Guest Post: The Choice of Invisibility by Destiny Allison, Author of the Romance Diet: Body Image and the Wars We Wage on Ourselves

It is my pleasure to take part in Destiny Allison’s WOW! Blog Tour for her new memoir, Romance Diet: Body Image and the Wars We Wage On OurselvesDestiny writes a bold yet honest memoir about making life changes in the midst of the cultural battles we wage on ourselves and with our culture. Today Destiny looks at “The Choice of Invisibility.”

On Friday, January 29th, at Puddletown Reviews, I will share my review of Destiny’s new memoir. I hope  you will join me for a look at her book in more detail.

Now join me in welcoming Destiny!

THE CHOICE OF INVISIBILITY

Healing, like writing, is a slow and difficult process. One day, one word at time, we fill the holes in our hearts. Each word is a drop of water in a dry pond. It is a tear finally shed, a hurt undone. The process not only heals us, it empowers us to do things differently in the future because it changes the way we see ourselves.

Unfortunately, changing the present is more challenging. As we work to give voice to our stories and release them, we are under a constant barrage of cultural norms that seek to diminish us. It takes great courage to rally our voices in a surging storm.

Nine times out of ten, if I’m in a business meeting with my husband (who is also my business partner), our associate will direct the conversation toward him. If I interject with a thought or comment, I’m often completely ignored. My husband knows this and works with me to balance the conversation, but he, too, is up against cultural norms.

Men are supposed to make the decisions. Women are to be quiet and not rock the boat. We’re the support system, not the engine. As such, we’re often invisible, even when that’s the last thing we want.

In every industry in this country, women are underrepresented, minimized, or ignored. Amy Schumer and other celebrities are working diligently to change the system and create opportunity for women to be heard, but try acting like Schumer in real life and the results are as disastrous as they are comical.

In my new book, The Romance Diet: Body Image and the Wars We Wage on Ourselves, I chronicle an experience I had a few years ago. At that time, my husband and I had recently acquired a bankrupt shopping center. It was the height of the downturn and we had our work cut out for us.

I have long believed that the only thing we can control is what we give, so I created a community giveback that I thought was win-win. I built a professional art gallery, complete with track lighting and moveable walls, and gave it to a different group of local artists every month. I taught them the business of art, helped them with pricing, statements, and hanging their shows. They used the space and my time for free and kept 100% of their sales.

One of the first art openings attracted several hundred people. Someone my husband had done business with for years attended. He couldn’t say enough about the gallery or the event. “What a great gift! This is so important, so necessary, so good for the community,” he told my husband. My husband thanked him and replied, “Let me introduce you to my wife. She’s the one behind all of this. I just pointed the lights.” The man checked out my body, turned back to my husband and said, “Well, it’s just great of you to support her little projects.” My husband’s mouth dropped open. He took my hand and pulled me away, speechless. He had never experienced this kind of behavior because he had never partnered with a woman. For me, it was one example of many.

As we toil away at our manuscripts, we face the probability that our voices will never be heard because, well, women are supposed to be invisible. On top of that, a million books are published every year in this country and most of them won’t sell a hundred copies. And yet, we keep typing the words. For women, these words are essential. The gates have crumbled and gate keepers, who overwhelmingly publish men over women, are scrambling to survive. Today, the publishing revolution has given courageous women a chance to tell our stories. Invisibility is a choice. We can go with conventional norms, or we can create our own storm.2

Thank you, Destiny, for joining my readers and me today to share your thoughts and feelings on what, for me at least, is an area of pointed abuse and influence against women in today’s business world. Of particular interest are the statements related to the writing and publishing of works by women.

 

THE BOOK

Advance praise:

IN HER LATEST BOOK, DESTINY ALLISON HAS DEFTLY PARSED THAT FEMINIST CLICHÉ THE PERSONAL IS THE POLITICAL IN A FRESH NEW WAY. THE SEARCH FOR THE AUTHENTIC SELF IS NEW FOR EVERY GENERATION AND ALLISON’S BOOK IS A VALUABLE CONTRIBUTION TO THAT QUEST FOR TODAY’S WOMEN.

–PATRICIA MURPHY, PHD, JOHN D. & CATHERINE T. MACARTHUR FOUNDATION WOMEN’S HEALTH POLICY FELLOW AND AUTHOR OFMAKING CONNECTIONS: WOMEN, WORK, AND ABUSE

Brave, raw, and unflinchingly honest, this book is a weight loss journey, a love story, a heart beating loudly on the page. Every day we battle against something–injustice, our spouses, our weight. Seldom do we acknowledge the real wars we wage. Repressing feelings and silencing our voices, we suffer under the surface, attributing emotional distress and unwanted pounds to the inescapable effects of hormones or age.

But weight gain, anxiety, and marital difficulties aren’t always so easy to explain.

In her poignant and touching memoir, Allison doesn’t offer recipes, exercise tips, or advice. Instead, she shows us how to stand up, express what we want, and develop empathy for ourselves and the people we love. In doing so, she provides invaluable insight for those seeking to lose weight, save a marriage, or make a significant life change.

Includes a Readers Guide.

PURCHASE THE BOOK: AMAZON

MEET THE AUTHOR

Destiny Allison was a professional and award-winning sculptor. Her work is collected by individuals, civic entities, and corporations worldwide. When an injury required her to re-envision her life, Allison did what she always does. She applied her explosive creativity and dog-with-a-bone tenacity to new endeavors.

In 2011 she was named Santa Fé Business Woman of the Year. Her community building efforts and innovative business model transformed a bankrupt shopping center into a thriving community and commercial center.

In 2012 she published her first book, Shaping Destiny: A quest for meaning in art and life. The book won best independent non-fiction/memoir in the 2013 Global Book Awards.

Since then, she has published two novels and opened a general store.

Allison believes that one’s life is one’s greatest work of art. Hence, she flows freely between mediums. Unafraid to make mistakes and always passionate, she lives in Santa Fé, NM.

CONNECT WITH DESTINY:

Facebook | TWITTER | WEBSIte

Have you ever chosen invisibility? Have you ever stood up to those who want to make you invisible? Why not share your experiences in the comments below?

6 What If’s of Memoir Writing

As I have traveled the memoir writing path, I have faced a number of “what if” questions. Perhaps you are beginning to write your story or are midway through. It’s possible these same questions have haunted you. Let me share with you how I have resolved some of these stumbling blocks.

WHAT IF I don’t know what to write?

Not everyone knows what they are going to write when they begin a book. That’s why we write the first draft without pausing to edit or correct as we go. This “stream of consciousness” writing will allow the memories or family stories to come back to you.

If you have a central subject, such as abuse, violence, grief, or illness, to build on, it will be easier to begin. But not everybody starts this way. Perhaps you have a diary or journal from some important time in your life. That will be a great help.

WHAT IF my memories are not 100% clear?

Memories are like photographs. Some fading occurs over the years. But items like photos, letters, diaries, or journals will sharpen those memories. Talking with family or friends about times past will also benefit in calling up memories for you. And, believe it or not, certain smells, colors, or places will do the same. Give it a try.

WHAT IF someone challenges my truth? WHAT IF family members object to my writing my story?

Your story is your story. Therefore, what you recall about your story is your truth. Not everyone in a family, workplace, group, or community remembers every incident the same. Not everyone in a family will be excited about your project. We are attuned to what goes on around us in different ways. We don’t perceive the same visuals or audibles, nor do we have the same abilities of recall. If someone questions your truth or recall or reason for writing, remind them this is how you remember it and if they don’t remember things the same, they’ll need to tell their own story.

WHAT IF family members don’t want to be included in my story?

This is a difficult question and a difference of opinion on this point is best handled on each particular writer’s watch. In my case, I have two brothers who could play major roles in some of my memories. I have asked their permission to include them by name; they have not responded. I have decided to include them with only generic references to who they are, i.e. “my older brother” and “my younger brother.” However, I’m writing under my name, using my family name and my parents’ full names, and people are going to know who those brothers are. I do not, however, include any stories of which I do not have first-hand knowledge.

If this is an issue in your writing experience, you will need to discuss this with your family members. Some may ask to see what you’ve written about them and if they ask politely, you may choose to cut any references unpleasing to them.

WHAT IF my story is the same story someone else has written?

My story is similar to many memoirs written before and some written in the future will be similar to mine and many others. It is a story of parental abuse. Yet, I am able to get beyond this “what if” because I believe my story is able to offer hope to victims in similar circumstances. It is my belief that each story resonates for at least one person who reads it. If that reader gains a miniscule grain of hope, then my writing has not been in vain.

WHAT IF no one wants to read my story?

Every writer faces this question. We have no way of knowing who, if anyone will want to read our stories or books. Writers usually write because they love the written word. Many cannot go a day without writing. We can only hope our articulation of our stories is capable of moving into the mainstream of books written. In so doing, they will perhaps make it to a bookshelf in a retail setting, a stack in a local library, or if digitally published to a site where traffic brings an interested reader our way. Don’t fret over whether someone will read your story. Write it first and then see what happens.

I hope these have been helpful to anyone facing some or all the “what if’s” I have addressed. If there is one I haven’t listed, and there are some, please let me know and I’ll add them to a later post.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? If you have faced some of these or other “what if’s” in your writing, how have you handled them?

Silenced Voices of Abused Children

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Today I am pleased to join Gwen Plano on her blog, From Sorrow to Joy–Perfect Love. Last week Gwen visited me, and now I have the privilege of visiting Gwen. I hope you’ll come over and read my post and take a look around Gwen’s blog.

Silenced Voices of Abused Children

Via Lloydminster Interval Home

A little spoken of tragedy in our world is the silenced voices of abused children. Voices silenced for a variety of reasons are a hindrance to well-adjusted lives and justice for these children. Their scars are invisible, etched in tiny hearts and minds forever.

I was born in 1946, the first year of Baby Boomers. Our parents adhered to firm rules of 1940s and 1950s etiquette and discipline. Mama and Daddy were firm believers in proper behavior from their offspring.

Some likely familiar phrases heard on a regular basis in our home included:

  • Children should be seen and not heard.
  • Children should not speak unless spoken to.
  • Children should stand when an adult enters or leaves a room.
  • Children will not talk back or sass their parents or other adults.
  • Children will not begin a conversation with an adult; always wait for the adult to start the conversation.

These are only a few of the rules laid down for children in our family and culture to follow. Some of these often heard rules instruct children to be silent in certain situations involving adults. These instructions lay a perfect foundation for silencing children who are victims of abuse.

Read the rest here…

Forgiveness by Susannah Birch

Today it is my pleasure to introduce my guest, Susannah Birch. Thank you, Susannah, for sharing with my followers.
In Susannah’s own words,

I’m passionate about women’s rights in childbirth, support for families of those who are mentally ill and domestic abuse prevention, particularly against men and children. I’m a freelance journalist, online marketer, blogger and content creator.

I am also a qualified birth doula. I’m an activist and survivor of childhood trauma & I’m currently preparing to publish my memoirs. I run a local writing group and manage the website and social media for the Toowoomba Writers’ Festival.

I’m going to change the world – watch me.

Join me in welcoming Susannah Birch to the blog.

It took me 25 years to forgive my mother for trying to kill me.  It took me 11 of those years to realise that I had something I needed to forgive her for.

When I was two years old, my mother experienced her first bipolar psychotic episode and believed that she had been told by God to sacrifice me just as Abraham had been called to sacrifice his only son in the Bible. Unlike Abraham, nothing told my mother to stop and I sustained such serious injuries that my life hung in the balance. It was only because she came out of her psychosis enough to realise something was wrong, and ring the police, that local emergency services were able to get to me in time. [Trigger Warning]You can listen to the full story here.

My mother spent a year in a psychiatric hospital and then came home to live with my father and I. My father was assured that my mother was fine and although we lived with my paternal grandparents, I felt that my life was normal and that my mother was too.  I could remember the event; I just assumed that because other adults accepted my mother’s current mental health, it was a onetime event outside anyone’s control, even my mother’s.

It wasn’t till my mother experienced a breakdown when I was 13, taking me to the other side of the country and changing her entire fashion style, beliefs and social habits that I started to realise something wasn’t right. My teenage years were confused attempts to find the mother I’d never had and at the same time push her out of my life for what she’d done to me.

I rushed into a relationship, marriage at 20 and then just a few years later, I had my first child. Instead of making me understand my own mother, it confused me even more.  I didn’t understand how my mother could have done what she did, but I experienced graphic images in my head, imagining what would happen if some part of her was somehow in me. It wasn’t till years later that I’d realise this was just a facet of OCD and other issues that became more obvious after entering motherhood.

My relationship with my mother followed a pattern. I’d try and make contact in an attempt to find the mother I so very much wanted in my life. It’d always end in tears. Over the years I had a screaming match with her in the middle of a downtown area, hacked her Facebook account and messaged all her friends, refused to talk to her and yelled and swore at her.

I kept hearing how forgiveness would make me feel better, lift a burden off my shoulders, allow me to let go. All I felt when I thought of forgiving my mother, though, was that I’d be condoning her behaviour and admitting my own weakness.

In 2013 I read a book called Mummy is a Killer by Nikkia Roberson. It told the story of how Nikkia’s two siblings were killed by her mother. I finished the book in two days but the part that amazed me the most was that Nikkia had forgiven her mother. The first tiny piece of me started to question how I could take the same journey.

The day I forgave my mother came and passed without me even realising it. The first few tendrils of forgiveness didn’t feel like anything more than compassion, like walking in someone else’s shoes. My thoughts subtly changed from being about what she’d done to me to how she must feel, having done what she did. My anger started to change into something else. I thought of all the issues my mother had had over the years as she buried that traumatic day, tried to rewrite history and slid deeper into her illness in an attempt to erase her awful memories of what her own hands had done.

There is no simple journey to forgiveness. No one can tell you how to feel or how to forgive. It’s just something that happens, either as a culmination of learning and thinking or from slowly looking at the events that require your forgiveness.

I never believed that forgiveness was more about me than her, until I felt it. It’s a wonderful feeling. I don’t condone my mother’s actions and I still don’t have contact with her, but I’m at peace with what happened. And for the things I did to her on my journey to forgiveness, I feel that she needs to forgive me too. While what she did to me was outside her control, what I did to her wasn’t outside mine. Maybe, at some step on my future journey, we’ll both be able to find the answers and the forgiveness we’re both looking for, even if it’s not together.

Learn more about Susannah Birch ~

Susannah Birch is a freelance Journalist, online writer, blogger, birth doula, activist and survivor. She’s currently editing her memoirs. She has a loving husband, two daughters and is slowly piecing together how the events of her childhood changed her life. She talks a lot, writes a lot and likes to analyse and understand everything around her. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.