Monday, September 12, 2011

A serious post, inspired by a wonderful novel

I've been a fan of author Joshilyn Jackson since I heard her speak at the 2010 Festival of Faith & Writing and she made me laugh so hard I hiccuped. I just finished another of her wondrous novels, Backseat Saints, and I have to say: no other Southern writer so makes me LONG to trade in my New England-ly "Thank God!" (which I say often, because I have lots of things I'm thankful for and I believe in giving credit where credit is due...) for a full-on, drawled-out, "Well thank the Sweet Lord Baby Jesus!!!" Such is the power of her literary awesomeness.

Now, on a serious note: Backseat Saints is a prequel to her breakout hit, Gods in Alabama, but it also stands alone as one of the most powerful books I've ever read on women struggling with domestic abuse. She captures perfectly the bizarreness of it all: how strange it looks from the outside, to friends and family begging, "Please, just leave him!" and how it feels from the inside, when the options look far less clear. Jackson doesn't shy away from the ugly, painful truth: Very few women leave their abusive husbands (many who do go back), and no one really understands why.

If you've read my first book, you know that this hits close to home for me. I don't pretend to have one-size-fits-all answers, but I have a couple of ideas, if you know someone who is in this situation and want to help (Again, this is NOT professional or psychological advice...just some thoughts from someone who has been there):

1. Tell your friend that you understand why she might leave her relationship...but don't try to force her to commit to a plan. Give her space. Remember: If you've constantly been told that you're a failure and no one else could ever love you, it's tough to imagine that the world won't judge you if you can't make your marriage work. The point is to let her know you won't think she's a failure, and that it's okay if she needs some help starting over.

2. Offer tangible help. Put money in a bank account and tell her about it, saying it's there for her if she ever needs it. Offer to stash a bag for her with the things (clothes, etc) she'll need if she ever decides to leave. Put gift cards for gas, groceries, inside. But again--offer the help, and then back away. This has to be her decision.

3. If she attention to what she might be missing. When I left my ex-husband, it was October...I was in such a daze I grabbed high heels, two designer bags, and no winter coat. If you notice your friend seems to be missing some essentials, jump in: get her a coat, or lip balm, or whatever it is she needs. She may not even have noticed she doesn't have it.

4. Pray. I've realized that most of us have a really hard time walking away from situations that aren't good for us. We all need help--it takes a miracle. The good news is, miracles happen, everyday.

Okay, end of serious post. Thanks for reading. Check out Backseat Saints when you're looking for a good read. I bet you'll join me in thanking the Sweet Lord Baby Jesus for Joshilyn Jackson :)


Stacy said...

I love your honesty, Trish. You are awesome.

I've only read Gods in Alabama, which I did enjoy. Maybe it's time to give Joshilyn Jackson another try. Between, Georgia has been on my shelves for, well, a couple of years.

Abby Green said...

I have never heard anyone say they have laughed so hard they hiccuped. I wish that was the case for me, but it's not... :)

Krissy said...

There's a lot of wisdom in this post. And I'm looking forward to reading the book!