Brinda Carey is the author of Don’t Cry, Daddy’s Here. My wife and I met Brinda at the Lexicon Writer’s Conference in Denton, Texas. When you see Brinda’s smile and the twinkle in her eyes, you would never believe the life of abuse she has overcome. She is a living example of God’s loving power and grace. After reading her novel, my wife placed this review on Amazon.
“Brinda Carey, a marvelously gifted author, powerfully unmasks incest in her family. She offers the reader her story with tasteful candor and stirs every emotion on the human barometer. The courage she demonstrates offers hope to every sexual victim who reads her painful account. The story carries the reader from the depth of incest to the mountain top of health.
Her voice shouts from the housetops. So many children are abused every day. Her story reveals the family curse and the behavioral signs to watch for. My hope is that every parent and teacher will read her story and become a soldier in the fight to end this abuse.”
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your life growing up.
My father was a farmer, so most of my childhood was spent either on a farm or in a very small town in the Texas Panhandle. We had farm chores such as feeding chickens, laying irrigation pipe, and setting out salt blocks for the cattle as well as household chores. I enjoyed working in the garden and helping my mother can food. We lived in poverty and learned from an early age to make do with what we had.
As the oldest of six children, I helped quite a bit with my siblings and was expected to be an example. I also felt a strong need to be their protector. Therefore, when my mother went off on us with a belt or my dad began to sexually abuse me, I felt the need to take blame and be submissive, thinking that in some way I was protecting them. In actuality, I really didn’t do much to keep them from suffering from abuse.
That is just a minuscule glimpse into my childhood, which resembles neither the way I chose to raise my family nor the blessed life I enjoy today. The hard part was getting from there to here.
What or who inspired you to write such a delicate personal memoir?
Along the road to recovery, I have been privileged to meet many beautiful women who were also struggling to mend their broken lives. My reason for writing this book was to share what helped me with other survivors to aid in their healing. With the silence and stigma of sexual abuse, it took me longer than I think it should have to find the answers and tools to get where I wanted to be. Hopefully, my book will allow them to know that I am one of them and understand something of what they are going through. That said, the resources I’ve included offer them a starting point to jump into their recovery and fly into a better future.
With some additional checklists and resources, I believe that my book is also a valuable tool for parents, teachers, counselors…anyone who loves children and wishes to protect, rescue, or help in the healing process.
With the topic as sensitive as incest and sex trafficking, how difficult was this book to write as honestly as you do and not shock your audience?
It was a fine balancing act for certain. When immersed in my memories, I often wrote words and images just as they were at that time. Upon revision, I looked at my work with the eyes of the woman and mother that I am now and easily removed much of the graphic descriptions, slang, and vulgarity. However, this isn’t to say that I don’t want my readers shocked. On the contrary, I want them to be utterly appalled and compelled to action! A survivor reading my story may find it tame, but read into it all I left out, and leave understanding and knowing me as a sister. It wasn’t easy writing this book and making into the tool I want it to be, but I am glad to have accomplished what I set out to do.
Describe for us the turning point in your life when hope and faith conquered the dark.
I don’t know that I can do justice to that experience and still have room for you to print this! I will say up front that there was a major turning point, but it is difficult to reprogram the way a person thinks and make a 360 without some time.
That major turning point involved a certain period of my life when I began seeking answers to questions I had about religion. My two year-old son was extremely ill, in fact, he was dying. Kris was the second son I had conceived due to the abuse of my father. I wanted to know if I needed to get him baptized or something to assure his place in heaven. I also wanted to know if he was dying due to my sin and what I must do to gain favor with the Lord.
The first person I ever told about the abuse was a religious leader who stated that I was not to blame for the abuse nor the failing health of my son. I felt the truth of his statement course through my body and my soul was filled with a peaceful knowing of the truthfulness of that statement. It was like God wrapped me in His arms and soothed the child crying out to Him.
Kris died later that year and I honestly don’t know how anyone can withstand such grief without the grace of God to uphold them. My faith in eternal life helped me bear the weight of it all and gave me hope of an eternal life with Him in the afterlife.
Do you have other published works, or works in progress?
Yes, Bill, just give me a moment to take a deep breath and switch gears from survivor to author.
Take all the time you need.
Okay, here goes. In 2008, I had a short story and a poem selected for the Tyler Junior College Arts Journal. I was taking a creative writing course and this was my first attempt at submitting my work for perusal. This gave me confidence to continue working on my book. The short story, Grandma’s Cactus Garden, went through a revision and was recently published as a Kindle single.
I’ve had six articles published in magazines, three of them in While U Wait and the other three in online magazines for survivors.
I have a two act play ready for submission now. Two novels are in the works: Peeling Onions, a story about women bonding and growing close as they support one another through recovery, and one with a working title of Twins. I plan to have it out next spring. It’s the story of a young woman who learns she has a multiple personality when she finds herself pregnant with twins. She has a rare medical condition which resulted in two uteruses…and now she is pregnant by two different men. I took my time getting around to fiction, but now that I’ve tackled it, I’m extremely excited about the way the story is developing.
How did your relationship with White Bird Publications come to be?
