Today we welcome WLM author Steven Whitacre into the Sunday Spotlight. He hails from the US and wrote My Father’s Prostitute: Story of a Stolen Childhood. Steven is happy to answer all our questions and you can find his book here: http://smarturl.it/5q93mk Thanks, Steven!
Alan Parks: Morning Steven, winner of the Kindle Fire too! I have just got back from todays five km walk. What are you doing today? Apart from being here?
Victoria Twead: Hi Steven Whitacre, greetings from Spain! Congrats on winning the Kindle Fire yesterday! How difficult did you find this book to write? Did you find the writing process therapeutic?
Savannah Grace: Wow, I only just read the description and some reviews and already sense the power of your story. It’s so brave to write about this topic. Many I love and are very close suffered similar abuse in their childhood. I will definitely recommend your book to them.
Julie Haigh: Hi Steven, so glad for you winning the kindle fire, you’ll love it! I wondered, have you read some books about people who have been through similar circumstances as yourself? If so, did they help you and did they spur you on to write your own memoir?
Frankie Knight: Trust Janet to provide sustenance for those in the Spotlight! Hiya Steven! Am looking forward to reading your book and congrats for winning the Kindle Fire. Hope you enjoy it. I also want to know how hard it was to write your story and what prompted you to do it?
Judi Bedford-Keogh: Sorry Steven I haven’t read your book yet, but I will. Were there any family members still alive and in contact when you wrote the book. It must be difficult when your story impacts on other people
Julie Haigh: And Janet Hughes-a crispy bacon sandwich for me-what’s this funny fodder you expect us ladies and mothers to have on Sunday for breakfast!!!!!
Valerie Robson: Hi Steven, I am so jealous of your Kindle Fire win, and having made such a mean comment yesterday I had better make up for it today! Sorry, do you forgive me? xxx
Bambi Flanner: Hi, Steven. My question is along the lines of Judi Bedford-Keogh’s, how did your sisters and mother take it when they found out the truth? And where is your father now? You must’ve felt a huge sense of relief to finally be able to talk about this in the light of the day. That makes you a hero to all those still suffering silently.
Jacky Donovan: Looks like a terrific book, Steven, and a helluva story. I noticed you quote song lyrics at the start of each chapter. Did you (and other WLM authors who do similar) get permissions to do so? My lawyer told me I could be sued by the owners of the lyrics if I hadn’t asked permission to use them. The law seemed a bit of an ass as it’s OK to use song titles. I wondered if anybody knew of anyone who’d got caught out or if – due to the high volume of self-published books these days – nobody really bothers any more?? I had to paraphrase the lyrics I wanted to use in order to stay squeaky clean but I wondered if I were just being paranoidly legal??
Becky Corwin-Adams: Good morning Steven. Congrats on the new Kindle! I have not yet read your book. I feel bad for anyone who grew up in a dysfunctional family. Once you are robbed of your childhood and your innocence, you can never get that back. I grew up with an alcoholic father. Our life was good because my mom was awesome. My dad did kick the habit in time to be a good grandfather and great grandfather before his death. It made me slightly jealous thinking about what I missed out on.
Frankie Knight: Think Steven is still in bed! He’s gonna have a shock when he sees so many questions when he logs on!
Susan Joyce: Hola from Uruguay, Steven Whitacre! Welcome to Spotlight Sunday! I’ll ask questions after you’ve had a chance to answer the ones awaiting you.
Janet Hughes: Just for you Julie Haigh, enjoy
Julie Haigh: It’s a bit MASSIVE! Thank you Janet-that’ll keep me occupied for a while.
Alan Parks: I’ll take it off your hands Julie! Give me five minutes
Terry Bryan: I could probably help too…
Nancy McBride: My GOODNESS! What a ying/yang! I just ordered Steven’s book to read today (Kindle), and then I see BACON to the extreme? This, my friends en memoir, will be a good day!!!
Woofie Wotsit: I am impressed Steven Whitacre. Now I just have to read your book
Janet Hughes: Nancy McBride, help yourself to a beer as well
Nancy McBride: Don’t mind if I DO! Cheers! No breakfast before lunch before tea, before dinner, order I see, in that the members are from every time zone but mine. YES!
Julie Haigh: Ginger beer for me please Janet x
Frankie Knight: Nancy, what timezone are you in?
Frank Kusy: Welcome to Spotlight, Steven, hope you have a good day. Love the cover of your book mate, did you do it yourself?
Nancy McBride: Eastern Standard Time, east coast, USA. Et tu?
Janet Hughes: Ginger beer for Her Haighness and here it’s 15:20 (Catalonia)
Frankie Knight: I’m in the mountains of Southern Spain.
Steven Whitacre: mmmmmm bacon! (although that’s a bit TOO heavy on the bacon for me
–Let’s see… The most common question: Was it difficult to write? Not really. There were times when I would sit down and it would all just flow out. I would have to stop myself so that I wouldn’t keep going and end up being interrupted in the middle of a flow. I did all the writing early in the morning before the family got up. Not even my wife knew I was writing it before it was done. It was somewhat therapeutic to write it all out though. It helped to be able to put it all into perspective for sure.
–But far harder than writing it was creating the Facebook page for it and then hitting that ‘share’ button to invite people I’ve known for many years.
