ellensagh

9. And Here We Go Again

WHY I want to do THIS self-publishing the book:
For ME
Putting Myself first before work
Learn Self-Publishing
Belief in Me
Others Have Asked for it
Fun/Exciting
Give others Hope, Understanding of own lives/Universal Pain
Learning
Believe it Makes a Difference
Is Educational
Useful to Me in Book Form
Closure
Tangible Symbol of What I Have Lived Through
Of others support
Of support out there
Of others belief in me
Help in times ahead
When I’m in the pain
When I’m dealing with Court case
Could be a step to a new path – journey
Validates others journey
Feels like its time
Who knows what will happen
It’s time people heard
I’m no longer like a Roman statue held in place
People have no idea of the hurt
It will help me become free
It will give me energy
I can smile throughout it
It may be a flop – so what
I can breathe easy
It’s time
I take care of myself well
I have nothing to be afraid of
Even if people aren’t interested, I am OKAY
It’s something new to contemplate
I know I can do it
I can be me doing it
I have nothing to hide
I will be creating something for myself, the world
There may be ups and downs
I have nothing to lose; maybe lots to gain
I will be growing through it
It could be lots of fun
I deserve good things
I deserve to tell what happened; to have my say
I have hopes that people will be there for me whether or not they support my book
I no longer fear repercussions, even from my family
I will get to know myself better
I can do it at my pace
I will be helping little children
I can dress any way I want; up or down
I don’t have to do it alone anymore
I can ask for help
I don’t want to think about whether or not to do it anymore
When I’m old, I’ll be glad I attempted it
I may be surprised by how supportive people are
I will learn from other people
When I see what is going on for someone else, I can sit on it if I want and know it is their stuff – not mine
I can smile at how long I debated this
I want to do this for my kids, for their kids and all kids to come
Life saving book
Honour me
Purpose to the pain I experienced
Demonstrates the healing process; the round and round revisiting the same issue but always on a new level as old beliefs shatter and old feelings dealt with
Makes sense of inner chaos
Closure to the hardest years of my life
Invites people to be a part of my life; people who have made a difference in my life
Continue the healing process for me
May help individuals/organizations
Honour Louise
Honour those who listened to me non-judgmentally, with respect; who listened to me and helped make this book happen
People will understand aftereffects
End sexual abuse
Important to me
It’s part of my spirituality
Part of my connection with others
I can tell it like it is and was
It’s a relief to have made the decision
I no longer have to agonize about it
I have agonized long enough
I have a lot to say
I can take care of myself and have fun doing it
I don’t have to work hard at it
I want to shine; not be dull and drab
It’s time to sing
I’ve seen too much sadness
I can say anything I want
It’s time I was heard
I can look anyone in the eye
I am special and deserve to be treated that way
I come from the heart
I have lots to say
I can smile saying it
I can laugh saying it
I can cry saying it
I can be furious saying it
I will be careful who I way what to
I can rest easy knowing I have learned to take care of myself first
I can be serious when I have to be
I can meet new people
I can learn new things
I can be myself
I can do anything I want
I can be real
I won’t let myself be hurt again
I had an idea to phone the editor used by the woman who wrote, “Nailed to the Church Doors” so got name and phone number from her.
The lawyers ask to consult with me as they received correspondence from the church lawyer. They suggested it was time to refine what we are actually claiming and make a decision whether we are prepared to deal with the question of counselling at this time. Mainly the church lawyer’s letter said they were considering postponing the examination of discovery of me to spare unnecessary costs. They said to assist their deliberations about that, they wanted to know if I have present treatment needs; whether I am gainfully employed or seeking compensation for loss of earnings on an ongoing basis..
My lawyer’s letter asks me to contact their office for an appointment and said if I am unable to deal with this at this time, just to let them know and they will draft a vague response to the church lawyer.
I met with them January 14, 1998. They asked me to document all I did for counselling, etc. for five and half years; receipts when possible and who paid.
January 20, 1997, I wrote the big day is here; I had a calm sleep and I am feeling calm. Going to see printer (actually was an editor). I know I’m doing it for myself but also for my kids. Met with him. I told him it’s a book that tells it how it is and shows the round and round and round revisiting the same issue but always on a new level as old beliefs shatter and old feelings are dealt with. He said he’d give me a price in about three weeks and edit about the first 25-30 pages so I’d have an idea what he does.
I was figuring out how I’d do a mail-out. Would cost $200.00 and how would I tell him to go ahead with something that might cost thousands of dollars if no one pre-bought.
When I wasn’t thinking about that I took ten white sheets my Aunt gave me and bleached them as white as I could get; even using blueing. I sewed a bed skirt, curtains, pillow shams and bed cover for a whole white bedroom. If I showed someone, the comment was similar, “Peace, what a feeling of peace.”
I was gathering receipts and same time asking old counsellors for copies of their notes. Rereading them I wrote, I am still so similar to then. I am still smoking.
Had a dream. Huge house under construction.
I waited every day for the editor to phone.
I bought a journal with a picture of the world and titled it, “Moving Out into the World”. I had received an invitation in the mail to “A Gathering of the Grandmothers”. I phoned and said I’m not a grandmother and how did my name get on the organizers list. They didn’t know. I felt called to go. They said I’d be welcome. I went and listened to stories of First Nations and Métis women of Saskatchewan speak of their childhoods and there were also white women from Big City and the Fort Qu’Appelle area speaking of theirs. Wow, three days of ‘from the heart’!

