THE TWO FACES OF SHAME…
Shame is an evil witch that parks her broom outside my home, lurks by the door waiting to sneak inside or sometimes, even expects to be invited to enter. I have lived with this wicked creature my entire life so one would think I would be consumed with a hatred for her, a disdain so great, that I shudder at the mere mention of her name. Oddly, I don’t.
Shame has imprisoned me from truly living until now, but she also saved my life…
I began my “writing journey” not as a fulfillment of a life-long dream as most writers do, but more as a panacea to ward off the empty-nest syndrome I will be experiencing very soon, and to stave off loneliness in my life. I love romance…well, let me clarify, I love a great story laced with romance. I’m a voracious reader (over 700 books read in 6 years) so I thought, “This can’t be that hard to do.” Though not a writer, I can tell a pretty good story or two.
I sat down with pen and paper (I’m dating myself, I know. Computers and I used to be on really ugly terms) and tried to write my first romance…maybe a short story to start out with. I was blank, no muse at all, just this niggling little voice inside my head. I scribbled some gibberish not worth the paper it was on, then heard the voice again…”Tell our story! Give me a voice Taylor!” For whatever reason, I finally listened.
MY PRISON WITHOUT BARS: THE JOURNEY OF A DAMAGED WOMAN TO SOMEPLACE NORMAL is my fictional memoir. It’s a novel based on a true story…my story.
When I began this journey, I could barely utter the words “Child Sexual Abuse” without stuttering and stammering, even though I was hell bent on using my real name, not a pen name as I was encouraged to do. I didn’t want to write a memoir. I didn’t know how. I hadn’t ever read one. I had this crazy notion that if you wrote a memoir, somehow you were supposed to have some sort of second sight, philosophical insight…answers, if you will, to all the points and questions raised while telling your story. Unfortunately, I knew I had no answers…just Shame.
In the beginning, my writing was relatively innocuous. I told of my abuser and the abuse I endured with little, to no detail. I continued writing my story passing the abuse, moving on to the fallout or damage that victims live with long after the abuse ends. Halfway through my novel, Penn State University erupted in the media, throughout the U.S. with breaking news about long term, persistent, child sexual abuse of young boys in a summer athletic program hosted by the University, run by Jerry Sandusky…now, a convicted pedophile.
Joe Paterno, the head football coach for Penn State and beloved icon, had been informed of this heinous activity and did nothing to stop it, or prevent it from continuing. He had knowledge of the crime for years, yet turned a blind eye to it. By turns, he was quickly fired for his part in the cover-up. He and his football team were stripped of all their awards and titles, not only for this particular year, but for all accolades during his tenure. The University even went so far as to remove a statue honoring him. The University was also sanctioned and subjected to heavy, punitive fines. I was ecstatic! FINALLY! Someone was taking a stand on behalf of the victims.
I was glued to the television, following the story as it unfolded. Then, I noticed the victim’s interviews were being edited and cut. I watched students protest and riot in the streets. The final straw for me was a group interview on the campus with several students, faculty, and some administrators crying “FOUL!” One administrator or faculty member said, “This isn’t right! The punishment is TOO HARSH for the crime!”
I was beyond RAGE…a door in my head swung open and something inside of me snapped! I actually felt possessed. I went to the beginning of my novel, read through the first eight chapters that described the abuse (leaving much to the reader’s imagination) then I tore it to shreds! I started OVER…
The words poured out of me like water gushing down a flushed toilet. I wrote with rage and fury, letting the words and experiences flow from the depths of my soul. I wrote until my hand cramped and my fingers were numb…then I cried. I cried for myself, then for all the innocent children that are lost and have no voice. I cried in Shame…
Why so graphic? I mean come on, does the reader really need to read all the gory details of such an atrocity? The answer is yes...they do! The mind is a compensatory computer, allowing a plethora of knowledge and feelings to flow through its pathways…it's always filtering or camouflaging some things, buffering or blocking others, and completely shutting off when unable to handle or compute. In other words, it makes sure the soul can handle the download.