–As for my families reaction, I discussed it with my sisters beforehand and they have been nothing but supportive. My dad is dead so I didn’t bother to ask him, and I sent my mom a copy of the book in February but she hasn’t said anything about it.
Frankie Knight: Good morning to you Steven! WElcome. Loads of questions to answer already….
Steven Whitacre: And Valerie – you’re totally forgiven!!
–Julie – I actually haven’t read any first hand accounts written by other men. I know there are lots out there written by women, but very, very few by men (I think I’ve stumbled across one other). There are book of poems, and brief stories about the abuse by men, but none that I found that really give an inside look as to what it was like living with it from a mental health perspective.
— Jackie – I did not get permission at all. I figure since I’m giving them credit, I’m hoping it will be OK. I chose to include them because A) they do a good job (I thought) and describing what was going through my head, and B) Black Sabbath / Ozzy was a huge influence in my life growing up. I would actually rank Ozzy as one of the top 5 influences (both good and bad).
–Janet – thanks for breakfast!!
–And Alan – I dunno what I’m doing today other than this. Was going to take the daughter swimming but she has decided she wants to go hang out with a friend instead (damn teenagers always screwing up my plans … so maybe changing the windshield wipers on my car?
Nancy McBride: As much as I love hanging out with you all, I am off (we KNEW that!) to see my son-in-law and then grandson play soccer (football). Have chair, bacon sandwich, and coffee in hand, will travel!
Steven Whitacre: Savannah – I’m sorry you know people that went through something similar. I wouldn’t wish it on anybody. I hope they have managed to find healing. It took me 30+ years and a lot of hard work to get there, but it’s possible.
— Have fun Nancy! Watching the kids play soccer (football) is always fun. I enjoyed it a lot when I coached my daughters team
Janet Hughes: My pleasure Steven, the members sometimes get so excited by the prospect of chatting to a real-life author that they forget their manners
Frankie Knight: Speaking for yourself, I hope Janet?????
–I’m off up onto my roof now and will be back later to see exactly who may be misbehaving…..
Steven Whitacre: hah! Well, I don’t really think of myself as an author.. just somebody who wrote something down and then uploaded it to be published
— Be careful up there… if you don’t return we’ll have to send somebody to make sure you didn’t fall off into the bushes!
Julie Haigh: Steven – I’m thinking this book might be helpful for you to read, this one is from a man’s point of view, it’s by WLM member Chris Kenny, he tells of his experiences and abuse in care homes. http://www.amazon.co.uk/…/B007…/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top
Nancy McBride: My Son-in-law coaches my grandson’s team. When he was dating my daughter, and I’d just met his mother (FR), we both went to his game. His team had no players in the wings, and the other team had scads of replacements… finally some one on s-i-l’s team kicked for a goal, and missed. His mother was wildly cheering in French, and I,who’d never been to a game nor cheered in FRENCH, was caught up in her enthusiasm and French cheering (which I later learned contained a modicum of swearing)! I found myself SO caught up, then brought down by the miss as I shouted, “Quelle fromage!!!!” (What cheese! Not Quelle damage, what a shame!)
SILENCE. Then she laughed so hard we lay on the side in our work clothes, because we could no longer stand from the silliness.
–Close, but no cigar, as they say. They still got married despite our language difference, and we still laugh ourselves sick with the story…
Bambi Flanner: Steven, none of your sisters had to endure the abuse, right? Just you. I personally don’t know if I would ever be able to find forgiveness for such a monster. Have you? I think the most important thing might be to forgive yourself and move on, which it sounds like you’ve done.
Becky Corwin-Adams: Steven, do you think your mother is upset about the book? My mom still refuses to admit that my dad had an addiction and I am not allowed to talk about it in her presence. I never mentioned it in my childhood memoir.
Steven Whitacre: Bambi – My youngest sister did. Our father completely skipped over my oldest sister and the one who came just after me, but he didn’t miss out on the youngest. I don’t talk much about her experience since it wasn’t mine, but it was quite a blow to me when I found out what had happened.
–As for forgiveness, It was actually easier to forgive my dad than my mom. He was the sick one and judging by his final words to me on his death bed, I don’t believe he felt he did anything wrong.
–Becky – I don’t know. We haven’t spoken about the book at all (other than when I sent her a copy). We have never really discussed what happened either. I think a big reason is that she failed as a mother to protect her children. Instead, she turned to alcohol and chose not to deal with what was going on right in front of her – even going so far as to blame me for it at one point. I feel sorry for her having to live with that guilt so I don’t push the issue.
Becky Corwin-Adams: My mother sounds a lot like that. She is an enabler who refuses to admit if there is a problem. First it was my dad and now my sister.
Steven Whitacre: Julie – I’ll have to check it out, thanks. I like that he used his real name – I considered just going by Steve W at one point, but then realized it would have more of an impact if I were to use my full name. And since I have a section of my book that talks about how we, as men, tend to hide in the shadows since that’s where society tells us we should be, I wanted to break out of that to give others the courage to come forward as well.
–and it has worked. I have actually gotten several emails from people telling me their stories, saying it was as if I were telling their story (just with different details), and giving them the push needed to continue to find healing (a couple of them had pretty much given up before they read the book)
Judi Bedford-Keogh: So your Mom knew it was happening. Not surprising that she hasn’t commented on the book. I am really looking forward to reading it
Steven Whitacre: Becky, I’m sorry My mother has changed a lot over the past 20 years or so and is no longer the person she was back then.
