In prose, poetry, and paintings, Weber tells of an abuse-filled past and a journey toward healing.
The author writes that between the ages of 5 and 10 she was molested by her father, but she dates her PTSD to earlier in her life. Corporal punishment was standard in her family, she says, and she remembers having her hand slammed in a door when she was 3. From that point on, she struggled with sleepwalking and nightmares. She also says that she was sexually assaulted by a male gynecologist in college and that her first husband was verbally abusive. Later, as a teacher in California, she found that she was sensitive to evidence of bullying and domestic violence: “My own abuse experience causes me to be hypervigilant when it comes to the safety of children,” she notes. She was also quick to observe that her father-in-law was a victim of elder abuse. She goes on to recount acts of extreme bravery, such as getting into a driverless, moving car and stopping it, and confronting a man who was dangerously target-shooting at a campground. She received support from friends’ parents and a youth group when she was younger, and these accounts help to lighten the book’s tone at times; overall, though, readers will find much of the subject matter to be harrowing. That said, Weber does work to balance out the more disturbing material by discussing her therapeutic activities, such as painting, playing the piano, hiking, and writing poetry. She also discusses how remarriage, a move to Alaska, and learning to interpret her dreams have helped her. In addition, the book includes 23 of the author’s colorful paintings and drawings, which recall the work of Hieronymus Bosch and Salvador Dalí in their depictions of symbolic animals and shapes. The 18 poems in the book, meanwhile, share dark fragments of memory: “My soul hides within the ashes / No one knows I’m here / No one cares / I am safe.” This variety of formats makes this book more compelling than many other memoirs of abuse.
An unflinching account that boldly asserts the possibility of recovery.