Collage February 12, 1998
It’s time to give my dreams wings – let them have their power and grow. My book gives me a sense of history and it feeds me spirituality. I’ve never taken a back seat before. I want variety in my life – beauty – natural beauty, growth experiences that are beautiful and long lasting.

The editor edited 20 pages to 13 and gave me a price of $2500.00 for his part; which includes 475 pages manuscript supplied on disc, substantive and copy editing manuscript returned once for approval, agreed changes; design and typeset 248 pages with a preliminary layout for my approval. Page proofs for proofreading and a fully formatted disk supplied to printer; full colour cover and print brokerage fees which would include an ISBN #, CIP and all dealings with printer. It did not include printer fees and taxes. In the 20 pages down to 13; he took a poem out and I was like in shock. But I bought envelopes and started addressing.
I wrote, quite happy about his editing; the word obediently got me but that’s okay. Unsure if I’m making right decision but okay I guess. I’ve been deliberating for months about this letter regarding pre-buying. Wondered if I could write 4 pages of why not to do this. Asked Tamara’s House if I could do the $300.00 workshop as an exchange for photocopying. Sure.
Had to ask the editor. What is CIP? – Canadian Publishing Date. Would there be copyright? Yes. He told me the poem was going to be put somewhere else. Printer fees and taxes would be about $4000.00. The editor needed half of this money to start. The printer needed his money within 30 days of his invoice. He talked about blue line which would be after rereading finished manuscript, which I didn’t have a clue what he was talking about. .
I asked for a time line. He said if he started March 15 – March 30, the blue lines would be done in April and May the printing.
I asked what I had to do. Reread finished manuscript and make changes necessary, proofread the page galleys, okay the book at the final blue line, and he would give me ideas for book cover; said back cover is usually brief relevant biography and narrative so people will buy. He told me to think about acknowledgements and dedication. I said that’s done.
I started handing out letters.
Sharon Speaks
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Phone Number

Feb 20, 1998

Dear

“We are a part of all that we have met ,”was the theme at my grade twelve graduation. It was still fitting for me when I decided to send you this letter. You have been part of my life journey and when my whole belief system altered in 1992 when memories of child sexual abuse surfaced, I held on to people’s belief in me to get through until I could believe in myself.
In 1995-1996 I wrote a book called Wanted: Someone to Understand. It was a lifesaving book for me when I could find no purpose for the pain I was experiencing. The book chronicles 3 1/2 years of my life beginning with the day in 1992 when memories returned of sexual abuse I experienced as a little girl by family members and my parish priest. I wrote everyday about what was happening in my inner and outer world. My book uses excerpts from these writings as well as court transcripts and correspondence to tell what it was like for me to confront my family, the priest, the church (as in the Roman Catholic hierarchy), to go through the justice system, to seek counselling, to go on welfare and to deal with the responses or lack of responses from friends, church, family and society. At the same time, my book demonstrates my inner healing process as buried emotions surfaced.
I now want to publish my book. I am asking people who have made a difference in my life to assist me by pre-buying it for $20.00. The book is at the final editing stage. It will cost approximately
$7000.00 for editing, design, pre-press and printing for 500 copies. If 350 people gave me $ 20.00, I’d have $7000.00. For $20.00, which you can bring me or mail to the above address, you will get a book. If you consider making an additional donation to my venture, your contribution will be invaluable.
I want to have the $7000.00 in place by March 15, 1998 to pay the editor and printer. I will mail or deliver the book as soon as I receive it from the printer. (hopefully May 1998.)
I believe breaking silence ends abuse and that this book could be educational in understanding the aftereffects of sexual abuse. I am looking forward to the next time we connect and appreciate that I can give you this letter, whether or not you buy.