— Judi – yes, but I really don’t know how long she knew. It started when I was 5, and I’m pretty sure she was clueless for a good many years.. but when I was 14 or so, she did say “I know what you’re doing back there and you disgust me”… I was in such bad shape after 9 years of it by that point I had no fight left in me. I just wanted to do my drugs and be left alone by everybody.
Valerie Robson: No power here since 6am so will have to catch up later… xxz
Becky Corwin-Adams: That’s good to hear, Steven. One of my relatives made an accusation against my grandfather many years after his death. No one knows if anything really happened, but it is always in the back of my mind. This would have happened in the ’40s and no one talked about sexual abuse then. I try to block it out and only remember my grandpa as I knew him.
Steven Whitacre: Ack.. completely forgot to lower the price of my book this morning.. just dropped it to 2.99 for the day to coincide with this thread it wouldn’t let me drop the price lower than that.. will have to figure that out!
Nancy McBride: So many of us and those we love have been affected by sexual abuse, so closeted. I so look forward to reading it, Steven Whitacre. I have recently begun working in art with recovering prostitutes and addicts, and worked with inmates at Attica, in the 70s. I know your story will get me listening, and perhaps writing, I am making notes like a mad woman, prodded… but, alas, soccer calls.
Steven Whitacre: kindle.. not book… paperback takes a long time for price drops to push through
Janet Hughes: Steven Whitacre I’m off for a siesta, I’ll catch you later
Steven Whitacre: Becky – that’s all you really can do. If something DID happen, there’s nothing you can do about it now.. if it didn’t, then you wouldn’t want to taint his memory anyway. Believe it or not, I have a lot of good memories about my father. If you ignored the obvious, he was actually a good parent if you go by what “the experts” say a good parent should do. He was supportive and was always there to help me back up when I fell, without being judgmental. He was quite the parental paradox.
— Nancy – I hope you like it. I’d like to think it gives good insight into how and why people who lived with childhood trauma think and act the way they do. When my oldest was young, her mother abandoned her after I took custody (which I got due to moms drug abuse and neglectful parenting) – between the neglect, the abandonment and the subsequent 8 day hospital stay after she lapsed into a diabetic coma (I had no idea she was diabetic until that happened – but that experience is a whole other story), she exhibited attachment issues from a young age. It was while researching her issues that led me to researching how the stress of my experiences had shaped my own developing brain, which of course led me to finding ways to reverse what had been done. Although you can’t ever really “reverse” it, you can “retrain” the amygdala into calming down..
— Frank Kusy – I did not do the cover. I had the idea, but I’m horrible at photoshop so I hired somebody to put it together for me. We went through 3 or 4 revisions before deciding on this one. Mostly because in the original cover she did, my name was the biggest text on the cover and I didn’t want it to overshadow the title. I *DID* take the photo on the back cover though. That was one of the first photos I took after I moved here. Took it during a hike with my wife because I thought it looked cool. Never even considered I might use it for a book…
Cherry Gregory: Hi Steven. A big congratulations for writing your book, it must have taken a great deal of courage to put it all down and then publish. I like the idea of “retraining” the brain after stressful events in childhood affects the development. I’m convinced that a series of traumatic events in my young childhood to teens have left me with a tendency to depression, no matter how hard I try to fight it. Is that the sort of thing you are talking about, or something different?
Susan Joyce: Steven, just finished reading the thread through. By freeing yourself and telling your story, it for certain will free others to free themselves. I salute you for having the courage to write your story. I will definitely buy your book. When did you finally feel free to write about it. Was it after your father’s death?
Steven Whitacre: Cherry – sort of. Memories of traumatic events are stored in the amygdala, which has no concept of time or space, and is a primary factor in the fight, flight or freeze response. It’s great when you have to get away from a tiger perhaps, but not so helpful when you are reliving past traumas that you wish you wouldn’t. When I first started therapy, I would recall a memory and my body would react harshly… I would have trouble breathing, I would get a bad headache, I even had half of my face freeze for 3 days. All because the amygdala was telling my body that this was happening RIGHT NOW. It took retraining that part of the brain to realize what had happened, had happened many years ago and was no longer a threat. It wasn’t easy work, but it was definitely worth it.
— Susan – I had thought about writing the book for about 4 years before I put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard as it were). I had all sorts of ideas of how it would go, what would be included, how it would look… but I never had an ending. I couldn’t start it until I had some way to wrap it up, so it wasn’t until I did a lot more retraining of the brain before I realized I had an ending and could start writing.
–Of course, the finished product was nothing at all like I had pictured it for all those years of planning it!
Cherry Gregory: I’ve never heard of the amygdala before and it sounds intriguing. Explains why past events of so long ago, can still influence everything we do. I must definitely read your book!
Steven Whitacre: oh.. and yes. I suffered from depression for the longest time. My official diagnosis was “Major Depression. Moderate. Recurrent”. These days I don’t experience the deep, dark waves of depression like I used to. I do think that my healing is all related to that. I do still get hit with bouts of it from time to time, but I can feel them coming on and get on top of it before it gets too bad. When I do feel myself getting too down, I am now able to remind myself that life is actually pretty good and it’s just a chemical reaction in my brain causing the depression, and that it will pass.
