Battered and bruised from emotional turmoil, I had finally walked out of the fog of confusion to search the shelves for others who could possibly have shared my experiences and lived to tell the tale. But, unfortunately, I found nothing. There was not much guidance for children or teenagers who had suffered from emotional abuse. My only healing was through possibility. Through fantastical worlds I clung onto inklings of hope; a magical wardrobe, a faraway tree, a wizarding world, and a guidebook filled with secrets. Through stories, there was more to the world then it seemed – people who defeated their personal dragons and found themselves at the end of the journey. Reading that, was like finding a little bird on my shoulder. The one Dickenson had called ‘hope.' It said ‘you are not alone, even if you feel like you are. Keep holding on. There is a world you have not discovered yet. Freedom and opportunity will come when you least expect it.’
I waited for my Hogwarts letter and received it when I had the chance to leave my world behind and start a fresh at university. But it took a long time and a lot of healing. So again, I turned to books - pages chock blocked full with wisdom.
It is vital that there are books in this world that can offer that to children. Especially the seekers.
I'm in the middle of taking a year out of education (Creative Writing MA) to chase my dreams by writing a YA myth-inspired fantasy novel that I will be querying at the end of the year. Without books, I never would have had the strength to do so. I hope my stories and future writing projects reflect what I needed when I was younger, so that others do not have to scavenge the shelves and find absence. Through experience and fantasy, I believe this is the most powerful and connective way to do this – to breach the abyss of souls, heal, give hope, and start a kindling of courage. So one day they may start a fire within themselves, grasp the letter of opportunity, and start a new untainted adventure - full of possibility.
Stories are messengers, stepping stones, matches, gateways. Each book is a little feather cupped in the authors hand that they softly blow away like a message in a bottle, gently passing on their messages, insight, and guidance to others.
So, as Jungian psychologist, Clarissa Pinkola Estes says, ‘send out the message of our return to those who are like us.'
For who knows who may answer to the call and find that there is a pack of wolves, just like them, with an entire wood waiting for their bounding feet. Which in turn could spark a flame of courage to write their own story and pass it on.
By Jessica Shelley