Over the past month I've gotten the chance to learn a lot about Debbie Williamson, author of STAND. In STAND, one courageous woman shatters the chains of abuse that bound her family for generations and dares to brave the crippling memories of sexual abuse; shatter the illusions of denial; reveal her family's bitter legacy of violence; reach for healing and wholeness, and take her place on a path to forgiveness and peace. Replacing shame with hope, fear with truth, and shadows with light, Debbie Williamson shares her arduous journey to wellness.
I asked Debbie to share some of the challenges she faced in deciding to share her life with others. Here's what she had to say:
"When I started writing this book it was intended to be more of a journal to make sure my children understood the family history and who I was. I wanted them to know because I have always believed that the truth can heal you. Putting my life in print for the world to read came after three years of journaling my experiences into pages that were meant to be only for my children. When I made the decision to publish it I had reached the four year mark journaling. It was after relentless visions and one very special message from my grandmother during an illness that I made my decision to write a book and leave my mark on this world. I struggled with the question, why would anyone care about my life and my experiences? I also struggled with knowing on some level my family was not going to be thrilled for the world to have an insight into their personal life.
I had a belief and a message from the other side that my story might not only help my children, but maybe it could help other people lost in their own pain. I thought if I could get people to understand that you can heal from abuse instead of being a survivor, that it would change the fight against abuse. I have always known it starts with yourself, and healing you first is the only way you can protect it from spreading to your children. I stayed focused on this belief. It was something I knew I had to do.
I also was not overjoyed with walking through my past once again, to relive moments that will always be very painful, let alone try to put them on paper. The beautiful part about healing is that every time you walk through your past and the pain it gets easier and the healing grows.
One of the more difficult parts of sharing my personal life was that it was not just my life I was sharing. It was also my children’s lives and their father’s life as well. I had been through so much with my children that I often wondered if sharing my life and my feelings about their father would destroy the love they had for me. I could not bear to think about life without them so I stayed focused on the message and trusted that they would understand why I had to write my story. The message I had to bring was bigger than me and my fears.
The most difficult part of the journey was struggling with my mother’s fears of shame and disgrace. She had never come to terms with her life and was in no way ready to share it with the world. It took a lot of explaining to get her to understand that I had good reasons to write the book and that I had to make my mark on this world in the fight against abuse. She fought abuse in her way, and this was mine. My mother’s change of heart came when I told her grandma had come to see me. She said she had been waiting for her mother to send a message letting her know she was ok. She agreed to do the book with me and offered her journals for her family’s history and hers. When I was to the point of adding mom’s story to the book she passed away and all I had were her writings and things she had shared with me in counseling. It took me months to read through her journals and I almost gave up during the research process on my family’s history. It was not an easy task and the emotional part of it was almost overwhelming.
Mom’s passing was so very difficult for me. I had wanted her to heal her broken heart before she left this world, but it wasn’t meant to be. The last time I spoke with her she made me promise that I would not give up, that I would finish the book and share our story with the world. She said she had prayed about my reasons for wanting to write the book and the answers she received were the same as mine: just do it. Not having her there by my side made it even more challenging; I questioned my motives and everything that I believed from that moment on. I kept my focus close to my heart right along with the promise I made to my mother, and somehow I finished.
I have never felt such a strong presence from the other side as I did in the last five months of writing. I knew that my grandmother and my father were with me the entire time. I hired a ghostwriter to help me interview my aunt for the information on my grandfather. She told me several times during the interview process that my father’s presence was so powerful she was having a difficult time concentrating. I was taken aback for a moment when she described his looks to me. She had never seen a picture of my dad, but her description was right on. It was comforting to know that she was a witness to my miracle.
The first time I held an actual printed copy of my book was very emotional. I sat in my office for hours and cried. I felt like I did after the life training program I had gone through, only it was much more powerful. I knew that somehow I would leave a mark on my generation that would be felt generations after I am gone. I knew that my message would be heard. I had followed the burning desire in my heart to make a difference and change the future for my children with the hopes of changing the future of someone else’s children as well.
I am grateful that I stayed on course and kept my focus.
I believe with all my heart that my message will find its own path. Sharing my life was the only way I could use the wrong that had been done in a positive way. My life has been a series of miracles, it's how I chose to use these miracles that matters.
I was told when my journey to heal started that forgiveness would heal my life, and along with it, my family. I had never understood forgiveness until I found the courage in me to try it.
Forgiveness is not about your abuser. It is about you giving the pain that owns you back to the person who hurt you."
The STAND VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR '08 will officially begin on June 1, 2008 and continue all month long. If you would like to follow Debbie's tour in progress, visit http://www.virtualbooktours.wordpress.com/ in June. Leave a comment at any of her blog stops and become eligible to win a free copy of her book! One lucky winner will be announced at her tour page on June 30!
This virtual book tour has been brought to you by: