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family - Kim Petersen

Is All Fair in Love And War?

Don’t let it steal your light.

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My mother was severely abused as a child. She is a twin. Her sister was born first. Then, it became apparent there was another baby — my mother.

It was during the late 1940’s, a time when determining a twin pregnancy wasn’t as easy as it is today. My grandmother already had two little ones to care for and was expecting to birth one more child and not two.

She instantly rejected my mother.

After her hospital stay, my grandmother returned home with the twins, and despite her husband’s protests, she gave her newborn baby away to their neighbors. She wanted nothing to do with the second-born twin.

My mother was fortunate that the neighbors were lovely people. The couple took her in and cared for her as if one of their own. With them, she found security and love. She was cuddled, touched and encouraged. Her needs were met in every way that a newborn baby requires in order to thrive and grow mentally and emotionally.

She remained with them for the first two years of her life. Then, at the insistence of my grandfather, she was eventually returned to live with her biological family. Her life would never again be the same.

She was the unwanted twin.

Love was replaced with hatred. Nurturing became neglect. Security was a fading memory in a two-year old’s world as her mother set about stripping her of worthiness and virtue.

She did this through unthinkable acts of brutality and torture. She did this through inhumane treatment and emotional abuse. Think David James Pelzer and his story, A Child Called It, and you’re on the right track.

I cannot imagine the state of internal crisis for a mother to treat her child with such cruelty. I can only assume that a soul must be so damaged and confused to have the ability to inflict such severe torment and suffering upon her own child.

My mum has often said how she wished her parents had left her with the neighbors. Those first two years of her life had somehow imprinted upon her soul and impressed in her memory. The fleeting time spent with that family proved to be vital in forming the fabric of her psyche and the breadth of her heart.

She never forgot what it felt like to be loved and nurtured.

I knew my grandmother before she died an early death, but my mother kept us away for the most part. She was a woman plagued with darkness. As you can imagine, she held little interest in me. Our relationship was nil to nothing and she had a way of scaring the bejesus out of me.

Every now and then, I look at old photos of the woman who abused my mother. Pictures of her with my grandfather when they were young. She had been a stunningly beautiful woman with soft, delicate features and lustrous dark hair.

The couple posed with grandeur — he in a classy black suit while her petite figure was wrapped in white fur. They appeared sound in the knowledge of the path ahead of them; a future filled with promising visions and love. She’s like a different woman in those pictures; a woman I never knew.

I realized that at one point in her life she had known happiness. She had known love.

So, what went wrong?

Life was vastly different back then. My grandfather enlisted to serve in World War II at the age of twenty. He was ranked Private and became a prisoner of war in one of the most notorious of Japanese war camps: Changi prison.

He spent years being tortured in that prison along with thousands of other Australian men, including war hero, Sir Ernest Edward “Weary” Dunlop, who was my grandfather’s friend.

James Saunderson was like a gentle giant. He was funny and charming — an ordinary Aussie kid ready to take on the world with his woman by his side, until years of war, torture, death and imprisonment stole his light.

He returned home but would never be the same. Those years haunted him. They were the same years that would snatch the light inside of my grandmother and prove the catalyst in my mother’s mistreatment.

When life squeezes us, what comes out is what’s on the inside.

It’s one of the great lessons of life.

Living through war might be a radical example to use when discussing relationships. My grandfather’s experience had devastating affects on his psyche that lasted throughout his lifetime. He spent years receiving psychiatric treatment — years suddenly erupting into violent bouts of rage.

The war took more than just my grandfather’s mental health. It claimed my grandmother’s quality of life, her dreams and her sense of humanity. The war collected both of their soul’s and darkened the lives of their children.

Did they have a choice?

We can never erase the past. We may never quite be able to take away the pain, but we can take measures to heal ourselves and work through the inner-demons to find the light again. In each moment, we have a choice.

When the pressure is on and out of you comes anything other than love, it is because that’s what you’ve allowed to be inside. To live a highly functioning life, you need to take away all those negative things you don’t want in your life and replace them with love.

My mother is proof of this.

