slices of banana bread, at a Bob Evans restaurant. I passed a Cracker Barrel one day but had just finished lunch so didn’t get to try it out.

I’ve decided he is full of hyperbole but the food was still good. I loved the banana bread but the sweet tea… not so much. That wasn’t much of a surprise to me though as most of the time I prefer my tea hot, and straight up with no sugar.

I’m looking forward to another trip one day, maybe I can check out a few more of his recommendations.


 

The Prisoner's Wife  Maine Brides Series – The Prisoner’s Wife – Susan Page Davis ….. 1720  Jack has been working diligently to make something of his farm in hopes that Lucy would agree to marry him. Her father refused him four years earlier, because of his parentage, and he has not spoken to Lucy in all these years but he still hopes.

Hope turns to despair when he is falsely accused of murdering the neighbouring farmer,  and the murder weapon turns out to be his knife. The whole prejudiced town, convinced  of his guilt, is determined to skip the trial and go straight to hanging

He may not survive this ordeal but maybe there is still a way to keep his valuable farm from falling into greedy hands.

 

Until we reach home  Until We Reach Home – Lynn Austin….. the arrival of an abusive uncle has made life unbearable for Elin after the sudden tragic loss of her parents. Determined to spare her sisters from falling victim to the same abuse, she quietly contacts their uncle in America to see if he can help. Maybe life would be  better for them far away in a new country.

He agrees but…. things don’t go as smoothly as hoped. Her sisters each have their own reasons for not wanting to leave the only home they know, and keeping them in the dark about her motivation has only fed their rebelliousness.

Elin is determined to find a way to make a happy home for her sisters, but everywhere she turns there are unexpected set backs and road blocks. Will they ever find a safe place to call theirs?

 

fial witness  Final Witness – James Scott Bell ….. Rachel is brilliant, hard working, talented in her chosen profession, and  has landed a paralegal position in a prestigious law firm, even though she hasn’t completed her final year of law school.

Her boss trusts her with critical research on a high profile criminal case and her success at finding results has produced two unhappy groups.  Jealous colleagues and a threatened criminal element. Both of them have become a danger to her.

With threats on her life she is taken off the case but goes undercover to finish what she started.

Can she find away to stay alive and still do her part to win this legal battle?

 

hidden currents  Lantern Beach Mysteries – Hidden Currents book 1 – Christy Barritt ….. Detective Cady Matthews has to go into hiding after a notorious gang puts a bounty on her head for taking down their leader.

The small  isolated resort town is turning out to have more going on than expected. And as Cassidy, owner of an ice  cream truck, she is finding it impossible to stay out of things when a body washes up on shore and the local police are bungling the investigation.

She succumbs to looking for creative ways to help the investigation without blowing her cover, or getting her picture on national newscasts. With less than stellar success.

There is one other person in town who is also trying to hide some serious skills. They each have suspicions about the other one but somehow manage to team up without coming out and admitting anything. Maybe there is safety in numbers, maybe they will be able to look out for each other… and solve the crime.

This was a favorite read in this list. I loved the dry humour.

 

murder in room 305  Murder in Room 305 – Gary C. King ….. a shocking true story of sex, greed and cold blooded murder. Kathyrn Ann Martini is a beautiful young woman with a bright future in banking, until she meets a sleazy, smooth talking man with connections to the world of crime.

Her raped and mutilated body was found at the Valley River Inn in Eugene Oregon and her husband of one year was arrested. He had recently taken out a large life insurance policy on her and hired an underworld assassin to stalk and kill his wife.

A well presented  story of one of the most sensational trials in Oregon’s history.

 

all in one place All in One Place – Carolyne Aarsen ….. Terra Froese likes to keep people at arms length and move regularly, but an abusive boyfriend  in this last place has her running for her life.

The once close relationship with her sister has become strained with neglect but she is  running to her anyway, hoping for a safe place to hide until she can figure things out.

