Today I have the pleasure and honor of welcoming Anne Peterson, author of Broken: A Story of Abuse and Survival. Anne has graciously prepared a post recalling how she came to write Broken and what the process of that writing was like. As I prepared Anne's post for publication, I was struck by many of her words and their combined power as an affirmation of the healing benefits found in writing. Please join me in welcoming Anne!
When I started writing my memoir Broken: A Story of Abuse and Survival, all sorts of challenges met me head on. You don’t write painful events without reliving them. And in my case, it was a full length movie.
Loss is hard
Loss has been a recurring theme in my life. I was actually introduced to loss when I was a little girl. Our neighbor called out for her son. Into the street he ran after his ball. He just never came back. All night long his mother wailed through open windows on that summer night.
But that wasn’t the only loss. They would come one after the other for years upon years.
Why write a book about loss? It’s what I’ve known.
Experiences are great teachers
We are products of the experiences that make up our lives.
We don’t have control over many things that happen to us. But we do have control over how we respond to them.
I found as I continued to pour my life into the pages of my book, I found healing. It’s not the first time I had shared these stories. For years, I’ve shared them to various groups of people. Highlighting how God taught me about his character through my pain. And what was the benefit? Apart from pain, I would never know God’s comfort.
God wanted something else
When I started writing my sister’s story I thought it would go smoothly. And then God said, “I want you to tell your story as well.” Although I didn’t expect that, I knew I had little choice.
I have tried arguing with God in the past. He doesn’t let me dictate what he should or shouldn’t do. I know because I’ve tried. He is God, after all.
To give my readers some background, I took them back to my childhood. After I was hit, I’d lay there crying, listening to my siblings plead with my dad to stop.Those early experiences set the stage for who I’d become one day.
Abuse colors who we are
Those younger days determined how I’d feel about myself. After receiving negatives for years, I grew accustomed to dismissing anything positive. I wore shame like a well-fitted sweater.
By the time we were young adults, we didn’t know how to think for ourselves and in some ways we were emotionally frozen.
At sixteen, I said goodbye to my forty-three year old mother who died of a stroke. I felt aimless, losing my anchor.
Writing Broken, I opened my heart, inviting the world inside. Carefully I unfolded the fragile events. And when I was completely spent, the unexpected happened. Other stories started bubbling out.
After the healing…restoration
Not heavy stories of pain or loss. These were different. Stories full of life.
Ever since my son placed his newborn in my arms, stories would come to me.
“Grandma tell us a story?” his little ones would ask.
“Okay, which book would you like?” I’d respond.
“No Grandma, we want a story from your head.”
Where did these stories come from? My theory is they were inside of me, hiding.
Pain yields fruit
As I learned to work through my pain, each story started to surface.
So why did I write Broken? What possible good could come from a book on abuse?
God knew all along. It wasn’t just for those I addressed. It was for me as well. Broken was written for the person who has been abused as well as for those who are being abused. But there’s another group of people this book is for.
Broken is for those who have no clue as to what an abusive home is like. It’s time we gave a voice to those who had no voice. It’s time we valued those who struggle through life because of their brokenness.
What I learned from writing this book
It’s important to be open. When we open up, sharing the deepest parts of ourselves we free others to do the same.
And the person who feels all alone realizes they are not the only one going through their difficult experiences.
Being vulnerable yields great results. And the bonus is the surprises you find beneath your pain, in the rubble.
Take a Moment to Meet Anne
Anne Peterson is a poet, speaker and published author of Real Love: Guaranteed to Last, Broken: A Story of Abuse and Survival, and most recently, her first children’s book, Emma’s Wish. Anne’s poetry is sold throughout the U.S. and in 23 countries. For more information about Anne visit http://www.annepeterson.com, or https:// www.facebook.com/annepetersonwrites.
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