In Honor of Domestic Abuse Month

When people ask me why I started writing, I lie. I tell them that I had an idea that wouldn’t let me go. And that’s true, as far as it goes. But it’s the reason it wouldn’t let me go that is the real story.

I’m not going to bore you with all the backstory but suffice it to say that my decisions ended me at nineteen, with a guy I’d known a total of ten days before I said, ‘I do,’ living in a log cabin in the Back of Beyond, Michigan.  We had one car, which he took to work each day. I wasn’t allowed to work; my job was in the home. The mailbox was a mile walk away, and town was ten. We didn’t have a phone.

There were other cabins within a mile of ours, but they were summer homes; there no neighbors in autumn. We had electricity, but no money for propane. No worries.  We cut wood to keep us warm for the coming winter. But no propane meant no gas for the stove, range, or washer and dryer. So I learned to cook everything in an electric Dutch oven.

Don’t get me wrong, it was beautiful. The cabin was beside a river, and it was autumn. I fished, and picked wild huckleberries for pies. Fires at night were warm, and romantic.

But then he started hitting me.

I thought it was my fault. After all, I knew almost nothing domestic. He even had to teach me to cook.  I made mistakes, I screwed up. I learned as fast as I could, trying to make him happy, and proud. It didn’t work. He still got mad. No, furious, and I’d end up with bruises. But he was so sorry afterward that I believed him, that it wouldn’t happen again. I believed it because he believed it.

But as time went on, and I got better at that life, he didn’t change. The home I grew up in was falling apart, and I didn’t want to admit I’d made a mistake, so I never told them. I had nothing to do all day but clean and think. Believe me; you could have eaten off any surface in that cabin. But my thoughts just cycled in an endless loop.

Most of the time, things were fine. I was even happy. The anger wasn’t always there. But the potential always was, hanging like static electricity in the air. I stayed alert, always. I lost weight.

The highlight of my week was going to town on the weekend, to do laundry, because I could go to the library. I was always a reader, and now it sustained me – taking me away in my mind. I could only take out seven books at a time, so I’d choose the heftiest tomes I could find, so I’d have lots to read during the week.

That’s how I came upon Ayn Rand. Atlas Shrugged gave me the answer that I had missed, in all those hours of thinking. It never occurred to me that I was the answer.  It was a beginning.

People who know me now can’t picture me in this past. That’s because that naïve powerless girl wasn’t me. The more years I live, the more I uncover who ‘me’ is.

I never forgot the power that book opened in me.

That’s the real reason I started writing. If something in one of my stories gives one person a glimmer of an answer they seek, I’ll have paid forward what Ayn Rand gave me, all those years ago.

11 Comments

  1. Eby on October 6, 2021 at 7:56 am

    I remember that Thanksgiving time when I saw you with two black eyes in the story unfolded of what you had overcome or were trying to overcome I’ll never forget that day I’m so happy that you are where you are in life now…you’re a survivor!

    • Laura Drake on October 6, 2021 at 10:49 am

      Thanks, Eby. I just learned.

      • LeAnn on October 6, 2021 at 9:13 pm

        Wow. So sorry your first husband abused you. I love Ayn Rand and Atlas Shrugged too. How fascinating.

  2. Julie Glover on October 7, 2021 at 10:00 am

    Finally got a chance to read this. I knew some of this story, but not all. Suffice it to say that some people close to me also experienced domestic abuse, and I admire them deeply for getting out.

    You’re a hero—having saved yourself. Well done!

    (And aren’t books the best?!)

    • Laura Drake on October 7, 2021 at 10:25 am

      Thanks, Julie – you know I agree on the books!

      • Linda on October 7, 2021 at 3:00 pm

        Thank you for writing this Laura. I know our past life helps determine who we are now. Sometimes, I forget that I am in charge of changing my life. ps. I so enjoy your books.

        • Laura Drake on October 8, 2021 at 3:49 am

          You made my day Linda. Thank you for reading.

  3. Darynda Jones on October 8, 2021 at 8:34 pm

    Wow. I never knew any of this. And I thought I couldn’t love and respect you more. I was wrong. You are amazing.

    • Laura Drake on October 9, 2021 at 5:44 am

      Love you, Ryndie

    • Jenny Hansen on October 10, 2021 at 2:57 pm

      Awwwwww! This is a lovely comment. And exactly how I felt the first time I heard this story.

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