She’s managed to hitchhike within a few miles of her sister and hopes to quietly cover the last final bit but her choice in attire (dressing to make a good impression) is drawing unwanted attention. First a cop car, with two forlorn little girls in the back seat, stops and wants to know who she is and did she know anything about a wild house party last night. Next a young woman with a hungry and neglected looking baby in the back seat of her convertible, rolls up and offers a ride.

Accepting the ride and an invitation to stop for a drink at the local bar is a bad choice, spoiling her chance for a quiet entrance into town. Unwanted male attention and her attempt to discourage it lands her in jail facing an assault charge.

Making bail for your sister is not the best start to a surprise visit.

Okay, so there were two favorite reads this time.

This is a tough subject but still a fun read, with spunky characters revealing devastating secrets and finding forgiveness.


Happy reading to you, on this close to the end summer day!

 

the Book of Negroes

This book is a solid 5 stars, in my estimation.

 

The Book of Negroes

This is a story written to capture your interest. I was surprised at the unexpected way it captured mine, given the difficult subject matter.

To be honest, it took me over two years to find the courage to read this book. I purchased  it only because it kept showing up as a must-read everywhere I turned. I decided to give it a chance but then couldn’t bring myself to read it as quickly as I normally would.

Reluctance to pick it up as the next-read meant it was buried deeper and deeper with each new downloaded book. Out of sight where it couldn’t make me feel guilty for passing it by, again. I did feel guilty, paying for a book and then not reading it, but mostly I felt guilty for not having the courage to read it.

I was avoiding it because, I know by experience, stories like this are hard to read.

Once I decided to take the plunge it didn’t take long to realize, Lawrence Hill has a gift for telling a story of horrific circumstances in a way that compels you to keep reading. There was no melodrama or righteous indignation. Just an honest, engaging, telling of the facts.

This is a fictional depiction of a 50 year slice of history, and the body of research to back it up is impressive. Also impressive is the size of the team working with him to make it happen.

I think there are many reasons why it’s important to read stories such as this. As you read, I know you will discover some of the reasons for yourself. We all come from a perspective and understanding of life, colored by the circumstances in our own little corner of the world. The messages we take away from reading a book like this will be influenced by the lives we each live. I find it’s that way with most books really, they speak to us where we are at any given time.

There are several important lessons I’ve learned while reading books such as this.  The first is this – cruelty has visited all people groups at some point in history and no people group is exempt from giving or receiving cruelty. We all have reason to weep for our ancestors as we discover cruelty endured, we have reason to rejoice with them for kindnesses received. And sometimes we have reason to be ashamed as we discover their treatment of others.

The second thing I’ve learned is that no people group is all good or all bad. For each cruel person, there are many more that are loving and kind. The cruel ones seem to get more notice, probably because they are often able to make life miserable for the masses. It makes me sad to see the way we humans treat each other. It also makes me sad to realize there is “nothing new under the sun”, cruelty and greed is an age old problem.

I can tell a book has been good for me when I am left saying……. I had no idea.

I had no idea that Black Loyalists fled to Nova Scotia Canada in 1783-1784, never mind that they came in such large numbers. It was a surprise to learn they were there because Britain promised rewards for loyalty to their war effort in the US. It was also a surprise to learn that a decade later a large number would accept similar promises of a good life if they would return to West Africa and take up the challenge to establish a colony in Sierra Leone.

I had no idea that thousands of former slaves had the same opportunity, over the years, to return to West Africa to settle, or to help settle, a number of countries like – Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Guinea, and Ghana.

The Book of Negroes is the story of a beautiful eleven year old girl captured as a slave, learning to survive in spite of catastrophic circumstances, becoming a strong, intelligent, and productive woman, loved by everyone she encounters.

I liked this book for the historical education it gave me, but mostly…….. I liked it for the honest way it brought to life a heart wrenching story.

 

 

 

 

Wilma Derksen – writer, communicator

I want to share another awesome writer with you.

We were privileged to have a local celebrity, Wilma Derksen, as speaker at two of the writer’s events I attended this spring. Hearing Wilma was a first for me, and I was impressed. She is wise, has a sweet spirit, and relates well to her audience. I can see why she is popular and in demand.