Sincerely,

Sharon

Fear hit, diarrhea for two days. On weekends I went to the towns I’d lived: Prairietown, Smalltown, Burr, Legend. Handed out about 60. My sister took 20 to hand deliver. Each morning went by. On the bus I saw different areas of the city and walked to find houses of people I knew. My cousin, an artist; said she would design the cover. Mailed 98. Went to Oiltown. Handed out 10, sold 4. Had opened a separate bank account. Got a GST #. Didn’t know if I needed it but was putting on receipts $20.00 taxes included.
March 1, 1998 I had $1000.00. Had a dream wanted to be mayor. March 5, 1998 I wrote that I think I may have $2000.00. Decided to put a table in International Woman’s Day and when I wasn’t delivering letters, I was wailing to a crisis line counsellor or screaming in the country. As if I had a band around my chest. A friend massaged my neck and shoulders and asked me what my neck and shoulders were telling me. Don’t talk. Don’t tell. I made a thermometer looking thing that showed I had $2000.00. I photocopied 250 letters.
I wrote the next day, “Precious moments. A woman’s tears as she shares her story with me. My daughter is making me supper, both my kids are singing in the kitchen. People phoning who got the letter. My ex-husband’s cousin’s wife – saying she didn’t know. The mother of a woman I went to school with. An old friend”. Me, who had stayed away from medication for six years ended up taking two Ibuprofen last night.
It was the beginning of March 1998. Neck better. Did yoga today. Still finding this nerve wracking. The kids helped me design a book with my picture when I was 6 years old on it to put at the table at International Woman’s Day. Had very few sales but was up to $2600.00. Every day the mailbox had lots of letters.
I was feeling pretty overwhelmed by it all. I went to play volleyball, where I met up with the guy I had quit seeing. He asked if we could try again. Next morning song line in my head. “Don’t fall in love with a dreamer”.
One day, $250.00 would come in, the next day $500.00. The letters that came with the money were priceless. March 11, 1998, I paid the editor $1200.00 and he said he’d start March 15, 1998 and by that day I had $5000.00. A friend of mine offered to pay all travel and accommodations for me to go with her on a week long trip to the mountains. I accepted.
Everything felt really profound – the kindness of strangers feeling. There was one letter saying what I was doing was wrong and to accept Jesus as Savior or go to hell and was hard to get that out of my mind. Some things seemed so significant. I paid for a post office box. It was # 7092. 1970 the abuse stopped. 1992 memories of abuse returned.
My family of origin was struggling with it. My sister couldn’t give a letter to her parents-in-law. Mom said to me, people will be saying, “where were her parents?” Dad told me one of his cousins, a man in his 70’s; told him he’d be sending me a letter of support.
Went to a full moon ceremony out in the country. Wailed and wailed. The woman who owned the house gave me a stained glass angel; like a shepherd with a crook. Another woman who channelled energy and said had been called that day to the Mediterranean to assist someone, gave me $100.00.
I met a woman on the bus when I was journaling one day. She asked if I’d be a speaker at her creative writing class. I agreed. Doing it assisted in clarity. The night before, I spoke at the Family Healing Circle Lodge. Half a block off the stroll. Women with their arms crossed, tattoos, life on the inside – meaning the penitentiary, a little hard to shake off. Big difference tothe next day where it was in the white, middle class, east side of the city; a creative writing group.
The next day, like my back full, I headed to the Sexual Assault Centre and wail as if it was everyone’s pain. The woman listening described it as powerful; the listening to what I was going through.
Tamara’s House asked me to do train the trainer workshops. I said I would think about it.
I was talking on the phone 2-3 hours, 4-5 times a week to the guy. Money was coming in everyday. My son and I went to the Universities’ Wind Ensemble at a Catholic Church. Being in a church I was immediate angry, but lived through it. I had a telephone exchange with my ex-husband. He had no concept of all he owed for child support.
After that, I lost all my energy for selling books. It was like I could care less. Reapplied for Employment Insurance and was looking for work. As if I was empty. Lay on the cold ground and feel heat. Leaned against tree. Feel heat. A woman’s hand, counsellor in Saskatoon, put one hand on my chest and one on my back – heat. I was in deep stuff feeling unsupported. Feeling alone. I couldn’t understand it. Over 250 people sent me $20.00 and I was feeling unsupported.
I received a letter from the lawyers stating church lawyers want medical confirmation that I was currently in need of treatment.
A Saturday afternoon and I find out I am going to be a grandmother. The next morning I drove to the country and walked the paths of Wanuskewin, an ancient meeting place. Made me smile as I realized I was already a Grandmother, when I had been at the gathering of Grandmothers in southern Saskatchewan.
March 29, 1998 – Had $6500.00 regarding the book. Moving from Employment Insurance Stress leave to normal Employment Insurance. The doctor had to write something for Employment Insurance saying I am okay to go back to work and yet I was concerned what the church lawyer would do with it. I was still seeing a counsellor but only once every two weeks.
Church lawyers send a letter in March saying their client is willing to fund an assessment to see if treatment required; and it could then be part of a treatment plan they would pay for and could maybe be basis of a final settlemetn; saying only if it was for purpose of treatment and not to do with persuing litigation. They added in the letter their client purports no liability in this case and to confirm if wanting assessment for treatment purposes only and they’ll find appropriate professionals.
I was to meet a woman about developing a second workshop. I woke up, sat down and wrote out a strategy that would assist people in sharing from a personal experience. It was called “Developing Personal Information to Share”

Rationale: Personal Experience is Authentic, Is Undisputable and is Sincere

Responsibility: I am the only one who can decide what is okay for me to share.

