MEET T R ROBINSON

I have made many friends through social media but there are two people who stand out as not only talented writers but as unselfish champions of other writers.  One is Sally Cronin and the other is Tanya Robinson.  I’ve read all of Tanya’s books (so I thought) and they take your breath away. Her experiences have been beyond incredible. I would strongly urge you to check them out.

TANYA AVATAR

My sincerest thanks to Lucinda for having taken the time to read and review my memoir series and for this kind feature.

I was born into a very loving family where, for my first few, sadly very few, years I enjoyed the privilege and security of wonderful parents and sisters. However, those idyllic years were to be short-lived and prior to the age of five I was thrown into a very cruel, violent world for which I was not in the least prepared. It all started with my beloved mother’s untimely death. It is not my intention to reiterate information that may be found in the memoir series but to simply try and explain how life has worked out for me and how I have reached the stage of life where I now find myself. Just a quick aside, some may question the fact I can clearly recall events from my earliest years and I mean earliest; from even before I could walk. This is because I have been blessed, though some may consider me cursed, with an amazingly accurate and detailed memory. It has even surprised me at times.

TANYA BOOK 1

Subsequent to my mother’s death I was not at all well. The family doctor as well as the family became concerned about my mental health and consequently, sent me away. That was when my troubles really started. Briefly, in an attempt to escape the inappropriate behaviour of a relative I ended up in the hands of the German Gestapo. World War II was in full swing and my homeland had been occupied. They discovered I was the daughter of a senior resistance leader and, upon the pretense of wanting to know where my father was, tortured me. This was despite me telling them I knew nothing: Father, in an attempt to protect the family, had never told us anything and it was true I knew nothing. However, though I was just a young girl they would not listen. I will not say more here. Subsequent to this, though they had left me for dead, I was eventually reunited with one of my sisters. Again I faced inappropriate behaviour and in an attempt to free myself ended up in a cruel and brutal marriage. The only highlight being the birth of my first son though, due to the violence, I subsequently lost many more children.

TANYA BOOK 2

I eventually escaped that marriage only to face further misuse and trauma from a variety of sources. Many, including my son (with exasperation), have often commented upon how naive and innocent I can be. It is true, despite all that has been done to me and all that has occurred in my life, I want to believe and trust people. I just cannot seem to change nor, if truth be told, do I wish to. I do not want to become a bitter or resentful person though the constant injustice and meanness of society do upset me. 

There, that is a little background to where I come from and who I am. All the cruel events left me feeling ashamed, contaminated and generally unclean. (As I have discovered since, many women who have faced similar domestic violence as I, felt they were responsible though, of course, they were not.) Naturally, I must acknowledge this impacted upon my confidence and made me wary of any human interaction. Nevertheless, I am a determined soul and would not permit myself to be put down or overcome by it all, especially as I had responsibility for my son’s welfare. However, I am a private person and for many years ensured no one ever knew my story. I always limited and curtailed personal discussions. As far as I was concerned the events of my life would cease and die with me. So, considering all this, why have I published the memoir series? Over the years many have confided in me their own life tales and I came to appreciate my experiences and that of many of my ancestors were anything but normal. Should I tell the tale? No! It was too shameful. Too embarrassing.

TANYA BOOK 3

It took many years but eventually, I realized it would be wrong for our stories to be lost. Society really could benefit from knowing the truth; if for no other reason than to hopefully provide help and inspiration for those who have faced, or are facing, similar circumstances. I have been circumspect with content and have intentionally omitted some of the more awful, graphic experiences: I have suffered enough in my own life and have no wish to cause others upset or stress by relating all the horrors. What I have shared I consider sufficient to hopefully help others overcome their own situations. If nothing else, I would like people to know it is possible to escape from even the most constrained existence. Also that it is possible to go on and have a reasonably successful life. I have to admit I am truly surprised I survived and have made to this day. If it can happen to me it can happen to anyone!

TANYA BOOK 4

The above may imply my life was always full of brutality, cruelty, and meanness and in truth, much of it has been. Nevertheless, and though indeed I have experienced more than most, there have been lighter, even some fun, moments which I also share in the books.

 I sincerely hope many of you will never have to face what I did and, for those of you who have or are, you will find some solace and help in what I share.

When I researched Tanya’s author page on Amazon, I discovered she had written two more books I wasn’t even aware of. So those are going on my TBR list right now.