Wilma’s writing career started with a tragic event in her life, the disappearance  and murder of her young teenage daughter, Candace. The purpose of the first book was to help her make sense of the tragedy, and to assess it’s effect on her family. Publishing and making it publically available brought help and healing to many of those facing similar circumstances. It was also found to be a good resource for those working with victims of serious crime.

The first book was Have You Seen Candace. It was followed by three others, all dealing with other aspects of the coping process. Wilma is tenacious and forgiving, willing to share her secrets with us – and did, in these books. The Way of Letting Go, Confronting the Horror, and Unsettled Weather.

Have you seen Candace   The opportunities as a result of these books have been amazing. She’s had invitations to speak in unexpected places. Her books have been used as educational and training resource material. She’s been given many, and varied, teaching opportunites. There have even been awards.

I’ve had the privilege of reading two of her books, so far, but will list the rest of them for you anyway.

The Way of Letting Go   The Way of Letting Go: One Woman’s Walk Toward Forgiveness

Confronting the Horror   Confronting the Horror: The Aftermath of Violence ….. The Victim’s Journey Through the 15 Elements of Serious Crime

Unsettled Weather  Unsettled Weather: How Do I Forgive . …. a group study on forgiveness using a story telling method

 

The next two are the ones I’ve read, and will probably read again. Unlike the first books, these two are novels. Story seemed to be a good way to share some of the wisdom she’s  gained walking through this life of hers. In case you are wondering, these books are not biographical. I know, it feels like they are.

Path of the Heart  Ava Series – Path of the Heart book 1 …..  is the beautiful story of a neglected little girl who loves and feels loved, by her grandmother, a wise woman sought out by many in the community. They come by way of a special path through the forest, knowing she can help them because she has seen an angel.

Echo of the Soul  Ava Series – Echo of the Soul book 2 ….. there is oppression in the community. An overbearing man, and his wife, have moved in and taken over. The man, secretly a liar and a cheat, has bullied people into following his dictates. The path has never seen this much traffic, so many coming to see the wise woman who has seen an angel. She has had many answers for them in the past, they are convinced she will have an answer for this too.

These last two books are already available on Amazon. It’s hoped the rest can be made available soon; as well as the new book that’s about to be released.

I hope these books will inspire and encourage you in your journey.

Happy reading, for a brighter tomorrow.

Books to address the tough subjects

 

I wasn’t sure…. in the first few pages…. if I could read this book, but I persevered and was glad I did. Really glad. I would like to recommend it to you, too.

Coming Home Again tells the story of rape, and it’s devastating aftermath, in a way that we can bear to hear the worst and still keep reading. I had to check to be sure it was fiction because it is presented in a way that feels very real. (The best stories have you doubting they are fiction.)

As mentioned, at first I didn’t think I could read this book. I was about to delete it unread but remembered there must have been a good reason why I downloaded it in the first place. So I kept reading, and I’m glad I did. I find books like this one are a positive part of my healing journey. It seems they show up at just the right time with an answer to the current question plaguing my mind. I love how that works.

T.I. Lowe gives statistics that tell us millions of Americans have been victims of rape and attempted rape. A third of them have suicidal thoughts, and more than ten percent of them have attempted it.

I think it’s important for all of us to read this kind of story because it helps to give us an understanding we may not already have. If we can understand the reason behind behaviours, the ones we probably even find offensive, it can be life changing, for everyone. Knowing more, we may even recognize abuse while there is still time to intervene. That could be life saving.

For the victim. it’s important to know they are not alone in this experience. Secrecy is a big part of the abuser’s tactic and it’s easy to believe no one else knows or cares.

I like the writing technique in this book. Details of the story are passed out in  manageable bites. And in some of the more graphic places, she gives you a  clear choice – to read or not to read.

This story gives us hope…  there is life after abuse, we don’t have to be broken forever.

