Childhood is supposed to be carefree, innocent and filled with an abundance of love. Nothing is free, but in the long-run, being a kid is expected to be made that way —if you were one of the fortunate ones.
There are many of us out there who can concur that their life started out much like Clair’s —chaotic, frightening and immersed in utter pandemonium. What a great way to start life —I do not think so. It dictates the path we choose in our existence —how we feel and treat ourselves and others.
While editing Suicide by Death, I grew increasingly tied to the main character, Clair. I know editors are not supposed to get involved with the ‘players’, but I did. It turns out Clair and I have a lot in common —and I became her passionate advocate —her mirror image so to speak. There were times I wanted to step inside Clair’s world and protect her, do a little physical damage to those who caused her so much pain and angst. It tore open personal wounds, which I thought were dealt with long ago. I realize now there are scars that can still bleed; sometimes profusely. You can attain all the counseling you want, but they are still there corked down so deeply that when they surface, you want to scream or do something irrational to quell the anger and bitterness built up within ourselves.
The first example in our lives is our family. If you cannot trust them to love and support you, then who can you trust? Inevitably, we end up attracting or being attracted to the same toxicity throughout the rest of our lives. We learned it when our early years were full of emotional insanity — and think we are moving forward, all the while we go through the motions and try to discover what love really is. All of us know how to spell it, but what is it in the real sense of the word? If we do not have positive examples of a functional start in life, it is hit and miss —and most times a miss.
When innocence is taken from us so early in life, it becomes an awkward jigsaw puzzle of choices, like pulling a rabbit out of an arena full of hats. Sometimes we get lucky, sometimes not, and it is usually the ‘not’ that is the winner in the quest for happiness and self-awareness. One can move on and catch whatever prism as it shines its light on you. Nevertheless, the damage is there to stay. It is what we do with it that counts.
People like Clair would look at a relationship and ask, “If he likes me, there must be something wrong with him.” I call it the “Damaged Goods Syndrome.” We feel we are undeserving of love or happiness. It was beaten into us subtly so early on. Too many times it is unsalvageable. It is the hamster wheel that keeps on spinning. In the end, the lucky ones survive and have content lives. Sure, we can continue wandering down a path of self-destruction and self-loathing and hope for the best, or let nature take its course and take what you get. Sometimes you win — sometimes you do not.
As I read through the book, I found myself re-gluing myself emotionally back together in small ways, but they all added up. “If Clair can do it, so can I.” I can honestly say after closing the book, I felt different somehow. I saw my own demons in a different light as Clair did. Things did not seem so hopeless any longer, and I’ve been looking for it my entire life. Sometimes it takes that one person to point the way, and in creating the characters in Suicide by Death, I want to thank Mark for brilliantly assembling some sort of sanity out of the emotional rubble for me.
Quite honestly, I will miss Clair. I wish her the best.
Carla Michale Clark