The Truth

It has been three and a half months since last I wrote a blog post. Thank you, Pamela Lakits, for asking me where I’ve been and why I’ve not been blogging. Ever since I read your email, I’ve been thinking about all the reasons why I’ve not been actively writing.

Since I took the job of office manager at Park View Mennonite Church, I’ve been using my creativity in different ways. I am the editor of the church newsletter, From across the Fence. I also develop and publish the church bulletin every week, along with weekly churchwide emails. Protocols at the church continue to change and evolve to accommodate for the pandemic. This means what I do in a given week continues to change. Even though my job is part time, I often feel like my creative energy is spent when I get home at the end of my workday.

David and I took a trip to Vermont and Maine in August. We spent a week on the coast of Maine with our sons, Paul and Tim, and Tim’s girlfriend, Niina. We hadn’t been together as family since Christmas of 2019, so it was good to relax and recreate together. We so enjoyed Popham Beach. Who knew there were such lovely sandy beaches on the coast of Maine?

David and I vacationed at the Outer Banks (aka OBX) last week. By far the highlight of our week was going on a dolphin tour from Nags Head. When we sent videos to our sons, one of them responded with, “So you finally got to see your dolphins.” They know that I’ve longed to see dolphins in their natural habitat my whole life. It has taken 64 years, but those dolphins gave me great joy!

The day was mostly clear with fluffy clouds over the shore. The waters in the sound were calm, and the dolphins didn’t disappoint. We saw between 25 and 30 of them. They were as curious about us as we were about them. And playful — several swam belly up during their antics.

Below is a link to one of the videos I took.

Recently I’ve been finding energy for making rugs. In the last month, I’ve braided one rug for a friend, plus I crocheted three for our two bathrooms. Below is a photo of the braided rug.

I’ve been feeling stuck with my writing lately. The path to publication is not clear to me right now. In January, I ended the contract with Michigan State University Press by choice for Why I Left the Amish. Then this summer I discovered that Bonnet Strings was no longer in print, and the folks at Herald Press forgot to let me know that they’d taken the book off the market. That threw me for a loop. It was for financial reasons, which I understand, but it would have been so much better for me to know that before it was no longer available. We negotiated a way of moving forward. They put the ebook back on the market, and I have quite a number of print books I can sell. This means that Why I Left the Amish is only available through my website as a print book, and Bonnet Strings is only available through my website as a print book, and as an ebook through Amazon until the end of 2022.

All this leaves me in a place of unknowing around the publishing of my book. I am slowly letting go of the idea of finding an agent and a big publisher. This means I need to either self-publish or go with a smaller press. If I go with a smaller press, I’ll need to help promote my books, which is not easy in a pandemic market. So I’m thinking I may as well publish them myself. Yet I see myself as a writer and not a publisher.

So my work, vacations, braiding and crocheting rugs, spending time with David, getting together with friends, and feeling ambiguity around publishing my writing are all reasons why I’ve not made it back to the blog. But the truth is there are deeper, more unconscious reasons for my absence from this blog and from writing in general.

My perspective has shifted a lot in the last ten years since I published my first book, especially my view of Mem. I no longer think of her as the good parent — the savior parent even — as I used to. I now see her as one of the perpetrators of the abuse I endured as a child. That shift has earned me a very unpopular place in the family. None of my siblings will have anything to do with me. Four years ago two of my sisters let me know in no uncertain terms that they were done communicating with me because of this. I’ve been telling myself that this has nothing to do with feeling stuck in my writing. I most certainly did not want to say this out loud because I didn’t want to give them the satisfaction of knowing they hampered my writing process. But like so many other things in my life, I realize that hiding the truth in my unconscious holds so much more power than if I admit it to myself. This was the first step for me to be able to tell the truth of it out loud.

Pamela, since I received your email, I’ve been thinking about my writing, my blog, and telling my blog readers the truth. I realize that what means more to me than money is having folks read what I write. Putting all this together, I may have found a method for publishing my writing. I will post a piece of my writing each week here on my blog. These will be in sequence, as I have it written for my new book entitled If You Promise You Won’t Tell. I look forward to reading your questions and comments in return for providing my “serial memoir.” If you know of others who might enjoy reading my chapters, please send them a link to my blog.