Susan Joyce: In families so many things are hidden or swept under the rug. My grandfather was a dirty old man who tried numerous times to molest his granddaughters. When we mentioned it to our grandmother (his wife) she blamed us and excused him because “he was a sinner.” Meaning the devil made him do it I guess.
Becky Corwin-Adams: Steven, as a child, did you have close friends that came over to your house? Or did you try to avoid inviting your friends over because of your family situation?
Steven Whitacre: I think sometimes it’s easier to give somebody a “pass” and blame others than it is to admit we may have made a mistake in judging them.
— Becky – I did have friends that would come over, but we usually stayed outside. I spent as much time away from home as possible. I don’t remember having many sleepovers… but that was more due to the fact that I had 3 sisters.. and girls have cooties ya know.. (or they did back then.. )
Patricia Steele: Steven, did you learn to put on a pretend face during this traumatic time? I am very interested in this thread and will get the eBook. I have pretended so long that I am unsure if I could drag it out on paper. I applaud your courage and I’ll bet writing this book was also therapeutic.
Frank Kusy: Just read your sample on Amazon Steven, wow, harrowing stuff but so well written. Bravo,mate, will be reading the rest for sure
Cherry Gregory: Steven, the chemical imbalance that causes severe depression, do you think it is something we can “retrain” our brains out of over time or is medication necessary? (Or is the medication itself a retraining of sorts?) Hope that makes sense.
Steven Whitacre: Patricia – Of course. I knew that what was happening wasn’t “normal” or OK, but since it started at such a young age and happened so much, it was just part of who I was. I touched on that a little in the book – how growing up a boy meant competition, and when you get to middle school, that competition tends to be about girls/sex. Who is getting it, who is doing what, etc. I have a very vivid memory of one of the other boys bragging about how he had just gotten his first “blow job” and thinking “so what, I’ve been getting those since I was 5”.. but I couldn’t say anything because what made me different made me a freak. So I got really good at putting on a mask and being somebody that was (I felt) acceptable and likable.
— Cherry – I no longer take medication of any sort (except for the occasional hit of pot from time to time, but it’s legal here).. I quit the anti-depressants a couple of years ago when I went in to do the hard work on myself (I had been in therapy for about 8 years already, but I had a new therapist and some new therapies to try… ended up going with the Lifespan Integration style which wasn’t easy, but highly effective for me). I think the depression will always be there, but I’m at a point now where I can (usually) see/feel it coming on and take steps to minimize it
–Actually, I don’t even look at my last therapist as much of a therapist as she was a “guide”. Healing, to me anyway, was a journey and she was just there to shine the light to show me which way to go and help keep me on the path.
Patricia Steele: I am sure some of us do not share your courage and will take our secrets to the grave. You, however, give me a thoughtful insight for maybe someday… Thank you.
Susan Joyce: Nancy, so sad for you and your family. Will send love and light your way.
Steven Whitacre: Patricia – sometimes it’s easier that way. There were many times during my healing process when I thought to myself that perhaps I had done far enough.. that I was ok with where I was, and wondered if the continued hard work would be worth it. I am glad I kept going. The secrets were eating me up inside and I felt I needed to release them.
–I think if you ever do decide to climb that hill, you’ll realize that 99% of the people will be supportive. I sometimes wish I had come forward sooner because it was such a freeing experience.
–My inbox is always open
Becky Corwin-Adams: The book has some fabulous reviews. It has obviously inspired a lot of people already. I am sure writing it was very therapeutic, Steven, and knowing that you are helping other people with a similar problem should make you feel really good!
Susan Joyce: Lifespan Integration? Steven, I will look this up. Wonderful that it works for you. Did your therapist encourage you to write about your feelings?
Steven Whitacre: Nancy I’m so sorry Sociopaths ARE very charming and believable, and without any evidence, it’s hard to convince the courts that a child should be removed from his/her parents – no matter what the allegations against them are. So frequently, false allegations are leveled against another parent in court so they are used to those being lies.
–I totally understand about him adoring his father. I would have defended my father too, despite what he was doing. All you can do is keep loving him and be there when he needs to talk. Because at some point he will.
Susan Joyce: Good advice Steven for Nancy.
Nancy Gould Gomoll: Thanks Steven. As you may see, after posting my comment I deleted it because it was just too painful and raw to put out there on post. I am sure you understand and am glad you read it!
Steven Whitacre: Susan – http://www.lifespanintegration.com/ … it’s a relatively new technique (about 9 years maybe) but has a lot of promise. As with any therapy, it works for some and not others, but it definitely worked for me. But I have to warn you – it is VERY intense. After my first session I left the therapists office in a daze.. just went and sat in my car for about 20 minutes wondering what just happened.. I couldn’t drive, I couldn’t think straight, I didn’t know WHAT was going on… took me about 2 full days to recover. I like to think of it like this.. if you think of trauma as an infected wound, EMDR (which is another highly effected therapy used for trauma that involved eye movements to process the trauma) is similar to pulling the bandaid off and letting it heal over, while the LI is more akin to pulling the bandaid off and using a spoon to scoop out all of the pus and infection before letting it heal over. I managed to accomplish more in 4 LI sessions than I did in 8 years of talk therapy..
Lifespan Integration www.lifespanintegration.com
Susan Joyce: Steven, I’m off to have lunch. Will check back with you later. Thanks for posting the Lifespan Integration info.