The publisher at White Bird, Evelyn M. Byrne, and I were (and still are) members of the East Texas Writers Guild. She and I became friends and she patiently answered my questions, and I had tons of questions. I didn’t have a clue how to go about getting a book published.
Evelyn had no interest in publishing non-fiction and even less interest in having to read and help edit a book about the subject of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. However, in the course of hearing more about my life and reading a few excerpts, she offered me a contract to be White Bird’s first non-fiction publication.
How much of the marketing and promotion are you involved in?
Nowadays, regardless of who publishes your book, an author is expected to do the majority of their own promotion. This is certainly true for me. Fortunately, I had already built a platform through my work with survivors and organizations that work in the field. Evelyn helped me set up all my social media long before she agreed to publish my book, so that was in full swing. White Bird has given me the opportunity to participate in several book fairs and festivals. My book has been well received when I speak at recovery groups, such as the one I went through, Celebrate Recovery. I just continue to live my life serving survivors and working to make a difference and book sales follow.
Do you have a specific writing style? What books or authors influence you?
Is pouring your heart onto paper a writing style? You know, I had a book ready for publication before I even figured out there were more genres than fiction, non-fiction, murder mysteries, and romance.
I like Anne Lamont and Stephen King, who write much different genres, but write in the same manner. They both advocate letting the story flow freely onto paper and allowing the characters to come alive as you see them in your mind. Okay, my book, and most of my writing to date, has been non-fiction; however, my work now in fiction comes from what I’ve read, including their books on writing.
I happen to enjoy writing non-fiction and creative non-fiction pieces which includes: articles, poetry, and personal essay. And when it comes to fiction, such as Grandma’s Cactus Garden, I still want my work to be infused with realism and offer an inspirational message.
I have several favorite authors and read most all genres, so it is difficult to attempt to name them without knowing I’ll be second guessing how I answer that question for DAYS. So how about we leave it at that for now?
What advice do you have for readers who have experienced physical and emotional abuse?
Wow…that needs to be another book! Yet, with one in four girls being molested by the age of eighteen and one in 6 boys (realizing many victims never speak out about their abuse), I know that many of your readers will want this advice. Victims of ANY abuse, including verbal abuse, suffer greatly and much of the same advice can be given to everyone. A reader may know someone to share this information with, so I’m going to give you a condensed version that I hope will be helpful. It will not be all-inclusive nor does a person need to do ALL these things. These are just some of the things I found helpful.
TALK TO SOMEONE: Immediately tell someone you feel is a safe person if you are currently being abused. Things cannot get worse than they are right now. Even if your abuse occurred years ago, it will be a huge step n total recovery to talk to someone.
PRAY: Draw strength and comfort from your Father in Heaven who loves you unconditionally.
SERIOUSLY CONSIDER AN ASSESSMENT BY A PROFESSIONAL: A professional can assess the potential need for medication, therapy, or counseling.
KEEP A JOURNAL: Doing so is very therapeutic and can give you many insights into your life. It will also help you evaluate where you are, give you a clearer picture of where you want to be, and help you set goals.
NURTURE YOUR INNER CHILD: Allow yourself the experiences that brought you joy or comfort in your childhood or that you missed because of the abuse. My favorites are play dough, crayons and coloring books, and a stuffed animal. One woman I know had never blew bubbles before. Finally doing so really put a smile on her face.
PAMPER YOURSELF: This is different from the above because this is for you as you are right now. You are beautiful and deserve to indulge yourself regularly in some “me” time.
PRACTICE PATIENCE: Don’t beat yourself up when your recovery isn’t going as well or fast as you would like. Just as babies must learn to crawl before moving on to walking, then driving mom nuts as they climb on the furniture and run away from mom in the store, you, too, need to allow yourself time to progress.
AVOID THE PERPETRATOR: If possible, I’d suggest prosecution. Even if you love the person who hurt you, they will only get help when they are discovered and held accountable. But, by all means, do not continue to put yourself in harm’s way.
FIND A SUPPORT GROUP: Professional counseling can help a great deal; however, you need a support system in place that you can rely on day and night. I mentioned Celebrate Recovery earlier. There I found a sponsor and several women that I felt safe with and who I knew understood what was going on with me. Having a church family also can serve this need in more ways than one. We help one another…which brings me to:
LOSE YOURSELF IN SERVICE: Focusing on how you can help someone else takes your mind off your own troubles and just plain makes you feel good!
FORGIVE: Okay, this may take a long time. Remember that forgiveness doesn’t mean that you can forget or that you condone what they did. Nor does it mean you can now be “friends”. What it does mean is that you determine to be obedient to God and to place trust in Him to deliver perfect justice. Then you can “let go and let God” and free yourself from the cancer of unforgiveness. Practice makes perfect J
That’s all for now, but it is quite a list, especially for someone beginning recovery. Don’t be overwhelmed, just read through the list occasionally and try out some things to see what is helping you move forward. Remember that this is simply my advice as a fellow survivor, not a licensed professional, and focus on one day at a time.
Thank you, Brinda, for sharing with us some of your most private hurts. I can’t tell you how ,much I admire your honesty and courage. You love of God shows clearly through.
To buy Brinda’s books, particularly Don’t Cry, Daddy’s Here, click on the following Amazon link.
To buy my novels click on the novel page at the top of my blog and follow the prompts.