Today I’m delighted to feature fellow memoir writer and friend, Lynette Davis here with her debut book, her memoir, Even Rain is Just Water – A Memoir of redemption, rejection and revelation. I endorsed Lynette’s book and I can tell you that it is a heart-wrenching read. Lynette’s story about growing up with an emotionally abusive mother and her unfaltering will to survive will grip a reader from start to finish with her beautifully told story of emotional abuse. It will have the reader waiting, waiting to learn when the author has had enough, showing her strength and endurance and applauding her for remaining sane and using her pain to better herself in life instead of becoming just another statistic of abuse.
Lynette runs 2 blogs – The Broken Vessel where she shares stories and articles about people with experiences living with a narcissist and other emotionally traumatic stories and Memoir Notes where you will find articles about writing, self publishing and more.
Lynette Davis is an educator, author and survivor. Her memoir Even Rain Is Just Water draws attention to narcissism’s mounting prevalence, as she joins the growing number of people speaking out about the ill effects of such relationships. One of the hallmarks of narcissism is lack of empathy which occasions emotional abuse.
Davis received her B.A. in English from California Baptist University and has facilitated writing workshops in the Inland Empire, California. She also studied Rhetoric and Composition for two years at California State University San Bernardino. In addition, her short narrative, “The Fatal Blow,” is featured in the anthology I am Subject: Women Awakening: Discovering Our Personal Truths Fall 2014, a collection of stories featuring women re-claiming their lives in life-altering moments.
Davis currently lives in Southern California with her family. Even Rain Is Just Water is her first book.
“Even at three, I knew Ne-Ne and I had different mamas. Ne-Ne’s mama loved and cherished her. My mama despised and rejected me. Ne-Ne left a sweet taste in her mama’s mouth. I left a bitter taste in my mama’s mouth–even though our mamas were the same person.”
Even Rain Is Just Water tells how a young girl comes to terms with her dysfunctional upbringing, first in Florida during the Civil Rights Era and later in Southern California. Lyn and her younger sister are initially raised among their wealthy paternal grandparents. But one day, their mother packs them into the car and moves to Southern California.
This is the beginning of a difficult nomadic childhood for Lyn who does not have her mother’s love and has been separated from her father’s loving extended family. She goes from living in a protective enclave to utter loneliness and boredom in physically and emotionally empty living spaces and begins to internalize her mother’s negative feelings of her. That is what Lyn fights to overcome, although it is clear she doesn’t fully accept her mother’s opinion of her, as fact.
Lyn’s main goal is to escape her oppressive and non-supportive home environment. When she runs away to live with a former neighbor, it sets the stage for her eventual liberation from her mother.
But many years later when Lyn finds herself homeless with three children in tow, she’s forced to deal with the demons of her childhood–being unwanted, unloved and rejected. As she embarks on a search for a place to call home, her sole desire is to give her children what she lacked growing up–a sense of belonging and security. But it takes a hospital scare and a lifetime of emotional pain to propel Lyn out of the shadows of guilt and shame and into the light of faith and forgiveness.
A poignant narrative of rejection, revelation and redemption, Even Rain Is Just Water doesn’t just show how childhood trauma transcends into adulthood, it offers hope to adult survivors.
I met Lynette when she searched me out as a memoir writer who also endured emotional abuse and neglect by my own mother. Lynette contacted me to ask if I’d beta read her memoir in its earlier stages. After learning what her book was about I didn’t hesitate to agree to offer my opinions. The subject matter was stunning and I read through it in 2 days because I couldn’t pry myself away from reading it. We’ve been friends ever since. Then a few months ago, Lynette contacted me asking if I was willing to write an editorial for her book. I was thrilled that she thought of me to do so and even more humbled to have my few words imprinted in her book. This was my editorial:
My Editorial for Lynette’s book:
“A remarkable and heart-wrenching accounting of Davis’ undeniable courage and tolerance for suffering a lifetime of conflict, adversity, and emotional abuse by her mother’s refusal to love her own daughter. Davis’ relentless efforts to forgive, and her unfaltering hope to form a bond with her undeserving mother are chronicled in this riveting and heartbreaking read. I commend Lynette Davis for not only her courage to endure an emotionally torturous life with a mother who didn’t deserve one ounce of Davis’ compassion, but to have the fortitude to write this book.”
D.G. Kaye, author of P.S. I Forgive You: A Broken Legacy
Thank you for being here today Lynette, and for sharing your journey of survival with us. I know there are unfortunately, many of us who’ve lived through emotional abuse and I’m sure even those who were lucky enough not to, are interested in our stories because we can show them that there is always hope and a way to rise above. Your story is a testament to surviving and thriving despite where we may begin. I know your book will be a great success.
Lynette, I read your book and as a fellow memoir writer who also endured an emotionally absent mother, I can appreciate that although our issues of struggles are similar, no two people’s journeys are the same. Can you please share with us, despite your fragile and broken self-esteem, how you managed to put yourself back together after years of suffering horrendous emotional abuse by your mother?
Debby, once I realized that I could not change anyone but myself, that no matter what I did, I would always be a scapegoat to my mother, I made the difficult decision to go no-contact. Difficult because going no-contact generally involves the entire family. Even with everything that I had experienced with my mother, it was still difficult. But the process of no-contact is how I was able to put myself and begin the healing process which led to me writing the book.
I know you’ve worked on this book for a few years now. You also told me you were apprehensive about publishing this book because of family finding out about it. What was the turning point that made you decide to go forth and publish?