She could have easily embraced the mindset offered by her violent upbringing. She could have chosen bitterness and hatred, and carried the abuse through the generations, but she didn’t.

Does the past still haunt her? It probably does sometimes. Yet, she has only ever spoken of her parents from the highest regard. Somehow, that little girl who was never shown the love she craved from her mother, grew up with the ability to accept the life she was handed and forgive her parents for every indiscretion.

She chooses to view them through the eyes of love and empathy — and this is a choice we all have regardless of how someone might upset or offend us, or whatever the situation confronting us.

All my mother had ever wanted was the love of her mother. Even on her death bed, my grandmother refused to convey the words she couldn’t give.

My mum has lived her entire life without hearing her own mother speak of her love for her, but every day I hope that I have enough inside of me to make up for the love denied her.

Although I’m not sure that that will ever be enough to fill the void left in a little girl by a mother who couldn’t find a way to snatch back her light and open her heart to love.


Also published by P.S. I Love You on Medium

Give and Take

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My mother has been catapulted into a new existence since my stepfather passed away in early 2018. She has had to learn how to stand on her own two feet for the first time in her life. She’s had to work out how to pump her own petrol, pay the bills and handle finances. She’s learned how to interact with industry people, negotiate deals and assert herself in the world. Mostly, she’s had no choice but to sift through the many layers of herself and discover who she is without her husband.

It’s in those small, quiet hours alone that you cannot hide from yourself. Those are the moments when the truth finds you. When you can no longer run from who you are. 

She’s not into being alone. I am. I can happily spend hours at a time without interacting with people. Introspection is my thing – almost to a fault. This might sound weird, but I love thinking, reflecting and delving into the deepest zones of my mind. I can easily become lost in a world of my own making; analyzing, day dreaming, over-thinking situations and playing futuristic conversations and scenes in my head.

Ah, cerebral heaven. Is it wrong that I would rather spend my time in this reflection mode than engage in meaningless, no-point conversations?

This is something else my mother has had to learn since she’s been on her own – me.

Okay, I admit that my preference to living in my own head might sound a little aloof or unfriendly, but it’s really not. It comes down to need and sanity. I need space – lots of space. It’s the way I process the world, my life and feelings. She doesn’t understand. If I’m denied this reflection time for extended periods, I tend to get irritable and edgy. Maybe even a little grouchy.

The same is true when it hits a certain time of the evening and I see one of my kids trouncing around the house. I could never understand how some folks allow their children to stay up till all hours – argh! Give me a break; I need “adult time”. You know, to get my reflection on and chill without looking at a chicken.

My mother likes to talk … a lot. To the point it drives me crazy. She likes to tell me about people – what they’re doing, where they’re going and snippets of conversations. Suffering, that’s what that is. I don’t want to know why so-and-so is going to Timbuktu and how the old buddy is getting the whatchamacallit. In the politest sense possible, I don’t give a fuck.

It gets worse. Well, from an introvert’s perspective. She wants to know stuff that I know too. About people. A few days ago, she asked me about a friend of mine that is planning to move farther north. He and his wife are considering an island life.

Mother took it upon herself to have a rant about this decision – farther north means cyclonic weather. Island life means …. erm …. the probability of encountering Bogans. I didn’t understand why she would bother wasting brain power on other people’s life choices; she really meant that shit. I was utterly baffled.

Then came the question:

“Which island?”

Which island? Was she serious? Does she not know me?

I responded with a shrug and the truth.

“I don’t know; my brain doesn’t retain that information, mum.”

“In other words, you don’t give a fuck?”

Ding, ding! Now we’re getting somewhere. She really said that by the way. Don’t tell her I told you though because she’s truly a lady and we all know that ladies don’t talk that way. Apart from the lady typing these words. And yes, I am a lady. Particularly when it suits. I might be elegantly corrupting her a smidge.

Elegantly. There’s a word. It just rolls off your tongue, does it not?

A little intel for the word nerds:

Elegant origins: Meaning “characterized by refined grace” is from 1520s. Latin elegans originally was a term of reproach, “dainty, fastidious”: the notion of “tastefully refined” emerged in classical Latin. Related: Elegantly.

