Afternoon, readers! Today on the blog we have Gina Holmes, bestselling author of Crossing Oceans, joining us. Gina writes so beautifully on the challenges and struggles that occur in our lives, delving into hard topics such as abuse. I think one of the greatest strengths of a good fiction book is its ability to emulate real life, healing old wounds in the process. Has a work of fiction touched you? Please leave your book suggestions in the comments.
Most of us know that words have the power to cut or heal, make us smile or cry, and change our lives for the better or the worse.
When I began my latest novel, Wings of Glass, I thought I was writing something that would open the eyes of readers to the progression abuse nearly always takes, the question of whether or not divorce is allowed in abusive situations, why a woman (or man) would stay in an abusive relationship, and how better to understand these folks so they can be ministered to more effectively.
What I didn’t realize was that in writing this novel, I would take leaps and bounds in my own healing process. You see, in writing the character of Penny Taylor, a wife who feels trapped in an abusive marriage, I was in large part writing about myself, my mother, my sisters, and other women I’ve known over the years. I thought I had healed from my past and was ready to take on this subject with credibility, empathy, and candor. When I finished the first draft, however, something was still missing. It was then that I began to read a book on codependency, Codependent No More by Melody Beattie, not because I thought I was a codependent (I didn’t), but because I knew Penny was.
I always thought codependents were people who would supply alcohol to an alcoholic or drugs to a drug addict or people who were as meek as church mice and never stood up for themselves. So not me. It turns out that the definition is broader than that, though. According to Wikipedia, codependency “refers to the dependence on the needs of or control of another. It also often involves placing a lower priority on one’s own needs while being excessively preoccupied with the needs of others. Codependency can occur in any type of relationship, including family, work, friendship, and also romantic, peer, or community relationships. Codependency may also be characterized by denial, low self-esteem, excessive compliance, or control patterns.”
You can find a pretty exhaustive list of codependent traits on the CoDA (Codependents Anonymous) website, www.coda.org. There are a lot of traits I don’t have. I’m not passive-aggressive, for instance, or unable to empathize (I tend to overempathize!), but I have enough of the traits to know I once was one. Some days I still am. Recovery is a process, and I still fall back into old patterns from time to time.
But before reading about codependency, I considered myself to be a confident, strong woman who doesn’t take a lot of guff, so how could I be codependent? Well, I didn’t get more than a few chapters into that book before I realized that I was. Ouch! This was what was missing from my own healing process and from Penny’s. I also reread a book that has changed my life, Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. The more I read, the more the lightbulbs came on and I began to make changes in myself that I hadn’t known to make before then. I went back through Wings of Glass and worked with the hope for change because now I really believed change was possible. After all, I had changed.
I now am in recovery, and it’s my hope that those who read Wings of Glass will find the same path to healing that I’ve found and have been able to pass on to Penny—or at least that they will come to understand the mind-set of someone who suffers from codependency or abuse and be better able to minister to them.
Wings of Glass is a novel I’m very proud of because I think it has the power to change lives. It did, after all, change mine.
Thanks, Gina, for sharing your journey with us. If you’re interested in Gina’s writing, she can be found online . . .
At her website:
At her blog:
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As always, thanks for reading, and please leave your thoughts in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!