Title: Wounds of the Father
Author: Elizabeth Garrison
Release Date: 4th February, 2015
:::: SYNOPSIS ::::
In the bestselling tradition of Smashed and Glass Castle, this raw, eye-opening memoir tells the powerful story of Elizabeth Garrison’s fractured childhood, descent into teenage drug addiction, and struggle to overcome nearly insurmountable odds. Elizabeth invites the reader behind the closed doors of a picture-perfect Christian family to reveal a dark, hidden world of child abuse, domestic violence, and chilling family secrets all performed in the name of God under the tyrannical rule of her father. Like countless teenage girls, Elizabeth turns to drugs and alcohol to escape. With smack-you-in-the-face honesty, Elizabeth chronicles the dark realities and real-life horrors of teenage drug abuse, living on the streets, foster homes, and treatment centers. She paints an unsparing portrait of scratching and clawing her way out of the grips of child abuse, addiction, and betrayal to find the strength within herself to save her own life.
:::: EXCERPT ::::
THE FIRST TIME
I choked on the smell of burning flesh. Flames engulfed dismembered hands, arms, legs. Black smoke covered blank faces. My eyes blistered.
He was coming for me. I couldn’t see him, but I knew. I knew I was next.
A scream rang out, snapping my eyes open. There was water between my legs. A blue alarm clock with red digits came out of the dark. I finally recognized my bedroom. Throwing off the covers, I ran for the door, flung it open, and sprinted up the stairs leaving the darkness of the basement behind.
I furtively looked over my shoulder as I walked through the living room and into my parents’ bedroom. My dad’s throat clicked with each breath as if something was caught there. My mom lay flat on her back with her mouth wide open. I tapped lightly on her shoulder, and then rushed back against the wall because one time when I woke her up, I scared her and she split my lip open. She didn’t move. I stepped forward and nudged her harder. “Mom…Mom…”
She opened her eyes, blinked over and over again. She looked to her left at my dad lying beside her before speaking. “What? Elizabeth…Go back to bed.”
I whispered, “I had a bad dream.”
“It’s just a dream,” she sighed. “Go back to bed.”
“But Mom, it was bad. Real bad. I dreamt I was in hell.”
She was quiet for a moment. “Well, you know you won’t go to hell as long as you’ve asked for forgiveness from your sins. Do you want me to pray with you?”
“No,” I replied softly. I didn’t need any help praying to God for my forgiveness. At the age of six, I’d already been praying earnestly for my soul for years.
Anyway, it wasn’t the devil I was afraid of––it was God. God was the one who wanted to send people to hell. My parents described hell as a lake of fire where you suffered and burned forever. I was terrified of going there, which was why I had gotten saved for the first time when I was three. I had told my mom I didn’t want to go to hell and she led me through the prayer that would save my soul. After that, I started getting saved on a regular basis. They said you only needed to do it once, but I wasn’t taking any chances with burning forever and begging to die with no mercy. Ever. Besides, I already suspected something was wrong with me––that I wasn’t like other little girls.
The first time I told anyone there was something different about me was the summer of fourth grade. I was riding my purple Huffy to the local pool with the sun burning down on my shoulders already peeling from their latest sunburn. I had left my body and was desperately trying to get back into it. It was as if there was a ladder in my head that I could crawl up to get out of myself and watch my body perform from somewhere above me. Once again, I had crawled up my ladder and was watching myself ride my bike, looking down at my pink swimsuit with the hole in the middle wondering when my blond hair had gotten so long. I wanted to get back into my body but couldn’t get there. I hated it when I couldn’t get back.
Sometimes I crawled up the ladder and was lost there for hours. Other times for days. I never knew where I went when I didn’t watch. It was if I crawled up the ladder and disappeared into nothingness for a while. The ability to leave my body scared me because I’d lose pieces of time in my life. I had no idea why I did it. It dawned on me that afternoon that maybe other people didn’t have a ladder. Maybe it was only in my brain. I decided to ask Daniel, my older brother, about it when I got back home. I hoped he’d assure me I was fine and that the same thing happened to him.
Sitting cross-legged on his bed, watching him sort through his baseball cards for what seemed like the hundredth time, I asked Daniel, “Do you ever forget where you are?”
He looked up at me, “What do you mean?”
“Well, like you watch yourself do things. But you’re not there. You see yourself.” It was so hard to explain, but I kept trying. “You know you’re real but you can’t feel it? Like you float. Up above.”
He cocked his head to the side, wrinkled his forehead, and frowned. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.” He went back to his cards.
Daniel was more than just my older brother. He was my best friend and wiser than I thought I’d ever be. If he didn’t know what I was talking about then it probably meant nobody else did either and they’d think I was a freak if I told them. I decided to keep my ability a secret. I had lots of secrets so I figured one more wouldn’t matter. But even if I kept all of my secrets from other people, I knew there was no hiding from God because he was everywhere and saw everything. There was no escaping him.
“He can read your thoughts. He knows what you’re thinking,” my mom liked to warn us kids.
I’d feel ashamed because my thoughts were anything but pure like they were supposed to be. They were filled with rage. As much as I loved my brother, I also hated him for the things he did when we were left alone in our house while my dad worked at the hospital and my mom ran errands. He’d terrorize my younger sister, Sarah, and I. He’d lock me in closets and pummel me with his scrawny fists while he sat on my chest and spat in my face. He’d force Sarah into our dark unfinished basement and bury her inside the antique chest carried over by my ancestors from Sweden. He’d sit on top of it, listening to her screams and I could never do anything to save her.