General: Why am I doing what I am doing?

It had four quadrants that I could use in a train the trainer workshop.
FIRST QUADRANT:
Part I: Child Sexual Abuse?

What do I know about it?
What happened to/for me?
How many times has this happened to me?
Do I name the abuser?

SECOND QUADRANT:
Part II: Aftereeffects/Consequences of Child Sexual Abuse

What happened to me because of child sexual abuse?
What strategies did I use to survive?

THIRD QUADRANT:
Part III: Healing

When did I turn from strategies to healing?
What does healing look like for me?
Why heal?
What worked in my healing?

FOURTH QUADRANT:
Part IV: Support

What support from individuals worked for me?
What support from individuals was not helpful for me?
What community support worked for me?
What community support did not work for me?

It felt brilliant. Four quadrants and it would bridge the two workshops for me.I put my name at the bottom.
April 1, 1998. Wrote in my journal. “In a panic about employment insurance, resume, work, my children; now my grandchild, and today four letters in Post Office. I count what’s in bank, $6573.00, what I have in my bag, the $280.00, the 20 pound note from England, and am close to the $7000.00 needed ”
Being downtown that day, met three people I knew and it happened. I had the $7000.00. I went into a fancy dress shop, bought a dress and the kids and I went out for supper to celebrate.
I met with the editor. He said felt privileged; that it’s a profound work, he described experience of his physical body going through the physical pain I described. He said he’d like to be involved after as he figured the book would go places. He explained the cuts of my writing as being my son is key to the book; his gerbils and rabbits aren’t.
I left on the trip to the Alberta mountains. Crocuses blooming on the hills, hiking the sides of mountains, watching the ducks beside a stream. It was the first time I heard the earth crack. We weren’t even out of Saskatchewan, drove off the highway and stopped on a country road, both sides fields of cut off sticks; wheat from last years crops. I had the door open and all was quiet and then the crackling began. Sounded like a quieter version of popcorn popping in the microwave or scrunching up tin foil. The whole land cracking up and coming to life. It was SPRING.
I lay in a hotel bed with curtains open to a night sky illuminated with a bright moon showing off the mountain backdrop. Was at Sunshine Mountain to ski for two days. Only I couldn’t ski. Before my memories of abuse came back, I had downhill skied when we lived in B.C. Now I couldn’t get over my fear. Took the lift up on the first run and came down on my hands and knees. I could not go for a drive through the area mountains. Fear was palpable.
I came home. The Editor has given me book. I borrowed a counsellor’s office.
It took me five and a half hours to read, taking short breaks about every hour. I drank lots of water and made myself tea. Cried a lot as I read, mostly about my kids.
Just before the last chapter; realized I felt robbed, as if no feeling in the book and thought, “He didn’t get it”. All the collages were gone. And then I thought, “He’s brilliant”. It was a much better book. I did change a few sentences and changed about ten words that did not reflect how I speak.I did change things that identified some people.
I went to my cousins and looked at the cover and cried. I took it to the editor. Told him I was reconsidering the title to, “Naming the Abusers”. Left it as it was, “Wanted: Someone to Understand”.
It was the editor’s idea to list resources on the inside back cover. I contacted all resources and they were all okay being listed.
I hired a woman to proofread the galleys. She did and when finished, she gave me a hand painted card; showed a plant; a bleeding heart.
I went to a workshop called psycho dramatic bodywork with counsellors and people from the healing professions, meaning mostly white, middle class but with a few aboriginal women there as well. We were going through exercises on what our experience has been of clan oppression regarding aboriginal peoples. When the facilitator explained the concept of internalized oppression, I wondered if one of the Aboriginal women there got it, and a realization hit; I was feeling superior, education wise to that person. Thought about saying it out loud. Grief came; well fear first over whether I could say it out loud and then the grief was really intense. We moved into small group sharing. The Aboriginal woman ended up being in my group. I said it out loud. She looked me in the eye and said, “I could kill you for saying that and her rage was right there”.
I went off by myself at the break, drove my car to a quiet side street along the river bank. I sat there and wondered what had just happened there. I sat there lost in thought when there was all of a sudden darkness and the fluttering noise of wings had me staring at a bald eagle with a huge wing span hovering in front of my car and with eye contact, it went over the hood and back to the trees where it disappeared on the river bank. I sat there in wonderment and knew immediately, I would not be going back into that room and sharing that in my group.
The second day we were to check in with ourselves and say in one word, where we were at, I closed my eyes, saw white light in my head in the shape of an upside down yogi or Buddha and said, “Enlightenment”.
I had a meeting with my two lawyers. Nothing had changed regarding waiting for Supreme Court decision whether Church was held liable in another case. It was the first time I learned that our justice system works on precedent and if there is no precedent, it doesn’t matter how unjust something is, it’s how it is. They told me I was one third of the way through the civil process and it was 1998 and five years since I had hired a lawyer. They expected another six months before that other case would be heard by Supreme Court. I was asking if we could just go to court and be a test case to see if church is responsible. The lawyer said there is no law. My question then, how do laws get changed? In days following, I would be in anger and grief. I held a blue rock in my hand and it burnt the blue rock to black. I sizzled it.
I went to counsellor and she wrote a letter saying that I had been unable to work from November 15, 1997 to March 29, 1998. She noted that she was seeing me on a regular basis since 1994 because of aftereffects of sexual abuse and could not provide a date when she could say I would no longer need healing process treatment. I gave it to the lawyers.
The editor was phoning every few days saying things like; the cover was great, back and cover changes, acknowledgments, the ISBN # came, a catalogue # was given. He phoned May 5, 1998. The inside has gone to the printer. The cover proof needs to be done. I okayed it and off it went.
I booked a room in the Saskatoon Public Library for May 27, 1998 from 6:00 – 10:00 p.m. for a send off/pick-up your book party.
Seemed to be in grief so much, never knew if mine or was I carrying someone else’s stuff. I told counsellor feel like I want to insulate myself from others; go work in a greenhouse.
A woman came to my house and without touching, used her hands to give Reiki. As her hands sat suspended over different places on my body, sometimes I’d feel heat and sometimes a deep coolness.
As I lay there, knowing came to me LIVE spelt backwards means EVIL and thought, okay so what is this about.
For days after, I’d go into country and let out high pitched screams that seemed to come up from my pelvis area. It changed my body shape. Panties that had been comfortable, fit totally different. After that, I went through days of feeling gratitude. Gratitude that the Saskatoon Transit System had been there for me, taking me all the places I needed to go, that the donut shop and staff had been there for me every day for years, politely serving me, but also allowing me space and privacy to write, create, think and be.
I wrote out ideas for the book party. A note I would hand out to everyone who comes:
“Thank you for supporting me in what I needed to do. You can assist me in the next few months in the following ways:
• assist me in finding part-time work (well-paying), that has little or nothing to do with violence or sexual abuse, (like in a green house but year round) as the money will make a difference. Then I can continue doing what I love and what helps me heal: the workshops, public speaking, and community development on creating new ways to support survivors and end abuse.
• send me feedback and ideas about how, if, when, where, etc. this book could be useful.
• buy another book from me that I can give to women who wanted one but didn’t have the $20.00 or that can be donated to a shelter, sexual assault centre or organization that is working with survivors.
Together, we are ending abuse and building connections. I want to stay in touch.
Sincerely,
Sharon Speaks”.

