Here is Lynnette’s story:
As little girls, we are programmed to believe in ‘happily-ever-after’. Our beginnings are blanketed in pink posies, tulle skirts, and the scent of baby powder. We like to believe that all wonderful little girls begin their journeys this way. They sail smoothly through life until arriving at the happy ending they dreamed of since the moment they were born.
During the early sixties, it was considered taboo to be a single mother. My parents were divorced and my mother (pregnant again) decided to marry a man she dated in high school. Swooping in to rescue this single, pregnant mom – and her daughter, he was her “Prince Charming”. Except…he wasn’t.
The abuse started when I was two – sexual, physical, and emotional. Vivid snapshots still live in my head. We moved each time my bruises began to tell the story.
Early on, I learned the value of escapism. New neighbors and kids on the block would usually see me with my nose in a book. I started reading at four years old and craved written worlds because they let me escape from mine.
Little Golden Books graduated to Beverly Cleary. Ramona, Beezus, Henry and Ribsy kept me company and tried to keep me safe. Next, it was The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner. Little House on the Prairie, Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys soon followed and by the time I was in middle school – there wasn’t a day that passed without reading.
It was in middle school that I began to write. I spent hours creating little stories as a method to cope with horrific circumstances. Poems, lyrics, haikus – every stolen moment I had was reading or writing. The best days included both. My writing received lots of positive affirmations from teachers. Phrases like, “You should be a writer,” and “You need to write a book,” made me glow. These staunch supporters spurred me on to actually proclaim at fifteen years old that I was going to write a novel. Little did I know how deep that dream would be rooted.
Over the next thirty years, I became the poster child for reinvention. A member of the United States Air Force, a waitress, insurance sales…shares in an oil-well drilling venture anyone? A ballroom dancer, a nightclub manager, and a medical claims processor. Avon, Amway, and ACN. A horse farm, a landscaper, and maker of dreamcatchers.
I’m not certain I can even name all of my attempts to find myself. After the loss of my twin sons and the joyous birth of my twin daughters, things became much more focused. After all, I had to use every trick I had up my sleeves to make sure they didn’t have the same kind of life I had grown up in. Right?
It was during their sixth birthday party when I was struck by an observation. Here I was, looking at these two wonderful little beings opening up their Barbie dolls in pink packages and I knew. I was teaching them to believe in fairytales too. The Disney films, Princes and Princesses, the happily ever after. I was startled because I knew this wasn’t a truth. It was a crock.
And that’s when I saw the truth. I could only have a happy ending if I wrote it myself. Showing them was the only way. Making my life an example just may have a chance at reversing the false illusion of the glitter-filled future I had painted for them. I needed to be my own prince charming. I had to take care of me – to be a good mom – for them.
Oh – don’t believe for a second it was all roses and sunshine. There were lots of very dark days. I made almost every mistake a mother can make. I prayed often that my daughters could be resilient and forgiving. Old insecurities, depression, and poor self-esteem were frequent visitors and proved all too happy to nudge me into poor decisions – but with them, came the learning.
When I started writing my novel, forty years after proclaiming I would, my husband encouraged me to write a short story and send it in to a contest for feedback. He is full of great ideas. About a week later, I received a call from the publisher and owner of Cat and Mouse Press. She had read my entry and asked if I would be interested in submitting a proposal to write a book!
Fast forward through six months of me being lost in the words.
I’m beyond excited to share with you that my first novel, The Sea Sprite Inn – is now published and has received an unbelievably warm reception all over the country! Every day I am overflowing with gratitude for every single experience (even the bad ones) that brought me to this moment.
Choosing to live my life as an example for my daughters won’t be easy. I will trip and fall often along the way. I must recognize it doesn’t end with writing a novel, or even a second novel – The Sea Glass Girls – which I am currently working on. I am compelled to continue setting stretch goals, and more importantly, reaching for them. Which is why I recently joined… a boot camp gym.
What, not even ONE of you could’ve warned me that this may not be the wisest choice?
Thanks. Thanks a lot.
Stay tuned, this may just turn out to be one of my funniest chapters yet. I’m sincerely hoping it isn’t –
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