I thank you, dear readers, for your loyal readership. I look forward to seeing you all more often. Please accept my apologies for my absences.

I’ll schedule these to go out every Sunday at noon, starting next Sunday, October 24.

Oh my.

I just realized that next Sunday is the 16th anniversary of Mem’s death. That’s powerful.

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22 thoughts on “The Truth”

  1. Since I no longer received your blog posts I thought you had discontinued it! I think now that it was a combination of my getting a new computer and your more infrequent posts. From now on I’ll make sure that I check. Your voice is an important one to me.

    I am one of those who lives alone and seldom (never?) goes out and about. A couple of walks around the block daily with my dachshund is the extent of my current travels. I just don’t want to be part of the equation; more than not wanting to catch the virus myself, I don’t want to be among those who give it to others. I have a friend of many years who picks up my groceries curbside after I have ordered them by email once a month. I am grateful for her love and for her caution. She sometimes wears a double mask and is religious about hand washing. Here in Alaska in these last months we are experiencing a surge of covid and we have no clear idea of when that will change. I don’t even have a clear idea of what a new’normal’ will look like.

    I find myself to be more cheerful this year than I was last and that is a blessing to me. Strangely enough I once wrote a ‘story (I like to write fiction) about a future in which there is very little direct contact between people- gatherings, etc, are virtual, where life size images are shown on entire walls and that kind of thing. Kind of like what we are experiencing now!
    Sheesh. I see that my solitude has a gushing effect on me! But welcome back, for sure. I’ll look forward to your next post.

    1. Elva, it is a great joy to see you here. Your voice is important to me as well, and I’ve been wondering how you are, way up there in Alaska. I’m sorry to hear about the Covid surge you are having there. I keep hearing from the medical professionals that Covid is here to stay. I went without a mask this summer for a short time. As soon as the Delta variant came along, I took up mask-wearing where I had left off.

      I agree, I’m also more worried more about passing it on to others (especially young people) than of getting it myself. The scary part is that we can be asymptomatic and still pass it on.

      My second fear is of getting Long Covid. I fear that more than death. That has had devastating effects on many, many people. So sad.

      Oh my. That story you wrote sounds too close for comfort. I might not want to read it just yet. Uncanny though. Wonder what gave you the idea for the story?

      I am more cheerful than last year also. Last winter was depressing. Not sure why it was more so than this year… we still don’t see an end in sight.

      Thank you again for your message. I’m glad to know how you’re doing.

  2. Oh, Saloma, I feel for you! Coming out as an abuse survivor and naming your abusers can really wreck family relationships. Some call it breaking silence. (Janis Ian has a song by that name – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=92jUf1aUogI) Silence was an important part of the whole thing. Breaking silence messed with my internal sense of safety. I can well understand how it is making writing difficult, particularly if you are trying to write about this family stuff.

    I look forward to reading what you’ll put here for us.

    Do you remember what kind of dolphins you saw? I’ve read a lot about dolphins, including ones that were studied in the wild. I’ve never seen them in the wild, just once in an aquarium show.

    1. Johanna, it is wonderful to hear from you. That is a powerful song. Thanks for the link.

      Interesting about your experience of breaking the silence. I agree with Maya Angelou when she wrote, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” My sense of safety comes from the freedom to tell my story — and have listeners or readers who can relate to my story.

      We saw bottle-nosed dolphins. According to our guide, this species lives as far north as Nova Scotia, and as far south as the southern tip of South America. Some of the ones that they usually see in the sound off Nags Head most of the year will travel north and return with lesions on their dorsal fins. In winter they will follow the fish along the coast of South America. Apparently they get to know their dolphins in the sound down there.

      I hope you get to see dolphins sometime. It is a thrill!

      1. Oh, I didn’t mean to say in any way that breaking silence shouldn’t be done. I see it as essential to healing. I was just noting that it isn’t a totally joyful experience and has repercussions in the family and in oneself that can be difficult.

