I’m currently spending every spare minute editing the final draft of my manuscript.
I never intended The Flying Child to become a book. I wrote the first chapter ‘The Kingdom of His’ late one night in a moment of determination, desperate to get the words that were so impossible to speak, out.
I wanted – I needed to tell my story to Pat, my counsellor who I’d seen earlier that day.
Try writing it as a fairy story, Pat had said as I left the room, feeling frustrated, angry and weighed down by the enormity of what it was I was trying (and failing) to say.
The book has developed into far more than the loaded bomb I emailed that night, overwhelmed and exhausted with fear. The thirty six modern-day fairytale chapters are dark, visceral, and a memoir of the Child Sexual Abuse I experienced in my own family. In later chapters like Grey and The Angry, I describe the lifelong impact of CSA; how the shadow of abuse can become so enmeshed we lose ourselves entirely; how one can drag this shadow through life, living with it as best we can; how we can feel it’s a half-life, a going-through-the-motions life. Without support we might feel we have no choice but to mask and to hide – to pretend, pretend, pretend.
She felt The Dark crawl up her feet and legs and body and down her arms and into the ends of her fingers. She felt it slide into her ears and her mouth and across her eyes. She felt The Dark anchor in her bones and settle deep inside her heart. The Little Princess became The Dark and The Dark became The Little Princess.Turning Dark – The Flying Child
This book documents the therapeutic approach involved in processing these chapters of abuse, from both mine and Pat’s perspective.
At times I find my own words hard to read. They bring my abuse and the perpetrator back to the forefront of my mind. He is appearing in my dreams again. I feel vulnerable at the moment – fragile, and the deep sense of grief and sadness has returned. I see, in black and white, the selfishness of one man’s sick perversion and the extent of manipulation that stole my childhood before it had the chance to begin.
It is clear to see that speaking out about Child Sexual Abuse was imperative to me but it took an immense toll, at times pushing me to the brink that was never far away. I also see the skill of a highly experienced therapist and how cleverly she supported me through the process – the judgement calls she made, how she competently held my fear and turmoil with compassion, confidence, care and a calm patience.
I see the difference it made to work with someone like Pat – the autonomy I had during one of the most challenging experiences of my life, unusual for someone like me, once described as ‘complex’; labelled by a psychiatrist as having a mental illness that was ‘severe and enduring’. I see how over time, despair was replaced with hope. Darkness with light.
Above all, I think of the people who might read The Flying Child. Will it make any kind of difference? If so, how? How to quantify the benefits of publishing a book so personal? Maybe I’m overthinking. I’m not the first person to publish a CSA memoir and I certainly won’t be the last, and whilst the details of The Flying Child are unique to me, it is not just my story. There are an estimated 11 million adult survivors in the U.K. I am one of many. It’s why my story – and indeed all of our stories – are so important.