Judi Bedford-Keogh: You are so brave
Steven Whitacre: Nancy – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done that Even with my book after I published I had moments where I just wanted to go delete it and forget I ever put it out there… inevitably I would get an email from somebody saying how much my book had inspired them to heal (or return to healing) so I clenched my teeth and left it up. It’s not an easy subject to talk about (regardless of who it happens to). But that’s why I’ve chosen to leave my book out there.. so the next person doesn’t have to go it alone..
Laura Ruthemeyer: Good morning Steven! Our wet weather has returned in earnest…hasn’t it?
I’m so sorry you (or anyone) would have to suffer at the hand of those whom we look to for love and protection.
–I come from, not a similar background, but a background of abandonment – physically by by father, who left one afternoon to go to the store and never came back. He left behind our mom, who had all 3 of us by the time she was 19, and was ill-equipped to pick herself up and care for us on her own – so her choice was to ‘check out’ emotionally.
–All 3 of us (then mid teens) reacted differently. My brother (17) joined the Navy to get away. I quite school and moved in with some bad seeds. My sister became incredibly dependent on my mother and stayed with her well into her 20’s.
–My sister and I have a history of poor decisions (never drugs, just poor ‘male’ choices) that I can feel confident that they trace back to abandonment related.
I think I fared the best because I left it all in the rear-view early on.. and only brought my mom back into my life after having my children. Her memory of that time is revisionist – she was, in her mind, mother of the year.
–I never saw my father again, but had reached out just before he died.
–My question is.. Did you and your siblings develop a close circle that made you safe, or did everyone suffer in their own silence?
–I haven’t read your book yet, so it may shed light on that, I was just curious. My sister and I (now stepping into our 50’s) can speak freely with each other. My brother spiraled down and is living a marginal, nomadic life.
Cherry Gregory: That’s brilliant, Steven. Great that you’ve come so far and use your experience to help others.
Nancy Gould Gomoll: Thanks Steven! You will make me wish I hadn’t deleted it!
Steven Whitacre: Laura – yes more rain… but I’m ok with it raining on the weekends.. more so than during the week. My wife walks dogs for a living so she’s out in the park 5 days a week with as many as 10 dogs at a time (off leash – I don’t know how she does it..it’s amazing), and I hate thinking she’s out there in the rain. It really takes much of the fun out of it!
–I’m of the belief that childhood trauma affects us all the same way, regardless of what it was. At least on a chemical level. The stress hormones do a number on the brain that alters it and puts us into “survival mode” all day, every day. My daughter has abandonment issues that we have worked with her on ever since I got custody when she was 2 years old. Many of her symptoms are the same as mine were. In fact, it was researching her issues that led me to my own healing.
–Since nobody talked about what was going on, we all suffered in our own silence. I think it was common knowledge at some point that SOMETHING was going on, but nobody ever talked about it. I think we’re closer now because of it, but at the time I wasn’t close to anybody. Them included.
–Judi – thanks I don’t like to think of it that way though (even though that word comes up a lot). To be honest I feel I have more selfish motivation – using my experiences to help others makes me feel like I have a purpose. It helps take some of the sting away. The fact that others are getting something out of it is almost secondary.
Cherry Gregory: Did you enjoy the writing process in itself? Do you think you’ll write another book?
Steven Whitacre: I actually did enjoy writing it, and have considered writing another one. It’s just deciding on what to write about that is the hard part. I’ve had some people (my editor included) who want me to write more about my band/drug years and what that was like (I do have a ton of stories from those years), but I think that’s been done to death. If I do end up writing another one, it will likely be about my time with the group of “malicious hackers” and what went on there. From the internal battles for respect among each other, to the saving of 8 autistic children who were being sexually abused by their schoolteacher (we interrupted his plans to turn his school into a pedophile sanctuary – he is currently in prison rather than out hurting more children). To me, that is a far more exciting story!
— Then again, I’ve considered writing something from my dogs point of view as she ventures out to the park daily with her “pack”
Cherry Gregory: I agree. It sounds tremendous!
–Your dog book would go down well with many of the WLM members and would be great fun to write. I have to admit that I write fiction as my therapy. I haven’t got the courage to write fact, so I invent colourful situations where my heroine can be adventurous and brave, while still having a slight resemblance to myself.
Steven Whitacre: I think the fun part would be the fact that she is a chihuahua/dachshund mix, about 11 pounds, yet she is the ‘alpha’ of the pack – despite all but one of the other dogs being much larger than she is. What she says, goes.
Cherry Gregory: That must look hilarious! You’ve got a book idea right in front of you!
Nancy McBride: I’ll illustrate it!
Steven Whitacre: To me, the mechanisms of “the pack” is fascinating. Watching them all play their role just amuses me. Of course my wife is the overall alpha – they all listen to her. Under her comes our Chihuahua who is the alpha dog. Beneath her are ‘grandpa and grandma’.. the oldest male and female in the pack.. they are respected by all and can calm the puppies with a mere look. Beneath that, everybody is jockeying for position and tends to play whatever role they land.. we have a male puppy who is trying to move up the ladder by dominating the other males (grandpa not included – you don’t mess with him), Disco the 7 year old Yorkie who weighs maybe 4 pounds who is at the bottom of the pack but doesn’t seem to care. She just trudges along with the big dogs, staying out of their way but proud to be a part of them… and in the middle is a hodgepodge. Since she doesn’t have all the dogs every day., each day that middle part changes as to who gets to be bossy.. it’s fun to watch
Nancy McBride: Love the names and the positions in the posse…a mixed bag of humans and dogs, if I’m interpreting correctly.
