A debut memoir recollects years of grim abuse and the painful path to recovery.
Ten years into her marriage, debut author Madsen’s life hadn’t turned out as she had hoped: she was obese, her house was in chaos, and she suddenly started to have disturbingly violent thoughts, macabre fantasies about harming herself or her children. Alarmed, she sought the counsel of a therapist who reassured her she wasn’t crazy and prescribed Xanax and Prozac. But suppressed memories began to flood her mind unbidden, and the author recollected the continuous sexual abuse her older brother, Bart, had brutally subjected her to, beginning when she was only 3 years old. Then she also remembered that her brother Keith had participated as well as her father and both grandfathers. In fact, her brothers were also exploited and even forced to have sex with other men at pedophiliac get-togethers held at remote locations. Madsen had buried these memories at an early age and conjured a variety of personalities, both male and female, to cope with the unspeakable trauma, a condition called dissociative identity disorder. The perpetrators baldly rejected her accusations once confronted, and the author immediately recognized the consequences of her brave decision: “It was the spring; the snow was just beginning to melt. I was thirty-five years old and I knew I had lost my family.” The author’s marriage ended in divorce, and she was devastated by the news that her sons had also experienced the same debasement she had; two of them later wrestled with alcoholism as a result. Madsen’s tale is heart-rending, affectingly relayed in simple, unadorned prose. Her frankness is astonishingly courageous. She knowledgably explains the psychological fallout of her experiences and the nature of suppressed memories (“I was…afraid to let myself think, for fear I would be flooded with memories at the wrong time and place. I never knew when it would hit. I had kicked a hole in the dike and there was no stopping it now”). Due to the dark nature of the abuse Madsen suffered, and the graphic depictions she supplies, some of the book is emotionally challenging to read. But overall, the memoir is not a bitter lament but rather an inspiriting testament to the irrepressibility of the human spirit and the power of therapeutic healing.
An inspirational remembrance intrepidly told.