I’m sometimes asked how I came up with the storyline of “Shades of Teale” and I’ve been flattered to hear people suggest I myself was a victim of domestic abuse. Fortunately, I am not Teale and have not been married to a man like David. I’ve been married twice with varying levels of success in the project and I’ve been fortunate to have some nice male friends as well who have confirmed my belief in the goodness of the male of the species.
But I am an avid reader and writer and I do twig to the stories each of us tell ourselves and others about our life, our world, our motivation and our struggles. In my model of the world, absolutely everything is a story. So it is with “Shades of Teale” and Teale Covey’s story of marriage, illusion, survival and triumph.
As a willing and sympathetic listener, I’ve absorbed the amazing experiences – some happy, some terribly sad – of people who struggled and strove for a better life despite a world that seemed stacked against them at every turn. There are many heroes among us and not surprisingly, some of them found their strength in leaving a miserable, at times dangerous, marriage to build themselves a new life. I don’t mean to romanticize the effort because I think there is more heartbreak involved than any outsider can ever imagine. But the courage I have seen and heard about in the stories of the women and men who have shared their stories with me has been inspiring and humbling. Many of the stories I have heard from the women I have met over the years have shown up in “Shades of Teale,” with pertinent details changed to preserve the anonymity of the person who shared them with me.
In developing Teale’s story I also did a lot of reading. I read everything I could get my hands on about the topic of domestic abuse and abuse in general. I learned as much as I could possibly learn about the dynamics of abuse, the mindset that allows a woman (or a man) to sink into that kind of walking-on-eggshells anxiety, fear and despair.
And then I wrote. The book might seem dark to some folks – in fact it is tough reading for many. But there are lighter aspects to the story and I’m told I’ve found the right balance between psychology and practicality. Not all people believe they are abused while they are in an abusive marriage. And I think that this is one of the things that makes the problem so tough to fix.
If you are someone – male or female – who believes the domestic situation you are in is unhealthy for you or even possibly dangerous, I urge you to reach out and find a bridge to a safer life. Ask your medical professional, call a women’s shelter, find a therapist or talk to a friend. I don’t believe life was meant to quench the joy we were born to experience. I believe life is supposed to be about embracing joy. Are you embracing your own joy right now?