 

Coming Home Again A Coming Home Again Novel – Coming Home Again book 1 – T.I. Lowe…….  young teenage sisters fall prey to the wishes of a handsome, charming college age young man their mother introduces to their home. She charges him  with oversight of her family while her husband works and she is off pursuing her self-indulgent lifestyle.

Savannah is distressed at the inappropriate ways this man interacts with the girls and  she goes to great lengths to avoid him. Mostly it works.

Her father notices her disappearing act and is distressed by this behaviour. He tries to put an end to it  but doesn’t think to ask any of the right questions about why it’s happening in the first place.

Her mom seems to be oblivious to everything, in her self absorption, and does nothing.

Then comes the horrendous weekend that changes their lives forever. Mom must have finally noticed something amiss, because on her return from vacation  she  sends  the young man away.

It’s too little too late, the damage is already done.

At the first opportunity, the girls pack up and leave, hoping to escape the demons haunting them.  After all this time away, it still feels impossible to go back to the place of unbearable memories, even to bury the loving father they haven’t seen in years.

Will they survive this reunion? Savannah has serious doubts.

This is actually a pretty upbeat book considering the nature of the subject matter. Kudos to the author for the way she handled it.


I have read several more books that touch on difficult subjects but I think I will keep them for another post.

Wishing you the very best in your journey.

 

Some things need to be talked about

I am convinced there are some things that need to be talked about. There could be a number of reasons for this. Maybe someone shares a similar experience and needs encouragement. Maybe  someone feels lumped in with the abusers and needs reassurance. Maybe someone has the false impression that all abused women hate men and need to know that’s not true. Or, maybe it’s just to help me figure out some things. It could be for any number of reasons that haven’t even occurred to me yet. Whatever the reason, I feel pretty confident there will be some good come out of a discussion.

This post is a continuation of some things I have shared recently, regarding men and my trust issues. Men have been both a blessing and a curse in my life. In spite of the good, I’m still left with trust issues that creep up on me in a way that makes no sense sometimes. Although, maybe it would make sense if I could uncover the old memories triggering these reactions and deal with them somehow.

Today was one of those days. My niece has the sweetest young husband and I met him for the first time. They stayed over night with me as they are travelling back to Western Canada, they were easy to have around. We found lots of interesting things to talk about, it was a great visit. In the morning though, when it was time for them to leave, it was awkward. I wanted to hug them both good bye but I just couldn’t bring myself to initiate a hug with him. I cannot explain to you why that was, there was just something holding me back.

I am still beating myself up over it.

He could have hugged me and I would have responded, but he didn’t know that.

This is an ongoing issue with me, it happens all the time with my son-in-law, whom I love dearly. I want to hug him like I do the rest of the family, but I just can’t. He could hug me but I sense he has some of the same trust issues I do. It seems we end up hugging with a look.

So, getting back to the initial thinking behind this new post.

There is a question I have been asking myself for the last couple of weeks – how can I have empathy and distrust all at the same time? It seems like it should one or the other. Black or white.

For a short while, I was worried there was something emotionally wrong with  me, and that was distressing because I didn’t want it to be true. The concern over this idea was quickly relieved when someone shared a video on Facebook about a five year old brother comforting his little sister. In a flash, it struck a deep cord with me. I realize I learned to love at a very early age, even while I was learning to distrust.

I am the oldest of three with two brothers. There are five years between the oldest and the youngest and there has always been a strong bond between us.  Until now I have never really questioned why that is. I can see that I need to start asking more questions.

When I was thirteen or fourteen, living with my grandparents, I was asked to babysit, briefly, for several families with young babies. These were people I had never met. At the time I wondered why they would consider me, but it didn’t occur to me to question why I felt like I could do the job. Now it occurs to me to ask the question.

Why did I feel confident I could comfort a crying baby or change a dirty diaper? Why did  Grandma have enough confidence to allow me to take the job? There were no babies in our life with her, any experience I had with them would have come from another time.