I liked to think about the ways I could hurt him back. I wanted to be able to destroy him with my fists the way he beat Sarah and I, but he was bigger and stronger than I was. I wished there was a way to make him cry and spit in his face the way he spat in mine. We tried to get him to stop, but every time we told on him, our tales were met with laughter and rebuke.
:::: KFF’s 5 ★ REVIEW ::::
By Sharon Thérèse Nuttall.
I started this book with trepidation as not only is it a genre which I have never read about, but up until now, it is also a subject frivolously ignored by me. This sounds very flippant; however, I am sure the majority of parents and young adults who will hopefully read this book, haven’t had this kind of experience or have had to live such a tragedy like Elizabeth’s. If we can all learn a little something from her harsh lesson, is that the author’s penmanship will never be in vain. There is no word to describe this read other than hellish, and that would be putting it mildly. This is where she got to ~ hell! I was literally astounded by this read and not in a good way. It is so honest, so crude and so devastating that at times I was appalled with her behaviour, at others, I wanted to take her pain away regardless whether or not I was a bystander in a horrendous scenario. The build up of her story is slow but more than comprehensible. There is always a reason why someone chooses to take the path of self-destruction and this is explained step by step in her story.
Quote: “The ability to leave my body scared me because I’d lose pieces of time in my life.”
Religion plays a huge part. It is forced down her throat to such a degree making her think the very worst of herself. How could anyone be so cruel as to quote to one’s daughter that Satan was controlling her mind is a pretence of the mentally disordered. Her family is totally dysfunctional. Elizabeth has an extremely unusual capability to my mind of thinking. She manages to block certain actions out. They are there, but her brain plainly shut down from a very young age. Human nature kicks in here. She was trying to protect herself from the psychological abuse at home. Maybe even worse.
Quote: “Only bad girls had monsters in their rooms and did tricks with their bodies. There wasn’t any salvation for me.”
Her mother. I could have strangled her throughout this read, and I must point out that I would have liked to have known more about her abominable attitude towards her daughter. We find out snippets of information which shed a little light regarding her stance. Completely submissive towards her husband, she will go to great lengths to convince herself that Elizabeth is the culprit, but can be redeemed if she accepts God!
Quote: Elizabeth’s mother: “Even if your dad did do something to you, Elizabeth, I forgive him. I forgive him because God forgives us.”
Like his wife, her father is a reborn Christian. However, he is not a good man. He is a ogre with a bipolar character. A simple evening meal with his family could be at his whim, enjoyable, on others, it could turn into a charade of harsh words, of fear! His monstrous, demanding and domineering persona was without a doubt, the root of all evils.
Quote: Elizabeth’s father: “Oh yeah, let’s see how tough you are. C’mon tough girl. Let’s see what you’ve got.”
The protagonist has no chance. Young and head-strong, she rebels and is doomed well underage. This incredibly intelligent lass who has brilliant marks at school falls into the alcohol trap. Her first taste is elixir. It helps her forget what she doesn’t know what she wants to forget! One thing leads to another, and before she’s even realises where she is, she is a trying out other ways to dull her pain. Drugs. My heart went out for her. I cried, sobbed and I couldn’t believe in a million years that she had to go through all that she did virtually alone. She broke my heart to smithereens. I wanted, needed, pleaded with her not to go back when she she was being treated. Between hard knocks, being pushed and pulled from one institution to another, rules are broken again and again, and when you think that all is lost, she picks herself up and fights against her addiction.
Quote: “… my first drink didn’t feel at all like a sin. I didn’t get the horrible pit in my stomach or the sticky palms that other sins gave me.”
The secondary characters in this book are unbelievable. I most certainly will not tell you who they are as this is a review without any spoilers. But good influences, she has. Bad influences abound too! In fact, I fell in love with her social worker that had more tact than a saint; and her drug supplier? Even though he was who he was, his protective feelings towards her probably saved her from herself. Nevertheless, there is no excuse for his harbouring Elizabeth’s addiction.
Quote: Strom: “Listen kid, I kinda like you. I don’t like too many people but I take care of the ones that I do.”
Too sum up this read! I prayed for Elizabeth. What changed her was so upsetting. Was I really reading passages that made me think she had lost her battle? Could anyone with a fight against drugs possibly get out of a deep hole they’d dug themselves into? The last pages in this booked turned into fire. I couldn’t read one word after another quicker. I am in awe. I was lost for words. What can I say with tears in my eyes while writing this review? If I could have given this read ten stars, I would have! My ‘bravo’ here seems to me, a meagre reward for a book so well written. But I give it to you with all sincerity.
Quote: “I’d spent my childhood years in a prison of thou-shalt-nots, and for the first time I felt free.”
:::: TEASERS ::::
:::: ABOUT THE AUTHOR ::::
Elizabeth Garrison has a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and works as a researcher for the National Center for Child Traumatic Stress. Her research focuses on the effects of childhood abuse and developing interventions to help children recover. She also is a well-known celebrity ghost-writer. Given her talent in helping others to tell their stories, Garrison decided it was time to tell her own story.
:::: AUTHOR’S WEBSITE LINK ::::
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