I went walking with a friend and spoke of my fear regarding my ex-husband reading the book and the aftermath of that and my ideas for the pick up your book party. She asked if I would have a book launch and I said maybe in the fall. We spoke of my hope the book will spread the pain, anger and fear around instead of my carrying it for society, family, etc. She said she’d read somewhere that if what I always do is right for me, then I am doing the best for others as well. I knew I could go back to know my intent; know why I’m doing what I’m doing.
May 9, 1998 – From my Journal –LIVE spelt backwards is EVIL; LIVED spelt backwards is DEVIL. Unloved but very supported is how I’m experiencing today. What is my work in this world? To show by my words and actions what is possible? Enjoy what I have learned, enjoy the goals accomplished. THOUGHTS: we repeat things until we are heard and feel understood. Questioning why I am in this relationship where I am listening to him all the time? Why is it important to me? Reread my poems that will be in the back of my book that everyone will be reading in about 2 weeks. I’m okay with it.
National Library sends a letter requesting 2 copies of the book. I pass the letter to the editor; chewed all my fingernails off.
Feeling of wishing I had a man to hold me, love me, and be there for me. I was given a ticket to the Sheldon Kennedy luncheon in Saskatoon. He didn’t show as had been at his mothers the day before and was sick. They hooked him up to satellite T.V. or something and he was live on screen. But actually getting there was hard. Here was a male who was getting non-stop media attention. The aspects of me that were still vulnerable and angry, crying, exposed because I wasn’t heard or listened to and still has to search to find someone to listen to me. Tamara’s House was not open 24 hours a day. My question is who is willing to hear what I still need to say? That morning I had been so angry – felt like taking a picket sign and walking in front of the building where he was speaking, “Who will listen to me?”.
I did go. His message was to simplify it for kids so they can speak it earlier, don’t use medical words, he spoke of inner pain, wanted people to educate themselves, understand the aftereffects, the long process of healing, to make Canada a safe place for kids to grow up.
In May, my lawyer sends me letters she wants to send the church lawyer. One says we were not going to use the medical certificate to claim any privelege and the other a letter from my counsellor saying I am in treatment, that it will be an ongoing need and asking them to confirm they will pay for an assessment.
May 13,1998 at 9:00 a.m. I phone my female lawyer and approve her sending those letters to church lawyer.
I bought a new journal with a wolf on the front. I wrote “Creating; Knowing while gently trusting and living in the moment, rising above the past and having fun doing it.”
I took the list of people who pre-purchased books and asked some women if they’d help phone people to come to my pick up your book party.
May 20, 1998 the editor phones about 4:00 p.m. Books are hot off the press and when he talked about delivery I just wanted to escape. I got off the phone and thought of all the places I could go that weekend. I stayed home.
The books arrived at my house. I was in a panic. The kids and I each had one in our hands, reading parts aloud. After an hour or so I went to a friends. She had just bought a Tarot Deck. I picked a card. The Shamon of Discs. It talked about the shaman riding her donkey to the people who need her healing and on the way holds council with a bald eagle. She knows where she’s going. She has long range vision and goals. She knows how to be connected to lifelong relationships and how to go about her work alone if necessary.
I came home and all night the kids were like in trauma as the parts they had read sparked their own memories.
People started phoning supportive words when they heard about the party. I had to go to the Sexual Assault Centre several times to cry. Felt like a child, scared I was going to be made fun of.
I met a male counsellor when I was out walking. He was like a friend and colleague. I told him I was feeling rotten; that when I had spoke truth last time I had lost a lot and I was pretty scared right then. My guts and back were hurting. He stood and listened.
A woman I met in the past few months and coffee’d with several times asked if I wanted to go on a tour in the country. As I talked non-stop about the book process and my fear, she validated how it made sense how I was feeling. She said I blindly believed, trusted blindly, and ended, “You have evolved more in five years than the church did in 2000.”
Those two encounters helped. I really wanted to go to Moose Jaw Festival of Words to meet a woman who had written a book on sexual abuse. I wanted to thank her for speaking out as it enabled me as we’ve gone from her having had to publish hers as fiction to mine where I’m naming the abusers and its non-fiction.
I was walking around with seventeen pens in my purse again. I knew I had something to say. I want to be okay writing the hard things and still felt so much to figure. Things like generational memories that kids have that are their parents memories, or about memory retrieval and how sometimes I seemed to be taking on others feelings.
I co-facilitated the one day workshop at Tamara’s House for counsellors and professionals. They came from all over the province. One woman who had never been at Tamara’s House before, asked just prior to the second check in to be excused to use the washroom. I was proceeding around the circle as each person shared how they were feeling. When I came to her empty chair, I felt the most intense fear, took my breath away;I had to hold my stomach area, could hardly speak as I wondered what had happened to her. We completed the check in and she burst into the room. She had been trapped in a stairwell that didn’t have an exit. She spoke of how she’d been in this intense fear and then it had just gone away. I thought, “yeah and I have it.”
She had gone a wrong way and had been trapped for 30 minutes prior to a guy opening the door for her. We continued with the morning. When we broke for lunch, I explained to a co-facilitator I needed 20 minutes. It took 10. I took my car and drove behind the building and let out high pitched screams of fear. Felt them move up and out my body through the top of my head. The rest of the day went well.
It was only days away from my pick up my book party. I made a poster for the wall showing the time line:
– writing the book from November 4, 1995 to March 4, 1996.
– March to July, 1996 put it on the computer.
– September, 1996. Sent letters to publisher.
-Received comments. Declined. Been done.
– June, 1997. The idea to self-publish.
– February 20, 1998 to April 1, 1998 raised $7000.00.
– May 20, 1998 700 Books delivered to my house in 20 boxes.
– May 27, 1998 The Party. Thank you for celebrating with me.
– Future – rest, relax, enjoy, have fun. Sell more books if I want to and someone wants one. Whoops, have 160 to mail/deliver.
I had a poster with a kind of financial statement for those who made donations.
Income $7600.00 of which $695.00 was donated.
Expenses – Editing, design, pre-press, cover, printing $6469.95
Casual Labour – computer work, Administration, proofreading, etc. $460.00
Postage – February and March mail outs $198.00
Motor Vehicle Expenses $182.00GST $51.17
Party – room rental, $42.00 Supplies, etc. $60.00
Delivery $65.00
Total $7528.12
Not counting the kid’s and my time, effort, pain, joy and I guess future delivery costs.

