The single greatest influence in her life was the remarkable time spent with her paternal grandmother; it was under this influence that she thrived. Her grandmother introduced her to not only fine Literature, but also the Arts and the Opera. And it was beloved grandmother who told her that if she wanted to be a great writer she must first learn to be an avid reader.
Early adult life would be peppered with indecision, failings, and the haunting of things not learned in childhood. But as is the case with most sincere artist, out of the angst of life came a great capacity for creativity.
Shelby considers her writing a gift...a joy, a tremendous responsibility, and something that helps to define her life.
She lives in very picturesque Central Oregon with her two children.
...I was not born in the South...unless you count Southern California as the South...lol...but in the true South are found many wonderful traditions...saying "yes m'am...and please and thank you..." and great cooking...and incredible thunderstorms...but between the pleasantries is one tradition the South could do without...in relation to domestic abuse they tend not to talk about it...which...sadly perpetuates it. Between 1999 and 2001 the kids and I were in women's shelters no less than 3 times. Looking back the best thing that can be said is that at least there women's shelters to go to in the area. That is the best and the worst that can be said.
I started back to college from a shelter. My children spent close to two years growing up in a shelter. The first time we were in a shelter my son, Jordan, was only 6 weeks old. It was an odd way for them to grow up; and yet if there had been no shelters their lives would have been even worse. One of the challenges for women in that position getting help is when abuse is discounted, excused and facilitated. Since people in the South are relatively mannerly this can happen a lot down there. I sat at a many times with a lady who had been belittled, hit and humiliated by her husband and refused to tell his family or hers because it wasn't the polite southern thing to do. She came and went a couple of times during the times we were there. The last time she had been so severly beaten that she had soiled herself all over her kitchen floor. That same week her son had been accepted in to medical school and family was coming for a visit. She was more concerned with the friends and family coming for a visit, and not revealing her abuse, than she was concerned with securing a safe place. And her situation wasn't even as extreme as some.
But that is the point...there shouldn't be varying degrees of abuse...being cussed at and threatened on a regular basis is as abusive as having the hell beat out of you. In fact many times women in the shelter said they would rather have the daylights beat out of them, because that would heal, rather than to be cussed and threatened.
The yardstick shouldn't be "other people's opinions" but rather that which makes a woman feel unsafe.
I had the added joy of dealing with the fact that my ex was liked by my family...and is even liked as of today. How is that possible? Partly because "good 'ol boys" are excused in the South. Partly because no one wanted to deal squarely with the entire dysfunctional dynamic. And partly because it is easier to not get involved.
I do think that some abusive people can read something like this and be shamed into thinking about their behaviors...but most will not. If hurting people, hurt people then abusers are the most hurting of all.
It would be interesting for my family to find out that admist the terror of yelling, cussing, threats, throwing things and whatever else that was spewed from my ex husband...never once came an apology...he always pointed out what he was "made to do". I could tell he had been abused...but that never got dealt with...at least not in the scope of our relationship.
Why should I care? I share two incredible kids with this man.
Some of my family made my life a living hell by not believing that he was abusive. The chasm of which had yet to be bridged. Why? because I could not be taught that lovliest of Southern traits of turning a blind eye to his abusive nature.
I am grateful to Penelope House in Mobile, Alabama for cutting through the crap and "being there".
Let me know how you are doing.