#ReadersFavoriteMiami2018, Uncategorized

Seven Similarities Between My Trip to Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards and My Memoir, The Monster That Ate My Mommy

1. Never Being Good Enough

Receiving Honorable Mention for The Monster That Ate My Mommy, left me feeling like I wasn’t able to meet the mark. At first, I felt that the award was proof that my book wasn’t good enough, that this was a pity award. Maybe they give everyone who enters an award. Was it really even an award?

After talking with others, I was able to see it was an honor, for my first book, to receive this award. I was not ungrateful for receiving the award, it was more that I was unable to accept the praise, much like many other times in my life.

This helped me see there may have been other times in my life that the opportunity to shine has been there, and I quickly pushed it away. I didn’t feel worthy enough to accept the praise. I did not allow others to share in these moments with me. Pushing people away in these moments allowed me to never feel good enough. Winning this award helped me accept the praise. Like many times in my life, I decided against comfort, and pushed myself outside of my comfort zone, and decided to go to Miami to receive the award.

2. Alone in the World

From the moment I decided to go to the Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards in Miami, Florida, I had a gut feeling it was going to be challenging. When I tried to find someone to go with me, I was reminded just how small my circle is. I thought of the people I would want to share this experience with, and knew most would not be able to go. Much like other events in my life, this was going to be an one I would have to celebrate alone. This realization made me feel alone in the world. When the dark cloud this cast over me was lifted, I was able to see I was mistaken. I do have people who wanted to go with me, but they were unable to for various reasons. I may not have a large group of people to turn to, but the people I do have, are genuine. This is another time in life where quality is more important than quantity.

3. Nothing Ever Goes Right

The week leading up to my trip to Miami, the forecast was clear. There was no snow or rain in sight. I felt confident if I remained positive, everything would work out. I would make it to my destination safe, and on time. An uneasy feeling sat in my gut. I tried to push it out, and replace it with positivity, but it wouldn’t budge. I was not sure what was going to happen, but I felt as though, something was. I wrapped all the Christmas gifts I had already purchased, with the morbid thought that at least the kids would have gifts from me…if I was to…not make it. The more that thought crept in, the more I tried to talk myself out of it. Nothing was going to happen.

The days leading up to my flight brought snow into the forecast. Not just a little snow, but a nor’easter. Maybe this was a sign that I shouldn’t go. I still, was unwilling to give up. I had made up my mind that I was going to make it, there was no other option at that point.

I tried very hard to keep my thoughts positive as I woke up on Friday morning to see the plane was on time. Sitting in my seat, the uneasy feeling remained. I knew it was too soon to think everything was going to work out as planned. As we sat on the tarmac for an hour, my forty-five minute layover continued to evaporate. Still, I held on to positivity. I knew I would get to my destination, I just knew it would not go as planned.

When I missed my connecting flight, I felt defeated. As I looked around, I noticed there were many others who had missed their flight as well. As with learning I was not alone in living with trauma, I saw that I was not alone in this. I was alive, and well. Stressed beyond belief, but I was well enough to run to the needed gates, and be on this adventure in the first place. My creativity and quick thinking got me to where I needed to be. I may have taken the long way, but isn’t that the most memorable anyway?

4. Never Give Up

A theme from my memoir is never giving up. When things get bad, some part of me always believes they will get better. Stress, chaos, inconveniences, pain—the list goes on, all manifest with your reaction. I take time to feel the angst. I let the darkness swallow me for a while. I let the ground crumble beneath my feet. But, I always manage to find strength to keep on going. From simple things, to horrendous acts of abuse, I keep looking for the light. This situation was just one more to add to the list of things that kept me fighting. Giving up has never been an option.

5. Finding One Person

Another theme from The Monster That Ate My Mommy is the importance of having one person. I was fortunate enough to be greeted by another author when I arrived. She was gracious enough to let me sit with her during the presentations, and then we kept running in to each other. She was always welcoming. Talking with her felt like we had known each
other for years.

Before meeting her, I felt very isolated, and alone at the event. Since I had arrived late, I didn’t have the chance that others had to mingle and get to know others. As I walked into the room full of other authors, and their guests, I felt so out of place. Until Naomi. With her friendship, I no longer had to pretend to fit in, or feel like I didn’t belong. She helped make the event comfortable and enjoyable.

6. Influenced By Fear

After the weekend I had, I was more than ready to go home. After the awards ceremony, I went back to my room to pack, so I would be ready first thing in the morning to leave. When I was finished, and finally settled down enough to get some sleep, I heard a noise. A scurrying sound came from my bed. When I looked over, I saw a black lizard running down the wall…right next to my bed. It was 11:16pm. I knew the last shuttle to the airport was at midnight. I changed as quickly as I could, threw the last of my belongings into my suitcase, and hurried to the lobby. By 11:42, I was at the airport.

My plan was to go through security, where I figured I would be safe, and try to get some sleep. As I entered the airport, the desks were all empty. There were no lines, and all the security check points were closed. I found a security guard to ask him how I could get checked in, he told me they opened back up at 4:00am. That was more than four hours away. My heart sank as I looked around. There was no way I would be sleeping in the lobby of the airport.

My anxiety increased as I walked around the airport. There were people sleeping in chairs, and on the floor. I found a place to charge my phone next to a man charging his. As I plugged in my phone, I immediately felt uncomfortable, and unsafe. I was not sure if I was tired, or if I had a reason to feel unsettled. After a few minutes of the feeling not passing, I got up and walked down the hall. I passed more people, and more seats, until I found a place that felt safe. The more people present, the better I felt.

As the hours passed slowly by, I regretted my decision to leave the hotel so quickly. I had not taken the time to think things through. A small, harmless lizard had chased me away, into a potentially dangerous situation. As with my life, there were many times I acted before thinking, and was left in harm’s way. I ran from one fear, only to encounter many more. My impulsivity has served me well in many situations, but it also sent me in directions I should not have gone in. Some times in life, there should not be hesitation…just action. While other times require thought and planning.

To jump…or not to jump? I never know, until I land.

7. The Rising Phoenix

A review I recently received said, I struck her as a Phoenix.  Despite the horrific physical, emotional, and sexual abuse I survived as a child, with each negative I still rose again, like the fabled bird determined to rise above the circumstances. These words helped me see, that no matter what, I always persist. I am not able to give up, and find strength when I need it most. This is because I believe. I still struggle with believing in myself, and that is why it was so hard to see the magnitude behind the award. I earned it. With every bruise, and tear. With every loss and love. With every single thing that happened, and every word I wrote, erased, and wrote again, I earned the recognition. The hope I hold is what keeps me going. A Phoenix
rising from the ashes is the perfect symbol for my life, because I will not let anything keep me from reaching my dreams. Not even my own self doubt.

Depression, Hope, poetry, Uncategorized

Falling Down

Sometimes I fall down, inside of myself.

Unable to get up, or out of the way.

I don’t know what I will trip on,

or what will cause the fall.

But I know I will land, in a hard, loud thump.

My body rejects any efforts of comfort,

and pushes away love and concern.

I am not sure what makes the light fade away,

and allows the darkness to creep in.

I know the pain of trying all too well.

The empty spaces growing,

while the numbness tingles places unknown.

Staying down, too long is not an option.

Pushing my way through the darkness, 

helps me live again.

Each fall is followed by my rise,

through the darkness, into the light.

With each fall,

I know one thing,

Nothing remains the same.


The Untold Story

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” ―Maya Angelou


I lived most of my life, carrying a story that I wanted so desperately to share. The secrets held me hostage, not allowing me to get too close to anyone. What if they find out? The tricky part was, I wanted them to know. I wanted more than anything to let them in.

I was trained as a child to keep quiet. I took that advice to the most literal sense of the word. I became what was described as painfully shy. It was true, it was painful. I had a lot to say, and no where to say it. No one to listen, or worse, people who may listen, but who would be able to twist the facts to fit what was best for them.

I knew at an early age I wanted to write my memoir. I wasn’t sure why this desire was inside of me, only that I had to release it at some point. When the time was right. When the secrets that I held onto could be set free into the world.

As I began, I released the tight grip I had on the secrets, only to encounter a road block. A few thousand words in, and I could not continue. The heavy weight of fear, and disappointment held me down. I knew I could not continue. I could not share my story, if sharing it meant I was going to hurt someone. It did not matter that the one I did not want to hurt was the one to hurt me the most. The words were barricaded, back, deep within myself. 

