IT ALL STARTED when Dawn joined my first online memoir writing class with three other women. In the first phone call, as a way to get started, everyone went around the virtual circle to tell me what they wanted from the class. “I’d like to work on my tenses,” Dawn said. “You know, verb tenses.”
Here we are, three years later, and what a journey it has been! Dawn has done so much more than learn verb tenses. At the beginning of our journey together, she didn’t realize what a powerful story she had to tell, which is often the case. In the process of sharing our story, we unzip ourselves and open our hearts to discover who we are, where we have been, and most of all, discover and own the amazing strength and power inside us.
As Dawn wove in the parallels of her story with Marilyn Monroe’s, I saw the similarities between their and other women’s struggle with abuse and abandonment. Many years before, as part of my studies about abuse, I’d read several books about Marilyn. As I read, it became clear that the losses of her childhood, her confusion about her identity, and her need for love led her toward her life path. In some ways she was born too soon, before the kind of therapy that exists now to help young people who wander lost, abandoned, and in pain. Lost girls often need to find admiration in men’s eyes, trying to be “good” so others will approve, confused about their sexuality. They act out in various ways—typical responses to instability and abuse as children. Some can’t bear the pain and turn to drugs, and some don’t make it, as Marilyn sadly didn’t. Though Dawn suffered in similar ways to Marilyn and adopted some of her coping mechanisms, she possessed a unique sense of vision that told her there had to be a better way. “There is more to life than this,” she said to herself as she searched for transformation and healing. Her story shows us all that it’s possible to live in the darkness and find the light within. We can follow this light and find our way to ourselves.
Ragdoll Redeemed: Growing up in the Shadow of Marilyn Monroe, would never have been published had it not been for the brilliant guidance of Linda Joy Myers. She magically and ever so gently pulled my most shamed filled stories out of my shy heart and weary mind. God’s finger prints are all over this encounter and published book as I truly only began this journey to learn my tenses.
Each week I will post the next section of the book. Warmly, dawn
Linda Joy Myers, Ph.D., author of The Power of Memior and Don’t Call Me Mother; President, National Association of Memoir Writers