Cherry Gregory: It sounds great and I think that by watching animals, you can learn a lot about human nature too.
Frankie Knight: Been reading this thread but not contributing much! Lots of it hits home rather too much for comfort for me. Think there may be lots of us out there…..
Steven Whitacre: Yup. Although the dogs all realize they are under the humans. some of them took longer to learn that than others. Even our own dog tried to put herself above our daughters when we first brought her home. But it only took one time for each daughter to flip her on her back and hold her there for her to get it. we can’t always do that with the larger dogs though so my wife carries muzzles and leashes with her. When they get ornery, she stops that right away.
Becky Corwin-Adams: I would love to read your dog book, Steven. It sounds fascinating so far. I love dog stories, and my first published book was about my dog pack. My dog book has outsold all of my other books combined.
Steven Whitacre: Frankie – there are, unfortunately. 1 in 6 women and 1 in 9 men are the statistics that are frequently thrown around. I also touch on that in my book – the fact that those are just numbers, and numbers are impersonal. We can deal with numbers. It’s putting faces and names to those numbers that makes people uncomfortable, but it’s that very uncomfortableness that we need to address. We shouldn’t be ashamed or embarrassed about what happened to us as children, especially when we had no control over it. I like to think of it like this… if somebody were to come up behind you when you were a child and smash both your legs with a baseball bat, leaving you with a limp the rest of your life, would you be ashamed or embarrassed about it? Why is being abused in another way any different? It is only because there is still too much stigma attached to it – but that isn’t our fault, it’s society. I’d like to see that changed. I don’t think it will change in my lifetime, but somebody has to get the ball rolling sometime!
Linda Kovic-Skow: Hello Steven Whitacre. What an interesting thread. Clearly your story resonates with members of WLM:) Can you tell us a bit about your life now? What kind of work you do, where you like to travel, etc. Oh, I’m curious why you have Homer as your profile picture (my husband’s favorite).
Julie Haigh: and what sort of hobbies do you enjoy?
Steven Whitacre: Sorry all… had to run off and make some breakfast
–Currently, I work as an IT consultant for an outsourcing company. I have about a dozen companies whom I manage the networks for and a bunch of others where I’m the backup guy. I’ve been doing computers for about 16 years although I had planned to go to law school. I was accepted but started working with computers while I was waiting for school to start.. when it came time to start, I decided to stick with the computers.. I figure both professions are based on logic – just that the computers don’t argue back as much
–As for traveling, the only traveling I’ve done was while I was in the US Navy. Got to hit Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Greece and Turkey, along with the islands of Mallorca, Sicily and Crete. I would have to say Crete was my favorite of all. My wife is from Germany and we hope to go visit there someday soon, as well as hit Ireland and England to check out some of my ancestral lands. She has always wanted to visit the Southern part of France while I’ve always wanted to hit Northern Europe, and we both want to visit Romania and the baltic states.
–I have Home because.. well.. I dunno… I just like the photo and it amuses me with his hat and One Love pendant.. it’s a Bob Marley Homer and I love Bob Marley
— As far as hobbies – I really like gardening. Never could figure out why but it hit me a month or so ago that I think it has something to do with the fact that I have a hard-wired (thanks to the trauma) mis-trust of relationships and gardening allows me to be nurturing with no risk of being rejected. It’s something I’ve been working on, but in the meantime I have my jalapeños to keep me happy
Linda Kovic-Skow: Thanks again Steven Whitacre for this interesting interview. Good luck with your book!
Becky Corwin-Adams: Steven, how long were you in the Navy and where were you stationed at? My son served in the late ’90s and he was stationed at Norfolk (Little Creek NAS).
Steven Whitacre: I was also stationed out of Norfolk on the USS Puget Sound (AD-38) from 94 till it decommissioned in Jan 96. They offered me an early out since my rate was overmanned (which I thought was odd because 2 years earlier they forced me into that rate because they needed people – wasn’t at all what I had wanted to do).
Becky Corwin-Adams: Casey served from 1996-2001. He was in the Roosevelt and George Washington groups. Much of his time was spent in an LCU. That would make me claustrophobic. I loved visiting VA Beach and was sad when he moved.
Janet Hughes: Rings dinner bell* Come and get it, no pushing, form an orderly queue… Steven Whitacre are you a leg or breast man? Gerrroff Pancho, no you can’t have a wing… or at least not yet!
Steven Whitacre: Yup! I’m more of a breast man… I typically give the dark meat to my dogs (they are pretty spoiled)
Julie Haigh: what breed/s of dogs do you have and what are their names?
Janet Hughes: Ooo aren’t they being good
–Steven Whitacre would you like Yorkshire pudding with that?
Julie Haigh: er no pudding for me Janet-look at the size of this doorstep of an ice cream wafer that my partner’s just brought me-what with that and your bacon sandwich!!!!!!!!!!!!
Frankie Knight: Janet, how come you always offer food/drink when I’ve just finished mine?
Janet Hughes: Nice one Julie Haigh
Steven Whitacre: I have Dominica who is a Chihuahua/Dachshund mix, and Ozzie who is a Chihuahua/Terrier (no idea which one.. rat maybe?)/Shiba Inu mix… he’s a very handsome dog, but Nica is the princess…
Janet Hughes: Nice brandy snap basket dessert Frankie Knight ?