As the newly released words lingered in my mind, I could not stop the memories from flooding me. There was so much that I had forgotten. There were events that I had never spoken of, and things I never wanted to. The power behind this story, that I could not dispose of, took on a life of its own. 

It opened up doors, I never would have knocked on. It showed me people through different eyes. It beat against my chest until I just couldn’t hold it back any longer. The pain had to be eased. The only way, was to let it go.

And then it poured out. Every. Last. Word. And, then it hurt some more. As the pain evolved from holding onto words I could not let go of to words I could not take back, it began to hurt less. The shame and fear lingered, still, but there was no place to hide. Open for all to see, my insides were now outside. 

Each day brought relief. The agony slipped into contentment as the burden was lifted. 

Tell your story.

Let the pain escape. 


To Go, Or Not To Go?

On September 1, 2018, I learned that my memoir, The Monster That Ate My Mommy, had received Honorable Mention from Reader’s Favorite International Book Awards. To be completely honest, my first reaction was not excitement. Initially, I felt like a failure. My book wasn’t good enough to receive a medal…I should have tried harder…my book wasn’t good…it was a pity award…the list of self-hating thoughts went on and on.

When I started telling people about it, they explained to me how exciting it really was. There is still that part in me that cannot see what everyone else can. Honorable Mention in an international book awards contest was a big deal. An award for my first book…this was something to feel proud of.

When I allowed this new train of thought to take place of the old, I started thinking about the award ceremony. It was going to be held in Miami, Florida, just five days before Thanksgiving. I would need a flight, and a hotel. The dollar signs began to pile up, and intimidated me. Was it really going to be worth the expense? Should I spend this much money just to attend?

Everything inside of me was doing its best to talk me out of going. It’s selfish. It’s a waste of money. The more I looked online about past award ceremonies, I knew I needed to go. My memoir was a lifelong dream. I waited my whole life, working hard each and everyday to survive, to be able to write my story. Going to the award ceremony was something I needed to do. I bared my soul to the world, just to try to help others understand what growing up in a toxic, abusive environment was like. I held nothing back, and exposed the darkest corners of my past. This was for me; and every other person who never feels worthy enough.

I searched for flights day and night, looking for the best deal. And there was the deal I had waited for. One hundred dollars less than any other flight I had seen. I bought the tickets, and booked my hotel room. I never saw the flight that price again. That told me I had to go. It was the sign I needed to know I was doing the right thing.

As the time got closer to the event, my nerves started taking over. What was I thinking? I shouldn’t have purchased the tickets. I didn’t want to go after all, but the tickets were non refundable. I had to go, or lose the money. There was no way out. I was going to Miami.

I watched the weather the weeks before the trip. No snow in sight. It looked like an uneventful forecast. It was mid-November in New Hampshire, but still nothing to worry about. Until three days before I was scheduled to fly out. A Nor’easter was on the way. Really?!? Out of nowhere, a snowstorm crept into the forecast. I started to think maybe, this was a sign too. Maybe I really shouldn’t go after all. But the non refundable tickets…I had to go.

I booked a hotel room just three miles from the airport I was to fly out of so I wouldn’t have to travel through the snowstorm early in the morning. The night before I was to go to the hotel, the news was reporting the snowfall had decreased, and should be nothing to worry about. Relief.

The next morning, it was back to a winter storm warning. Six to twelve inches of snow expected to fall in a short amount of time. The airport was delaying flights, even canceling some. My anxiety skyrocketed. I couldn’t let fear keep me away now. I kept thinking positive thoughts, trying hard not to bring the negativity into the equation. I envisioned myself at the award ceremony, felt the warmth of the Miami sun on my skin. I knew I was going to make it.

The morning of my flight I expected to see that it was delayed…it was not. On time. I held onto positivity that it would not change. Once on the first plane, we sat for an hour as they de-iced the plane. My connecting flight only had a forty-five minute layover. Even though we were getting a late start, I was confident I would make it.

When we landed, there was five minutes to make the connecting flight. It was clear across the large airport, down hallways…I would guess it was at least a half a mile to get there. There were about fifteen of us that had to make that plane, and we were told they would hold it for us if we ran. I gathered my belongings and walked as fast as I could.

