Every now and again, something I read sears straight through to my head and my heart. And so I find myself using this Guest Blogger slot to tell you about a very special book I’ve read this week.
The book is called Into the Woods: When Love Isn’t Always A Fairy Tale and it’s by Julie Leoni, a Coach working here in the UK. The link to buy a copy is given at the end of this posting.
I thought long and hard about bringing this to you in the lead up to Christmas, when the expected focus is on happy homes, warm hearths, twinkling lights and full bellies; but the reality is that Christmas is a time of dread for many women (and men). Alcohol. Family tensions brought to boiling point without the escape valve of work and school. The in-laws. The overspending. It’s a heady mix. It’s no coincidence that this week the domestic abuse charity Refuge launched its campaign featuring some chilling reversible poems. Again, see the link below.
But for now, back to Julie’s book.
I’ve never read anything else quite like this. It fills a gap in the library of stories told by women about women. (Julie makes the point that men have their stories too, but those are for someone else to tell).
Here you will find a treasure trove of fairy tales, full of poetry and beauty and whimsy. You will find the usual characters: Goldilocks complete with the family of bears, a little mermaid, beanstalks, sleeping beauties and ugly ducklings that turn into beautiful swans. But just as those traditional fairy tales have a dark heart, so do these. They are the stories of real women living with domestic abuse. They are the stories of the women we socialise with, work with, and celebrate Christmas with.
You won’t get any spoilers here, but among many important messages contained within is this: how these women are hidden in plain sight. Unnoticed and unsought. Doing the school run, in meetings, at the shops. In our Springboard workshops. So many missed opportunities, so many alarm bells, so many good intentions by others that weren’t followed through. I can hold my hands up right now and name dear friends who – in the naivety of my happy, sheltered younger life – I failed to see or hear until they had found their own way out of the woods. I am so, so sorry.
And to those of you who could write your own tale: my heart goes out to you.
You’d be forgiven in thinking what I’ve described is unremittingly miserable and dark – but you’d be wrong! Julie celebrates our heroines and her love for each one of them jumps off every page. Their stories are full of power, healing, friendship, practical help and old-world magic. You will take them all to your heart, cheer them on as they work through to their brighter tomorrows, and wish for them all a truly happy ever after.
You will also find yourself siding with the good people who did step in, who asked the question, who shared their safe homes. And for those of us who are blessed to live a safe, loving life – that’s our takeaway, right there.
I will carry this book with me for a long time and it will become a staple on my Resource Table. This Christmas, let’s pause the revelry and endless eating just for a moment and check in with each other a little more.
Licensed Springboard and Spring Forward Trainer
Winnthinking People Development
Views expressed by the writer are not necessarily the views of the Springboard Consultancy Ltd