Echoing among the Blue Ridge Mountains were the cries of newborn babies that disappeared into the night. The screams of children nearly drowned out by the sound of crickets.
Welcome to the May 9th stop on the blog tour for Girl Hidden by Jesse Rene Gibbs with Goddess Fish Promotions. Be sure to follow the rest of the tour for spotlights, reviews, more author guest posts, and a giveaway! More on that at the end of this post.
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Author Guest Post
My memoir explores my relationship with my abusive mother, and the challenges of reconciling my own memories with her version of events. To write this book, I delved deep into the archives of my family’s history, conducting interviews and doing extensive research to ensure that my account was as accurate as possible. Writing parts of the story from her perspective helped me to humanize her and to come to terms with the fact that despite the monster that I knew she was also a deeply damaged woman.
My narcissistic mother had a talent for rewriting history to suit her own narrative, even when the truth was far more complicated. For example, when my sister Faith was born and my mother was bedridden for almost a year, I was only thirteen years old and had to take on an enormous amount of responsibility. I managed the farm, milked the goats and cow twice a day, raised my four younger brothers, taught myself and my siblings (since we were homeschooled), and cared for my mother. However, when my mother tells this story, she only focuses on the fact that the eggs from the chicken coop weren’t clean enough for her standards to go in the refrigerator. This was just one example of how she rewrote my story to suit her own needs.
Upon sharing a personal story on TikTok, a comment was made that made me pause and reconsider how I viewed my mother’s actions. The comment suggested that my mother was a human trafficker, which made me question whether this was true. My mother had a specific agenda of collecting young unwed mothers to talk them out of having an abortion or keeping their babies and then gifting the babies to families who wanted them. However, my mother’s narcissistic tendencies led her to feed off the pain of others, regardless of whether she believed she was doing the right thing or not. It’s important to acknowledge that her actions may have caused harm to the women and children involved, and that even if she believed she was justified in her actions, it doesn’t excuse any harm caused.
Throughout the writing process, my best friend June provided me with invaluable support and encouragement. Writing about such personal and difficult experiences can be emotionally taxing, but having someone to lean on can make all the difference. June was my rock, and I couldn’t have done it without her.
About the Book
by Jesse Rene Gibbs
Published 3 December 2021
Page Count: 264
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Echoing among the Blue Ridge Mountains were the cries of newborn babies that disappeared into the night. The screams of children nearly drowned out by the sound of crickets. A girl, hidden and waiting to be found, terrified, and confused. The fireflies sparkling in the woods, bringing light to darkled places.
The bulk of Jesse’s memories were of growing up in the farm country of the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina. The farm folks stayed pretty much outside of town, except for visits to the feed store causing random tractors to travel down Main Street. There were beatings and abuses, manipulation and terror carried out in spaces breathtaking in their beauty. There were twenty-seven Baptist churches, three non-denominational churches, and one Catholic Church.
There were annual Ku Klux Klan rallies on the street where they would walk right by all the black families who came out to watch and the white folks who came out for moral support—whether of the blacks or the whites, no one knew for sure. Black people did not marry white people in a civilized society, and so were rarely seen socializing. There was a young woman who was pregnant with a black man’s baby, so her parents disowned her. Jesse’s family was accused of killing the child and burying it on their property.
There was the Berkley House Bed and Breakfast toward the end of town, with gold plated silverware and hardwood floors, rumored to be the local sex worker house. There was a mansion up on a hill that overlooked the other humble houses in the town. In the local cemetery, there was “Will B. Jolly” carved into the graves used by bootleggers back in the twenties. Everyone had some form of thick southern drawl, though the length of the “aw” would extend the further south you went. There was a tiny baseball field and a tinier fire department. There was an old lady in the foothills that let the family raid her garden during the summer. And in exchange, Jesse’s family helped her husband bring in the hay for their animals every year.
There was a black snake in the attic—the door opened inside the closet next to Jesse’s bed. She would find his shed skins left behind in the summer months measuring close to seven feet in length. There was a creek with crawdads and a moss-covered bridge. There were mulberry and pecan trees that filled her and her siblings’ aching bellies as the weather turned.
There were hot summer days and freezing cold winters. There were dogs that were best friends, cats that kept her warm at night, and a cow that committed suicide. There was red clay instead of dirt, hayfields instead of grass, and a favorite swimming hole: Lenny’s Mill, the local grain mill on a glacier-fed creek where you could take a dip if you were brave enough to challenge the frigid waters.
Girl Hidden is the story of an unwanted child, born nonetheless and forced into servitude, desperate to protect her siblings and find her way out from under the vicious, manipulative abuses heaped on her by the one person who was supposed to love her unconditionally: her mother.
Dolores woke with some mild cramps that July morning. She immediately attributed them to the new restaurant she’d tried the night before. The meat must not have agreed with her. She called in sick to work and lay on her bed for a few hours, attempting to read a paperback. She tried to fall asleep, but the cramps just kept getting worse.
It was only a few blocks from her apartment to the hospital, but it took nearly an hour. It was hard to walk sometimes. When she finally hobbled onto the base hospital she could hardly breathe. The nurses rushed her to the delivery room as time seemed to stand still. Every muscle in her body hurt. Pain, like she had never known streaked through her abdomen.
And, eventually, her first child was born. All alone in a hospital in Rota, Spain at the tender age of nineteen, Dolores gave birth to the first child that she had allowed herself to carry to full term. It was a girl.
About the Author
My name is Jesse René Gibbs and I am the author of Girl Hidden. I am an artist, designer, dancer and survivor. I am a stepmother to four, Amma to four more and blessed beyond measure with the family that I chose.
This book is based on the true story of my life, gleaned from years of my mother’s writings, my grandmother’s journals and my own experiences. I did my best to showcase the depth of damage that growing up with a narcissistic parent can have on a person, and how hard it is to come to terms with the amount of gaslighting that comes with that life. My siblings all have their own stories of being played against each other, bullied and even emotionally tortured by our parents. We were trained to not trust our own intuition, raised in a life of poverty, a lack of privacy and the endlessly traumatizing purity culture.
I was hunted in my own home by the man my mother married and escaped at nineteen only to land in an intentional community in Chicago that did nearly as much damage. My best friend in the book is also real, and she did more to walk me through my trauma, and she is the main reason that these stories were finally published.
My new life in Seattle didn’t start until well into my thirties, and I’m still working on deconstructing my life up to that point. I wrote this book to organize my life in my own mind and to undo years of lies. I also wrote it because others need to know that they are not alone.
Jesse Ren’e Gibbs will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B&N gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.a Rafflecopter giveaway
|April 17||Rogue’s Angels||April 17||Travel the Ages|
|April 24||Literary Gold||May 1||Fabulous and Brunette|
|May 8||Joanne Guidoccio||May 15||Westveil Publishing|
|May 22||Sandra’s Book Club||May 29||The Avid Reader|
|June 5||Lisa Haselton’s Reviews and Interviews||June 12||All the Ups and Downs|
|June 19||Andi’s Book Reviews||June 26||Novels Alive|
|June 26||It’s Raining Books||July 10||Long and Short Reviews|
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