Thrilled to see this announced in The Bookseller. Published by ZunTold– The Flying Child is part memoir and part documentation of the journey I took with Patricia Walsh – a therapist who helped me find a way to tell my story. It’s not that I hadn’t tried before, I had many ‘failed’ attempts at therapy, but Pat’s approach was not one I’d experienced.
I saw Pat as human first and therapist second – and that made all the difference. We worked together in a way that some might consider ‘risky’ or ‘lacking in boundaries.’ I would call it human and compassionate, and believe it is people like Pat, prepared to work courageously and authentically with those in distress, who have the potential to make a real difference.
Pat was the first person to tell me I was ‘normal’ and my coping mechanisms were a normal and expected reaction to ‘an abnormal situation’ (CSA). When I heard these words, I began to see a way forward.
She also helped me realise there was no magic cure and that nobody was going to do the job of ‘fixing’ me. Validation, kindness, and willingness to listen, and the ability to guide, was paramount, but ultimately, I had to make the choice of whether to live, and live my life with purpose, or to let life pass me by, which was what was happening. With Pat’s help I began to see I was never ‘broken’ in the first place.
“You know deep down psychiatrists, me, medication, harming…none have the answer. The only answer is to find a depth of strength within you to survive through this.” (Patricia Walsh)
The book is a raw account of life, from the perspective of a child (The Little Princess), experiencing sexual and emotional abuse with the family home, and an honest view of what can happen next; how life as an adult survivor can be equally traumatic when society tends to look the other way; the toll CSA can take on our mental, physical and spiritual health, how distress is often misunderstood, judged or pathologised by professionals with little understanding of what to do, say or how to act. And the book is realistic. It is a story of hope but minus the toxic positivity that can be so damaging to those thinking “well that doesn’t apply to me then”. Having lived most of my life hiding my true thoughts and feelings from others, I refuse to do that anymore.
Does healing have an end point? Perhaps for some, but that won’t be everyone’s experience. My healing is ongoing. There is a legacy of CSA, and it is not so easy to just ‘get over it.’ This is a legacy that needs to be understood.
“Everything was now a varying hue of Grey, as if she were not only dragging The Shadow of Rocks behind her but living inside The Shadow itself. Colour, for The Little Princess, seemed to have disappeared entirely.” The Flying Child
It is a book that will challenge the current therapeutic (and often medicalised) approach to those struggling to live with the trauma of CSA. It illustrates there is an alternative type of care to the ‘care’ many of us experience – often lacking in empathy and compassion, punitive by nature, short-lived and unfit for purpose.
The Flying Child – Finding a Purposeful Life After Child Sexual Abuse Through Compassionate and Creative Therapy – A Cautionary Fairy-tale for Adults is co-authored by myself and Pat and is two stories in one. There are the words I couldn’t say at first, written as a fairy-tale, and the messages and conversations between us, interwoven throughout, presenting a very real insight into how challenging ‘surviving’ child sexual abuse can be.
Please do share the blog/social media posts about the book if you can. There is little understanding about an issue that impacts on so many, and very much that needs to change. Unfortunately, as with any societal issue there is a lot of shouting that goes on – but too often within our own echo chamber. For this book to reach those with the ability to make a real difference, it needs to be shared, shared and shared again….