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Reaching Paperback – May 13, 2013
KENNETH WEENE, author and co-host of IT MATTERS RADIO
About the Author
Grace Peterson divides her time between working as an administrative assistant, writing and gardening. She is a member of The Association of Writing Excellence and The National Association of Memoir Writers and has published essays in several anthologies. She authors two blogs and writes a newspaper garden column. She is the proud mother of four grown children, four friendly felines, and has been married to her best friend since 1980. Her second book is in publication. Please visit her blog at gracepete.com.
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Grace sunk into a spiral of sex, drugs, and alcohol as a teenager, trying to reason with her torment, and that only exasperated her anguish. She began cutting herself trying to let the anguish flow out. Fortunately, she met and married a caring and sympathizing man and had children she adored, but that was not enough to set her free from the demons that remained, the horrific flashbacks and nightmares that constantly haunted her. She was still searching for a "cure". She tried suicide to relieve the pain and was briefly hospitalized but evidently they didn't recognize the depth of her problems and she was released from the psych ward in less than a week with nothing resolved to help her cope.
Grace and her family joined a strict religious group trying to resolve order in her life and was ultimately sucked into another extremely unhealthy relationship with Brock, a mind controlling pseudo "religion" psychologist who convinced Grace her grandfather had sexually abused her in a "satanic cult" he belonged to, and thus, she was inhabited by demons. The charlatan she trusted and became emotionally "addicted" to promised he could heal her of the devils...but didn't. His "shock" therapy only made her situation worse until she began to feel she wasn't inhabited by demons at all...she was one. Under controlling Brock's influence, she concluded, "None of the thoughts I held were my own. Every daydream, every impulse, every concept, idea, opinion, everything, my entire mind was demonic...Pure hell."
The conclusion of the memoir is how Grace finally broke away from Brock's control and found medical help that was successful and set her on a course to be relieved of the torment.
The story is raw and descriptive, well written, and spell binding, with Grace able to draw the reader into her tormented world to feel her unbearable pain and anguish. I would recommend this book to anyone who has ever wondered what having to live with mental agony in a distorted world is like...terrifying and treacherous. Reaching proves real life can be stranger than fiction, but that with determination one can turn a torture filled existence into a loving, fulfilling, and appreciated life.
I applaud Grace for finally being able to break the mental chains that bound her for so long.
After the birth of another child, she goes deeper into the misery, and becomes part of a religious cult. The journey is full of twists and turns, of being stuck on the wrong side of the river, and trying with all her intelligence to make it seem right. