It’s been a rough couple of weeks. The kind of rough that leaves you unable to stop crying for about 36 hours straight and then wondering why the hell you can’t seem to get it together.
So instead of preparing my blog to be out fresh and ready this morning, I spent all of yesterday on the couch with my remote. (What is going to happen to Carol on the Walking Dead?!?!) It’s exactly what I needed. To shut my head off and fill it with mindless garbage I can dump ten minutes after the credits role. Except for that zombie series. (Seriously though - he just told Carol to leave???)
From the surface, my sorrows all seem to come from different corners, different parts of my life from relationships to book rejections. But after a few episodes of Revolution and Covert Affairs, (don’t judge) I stepped far enough back to finally find the forest.
It’s all about childhood. And a very broken, abusive one at that.
About two weeks ago a friend and up and coming producer (I live in Southern California now where you say things like my friend writes on this show, or starred in that commercial and you aren’t lying. Very surreal.) gave me some intense feedback on my book.
She told me she couldn’t care less about me, or what was happening to me, until around chapter 6. “Why do you even need those first few chapters?” she asked entirely serious and pulling no punches.
When I recovered from the knockout, and continued our conversation later over a glass (or five) of wine, I realized she was right. My first five chapters make the reader believe the book is going in one direction, when it’s going the opposite. And not in an amazing surprising plot twist kind of way.
The hard truth is that I know, that I know, that I know, since I printed out the very first draft...the first 50 pages are wrong.
They’re wrong because they’re about my own broken, abusive childhood.
One of the problems is the fact it wasn’t abusive enough to have insane stories of bats being shattered over my back, or having so many cigarette burns one could play connect the dots on my arm. That didn’t happen. It was more subtle. A lot more mental. I can’t hide behind shock value. To make you care I have to go another, deeper layer of vulnerable into how it all made me feel.
Frankly it makes me feel weak and stupid. There’s a thing that happens in childhood abuse that’s similar to coming out of a bad romantic relationship. You feel a sort of shame for “allowing” such treatment to happen to you. Doesn’t matter that you know it’s not your fault, your adult self is still mad at your 8-year old self for letting it happen.
In the latter part of my book I regain control. Even better I fight back. Even better than that, I see God charging before me, making a way where there was no way.
I don’t see God in my childhood. I see Him after and how He used it, but I don’t see Him in it.
The thread of Him is what holds my book together. I’ve fought and fought that I don’t want No Beauty Queen to be your typical, evangelical type book...and it’s not. (At least I hope it's not.) I never want those I dearly love and respect to feel I’m pushing some version of religion on their lives.
But No Beauty Queen is a struggle in, with, and through faith. A struggle you don’t feel when I’m seven. A struggle you don’t feel on page 22.
So I'm asking everyone reading to please do me a favor. Fill my comment box with your thoughts and opinions, whether you believe in any version of a god, or not.
Answer me this:
Where is God in abusive, broken childhoods?
Not where is He after, or how He can use them to His glory later. And please, not the “He’s right by your side holding you through it” answer. Where is He in that moment you are becoming a victim? What is His glory then? Where’s the God strength in being a weak child?
I’ve got five new chapters to write.