So, I’ve now written the first draft of a book proposal and sent it out to a publisher to see what they think. As part of the proposal, I wrote an introduction to the book, which I am sharing with you here. I would love some feedback if it is the sort of book that you might buy, so let me know what you think ok? The introduction has 3 sections:
- A Personal Introduction
- Who I am Now and Why I Wrote this Particular Book
- How to Use this Book
I’m going to publish these 3 sections separately over 3 days, so let me know what you think ok?
A Personal Introduction
In the first year of living apart from my two children in 2004 I met Sandra Horley, Chief Executive of Refuge, when she was visiting and talking to the residents their women’s refuges where I was living at that time. Us residents had been given a copy of Sandra’s book, Power and Control, which was life-changing for me as I learned that domestic abuse was not quite what I had understood it to be. I told Sandra that I recognised the charming man she wrote of in her book and that, I too, was going to write a book – about how that man turned my children against me. Sandra was very encouraging and told me to let her know when I’d written it. It took me fourteen years and a PhD, to be in a position where I could set out with any clarity the complex and harrowing phenomenon that is mother-child separation via coercive control.
This book isn’t just about my own story because I tell it mainly through those of the women I interviewed during my research. But the book is also informed my own experiences and through the stories of countless other women who I meet and speak to every day via my blog, at conferences, in therapy with mothers apart from their children, and through the wonderful charity, MATCH Mothers.
Back in 2004, a psychologist at the refuge, Roxane Agnew-Davies, diagnosed me with post-traumatic stress disorder. I was in bad shape, emotionally and psychologically. I was managing the powerlessness of my situation with extreme dieting and exercise in the day and self-medicating with alcohol and cigarettes to ease the pain at night. I contemplated suicide. On some days I couldn’t get out of bed and felt that I might, literally, die of the pain. But, somehow, I realised these thoughts and behaviours were only a temporary escape from the intense grief and sorrow I was feeling at being apart from my children. A part of me knew that I needed to survive for my children because my overriding feeling was that they were sure to need me one day. In that refuge, I made up my mind to get well and make something of myself so that they could be proud of me one day. I committed to being the best version of myself that I could be and started on a path of recovery, education and flourishing.
In the end, I was apart from my son for 9 years and my daughter for 12. They were adults when they came back and moved in with me. I wrote this book whilst living under the same roof as them. I never imagined that scenario when I told Sandra Horley of my writing plans in 2004. Life is full of surprises. This book offers hope and guidance to the many women who are threatened with mother-child separation and to those who dread they may never see their children again.