I made a huge poster saying: Thank You to the Women of New Hope, my children, the Group, My cousin for the Art and cover, each person who bought a book, my counsellors and each woman at the Sexual Assault Centre and on the lines, each woman connected with Tamara’s House, special friends, family of origin who are here and those that aren’t, the editor, women who are like sisters, who phoned and helped plan for the party, the transit system, donut shop, volleyball team, co-facilitators, past generations who are gone but still live on, friends form my past, . . . , birds, animals, wind and the river, lawyers, people who let me sleep at their house, guys who keep me thinking and men in my life who share parts of themselves. Lots and lots of people phoned telling me their support; they could and/or could not attend.
The big day came and it was exciting as I got ready. I didn’t have to do much decorating. I had a huge white tablecloth and on that table were some books. Many helped. Instead of serving punch, I went out and bought a sparkling grapefruit drink and wrote above the refreshment table: “This is a bittersweet experience for me, so serving this drink, although wish it could be a book about peace, love and joy and then thought comes . . . maybe it is.”
In the days between books coming to my house and the pick up your book party, I’d go into flashbacks with graphic pictures of the sexual abuse in my head and grief. I wrote a whole journal page of, “I hate it, I hate it, I hate it.” Had a sore throat for two days, figured about one hundred sixty to two hundred would be coming to the party; and sometimes felt fear, sometimes felt really lonely. Night before, ordered a big lasagna and hoped enough for next night.
The day arrives. I put six boxes of books in my car and then as if looking for something, went to Sexual Assault Centre. All the staff were in a meeting and couldn’t see me, so I went for a drive, stopped at one of the most beautiful churches in the city; a catholic one and thought about what I was doing. Sat on a hard pew and thought how this church is beautiful but doesn’t do a thing for me. I went into gentle but loud crying. He was so big. I was so little. Where’s the kleenex? Wrote in my journal – still have lots to say. Where’s the understanding, the compassion, the willingness to face the truth. I am one and I am powerful. I wrote down what I wanted. I have my power back, think of my kids ;how long are we going to hurt?
I went to the river and sat in the sunshine for a couple of hours, home, had a bath, tried to rest and then the kids and I went down to the Saskatoon Main Library, set up the room with boxes of books, under the table, list of people’s names and waited for them to come. And they did. It was beautiful. I wrote in all those books and nearly every time wrote something different in every book. Later, I was in awe of myself. How did I do that?
A few days later I received a call from a woman I met weeks previously at International Woman’s Day. She had wanted to buy a copy of my book and didn’t have the money. She was displaying drums she had made and we talked about maybe bartering. She phoned and said my drum was ready. I met her downtown and it was a native looking drum with deer skin over mahogany from Alberta; drumstick and all, beautiful and she wanted my book so we made an exchange; with me paying quite a bit extra. I was overwhelmed; not only about that cause I wasn’t expecting a big payout re drum; but about any decision. When driving, nearly hit a car. I was trying to deliver books by bus to save gas, dreaming non-stop at night; fear of people’s reactions. I had a dream about feeling white, middle class and don’t know how to relate with 20th Street; the inner city of Saskatoon.
A woman phoned me a few days later and let me know she had bought a house in the country and the two bedroom character house on 20th st she rented for $325.00 would be up for rent. I was paying $530.00 and didn’t need three bedrooms. Would I want it. First thoughts were yes because of the difference in rent but wondered if it was a good idea.
Could we stand the pain of the area? It was the tough inner city. I looked at it. I loved the hardwood floors, could imagine my furniture on it, a garden, a yard, bus went right by, could make it non-smoking, expenses would be down. Landlord; male guy, in his sixties, lived in the basement, went away in the winter. I was concerned about living there, high crime rate, immersed in pain, felt like I deserved better and yet felt like I fit there, could relax and not work so hard, wondered if classism and racism would be an issue.