2019 and the word “fuck” can be elegantly inserted in most annotations. Everybody is aware of the versatility this word holds. In fact, it’s one of the most resourceful words ever created. Its use can convey happiness, sadness, anger, disbelief, arousal, excitement and confusion among other things. But did you know there’s another multi-layered word used in Australia that is just as if not more adaptable?

Hint: It rhymes with runt.

There are all kinds of …. umm …. “runts” here – cheeky ones, sick ones, mad ones, good and bad ones. There are “runts” all over the place in this sun-blessed country. You can’t avoid them, but I try to steer clear of the crazy ones.

As much as Australians have taken this word beneath their laid-back “she’ll be right” wings, I avoid using it like the plague because I fucking hate it. My mother might say it’s not very elegant.   

I walk in the mornings when the sun rises. Sometimes, I run. Mumma-bear sleeps at my place at least one night a week and joins me for these dawn outings when she’s here. She won’t run though. I’m not sure if it’s because running is a bit much for her at her age or if it’s because when she tried it once, I laughed so hard that I almost fell over. I can’t even begin to describe the sight of her arms flapping around in her white sweater like a baby penguin chasing its mother.

Entertainment. Some might even say cheap thrills, but who’s listening and who actually gives a fuck? Apparently, and according to her, I run elegantly. Who knew that was even a thing?

Told you I was a lady.

Jokes aside, it’s not that I don’t care about people – even the crazy “runts” from time to time. On the contrary, I care very much about the people that matter to me. That doesn’t mean I concern myself with the nuts and bolts of their lives or judge their choices and motivations. I’m sure they know what they’re doing. Somewhat. Who really knows what they’re doing, anyhow?

Show me someone who has it all figured out and I’ll show you a pair of earbud cords that never become tangled. They don’t exist, at least not in my world. Have you ever cursed those damned cords? I do. Frequently. They always seem to knot in the most intricate way when you need to get them in your ear quick-smart. They’re the times when I might be inclined to use the word that rhymes with runt.

Psyche.

Maybe one day I will figure it all out. Till then, my mother is still learning that I’m nothing like her and that I don’t have the capacity to engage in a continuous stream of phatic conversation. And I’ll keep trying to pretend to be interested in Bob, Sue and Whathisname for just that little bit longer because in the end, relationships are about giving and taking, even when you don’t give an elegant fuck.  


Meet Tricia Barr

By day, Tricia is a full time mom to two beautiful toddler girls and a wife/business partner to a handsome hard-working husband. By night–and nap times–she writes unique and thrilling young adult fantasies inspired by her vivid, somewhat creepy dreams and her own adventures around the world.

The first book in her series, The Bound Ones is set to release in The Shadow Files Boxed Set, currently up for preorder for just 99 cents! Here Tricia talks about writing, publishing and being an author while meeting the demands of family life …

  1. When did you write your first book and what inspired you to write it?

I actually wrote my first book my first year of college. It was the original version of the vampire romance I just released, The Vampire Secret, but ultimately it sucked and needed several rewrites to make it the masterpiece it is now. The thing that inspired me honestly was that I missed high school. I pretty much was my main character in high school, and I wanted to indulge in a fantasy of what could have happened if I found out my favourite vampire series was real and I fell in love with the main vampire hero (which is the premise of that book). I’ll let you in on a little secret—my favourite vampire series is The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice and my favourite vampire of all time would have to be Lestat 😉

  1. How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

I actually published several books before deciding to publish this one. The first book I published, Ignite, was published through a small press, and I hated the whole experience. I mean, at first, it was a huge ego boost that someone believed in me and my book enough to take a chance on it and give it its chance in the world. But the cover was subpar, the formatting was god-awful, and when they switched distributors and got my name WRONG, that was the last straw. I pulled out of my contract and republished it myself, and it was by far the best decision I’ve made in publishing.

  1. Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Both. During the process, I always feel antsy and drained, but when I’m done for the day and I see my progress, there is no higher feeling of accomplishment!

