A conversation with Kelly McMasters about her book The Leaving Season
A rural setting is what allowed him to yell and scream at us as loudly and as often as possible. And I didn't even realize this until I moved to a city and he was there, yelling and screaming in my garage with the garage door open. He "apologized" later. That's in quotes because he was sorry the neighbors could have heard him ... he was not sorry for the yelling and screaming. I deserved that ... just like I always did.
It was also after I was out and safe that I joined a support group with others who had been in relationships with abusive people. Hearing other stories that were JUST LIKE MINE made me realize that abusers all work from the same playbook. They do the same damage. Over and over again.
The first essay written by Lyz that I read was almost like that. I kept looking around the room wondering, omg, how can she be talking about ME like this?
I will listen to this new memoir. I'm sure it will bring new threads on this tapestry of mine that shows how connected we all are.
This made me think of something Ashley Ford (Somebody’s Daughter)
“And I ended up figuring out that not only did I need to trust myself about my experience, but I also needed to own my experience, which meant that nobody else got to dictate the parameters around what I could and could not share that I experienced. That was not going to happen. That was secrets. That was shame. That was me carrying somebody else's baggage. Not because I wanted to, and not because it was helpful to them, but because they just felt like that was the right thing for me to do with no other evidence to build that case.”
Women are often secret keepers out of a sense they need to protect their families. I don’t see a lot of that impulse in male writers. Their art takes precedence in their own minds. On a lighter note same as Taylor Swift is criticized for writing about her old boyfriends but it’s considered a great compliment to any woman a rock song can be traced to.
Oh, so so good. I have to get the book. And getting out is only part of it--I look back on the 13 years I was in co-parenting and all the crap that came with it and phew. I used to tell people that my exx was using the system and the kids to do to me by proxy what he couldn't do in person anymore. Here's to speaking our truths. I also find people are uncomfortable when I share mine--does anyone else find this to be true?
God you all are so right. Women are silenced even in somewhat healthy relationships. And in every arena. Ugh how many times have I taken young women (teens) I teach aside and told them that this is their world, too, and they have just as much right to speak up, get mad, and participate, and remind them that they never see boys being tentative. Slightly hypocritical for me to be the one to tell them, because when have I ever spoken up? Thank you for this conversation.
Is it just me or should we all be getting worried about state legislatures discussing overturning no fault divorce laws?? Scary times
I'm not quite 3 months out from telling my husband of almost 38 years that I don't want to be married anymore. He was surprised, but only because he wasn't paying attention, which is what got me there. Looking back over my journaling through the pandemic, I can point to the lack of emotional connection that has been going on for years. And I know there is a better life ahead, but right now, this middle stage can weigh me down. Getting away for the weekend with a friend to rock hunt, hike, and explore. Or just sit. I can't wait.
Your interviews and topics are so timely. I'm so glad I somehow found you, Lyz! Hubs and I are waffling about attending the wedding of his good buddy. We're seeing public displays of outrageous and abusive behavior from the bride (and have been seeing it over the past couple years). I can't imagine what she does behind closed doors. But we'll be there for him at his wedding and will be there for him when he leaves.
Fascinating - and I'm definitely putting her memoir on my list. As I struggle through memoir myself, the parts about how much to reveal of others' lives--children, spouses, other family members--especially resonates. These are tough decisions!
Also, the description of multiple drafts really resonates! "multiple drafts — this is the extra-kind draft, this is the false draft, this is the pissed-off draft — and then Frankensteining them together."
Kelly's book is so, so good--and I loved this conversation, Lyz! You asked such good questions that really made me re-appreciate the craft of Kelly's work.
I’m the male version of the leaver. After 15 years of marriage and 28 years living in the same place. I used my retirement as the reason to end everything. Put the house up for sale, ended the marriage and left my church, friends and family moving 1000 miles away. Lonely for many months but ultimately the best thing I could have done. New church, new friends, new life.
Immediately purchasing this book- great share!
Reading this with coffee feels nourishing - comments as vitamins and minerals to satisfying main plate!
I’m halfway through first draft of my memoir - writing about growing up in a fundamentalist church and the abuse it fostered and hid in rural upstate NY. It’s been hard to write from a place of clarity through the anger. Lots of those drafts!
So many people knew something was terribly wrong, church friends and other family members and no one did anything, patriarchy and misogyny (kin to silence and complicity) kept everyone in line, no questions asked. Which in that environment is the point - it’s God’s will. The man, a man, any man is in charge period. My father believed and expressed that my mother’s cancer was the result of her sin - for disobeying him.
In March, 2020 I was in downtown Boone as Sen Joni Ernst was doing a little tour of Republican-owned Main Street businesses. While she was in the Dutch Oven, I introduced myself and asked her a couple of questions. I asked, "what made you decide to leave your marriage?" She answered that she was afraid he would hurt the children, and also, she did not want to damage Gail's reputation. I was stunned.
Great interview, great conversation.