        I know of a long-range study around Sarasota FL that is able to track individual bottle-nose dolphins for years. Here’s another story of studying dolphins in the wild: Dolphin diaries : my 25 years with spotted dolphins in the Bahamas / Denise L. Herzing.

        1. I understand. It absolutely is devestating to family relationships. In some families, there is at least more than one person willing to face the pain of their trauma, so they aren’t completely alone in it. Others face it alone.

          Thank you for the link for the study of the dolphins. I look forward to checking it out.

  3. I have missed reading your blog also and seeing you at Aldi’s. I am glad you and David are doing well and still living in Harrisonburg. Look forward to reading your blog again.

    Kristin

  4. The braided rug is lovely. During my childhood my mother taught me to braid rugs and I have the only one I eventually finished. I don’t know why I didn’t make more, because I remember finding the movement of hands as relaxing, even soothing. Most likely I had simply moved on to other interests, as young people sometimes do.

    I am now reading “Bonnet Strings,” after a daughter read and returned it to me. She enjoyed it, by the way – liked your “simple and straightforward” writing style.

    I read with interest – and empathy – your struggles regarding publishing your next book and look forward to hearing what you ultimately decide to do. (I mentioned in a previous email that I am completing and will soon publish my seventh novel.)

    My husband and I just returned from a Danube River cruise – our first since the pandemic reared its head. Pandemic restrictions not excluded, we enjoyed exploring that part of Europe. (I might add that I grew up overseas, the daughter of ex-pat workers, then joined the military and saw other parts unknown, until my husband retired and we returned to Texas to raise two daughters and work as teachers – not a bad life, in other words. I’ve been privileged.)

    All the best to you. I do enjoy reading your blog and am glad to have stumbled onto it.

    1. Celia, thank you for your comments. I am curious whether you will someday get back to rug braiding. I didn’t do it for decades, and then one day I decided to make one for a house we were moving into and things went from there…

      So glad you and your daughter are enjoying the books. I look forward to reading yours as well. Congratulations on your success… wow your seventh!

      What fun–a cruise on the Danube! Taking a cruise on the Rhine is a dream of mine. I hope I get to do that before I leave this earth.

      Thank you for your encouragement. I look forward to seeing you again.

  5. That rug is so beautiful! I look forward to reading what you share with us next. The world is so different now since the Pandemic started. Take care, be blessed and know that we are waiting here when you are ready to share again.

  6. Saloma, Welcome back!!!!!! I was so excited when I realized you had popped up on my e-mail. I’m looking forward to this being a regular thing.
    Since I own several of your braided rugs you my dear have been part of my daily life, but I have been missing your written word. Thank you for being so open with us about your struggles. We your loyal readers, are all here for you and support you. Thank you for the video, how fun those dolphins are to watch! Im so glad you and David were able to have some time away and time with the boys, its so important.
    I for one am looking forward to reading pieces of your book. Again, welcome back, you have been missed more than you know.

    1. Pamela, thank you. I can credit you for getting me back on track for writing. Your caring shows, and I am grateful.

      The rugs I made for you are crocheted. I cannot tell you how much it meant to me to see them in your home. I hope you get to visit us sometime, and you’ll get to see the braided rugs I have in my home.

      Thank you for being such a loyal reader and friend, Pamela. I look forward to seeing you here regularly.

  7. Denise Ann Shea

    {{Saloma}} Welcome back. We are indeed in a “new normal”. Navigating that new way of pandemic living is challenging and a learned experience that will take getting used to. I’m sorry to hear about your experience with publishers. I know a local poet who self-published a book of poems and it does take time and self promotion. Not easy with so many other demands. I’m glad you had a nice trip away in Maine and the Outer Banks. New England is a beautiful place with much to see and experience. I am getting spoiled with the warmer than usual fall weather that has stretched through October.

    I am looking forward to reading your latest writings. Take care of yourself and take things one day at a time.

    1. Thank you, Denise. I so appreciate the outpouring of support from readers. And it is good to connect with familiar and new voices here.

