It all started with rather a throwaway comment, something akin to “I should write a book about this.” I don’t know that I ever really thought I would, or even that I could write a book, but the idea stayed with me and the comments and messages I received after I began to post about my rather horrific ordeal of married life with a sociopathic husband on social media, essentially made the decision for me.
I was going to write a book.
Admittedly, I talked about it a lot more than I did anything about it at the start, but one day, inspiration took over and I thought of a unique way to accurately portray the reality of my story, by sharing it in an open, raw, authentic method. With that idea in mind, I sat down and began to type up every text message that had passed between my husband and me during our turbulent marriage. It made sense to use the actual messages because I didn’t know if I could do justice to the events that took place by simply writing the ‘story’.
There were times when it was so hard to read the messages as I typed away. Many a time I had tears in my eyes or had to stop because I was shaking from reliving some of the worst moments of my life. But sharing my story could help save others from the trauma of what I experienced, so I kept typing. Never before had I sat down and read through over two years of my life in one go and when I did, it was so obvious that I had been living through hell with this man, that I felt overwhelmed.
I needed to find a way to write this book, but to do so without constantly triggering or re-traumatising myself, and eventually, I did.
I decided to write as if it were a theoretical exercise, one where the content I was using was simply research data and it was up to me to transfer it from one place to another. It helped me to let go of the emotion enough to be able to keep going until the end.
I was nearly put off so many times, the emotion was so challenging and yet I kept thinking about the times I had posted about my experiences on social media, where people told me how brave and honest it was, and that they knew this would help others. I had never set out to be brave, I just wrote genuinely. The messages I received were from people I knew and from strangers, thanking me as my posts had helped them, and that along with the many stories of injustice, not being believed and being let down by the system, ultimately encouraged me to continue.
I wrote to educate people that it can be easy to fall victim to an abuser and that staying or leaving wasn’t as simple a choice as many people seemed to think. That abuse isn’t always physical violence, how it can be subtle, that you can live with it for years and not realise it. I explained how you get used to it, hope that they will change, and become too exhausted or traumatised to think you can leave.
To begin with, the lack of emotion that I had learned to feel in order to cope showed in my writing. I struggled to connect emotionally to the content, to show who I really was in the pages. I remember telling my publisher that I was afraid I came across as cold. There was no debate, she agreed. Yet despite not having met me and having only spoken to me over the phone, she already knew that I wasn’t, she had listened to me explain my story, heard the emotion as I spoke and patiently waited with me when I needed to pause. I knew I had emotions, they had just become confused, and I was scared to show them.
One of the hardest moments for me was when the beta reader sent the manuscript back with her notes. Honestly, I could have cried. It was as if she was saying that my whole life had been a waste of time. I was convinced that I couldn’t do this, that I didn’t have it in me to write anything of real value. But cue a moment of self-awareness and the realisation that I had never written anything like this before, I realised it was almost naively optimistic to get it right the first time.
One deep breath later and I decided that I would take note of every comment, re-write every section, and add every additional paragraph she had suggested that was constructive. I would learn from someone with experience, and I would do it wholeheartedly.
It was only when I had done this and looked back that I realised that her comments were designed to encourage more emotional content and a greater level of explanation, and in the long run, it helped me advance my skills as a writer. As a result, I was much happier with my book, it sounded like me, and it told a far more compelling story.
I loved reading through the various editions at times because it showed me not only how far I had come as a writer but how far I had come in my journey of recovery. I knew I had changed because I was compelled to rewrite the ending of the book.
I hadn’t been happy prior, because I had written it at a time when I was still exhausted by it all, it seemed morose, as if I would never be happy again. The second time I wrote it, I was in a better place, I could see my future clearly and it was one that I wanted. I wanted to inspire others to leave if they needed to and that wouldn’t have happened with the first draft.
Now, I am part way through my second novel, again something I have had to learn to put my emotions into and I am hoping to release it in 2023. I am a co-author of a book called In the Midst of Chaos which is being released in October 2022. I am currently connecting with other domestic abuse survivors to write a collaborative book, which will give them the opportunity to speak out about their experiences, and to share that it genuinely, can happen to anyone.
(c) Karen Ferguson
About My Life with a Sociopath:
It started with a comment on social media, actually that’s not true, it had started long before then, but that comment led to a message, which led to several calls and ended with him driving his car into my house.
Through the use of genuine text messages, I’ve opened up my life to show what I went through in the last two years, with an aggressive, lying, stealing, borderline alcoholic, sociopathic husband.
My Life With A Sociopath is an important read, to show that this really can happen to anyone, to educate people on the signs to look for, what you can do to protect yourself and how to find the strength to end this type of relationship.
My Life with a Sociopath gives you access to the raw, unedited messages between me and my husband, which together with my honest commentary, provides an insight into psychological abuse. I hope that it may help those who find themselves in a similar situation and will be a voice for those who may have lost theirs.
Order your copy online here.