As a child, I wanted to go to a sanitarium because I knew it was a place with a great lawn, where you sat with a blanket on your lap and got sane. I had a lot of anxiety as a child, which made it easy to relate to Van Gogh, even then. I learned about him in the movie “Lust for Life.” I related to Gregory Peck too, in “Spellbound.” I watched those films in the fifties. The therapist in “Spellbound” sealed my desire to investigate and solve people’s psychological turmoil. Naturally, over the years, I’ve turned my amateur therapist eyes outward toward others, especially toward my father, and inward toward myself. This is the gist of the LION TAMER series.
LION TAMER MEMOIR How It All Turned Out (Book One): I tell the end of the story of my journey to freedom from the effects of sexual abuse, and how I healed my relationship with my father. While my father had a lot of kindness and a great sense of humor, he also sexually molested me beginning when I was age twelve—he’d fondle my breasts and did the same to six of my seven sisters. He also roared like a lion at anyone (including two-year-olds) if something displeased him, such as a missing ashtray. And I watched him relentlessly belittle my mother.
Book One opens when I find myself at forty-three years old unable to stay away from Arnold, a boyfriend who rages at me while driving with a green-handled hammer on the seat of his truck. I discover that, as with Arnold, all my relationships have been neurotic attachments. I also learn the cause and set out to heal the wound within where a connection with my dad should have been. But several mysteries need to be solved. They ultimately involve a semi-truck and a dolly with a purple gown. One reader said, “Buckle up for the twist at the end, and get out the tissue.”
LION TAMER MEMOIR Into the Cauldron (Book Two): I make brave but improvident responses to painful life experiences, and fall in an avalanche of consequences. I take control of my feelings by running headlong into a wall, and stay true to myself by dropping out of the university to be authentic working minimum wage jobs. I take charge of my anxiety with a fifth of Jack Daniels, but wake to feathers and ashes in my face from falling asleep smoking in bed. I look at my burned-up pillow, toss the burnt bedspread into a dumpster, and pull out of the nose dive by looking death in the face caring for elders. Still, I slip away when glasses of wine turn to white lines and a two year fight with my first husband. The curly-haired neighbor’s face glows in the match light he holds in the cup of his hands. The men fight over me which makes me proud and defiant when they arrest my new boyfriend. “Another officer walks up. ‘If you want, we can arrest you too, ma’am.'”
LION TAMER MEMOIR Perilous Tasks (Book Three): “Shoot, I’m twenty-three and proved my love when I wrote my husband’s name in my stomach with a razor blade – I can do what’s right: ‘Well, if you’re arresting Randy,” don’t slur, “you’re going to have to arrest me too, because Randy was defending himself!'” The kindness of a stranger one night when I’m panhandling with black eyes gives me a glimpse that I matter, that it’s not enough to mine the meaning of painful and frightening experiences; I must also learn to care for myself, and I do. I break up, temporarily, and care for six children whose parents don’t send money and don’t come home for weeks. I paint and write poetry, and decline the parents’ offer to travel with the family and their new unusual pet. I protest conditions in a nursing home and testify before a government committee. Finally, I’m ready to go back to Randy. “He’ll be surprised to see I’ve changed. I haven’t gotten drunk since I left Martinez five months ago, hardly. Maybe three times…seven…well, maybe eight. And Mom says I know my own mind, and she’s right. I never thought of myself as knowing my own mind, but I do. So, I’ll be myself, I won’t be needy anymore with Randy. Especially since I’ve made a decision to trust him.”
LION TAMER MEMOIR The Elusive Sense of Self (Book Four): On the train back to Randy, I close my eyes, “see us humans with feathery spiritual tethers held by gently tugging angels, when we have nothing left in us. We’re going home. It feels like God silently loves us that way. Is that so hard to believe? God doesn’t fix things—obviously—only loves us. Of course. Every patient I knew at Ivy Pines made me think of God. They were close to heaven. Each an infinite spirit. I’m lucky to know them. I’m infinite too. Everyone is. Of course. Mom, Dad, Jean. The Lockwoods. Randy. I feel stoned with no pot, thinking about it.” I begin to develop a sense of self whom I can comfort as things continue to go wrong. In a San Francisco attic space with a kind young stranger I see it’s our inner lions of self loathing that need to be tamed. At last I decide never to abandon my inner child again, who, when I first ask her how she’s doing, replies, “Who’s asking?” Making good on that promise to not abandon myself means I need to find a way down through the yuk of my life to bedrock, and build my foundation up from there.
LION TAMER MEMOIR How It All Began (Here I Am, Steel, Not the Kind of Girl You Marry) (Book Five): “‘How long does it take to die when your head is cut off?’ I ask my Dad at the dinner table. I’m five years old. I hope he likes my question. Martyrs are his favorite subject. If he likes my question, he might never roar like a lion at me again. And he might not roar because Mom forgot to make the coffee tonight.” Saddled with anxiety and fear of being seen, I wrestle with the truth that my larger-than-life dad, who sings opera while making pancakes and makes us laugh, also has a switchblade tongue, and, later, has molesting hands. Alcohol, head-banging, writing, drawing, and obsessing on men become my solutions to emotional pain. But at seventeen I see my way out of misery.
“I picture Victor in the grocery store. See him at a faculty party. Driving the car. Teaching a class. He’ll grow on me. I can do this.
‘I’m going to do it,’ I say.
‘Get fixed?’ says Rachel.
‘No. Marry Victor.’ The words just roll on out with confidence.
I hope you enjoy the books!
6 thoughts on “LION TAMER MEMOIR Series”
This book sounds like a brutally difficult one to write, but freeing at the same time. I am intrigued….
Please let me know when the availability to purchase is an option.
David (Got to stay sober guy)
Ohhh! Good to see you here, David. You can buy it in October. At my website. I think it was time to write it, and so it wasn’t as hard as it might have been. I can’t wait till you read the end. It was grueling, to get it “right,” (not go off on tangents, develop the scenes), and I cried from time to time, but often tears of joy, and some scenes made me laugh out loud. So. Thanks again for your encouragement.
“As a child, I wanted to go to a sanitarium…” That’s a sentiment you don’t hear every day!
“I make a commitment to never abandon myself again,” Easier said than done, but I’m anxious to find out how one does that. You always have the most amazing thoughts! I can’t wait to start reading… It’s an honor!
Thanks so much Christina! Your encouragement means the worlds to me.
I can hardly wait. I am so happy to see you fulfilling your dream and very proud of you.
Marty thanks so much! You’ve taught me a lot about having a voice!