Frankie Knight: Hmmm, might be persuaded!
Janet Hughes: For the dogs, Becky Corwin-Adams, you can have a nibble first though if you want
Julie Haigh: Ozzie after Ozzie Osborne? You mentioned your band days earlier? Did you sing or play an instrument? For some reason I can picture you playing guitar and with long hair-probably wrong though!
Steven Whitacre: Ozzie might eat that, but Nica won’t… it’s too cooked for her.. did I mention she’s a princess?
–Julie – Yup. Oddly enough, Ozzy Osbourne didn’t just influence my drug habit as a teen, but about 4 years ago I was reading his autobiography and got to the point where he talked about going into rehab and cleaning up. I figured if he could do it I could, so the next day found me at the door to the local rehab center. My life has only gotten better since then (and I’ve done 95% of my healing since then). My wife and daughters went and picked Ozzie out and brought him home while I was there so that’s what they named him.
Frankie Knight: Are you enjoying your day Steven? Is it what you expected?
Julie Haigh: Explain about how Nica is a princess.
Steven Whitacre: Frankie – I am having fun, yes
–Julie- She’s very picky in what she eats, and when she does eat it’s very dainty-like. Tiny pieces at a time, which she removes from the area and eats before coming back for more. Even with ground beef she’s picky. She won’t eat anything but 80/20, and even then she will only eat it from certain stores. Safeway meat (Safeway is a large grocery store chain for those outside the US) she won’t touch. She also won’t touch inexpensive steaks – she likes her T-Bone… try to pass off some bottom round and she will snub it (yet she loves stew meat). –And she won’t go anywhere near dog food. That is beneath her altogether. –Plus, she prances all dainty and princess-like, especially when she’s out for a walk with us. Ozzie is like a little tank that just goes and goes, but she’s very delicate and gentle in her mannerisms.
Cherry Gregory: Nica is definitely a princess!
–What was your band called, Steven?
Susan Joyce: Steven, You are very inspirational because you speak so honestly and without blaming others. I greatly admire that. Did you ever confront your father?
Steven Whitacre: Opps… called away again I did play in a band, but not guitar. I played bass. I never wanted to be in the limelight, plus my fingers are too fat for guitar. I couldn’t dance and I didn’t sing, so there weren’t many other options. I played in a few bands, but the only one that went anywhere was Special Forces, a punk band out of Berkeley California. I played with them for about 3 years. Did dozens of live shows, a couple of live radio shows (one in California, one in Oregon), did a small 8 city tour on the West Coast from LA to Seattle, and we got to be the band on stage during a bar scene for a Hollywood movie that never got released. But the experience was fun and we got $50 and a free lunch out of it so we were happy. –Susan– not really. Even as an adult I never had it in me to confront him. He had a very violent temper when I was young and I learned very quickly not to be confrontational with him. That just carried over until he died. His final words to me were “I’m sorry you were hurt by what I did”. Which is about as close to an apology as I was ever going to get. It wasn’t “I’m sorry for what I did”, which I would have liked to have heard, but it was the closest he could get to apologizing without actually apologizing, if that makes any sense. He was a sick man so it was easier to forgive.
Susan Joyce: Steven, I can understand why you didn’t confront him. My dad also had a bad temper. Your father’s final words did show remorse. I’m glad you were able to hear him utter them before he died. Did you start writing the book after his death?
Steven Whitacre: The book didn’t cross my mind seriously until several years after his death. At the time I was just glad to be rid of him. Even after I moved out he didn’t change and was wildly inappropriate. Unfortunately, after I separated from my second wife I had nowhere to go but to stay with him (I had already spent time living on the streets – I didn’t want to go back there and needed someplace to have as home base so I could shower and keep my job). It was only 3 months, but it was a really long 3 months!
— I do have to go get some stuff done, but will check back in about an hour!
Cherry Gregory: Thanks, Steven.
Susan Joyce: How horribly uncomfortable for you that must have been. I can understand why you were glad to be rid of such a heavy burden. Bless you!
Charlotte Smith: So sorry I’m late! Awful internet today. Your book is on my list and I look forward to reading it even though it’s a sad subject. Hope you enjoyed your day in the spotlight and that Janet Hughes and Terry Bryan have fed and watered you well!
Nancy McBride: I am in the midst. It reads easily, and I find myself mired in your slog, years without identity, innocence lost…
Steven Whitacre: Charlotte – no worries! awful internet is awful.. I sooo remember those days when I had unreliable internet… They have taken good care of me for sure!
–Nancy – I’m glad it reads easily. That was what I wanted. Even though it’s a heavy subject, I really tried to keep it flowing and interesting. Last thing I wanted was to have people walk away from it wishing they hadn’t read it…
Susan Joyce: Steven, is your mother a part of your life today?
Jacky Donovan: All the food pics above are making me hungry! Can I blame WLM for recent weight gain?!
Julie Haigh: played bass-as in bass guitar? bass guitar is a guitar in my book-and an important part of any group-or do you mean double bass then? and what about the hair?
Steven Whitacre: Susan – a little. we talk on our birthdays but that’s about it. I sent her a copy of the book in February and haven’t heard a word about it, although she is planning on coming up to the Seattle area in July for a visit.