Tanya describes herself as an independent author of memoir and biographical fiction, but she is so much more than that. A very courageous and brave woman whose life story simply takes your breath away. I recommend you look up her books on her website.

https://trrobinsonpublications.com  

This is the link to the first book in her memoir series.

And, if you are a writer, Tanya’s blog is full of lots of helpful hints and information, I also recommend that. She writes in such a way that even a techie dummie like me can understand.

Thank you for being my guest this week, Tanya you are just such an amazing person.

Till next time, take care

Lucinda

 

MEET MADELEINE BLACK

Madeliene Black is another of life’s survivors, but I will leave it to her to share her story.

Head shot by NJ copy

After many years of keeping quiet, Madeleine Black decided in September 2014, to share her story on The Forgiveness Project’s website and she completely underestimated what the response would be.

Many women and men got in contact and explained how reading her story gave them strength, hope, and a different perspective of what’s possible in their lives. The founder of The Forgiveness Project, Marina, often refers to the various people on her website as  “story healers” rather than “storytellers” and now she completely understood why.

In March 2015, Jessica Kingsley Publishers released a book called The Forgiveness Project: Stories for a Vengeful Age, by Marina Cantacuzino. It’s a collection of 40 stories from the TFP website, including hers and has forewords by Desmond Tutu and Alexander McCall Smith.

The sharing of her story also opened many doors for her in ways she never imagined and after that, the invitations started to pour in.

What it took for me to forgive  

I never intended to forgive the 2 young men who gang-raped me when I was 13 years old.  I wanted to hate them forever.  As far as I was concerned they were evil, sadistic animals and I wanted someone to kidnap them, tie them up, beat them up, rape and torture them just like they had done to me for hours on end.

But in 2003 there was a combination of events, which I believe released memories that I had locked deep within. My eldest daughter was turning 13, I was attending workshops run by a teacher of life and was studying for a psychotherapy course. The memories of that night started to come back and haunt me again in a way that they hadn’t before and I was unable to block them out anymore.

They were very disturbing; like a porn film running in my mind and to be honest for a long time I thought I was going mad.  I mean surely if it was that bad then I would have remembered it?  I now know that after a trauma it’s very common for our minds to numb out and shut off disturbing memories, but they can usually resurface many years later, once it thinks you are strong enough.

Unbroken front cover

So I decided that I needed some help to get rid of them.  I quickly discovered that I couldn’t get rid of them but that I had to face them and learn to accept what was done to me in order to recover and heal from that night.  I learnt that the way in was the way out.

It was during this therapy that my therapist suggested to me in a session that maybe they weren’t born rapists.  I could not believe what I was hearing and was completely outraged by what he was saying.

But he planted a seed within my mind and that seed started to grow.

They weren’t much older than I was, perhaps 17 or 18 and I wanted to understand what went so wrong for them?  How did they know how to be so violent to another human being?  What had they heard; witnessed or experienced that changed them so much?

I do believe that we all come into this world the same way as an innocent baby like a blank sheet and I don’t think anyone is born a rapist, murderer or burglar but that we get conditioned by life, which shapes the path and decisions we make.

A good friend used to be a midwife and she told me that she has delivered 1000’s of babies but has never once met an evil one.  That has really stayed with me.

And once I really understood that, I felt for them.  In their dehumanising of me I realised that they had dehumanised themselves and were cut off to their own source of aliveness

And the more I thought about being gang-raped and the 2 young men, I couldn’t help but take them into my heart and I started to feel compassion and forgiveness towards them.

I came up with a plan which I call my “best Revenge” many years ago when I decided to become a mother and live as good as life as I can.  I chose to be happy but I often wonder what must it be like to live with what you do to another human being?

Forgiveness for me initially was an act of self-love as I had so much blame and shame for what had happened to me.  And then it became an act of understanding towards them.  I chose to let go of all the pain, hate and resentment I felt for years, which has resulted in a much more peaceful and content way to live my life.

After all they would have no idea if I was consumed by hate, bitterness or revenge and the only person it would hurt would be me and all those in my life.  My healing came when I finally faced all the details of what they did to me on that night and learnt to integrate it. I realised that I’m not my body or the things that they have done to me.  The real essence of me could never be touched.

And if I am not what was done to me; are they what they did to me?

Her memoir, Unbroken, was published by John Blake Books on April 4th 2017

You can check out Madeleine’s book here:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XNLZ8RV

and visit her Website   www.madeleineblack.co.uk

 Facebook page  www.facebook.com/madeleineblackunbroken

 Twitter @madblack65

Madeleine, you are an inspiration to many of us. Thank you for sharing your story.