Was it a chance to work out my Aboriginal issues? I felt too tired to move. Sometimes, I went through so much guilt about the Indian and the white people issues and then I would get angry and think just because my grandparents took their land away, do I have to pay for their mistakes? Found it interesting that everyone bought books $20.00 each, I only had given three away and all had been to Aboriginal people. Making a decision allowed chaos inside to surface.
Went for a drive in the country. Wrote for hours. Hear a meadow lark singing as I drove; a thank you comes from inside; like a felt thank you; finally understand gratitude. I have enough. I have people and birds and all I need for sharing. Am I giving the best away? I don’t think so; the best is inside me, always new, always changing, more and more overflowing; flowing through me; all there is flowing through me.
Out at a dry lake, walking with two friends. One handed me a three inch diameter stone, pink and shiny, so light and I said, “I’ll use it for a door stop in my new home”. As we walked, and maybe fifteen minutes later, I noticed two things. The rock was so heavy and I had a huge callous on my left hand that hadn’t been there before. It reminded me of when I’d worked too hard in the potato patch growing up. But I don’t think I had calluses back then. Today my hands were like I had been hoeing the fields all day. I handed the rock to the two guys. They couldn’t believe the weight of the rock.
I listened to a woman speak about street kids. Made sense to me. Safer for kids on streets than in their own homes.
I decided I would take the house even though after meeting the landlord, was a little leary, but thought I didn’t have to have anything to do with him. Had very little money. Felt so guilty that I still smoked. Felt guilty over everything I ever had or hadn’t done for my kids.
Days where all of a sudden my hip area on my body would go into spasms like really bad; couldn’t do yoga, was like I was giving birth; birth to the world and I didn’t understand it. Wrote what I’d like to do is curl up in a little ball on that guy’s (guy I’d been seeing who didn’t want a sexual relationship) sofa and have someone; preferably him stroke my hair or gently rub my back. I wanted all that ever was inside me; full of pain; want to let it go. Wondered could he be there for me? I don’t want to do it alone. Couldn’t tell him that or ask him but over the next few days could talk about the intensity of it all and it was lessening.
Went for a massage. Light in my head depending on where she touches; blue when on throat ; white on head; black when touches pain in the left hip. Thoughts, giving birth; book, myself to world; aboriginals; do I owe them anything. My grandfather, on their land; all land I’m on is theirs. Pain under my ribs, start crying like a baby; high singing like crying. Feels wrong to want to own land.
Stayed with a friend for two days as she had pneumonia. By the time I left was so tired.
Went out to Prairietown; first time since book party. Mistake. Mom was so angry. She hadn’t read the book. One of my sisters who had not read it either had advised her not to. My aunt had told me not to use names and I had. Dad had been angry for two weeks. I left and met with my sister; she was crying; listening everyday to mom and dad, to the neighbours out there, the sisters, the priest, the shame, wondering what people think, how could I do this to them, she has to live there, how angry she was at me, it was not like that when she was growing up, said some people can’t read it.
I went back to mom and dads. Talked to them. Said people forget I wrote it in 1995, this is 1998, that I understand, they must feel exposed. I left the impression that dad sexually abused me and dad said what I did was abuse to them. I talked to dad about how there were times when I was scared that was going to be the next memories coming back; but now know he did not sexually abuse me. Dad ended up getting angry at counsellors and saying; it has to be over and get out of that work.
Left Prairietown and on my way back to Saskatoon stopped at a potter’s studio. He had renovated a church into a studio. Had an hour and a half tour, but the best was the conversation. Walked around the yard, thinking of all that had just happened and decided I was buying myself one of his bowls; not a rejected one that was cheaper but the beautiful $90.00 one. It would be an example of myself filling up and inside and outside is beauty.
Went to the Annual General Meeting and was recognized as Tamara’s House Woman of Courage which was really nice. The biggest and best announcement was a couple from Saskatoon donated enough money for a safe house; like well over $500,000.
Most of June 1998 I was so tired. Would fall asleep anywhere. Watching a movie, in a friend’s car, at my sister’s. If I talked to my family, no one mentioned the book.