At this point, looking back on our family dynamics, I can see my mother pressing me into service with my youngest brother. I’m sure Grandma would have been aware of this fact. I have no memory of any of it, but then, I don’t remember a lot of things. It turned out I did indeed know how. I still do.

me and Jax may 2017 WPG

My youngest brother’s great grandson Jax. We’ve just met for the first time (a year ago). His mother took this picture.

There’s more….

Lately, I have been having conversations with my older brother about our life in the early years. He remembers some things I don’t (my mind has buried all of the painful parts) and hearing what he had to say tells me – life was even worse than I imagined. Among other things, he said Dad was not a nice man.

He told me a number of things about those days but there was one story that shook me.

It was about Dad driving on the railroad tracks running behind our property, he was playing chicken with oncoming trains. I had heard these stories for years  and used to laugh, thinking it was something my crazy risk taking father would do. What I didn’t  realize at the time – my brother was with him, scared out of his mind. That’s one of the reasons why Dad did it, it was his perverse way of trying to force this kid to grow some courage. It finally stopped  when my 10 year old brother made up his mind he wasn’t going to let his fear show anymore. I’m horrified Dad would do that to a kid.

We also talked about another time I do remember. It was Dad beating my brother with a piece of hose, in front of all of us. A tool was missing from his work shop and he was convinced it was my brother’s  fault. I can still remember the distress of watching this happen. I could never understand why Mom did nothing to stop it.

One thing I’ve learned, by first hand experience, boys suffer from abuse as deeply as girls. That is the genesis of my soft heart for men, surviving life alongside my brothers, recognizing the pain in their life.

My oldest brother is the reason I’ve left denial behind and have taken ownership of the abusive early years in my life. He adamantly insisted that I must, even if the memories were shadowy and I couldn’t remember the actual events. He wanted to know why I thought I would be the favoured one, to escape abuse.

All three of us have blocked painful memories, but deep inside, we will never forget.

Our story does have a happy ending in spite of the terrible years. All three of us have grown into well adjusted, productive, loving people. We’ve left behind the bitterness and rage. A miracle, really.

One thing I’ve loved about this process of discovery – the heavy load of old baggage seems to grow lighter with each breakthrough experience.

 

 

I want to tell you a story

I want to tell you a story, hopefully, one that will build on my last post, and clear up some misconceptions.

It’s about one of my cats. Kitty (as I called him – mainly because my landlord called him Sylvester, a name I didn’t like and didn’t have the courage to try to change), Kitty had been someone’s pet, an abused pet, one who learned to be terrified of all things human.

We discovered him living in the bushes across the back alley, wild and hungry. He could be coaxed out with food, if it was placed somewhere he considered safe, so we fed him.

I found it hard to see him in such distress and set out to woo him into trusting me. It worked, gradually his trust grew to the point that he was eating inside, then living inside – sleeping on the furniture, and finally, on my lap. His trust grew to extend beyond me to my husband, and to our landlord.

Kitty learned to trust the three of us but that was as far as it ever went. He was gone in a flash if anyone else came around, and he was like that for as long as we had him.

The thing is, he didn’t stop to make a judgement call. He had no idea if encountered humans were good or bad, and he didn’t care, he wasn’t taking any chances.

His fear was the result of what had been done to him in the past and had nothing whatever to do with anyone in the present.

That’s the spot I find myself in today. My trust issues and panic attacks are the result of what’s been done to me in the past. The present can inadvertently act as a trigger but other than that, it has no bearing on anything.

Triggers aren’t restricted to strangers, either, they often happen in the presence of people I know and trust, they can even happen when I am alone, maybe reading, thinking, listening to the news, any other activity, really. On top of all that, most of the time I have no idea why.

So, when my talk of trust issues has you worried you are being labelled as a bad guy, please, let that worry go. I don’t stop to make assessments and then act on my findings. Triggers happen when they happen, for reasons all of their own, and they create awkward moments.

Like the one that happened on a day when I was hurrying across a lobby. I spotted a man standing by the door and stopped dead in my tracks. I have no idea what that was about. I had to do some quick, and tough, self talk….don’t just stand there, keep walking.

I can tell you, there were no assessments made that day. He could have been a very good guy.