Five gates away, they announced on the loud speaker that the plane to Miami was closed. I figured they would still hold it for us, and walked even faster to get to the gate. Once there, completely out of breath, I was told I would not be able to get on the flight. None of us were allowed on. They had given our seats away. When I asked what I should do, I was told to report to special services…about ten gates back down the hall.

Panic took over as I calculated the math. There were fifteen of us who needed that connecting flight. I had to try to beat them back to have any chance of reaching Miami in time for the events to begin. When I arrived at special services, there was already a line of five people, some had multiple people in their party. I had to make it.

When I reached the desk, I was told they could get me there on Sunday. The ceremony took place on Saturday. I was due home on Sunday. I began to shake and cry, and a piece of my father came out of my mouth.

“I have to make it to a funeral tonight.”

I wasn’t proud of my lie…but I was desperate.

The woman in front of me softened. “What time is the funeral honey?”


She clicked away at her computer, and put me on a flight to West Palm Beach, Florida. It was 65 miles away from the hotel. She let me call to see if they would send a shuttle…they would not, but told me there was a train right at the airport that would take me to the Miami airport, where I could take the shuttle. I agreed to the arrangements.

Guilt crept up as I thought about my lie. I don’t like being dishonest, and tried to find a way to justify the story I had made up. The airline had been dishonest with us, and sold our seats out from under us. They held us on the tarmac for an extra ten minutes to make sure we would not reach the plane in time, and then they were rude to us. The woman I told my story to was rude, until she heard about the”funeral.”

In the literal sense, there would be a death if I did not make it. The death of my dream. The death of my hope.

Once at West Palm Beach, I soon learned the train was not in fact at the airport. The anxiety began to rise again. I was pointed to a bus stop, where I would be taken to the train station. Nothing felt good about this, but I could not give up now. I sat on the bench and waited for the bus to come.

I was dropped off in front of an old, pink building. The door to get in was not close, and it was unclear where to enter. When I found a door, I asked to purchase a ticket. “For the bus or the train?” I had found my way to the bus station…the train station was in the building across the tracks that could only be reached by going up the stairs in a sketchy building, or take the elevator with strange men, one of which appeared to be suffering from mental illness. The other man was a pilot, who was extremely unpleasant. I stood next to him, to make the appearance that we were traveling together while we were in the elevator. We were the only two white people there, so it was not that hard to pull off.

Once out of the elevator, and then tunnels, and down another elevator I found someone to point me in the direction to purchase a ticket. The tickets were sold in a vending machine type thing, and it was almost impossible to figure out what I was doing. Luckily, someone who worked there walked by at just the right time. She helped me purchase the ticket, and then told me where to stand to wait for the train.

When the train arrived, I found two open seats and took both to keep my bags close to me. There was even a place to charge my cell phone for the two hour trip. West Palm Beach was the first stop on the route, and Miami airport was the last. Two long hours of watching the clock, my arrival time was getting later and later. Initially I had expected to arrive in Miami at 2:00PM, and now I would most likely not arrive until 8:00PM. The nights events started at 7:00PM. I was so disappointed, but knew could not give up. I was going to make it to the event.

Once at Miami airport, there were still shuttles and long hallways to navigate through to get to the hotel shuttle. The long hallways of the airport were empty, only a few people here or there in too much of a hurry to point me in the right direction. I read the signs, but was not sure what I was looking for. Then, at the intersection of a hall, an employee of the airline that had created this mess in the first place arrived. He was going right where I needed to go, and told me what I needed to do to find my shuttle.

I waved down the driver, and arrived at the hotel in the middle of the meet and greet with other authors. I had a few minutes to spare before the presentation was to begin. I found my room, got changed and headed to the event. I had made it.

To be continued….

Grief and Loss, Hope, Love, mental illness, Uncategorized

Happy Birthday, Dad


It has been so long since my dad died, that I do not remember ever celebrating his birthday. I do not remember sitting around the table eating a birthday meal, watching him open his gifts, or blowing out his candles. I do not remember much of anything about him.

I do not remember his smell, or his voice. I do not remember his touch –from love or abuse. I do not remember so many pieces of him.

