When I received a breast cancer diagnosis at age 60, I realized that if I didn’t survive it, a tarry brush my estranged birth family had slathered all over me would remain in place forever. Suddenly my tarnished legacy felt important to address so my nieces and nephews, who grew up hearing about what a kook their aunt was, would just carry on thinking that. And most importantly, I felt the urgent need to correct the record with my estranged daughter, who has remained poisoned against me for years.
Luckily I did survive, and in more ways than I even understood before writing it all down. During my year of chemo I wrote my novel, Tree of Lives, through the eyes of an artist named Ruth. Stymied at every turn by controlling men who seek to maintain power over her, Ruth’s path through life is strewn with boulders, many of which she unconsciously put there herself.
The book is illustrated with my artwork that spanned my lifetime, from informal sketches to recent work. Some are from when I was a newspaper illustrator in the ’80s. Later I went on to become an art director for several magazines, and eventually published my own online travel magazine. Luckily my career was fun and interesting, but my personal life was always in turmoil until I finally met the right person whose values matched my own. But that took a very long time.
The guiding light of Tree of Lives is that while we are so often our own worst enemy, we can also be our own best friend. I call it my Higher Self. I believe we each hold the power to access our Higher Self to design a better life for ourselves, though it is not always easy as Ruth’s rocky path will show you.
Tree of Lives has helped many other adult victims of childhood abuse and hidden trauma empower and heal themselves.