  1. What is your writing Kryptonite?

If you mean something that hinders my writing, I have three: my two beautiful toddler girls, Tatum and Syrena, to whom I devote twelve hours of my day, and my work-a-holic husband, who believes I should spend every second of my free time to working around the house and the yard rather than writing (just so you know, my house is the cleanest house of any other toddler mom I know, and that’s all me lol). So I pretty much only get to write for an hour or so during nap time and after my kids go to sleep. But I love it, and I love my wonderful, chaotic little family.

  1. What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

The Butterfly Promotions Masterclass taught by Bobby Kim!!! I can’t stress it enough! Bobby Kim is the publishing world messiah, and I am a devoted disciple!

  1. What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?

I don’t think I’ve encountered a problem there, actually. I feel just as comfortable writing men as I do women.

  1. Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?

That depends on the genre they want to write in. If it’s non-fiction, then yes! But any kind of fiction has to come from a place of deep emotion, or readers won’t invest their own emotions.

  1. What are you working on now?

The sequel to my vampire romance, The Vampire Unleashed, which releases June 15.

 

  1. What is the first book that made you cry?

I don’t think it’s possible to remember that far back lol I’ve read probably a thousand books in my life, and not a clue which was the first.

  1. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

It would be the launch strategy I have now, and also not to waste my precious free time before I had kids on anything other than writing, because you never get that time back lol

Thanks, Tricia! 🙂

Stalk Tricia:

Website ~ Facebook

About the book: IGNITE

Four strangers. Four powerful elements. To survive a ruthless cult, they’ll have to work together… or die alone…

Phoenyx Blake has just woken up in captivity, but she’s not the only one. The mysterious dungeon holds three other teens who were just as surprised to be imprisoned as she was. Phoenyx and the others discover that they were abducted because their souls are eternally bound by the ancient elemental powers of Fire, Water, Earth, and Air. And their captors have no plans on letting them live through the next solar storm…

But as they consider their circumstances, Phoenyx discovers that her fiery abilities connect her in a timeless courtship dance with Sebastian, a fellow prisoner and a water elemental. Their souls have fallen in love generation after generation. And she can’t help but feel drawn to him in this lifetime as well…

To discover the truth behind their abilities, Phoenyx and the others must escape the dungeon before the cultists can begin a terrifying ritual sacrifice. If Phoenyx can’t master her powers and face up to a painful secret, then they’ll all pay with both their lives and their souls…

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Kidspot Article

Recently, an article I wrote about writing when you’re a mother to a large brood was published on Kidspot. So, how do you write a novel when you have 5 kids?

Learning to laugh when your four-year old-decides to empty a tube of glue on the cat to keep it from shedding hair all over the lounge room floor.”

See here for the full article: Kidspot and here to buy your copy of Millie’s Angel while is still on sale!

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Beautiful Encounter

Last night my grandmother visited my dreams. She has not walked this earth in over thirty years, and as a child I didn’t really know her too well nor spend much time in her company. What I do remember the most about her, was her love for witches and all things voodoo. She had one witch in particular that hung on her wall and when she pulled a little string, the witch would start cackling and spitting water – it scared the Bejesus out of me!

In recent years I have felt her presence with me at times. None so much as vividly as last nights’ guest appearance in my sleep though. She emerged looking vibrant and younger than when I had known her, and spoke to me in the gentlest tones of love while she chanted a song and talked of writing.

No longer was she the witch-loving odd grandmother that spiked a certain awkwardness in the heart of a young child, nor did she resemble any of her human personality. She took none of those traits with her when she departed from this earth. She just was; and she was wonderful.

I had never felt so at peace with her before this moment, and the experience was uplifting and profound. I was reluctant to see her go, and the encounter has stayed with me all throughout today.

I feel very grateful and blessed having experienced my grandmother the way I did last night, and it reminded me that we are so much more than our physical selves. Our true selves are eternal, perfect and beautiful in every way – and this is the very theme in my book, Millie’s Angel. A book about a girl who experiences her own encounters with a divine being. A book about a girl struggling to make sense from life and piece the puzzles together in search of the truth.

So, what is the truth?

The truth is, you are eternal; so embrace your perfection and live from your truth.

 

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My Grandparents

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Millie’s Angel at Amazon on sale! 99 cents for a limited time