Guest Post: How My Experience With Abuse Led to “Break My Bones” by Rachael Tamayo

It was always laughed off when I was growing up.  Maybe an eye roll, an excuse for simple ignorance and people that grew up in a different era.  I was young, but my mom had the wherewithal to realize that it wasn’t normal, and limited our exposure as children.

What am I talking about?  Abuse.

A raised fist.  A harsh word.  A degrading statement.

The history of abuse I witnessed growing up that was simply laughed off and excused because my relatives were “ignorant” and “from a different time.”  I came from a long line of it.  My grandfather was one of fourteen children.  The son of a drunken share cropper who let his family almost starve to death so he could feed an alcohol addiction.  My grandfather joined the army to save his life, to have food to eat, and to get away.  My grandmother, also a poor farmer who spent her time picking cotton, also abused.  Her father was a cruel man.  I was told that when she was a girl, he beat her almost to death for talking with a neighborhood boy one day after school.

I grew up with a mother who was absolutely convinced she was a complete idiot.  Why?  Because her parents, the two aforementioned, told her all her life that she was worthless, stupid, useless.  She believed it.  She considered herself a burden until the day she died, and no one could tell her any differently.

Abuse sucks.

It transcends time and space, generations, and the hell of it doesn’t just affect the person who is hearing the words, the one that feels the blows, but those that see it.  Those who watch their loved one hurt, those who can’t make them understand that it’s not okay.

I was removed from the toxic environment that was my grandparents’ when I was fifteen years old.  I was somewhat sheltered from it, but I dealt with the aftereffects of being raised by two people who were abused.  My father was alos abused, as were his brothers.  My father escaped through drugs when he was a teenager but managed to find God and get back on track.  My parents struggled to shelter us from what they went through; they kept us from it for the most part, but I remember.  I know the truth.

As I grew up, the support that my parents gave my writing when I was a teenager birthed a love for writing that would never die.  I didn’t know back then coming from a long line of darkness would help me create a book that might speak to someone hiding in the shadows.  Someone who is searching for the courage to stand up and say:  No, I  won’t take it anymore.  Ready to fight to get back out into the light and take their life back.

My parents ended the cycle of abuse that spanned generations.  I went on to become a police dispatcher and answer 911 for twelve years before the job got to me.  The Santa Fe school shooting being the final thing that pushed me out the door and caused me to decide that if I wanted to keep my sanity, I had to get out.  In those twelve years, I heard a lot.  Lots of abuse.  Lots of hurt.  Lots of excuses.  Reasons to stay, calls asking if we could drop the charges.  Kids caught in the middle.  Family members.  People even died.  Lies of abuse by some just to get back at someone.  Cries of rape.  Mental illness, the list goes on and on.  It is easy to lose sympathy.  Easier than standing up and holding out a hand to tell them that you are a safe place or just to shout “I see you.  I know you are there, and you can do this.”

All this birthed the first book in the Deadly Sins series.  When I started writing “Break My Bones” it was difficult.  Some of these characters were born in other books I’ve written.  I knew for some time I would write this story, but I didn’t realize how hard it would be.  And when it was done, I expected the comments that I’ve been getting.  Things like “This book is so realistic I almost had to put it down.”  Or “This book is hard to read.  This book brought up some angry feelings for me.”

“Break My Bones” should bring out some emotions in the readers, because it’s real.  It’s raw.  It’s powerful.  It speaks to the open wound that is domestic abuse and mental illness in this day and age.  A problem that has spanned the ages, yet the abused are still treated as if it is their fault for being afraid to stand up when they have no one to stand with them.  I don’t think I even realized how much of an open wound this book would be, even as I struggled and deleted and revised and questioned everything that I was putting on the page.  We all saw the #metoo movement.  How about the #Iseeyou movement?

I see the woman who is afraid to stand because she has been secluded and brainwashed into thinking it’s her fault.

I see the man who is ashamed to admit his wife is abusing him.

I see the child who hurts because the parent she loves is hurting her.

I see you hiding.  I see you bleeding.  I see you hurting, and it is not okay.

We can’t berate those that are unable to help, those that are unable to get away, those who are afraid to stand until we have stood and held out a hand to help them to their feet.

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