I have one photo of him that was damaged in the house fire. I have nothing else left of him, or his. In his thirty-seven years, there is barely anything left behind to prove his existence.

Except for me, and now my children, who are his grandchildren.

The memories I do have of the short time I was able to spend with him are haunted by abuse, and regret. I witnessed him hurt my mom, and brother, and experienced his abuse first hand. I also have memories of his kindness and love toward others in need.

I remember how intelligent he was, and how he could always come out ahead. He had survival skills like no one I have ever seen before –I like to think that is where I learned to survive through the extremes of abuse I experienced. He was a pro at getting something for nothing.

He was someone you did not mess with, but also someone you went to for help. He had a kind heart, and a lot of love to give. What I remember most is how much he wanted to be loved, and accepted.

He had Paranoid Schizophrenia, and for the longest time I was confused as to who he was. I confused his illness with him, which led to fear. When I was able to separate the two, I was able to see him for who he was. I was able to see all the good he had to offer, and I was able to understand the why behind the bad.

I wish I had more time to get to know my dad. I wish that his life could have been easier for him, and I wish he could have found the true love he had been searching for. I know there was a reason he was my dad, and I am grateful for the lessons I was able to learn from him.

Loving him taught me that people are more than a diagnosis. There are reasons behind many of the things people do. He taught me tolerance, strength and perseverance.

In his memory, I ask that you find someone in need of some extra love, and love them. Talk to them. Learn from them. Give people the gift of your time.

Happy Birthday, Dad.


Domestic Violence, healing, Hope, Uncategorized

The Well Read New Englander: The Monster That Ate My Mommy By Jessica Aiken-Hall

Source: The Well Read New Englander: The Monster That Ate My Mommy By Jessica Aiken-Hall 

Monster Ate Mommy_Front Cover_090217


Review by Carla Charter

What I first noticed about this book was the main character, Jessica.  She struck me as a Phoenix. Despite the horrific physical, emotional, and sexual abuse she survived as a child, with each negative she still rose again, like the fabled bird determined to rise above her circumstances.

An important theme of the book which is highlighted again and again is the importance of having an anchor. A family member, a grandmother, a friend, who will stand up and say no more. Even if the abuse continues despite the pleas and the lies of survival, these anchors provided a respite of sanity, when the childhood world around was nothing but chaos for her.

The repercussions of Jessica’s childhood abuse can be seen clearly as she grows, feeling unloved and unwelcome, she enters her adult world looking for the love she never received, through whomever will give it. Thus her abusive childhood ripples and transforms into abusive relationships and eventually even affects her children.

Still despite it all, despite her mother’s drinking and depression, despite her horrific life of abuse and neglect she still finds her way to peace and a resolution with her mother and thus becoming a shining beacon to survival.   Her life while fractured by others, in the end Jessica herself builds into a beautiful mosaic of hope for the future.

The book is a must read for those looking to understand the complexities of abuse and the long-term effects abuse can have.

For anyone who may leaving or reporting abuse, the following agencies may be able to help

Domestic Violence Hotline


Child Abuse Hotline


National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

1-800-950-NAMI (6264)

Grief and Loss, Halloween, Love, Uncategorized

All Hallow’s Eve



I have always felt connected to Halloween, but never really cared for dressing up. I felt connected to the Earth, to the Wind, to the Water, and to Fire more than any other time of the year. A spiritual kind

of thing.

As a child, I thought my love of Halloween was just for the candy, and never thought more of it. As I grew older, I realized there was much more to the day and night than that. For me, who has lost so many people I love, it is a day to remember them. It is a day to feel connected to them. It is a day to honor them.

As the air becomes crisp, memories start to fill my senses. A song, a smell, sometimes a touch will bring back a loved one, if only for a split second. Every year I look forward to this, and embrace the unity that is created between here and there.

From goosebumps, to dreams, to quick glances in the dark I appropriate their presence.

With much love, I honor all those who have passed before me.


Honoring Albert, my dad, my grandmother, my uncle, Chris, my gram, my mom, friends, pets, and all of the people I have had the privileged of working with as they came to the end of their lives. Each one taught me something. Each one left an impression on my life. Each one has helped make me who I am today. Thank you for each and every piece you leave behind.