And therein lays the problem with Child Sexual Abuse. We hear those three words and our minds will only allow us to imagine so far before we filter, buffer, block, or completely shut off the things too unpleasant to handle. My mission became clear…I had to take the reader to that dark, dismal, shameful place no one ever talks about, and with my written words…make them feel.
I know a place so dark that the only light is the knowledge I survived last night. I know a place so shameful, that the only hope is surviving tonight, and the next night, and the next…
So, for good or bad, I laid myself naked and exposed to the world (or at least to the few friends that would actually read my book). I bared myself before everyone to be judged, criticized and condemned. I left nothing to the imagination…I take the reader far beyond what is comfortable and far beyond what most would consider appropriate.
My novel is dark, disturbing, and very GRAPHIC…because you see, that’s what Child Sexual Abuse really is, and we as a society (a global society) need to come to terms with that. I have had family, friends, and colleagues (both medical and literary) accuse me of writing a “HOW-TO FOR PEDOPHILES” (I can assure you from experience, they don’t need directions) to writing Child Porn or really bad Erotica (RED ALERT: If anyone is titillated or turned on by any of the descriptions I have written concerning the abuse I endured, they need help!)
In response, I stand as tall as I can, my back straight and my head held high. I’m no longer a victim, or a survivor…I AM A WARRIOR!
I was introduced to Shame at a very young age…I believe I was six at the time. Shame was that little voice in my head, telling me what was happening to me was wrong. Because you see, abusers seclude their victims, putting them in solitary confinement with no connection to the norms of society or the ways of the outside world. Children learn what they live. Had I not met Shame, not been introduced to the “wrongness” of the life I lived, the cycle would have probably continued with me…for without Shame, we know no better. Shame in all her evil glory, saved my life!
Was I too descriptive? Probably. Was I too graphic? Definitely! But I saw no other way to lead readers through my journey…the journey of a lost and forgotten child that had no voice, no protector. I do not apologize for the subject matter or the way I wrote it. Fear of the unknown breeds ignorance, and ignorance perpetuates the unknown! My job as a writer in this instance, is to make you feel. If you come away from my book with an inkling of what it’s like to have no choices, no freedom and no safety as an innocent, defenseless child, well then I’ve done my job.
So what’s the response to my work? My novel to date has done very well. On Amazon it has over 125~ 5 star reviews out of 143, and is ranked in the Top 25 in two categories for twenty-one weeks. On Goodreads, my book maintains a 4.5 rating and has 90 review/ratings. This response is not the norm for a self-published "taboo novel."
As of June 1st 2013, my little “taboo novel” won 1st Place in the prestigious IRDA, INDIE READER DISCOVERY AWARDS presented at the BEA, BOOK EXPO OF AMERICA (the largest trade show for publishers and authors in the world) in NYC. I went to New York to accept this award.
I was recently notified that my novel is a finalist in the READERS FAVORITE INTERNATIONAL BOOK AWARDS for my category, Reality/Fiction. The winners will be announced September 1, 2013. The awards will be presented in Miami, Florida in mid-November. I plan to attend that ceremony as well.
In closing, I'd like to say that I never ask anyone to buy or read my novel. Unfortunately, it's not that kind of book. It's a personal choice to go to that dark place I describe in detail, but let me assure you, it's not a pity pit. My novel is also a psychological thriller, a romance and revenge sought out and realized. If you can get through it, it speaks of light, hope, and acceptance...my journey to someplace normal. This is as bared and naked as I'll ever be.
I’m proud to say the little girl inside my book (inside of me) is fine…I protect her now. This little girl has found her voice…
*I want to thank you Marta, for your gracious, courageous and persistent invitation to guest post on your blogroll. You truly honor me, my story and my life. Thank you most of all for your love, support and friendship…I am blessed beyond measure by all three.
Write from the heart...with passion!
MY PRISON WITHOUT BARSviewBook.at/MyPrisonWithoutBarsTheJourneyofaDamagedWomant
TAYLOR EVAN FULKS