Collage June 28, 1998
As if I did it. I am up here, up at the top. I have brought the darkness into the light; the dark and the night is as comfortable for me as light and day. I gave my dreams wings. I am at a place where I see it all. I was used too early and by too many people for their own gain and it left me like a little girl lost. I have exposed the wrongs and it’s like it’s over. I’ve been there, done that, now it feels like there should be a victory lap; a cause for celebrating but I don’t feel like celebrating. I just want to cry. It mattered to do it but now as if I’m right back where I started; not knowing what matters. I know I matter and my kids matter and not much else. I’m glad I’m moving to 20th Street and I will be moving lightly because have very few things to take with me that mean anything. As if I need new insights for a new woman who I am now – different than who I was before the book came out; some part of me is liberated, free and I want to surround myself with nature and beauty. Coming into my own power in a spiritual way. So much of life is fleeting; nothing feels lasting like everything could blow away; can’t find anything that is here today and here tomorrow. I no longer have to suppress and can be conscious of what is really happening. It’s time to parent my own magic, climb a new mountain of truths, reclaiming more of my power from past experiences and I will do it in a new way, using the beat of a drum to go beyond thinking to follow my heart; being a woman who makes a difference.
Lots of crying. Lots of anger. Wrote: Fear has kept me caged. There is no God. Now I believe in ALL THAT IS. All connected, spirit in me, spirit in others, spirit in all, spirit in all that was, will be, is.
Dad phoned and mom was back in hospital. Fractured vertebrae. Osteoporosis. I gave notice for the apartment I’m in with the decision to move to 20th street. Dad has shingles. I said no to working with a woman to write up a grant for Tamara’s House. A day I was with the guy I was seeing, I saw him in white light with his whole body surrounded by it. I went to visit my cousin at their cabin and experienced darkness; could hardly function, had to lay down, as if the walls had goo on them. Was this just a feeling or what was it but had to get out of there.
Collage July 6, 1998
Definitely an end to the illusion that my family will change, that this will be over. Dad says give it a rest but that’s like changing who I am and I realize: this is a natural progression that will continue the rest of my life. As if I have a terminal case of telling the truth. Feels like Open Season ; deer in headlights; vulnerable and exposed. I feel at peace inside; as if a mother and child have come together; harmony between them; my creative connection to the universe continually shaping the things to come, a new future through myriad visions. Inside will become a place of beauty and power as I recognize my own steps of courage. I feel alone in the outside world and yet feel like the eyes of the universe. I feel different than others and yet think of myself as average. I feel overwhelmed with the amount of pain in my heart. Like I want a crash plan which is a way to slowly, softly deal with life. I don’t want my life to be a blur. I still imagine a world filled with support. Can we/Do we support one another? I have one spirit that is linked to all that is. It is the Good Neighbour Policy that will provide PEACE.

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