My turning point was after I’d written the first draft of my memoir and I ran across a blog post about narcissistic mothers and a book entitled Will I Ever Be Good Enough by Karol McBride. By that time, I knew a little about narcissism (having been married to a narcissist), but I was so deep into denial that I couldn’t put my hands around the idea that my mother was like one of my ex-husbands. But when I went back through my memoir, a few weeks later, I could see that their personalities were the same. What made me consider and ultimately decide to move forward with publishing my memoir for the general public is realizing that I was not alone, that there were other daughters like myself.
You carried such an enormous emotional load since childhood while growing up in the civil rights era. Do you think the prejudice of the times added to your woes?
In hindsight, I don’t believe it had much impact on my personal woes. Although I do believe there is a correlation between racism and narcissism, racism I believe, is narcissism on a much larger scale. I don’t believe the prejudices of the Civil Rights Era added to my woes because we lived separate (segregated) as blacks did during that era. Firstly, I did not see how whites lived, in that they were not visible to me, at least not on a daily basis. Secondly, emotionally, I was too occupied, trying to cope, with my mother.
You tolerated so much hurt and neglect, yet bit your tongue stoically throughout being lashed out at by your mother, especially as you grew up and had children to protect and nowhere else to turn to at times besides your mother. What gave you strength and kept you sane?
I’m not sure if it was strength or simply training. My mother had thoroughly convinced me that she had a right to treat me however she wanted, that I didn’t have any rights, whatsoever–about anything. On the other hand, I often removed myself by daydreaming. Now that I look back, I believe that God had his hand on me.
In your story, you demonstrate how your mother treated your sister better than she did you. Besides neglect you received from your mother, how did you feel about the difference in the way she treated your sister? And did you harbor anger or jealousy towards your sister?
The difference my mother made between my sister and I was daily. So it was always front and center. As a teenager, I definitely dealt with anger and jealousy issues. And I began to perceive my mother and sister as one unit. It was as though my sister began where my mother ended. At some point. And I always felt that she should have done more, as a sister. However, in writing my memoir, I could see that my sister was trying to cope with an emotionally absent mother as well.
Do you have a relationship at all now with your sister? If so, how do you open your heart to her after she never defended you growing up?
No I do not have a relationship with my sister. However, after writing my book, I did open my heart to her because I realized I wasn’t the only one affected by our dysfunctional household. But I realized we’re on totally different planes.
Is your mother still living? If so, does she know you published the book?
Yes, my mother is still living. She’s almost eighty years old. And I don’t know if she knows that I published a book.
Have you found forgiveness for your mother’s wrongdoings?
Yes. However, it took decades for me to arrive at forgiveness. Once I realized that I survived my experience for a reason. Being able to see my experience as a spiritual battle, I gained a different perspective on my mother.
Can you please tell us a little about what inspired you to write Even Rain is Just Water? And please share an excerpt here for my readers.
The idea to write my story came to me when my first grandchild was about a year old. I wanted him (and my children) to know my story, and why I’d made some of the choices I made in life.
On a personal level, I was inspired to tell my story to facilitate my healing. Then I felt compelled to develop and publish my story when I realized there were countless other daughters with stories similar to mine.
Riverside, California, 1996
I imagine I look like mother goose walking with her baby ducklings as my three children trail me, one behind the other. The convenience store is a good ten blocks away. It seems more like twenty. Although it’s only a few minutes before seven o’clock, we’ve been up since day break. And the morning sun is beaming down on us like it’s the middle of August, instead of the first week of June. My children must understand the gravity of our situation because they’re as quiet as three mice as we trek to the convenience store. This is not our normal routine. Twenty-four hours ago, I couldn’t have imagined the events of last night, or that I would be walking down the main boulevard with my three children this morning. For the umpteenth time in the last fifteen minutes, I check my beeper. No pages.
Although I’m dressed for walking—a pair of just-above-the-knee gray biker shorts and a tee-shirt which is what I slept in last night, and a pair of tennis shoes with no socks, I feel weird like I’m half naked. I didn’t even bother to comb my hair this morning. Luckily, I’m sporting a short Halle Berry look, and the slightly disheveled look is in. I wonder what my children think about all the drama of last night as I marvel at their resilience. Despite everything our family has been through these last couple of months, they’ve never complained. My daughter, the youngest of the trio, is doing a good job keeping up with her brothers and me. I thank God, they’re such good troopers. We’re used to walking from time to time when my Jeep Cherokee acts up. Right now, it’s parked in front of mom’s house where it’s been all week. As we walk down the boulevard, I contemplate my situation. I’ve run out of options. What am I going to do?
We get to the convenience store. And I dial my grandmother’s telephone number from the phone booth, just outside. It’s almost seven thirty now, so it’s close to ten-thirty in Florida where she lives. I hear the phone ringing loudly through the phone lines and envision my grandmother, a pert seventy-nine-year-old who still drives herself wherever she wants to go, making her way to the phone. I let the phone ring awhile, to give Mother—that’s what her children and grandchildren call her, time to get to the phone—and me time to get my emotions in check. I’m still reeling from the events of last night. I need to tell someone what happened, to help me process it.
After six or seven rings, my grandmother picks up the telephone.
“Hello,” she says, in a sweet southern drawl.
“Hey, Mother. How you doing?”
“I’m doing fine. How you?” she asks, raising her voice higher when she says you.
“Mother, you’re not going to believe this.”
“What? What happened?”
Thanks so much for sharing your journey with us Lynette. I wish you much success with the book, and I know it will definitely be an eye-opener for many.