      I’m leaning towards self-publishing, but I could be talked out of that notion with one good lead to a publisher.

      Thank you for your support, Denise. I am so grateful.

  8. Saloma,
    I just finished both of your books (Why I Left the Amish & Bonnet Strings). They were available in our local library and I may have read them before. Both my husband and myself have Amish ancestry and I can trace our ancestors back to their immigrant times, however, I am not sure when the families left the Amish and became Mennonites. I suspect as the families moved westward into Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, and even Alberta, Canada, they moved into areas that did not have Amish groups and became associated with the most similiar group which was Mennonite or sometime other Christian faiths. So, I did not grow up Amish, though we lived in a rural area that did not have electricity or phone service available until after I started school. Until the year before I graduated high school, we had only an outhoouse for a bathroom and no running water, so I often felt soome of our life style was mostly Amish. This was not due to church teachings, only due to where we lived on rental property.

    Nevertheless, I felt I could relate somehow to your Amish life style. I do, however, feel that what you endured in your home with the ‘approval’ (or at least the failure to address its happening) of physical and sexual abuse was unusual among most Amish groups. I also realize the Amish in differnt areas of the country have a lot of different man-made rules and regulations.

    I do admire you for your ability to escape the environment you grew up in and am glad you were able to join other Christians in satisfying fellowships. I do appreciate the simplicity of the Amish life style and am quite concerned about the things promoted and happening in the world today and believe prophesy is being fulfilled and that even many churches today do not teach what Jesus taught. Enough said! Thank you for sharing the difficulties you faced and how you were eventually able to escape! Blessings on you and David.

    1. Welcome, Elnor! It’s good to see you here. I’m glad you could relate to my story in so many ways. I often felt when I was young that the only people who could relate to the lifestyle I grew up with were a generation or two older than me. Many of those folks have left this world by now. It is interesting to know that there are still those out there who can relate to this rural lifelstyle. I’ve been so grateful to leave behind the outhouse of my childhood. Sometimes there really is such a thing as progress, don’t you think?

      Yes, I am fortunate to be able to be in community with other Anabaptists without the strict rules of the Amish church. I am grateful for that.

      Thank you for your blessings. We wish the same for you and your family.

  9. Hello Saloma, I just discovered your blog and your existence too ! I’m a french woman born in 1950 ( December ), and a grand-mother of 5.
    It was while searching for information on the Flemish horse, than I became interested in the Amish and discovered your story.
    I don’t know your language very well, but I’ll try to read your book, if I can find it in France.
    I hope you and your family are doing very well and that you won’t be upsed by my message.
    Sincerely
    Lily

    1. Lily, welcome. I meant to reply much sooner, and somehow I missed doing so. No, I’m not at all upset, I’m glad you commented.

      I hope you find my books in France, and I look forward to seeing you here again sometime. From now on, your comments will show up instantly. I approve them from someone new, and then they come through automatically.

      I hope to see you again soon.

  10. Hi Saloma. Glad to see that you are doing well. I used to visit your blog quite a lot, but I guess my routine changed. Funny how that happens sometimes, when you don’t even realize it!

    When I was a kid, we used to vacation in the Outer Banks with my dad. The dolphin would come so close to the shore. I was delighted by that–I’d never seen a dolphin so close. And they were so active and playful. I saw them leap from the water on the regular, in pairs, solo, sometimes shooting straight up and spinning around–incredible. When I swam under water, I could hear their squeals and clicks.

    This was 30 years ago, in Corolla. I don’t know how much things have changed, but judging from your video the dolphin still seem pretty active! The dolphin I’ve seen in other places seem so sedate in comparison. Maybe the dolphin off of the Outer Banks are happier than other dolphin?

    1. Stacy, good to have you back. I remember getting comments from you before.

      Yes, the dolphins in the Outer Banks were quite active the day were were there, and the guide said it was typical for them to see them daily. They were getting to know each of them, and seemed to know when a group “came from the North” who they didn’t typcially see.

      You are so fortunate to have seen the dolphins up close. I would have LOVED that as a child!

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