Susan Joyce: Steven, I hope you’ll have an opportunity to speak with her about it. It would be healing for both of you.
Steven Whitacre: Julie – yes, bass guitar and I did have long hair in my mid teens… not many photos though.. although here is one with me in the background with my hair down below my shoulders..
Steven Whitacre: Susan I agree… I plan on bringing it up during her visit if she doesn’t…
Nancy Gould Gomoll: I was gone for a good bit of the day but am back and have caught up on the thread. I want to thank you Steven so much for your honesty and sharing what was a painful childhood and the scares it left. Too many of us have been touched in one way or another by such horrific childhood experiences. For you to speak out is not only therapeutic for you, but also for those who can relate. God bless you.
Nancy McBride: I found out after my dear father’s death that he had, indeed, confronted the man who attempted to molest me. Wish I’d known that at the time. No one spoke of these matters. When I told my dad what happened at the time, his knee-jerk reaction was to tell me how to knee a guy. I didn’t need a “solution”, I needed reassurance that he would protect me, and that he’d report him, but, of course I didn’t know how to ask for that in those days. Mother didn’t remember the incident until dad died, then DID, and told me he’d gone to the man’s house with his groundhog rifle and told him never to touch me again. When this story came out in front of my brothers who’d never known about it, my younger brother left for several hours. When he returned, he asked me what more he could do for his daughter who’d be raped in the Air Force, and I’d found out about it and told him. He got her out of the service with honorable discharge (this was before Operation Tailgate), and into counseling. I said, “Ask her!”
–You know, the above story is common. Dad did his best. Hopefully there are better avenues to catch situations like yours, Steven, nowadays, but I’m not sure there are, sadly. In “my” day, we had no clue about these things, and felt so isolated. When I grew up, I learned I was the lucky one with parents who were quite aware and attentive compared to some around us, who now, thank my folks for being a safe house in the neighborhood.
Jacky Donovan: In my experience you just never know what was really going on until people have passed away. I’ve discovered some amazing family secrets since (a) my mother died and (b) my autobiography became successful. I wish I could talk to deceased family members now knowing what I do !!!
Nancy McBride: So true, Jacky Donovan. If there are any left, this is the time… My mother just died in February, at 101, and mentally sharp. In the last few years, though with a cheerful front, occasionally she’d whisper something about her situation to me, then add, “Don’t tell the boys…” The boys were 76 and 67. She wanted to protect them from anything unpleasant, but she knew I would understand.
–Here’s Mom last year…
Susan Joyce: Steven, It’s dinnertime in Uruguay. Thanks so much for sharing your story with us today. I’ve enjoyed getting to know you. Wishing you great success with book sales and more importantly may your book help others to heal. Good night!
Cherry Gregory: I’m turning in, as it’s half past eleven here in the UK. Thank you, Steven, for a tremendous thread and wishing all the best with your memoir.
Julie Haigh: This has been great Steven, you are an amazing person, I have your book and I’m really looking forward to reading it. Don’t know why I pictured you playing guitar and with long hair- and I was right! Sometimes I think people might play a particular instrument and I’m completely wrong. Can tell a brass player a mile off though as they go around saying DGDGDGDGDGD (practising their triple tonguing or flutter tonguing or something whilst walking around, not even with instrument and they even put it in their facebook messages!) Thanks again for a wonderful Spotlight Sunday and all the very best with your book.
Steven Whitacre: I originally played the saxophone when I was younger…
Nancy McBride: I have finished your story, Steven, and your determination is admirable! You were “in there” all the time. You fought your way out and became who you deserved to be. Thanks for sharing your quest! You chose to break the pattern and your wife and girls will thank you for it. What an amazing example to them. Big fat hug!
Steven Whitacre: Thanks! And thank you to everybody who made this rainy Sunday a fun one!
Victoria Twead: Thanks to you, Steven, for baring your heart and everyone who has participated in this very frank thread. It’s fantastic that we can talk about absolutely anything in this group and I know your book is going to help a lot of people come to terms with awful things that have happened in their lives.
The following day …
Shirley Ledlie: Hello Steven, sorry I missed yesterday – up to my eyes in it. I will work through this Fred and look forward to reading your book. I hope you enjoyed your day.
Janet Hughes: You’re a brilliant guy Steven Whitacre, I look forward to seeing more of you on WLM and reading more of your work. Have a great Monday
Victoria Twead: Steven Whitacre has announced the WINNERS of his book! *Drum roll* The winners are… Cherry Gregory and Nancy Gould Gomoll! Congrats to you both!
Janet Hughes: CoNgRaTuLaTiOnS Cherry Gregory and Nancy Gould Gomoll
Susan Joyce: Congratulations to Cherry Gregory and NancyGould Gomoll! You’re winners!
Julie Haigh: Well done Cherry and Nancy!
Frank Kusy: Nice one, C & N!
Nancy Gould Gomoll: Oh my gosh Steven. I am very honored to have been picked to receive a copy of your book and certainly look forward to reading it. And thanks again for opening your heart to us all. Your honesty and bravery touches many and hopefully helps them in the healing process. Blessings to you.
Cherry Gregory: Oh, thank you so much Steven! I’m so looking forward to reading your book. I’ll leave a review. Thanks for a great day yesterday.
—And well done, Nancy!
Terry Bryan: Cherry Gregory and Nancy Gould Gomoll!