This post is brought to you as part of the It Happened On Maple Street International Blog Tour. For a complete tour schedule visit www.tarataylorquinn.com. It is “The Writing of Maple Street: Part Four” by Tara Taylor Quinn.
I am so glad to be here. To be able to bring others here to a place where women truly are safe.
For so many years I didn’t believe I was worthy of a place like this. I believed my problems were of my own making. I take accountability for my actions. I am responsible for my life. And so I believed that the things that happened to me happened because I’d somehow made them happen. I’d created the circumstances that allowed others to mistreat me. I wasn’t a victim. I was simply paying the price for the poor choices I’d made. I couldn’t possibly take help away from those who deserved it by seeking that help for myself.
I am a USA Today bestselling romance author, you see. I’ve published fifty-five books with the world’s largest publisher of women’s fiction. My books are in twenty some languages in over thirty countries. I have a dream career. I am a success. Or so I told myself all those years. In reality, Tara Taylor Quinn, my alter ego, the woman inside of me who came to my rescue when Tara couldn’t handle the things happening to her, was a success. Tara was the girl who spent her time trapped in the little room inside of me. She ventured out to seep into the pages of my books. To love a child with all of my heart. And the rest of the time, she didn’t let anyone know she existed.
My journey is much like many of the women who are abused by those who vow undying love for them. I know that now. My epiphany is twenty-seven years late. And in the interim, I spent twenty-seven years of a lifetime living a lie. Twenty-seven years without peace in my heart. Twenty-seven years filled with moments of intermittent happiness mixed in with fear and panic, silence and hiding.
I am a lucky woman. I knew true love before abuse. The man I shared that love with was not my abuser. And when, twenty-seven years later, my true love, Tim Barney, came back into my life, it was that love, his love, the whole hearted love I’d felt for him before my heart had been shoved into a cement cask, that brought me out of the darkness and into he light. My true love knew that something horrible had happened to me. He could see the changes abuse had wrought. And he wasn’t willing to accept my silence. With his tender and gentle support, I spoke of something I’d never spoken of before. To anyone. One tentative step at a time, I came out, a little girl squinting against the glare of the sun, and trusted him with my truth.
I am four years post squint as I write this today. I am now married to my true love. Last summer we were asked to write our story. And today that story, It Happened On Maple Street, goes on sale. Today, for the first time, my family and friends will hear the truth about my life. Today, I think about the writing of that truth.
I had to do it alone. I knew that. I had to be strong enough to travel backward, to look at things I’d refused to think about, things shut so firmly away I wasn’t even sure I could still call them up in enough detail to write about them. Tim had a business trip coming up and I knew that was my time to write the hardest section of It Happened On Maple Street. He wasn’t in that part of the story. I also knew that I could not be at home alone while taking the trip into the past. And…I was long past due for a visit with my dearest friend, fellow writer, Patricia Potter. Pat welcomed me with open arms and a hospitality that I cannot describe for its goodness. Even now, I think of her home and know that the world holds a place that embodies emotional wellness, safety, and peace.
And for three days I sat on Pat’s couch with my laptop on my knees, my four pound poodle, who’d traveled with me, sleeping beside me, Pat’s two wild Indians whom I adore (rescue Australian Shepherds) close by, and Pat floating in and out of the room like some kind of angel, watching over us all. And when I got to the most painful scene, one where the details were blissfully sketchy, Pat sat in the seat perpendicular to mine and did not leave. I put on my headphones. I went down into the story. And by the time I came back up, I was trembling. I couldn’t breathe. The brain is a frightening thing. It lets you forget, on a conscious level, but it doesn’t ever let go of what it knows. As I went back in time, to the spring of 1980, it was as though I was there again. The details were clear. Vivid. I’d halfway convinced myself that what I’d thought happened back then really hadn’t, because I couldn’t logically figure out the logistics. After that night, sitting on Pat’s couch, I can no longer pretend. It happened. And I remember exactly how it happened. I also now know why I suffer so badly from claustrophobia.
Pat brought me a glass of wine. I sipped. But not much. I was afraid to let the alcohol take any measure of my control. And she sat with me. She asked, a time or two, if I was through. And when I finally told her that, yes, it was done, she sat with me some more. We talked some. I couldn’t say much. I was still feeling the pain. Trying to process the feelings of an eighteen year old girl as a more mature woman. Trying to find some kind of synchronization of myself. Trying not to cry. Because I knew that if those tears started to fall they would never stop.
I didn’t cry much then. I couldn’t. But when I got home and Tim asked me to read to him what I’d written, I couldn’t make it through. I read. And I had to stop. He sat with me, patient as ever, and waited. It was as though he knew I had to get through this telling of the whole story, the remembered parts, to him. It couldn’t be as removed as him reading my words. And it was also as if he really believed I could get through it. And because I thought he believed I could, because I trust him, I started to read again.
Tim, here. I can’t let Tara do this all alone. I didn’t have to contribute writing to the Part Four process, but I’ll tell you where I was at with it. My feelings about what had happened to Tara came to life when I actually had to hear about and read about the event. I couldn’t imagine what Tara felt when she had to write about it after 25 plus years. I wanted to fix things. I was angry for her. And I wrote to the university where things first happened and told them that they’d messed up. They hadn’t kept their student safe. They had made a situation where she felt safe, but didn’t make sure she was safe. I heard back from them soon after that. They’d changed a lot of their rules and now provide a lot of extra patrol and watch programs for their female students. Mostly, after hearing Tara’s words, I felt closer to her because now we could share her pain together.
And now Tara’s back.
You see, I’m a lucky woman. I am no longer alone. And no else needs to be alone, either. If there is no one else close, no one you can trust, if you need someone, contact someone right here, on this site. They are available twenty four hours a day seven days a week, fifty two weeks a year. Violence doesn’t punch a time clock and neither does love.
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, or if you suspect someone is, please contact www.thehotline.org, or call, toll free, 24/7, 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY). The call can be anonymous and is always confidential. There is not one second of life that is worth wasting.
All blog commenter’s are added to the weekly basket list. Gift Basket given each week to one randomly drawn name on the list.
To follow today’s Cyber Blog Party:Part One: MIRA Authors Part Two: HCI Books Part Three: RomCon Part Four: National Domestic Violence Hotline Part Five: Chapter’s Books Part Six: Border’s Books
As part of the It Happened on Maple Street Blog Tour, we are offering National Domestic Violence Hotline bookmarks. Print yours today.
We will be giving away a copy of It Happened On Maple Street while we’re here so be sure to comment to be entered to win. Comment on all six of today’s blogs and be entered to win a one of a kind Maple Street collectible basket filled with Tim and Tara favorites!!
Next tour stop, Saturday April 2, Deena Remiel’s Place.
About the author: Tara Taylor Quinn is the author of It Happened on Maple Street (HCA, 2011, $13.95). To get your copy, visit your favorite bookseller, or www.maplestreetbook.com. Also available on Kindle and Nook.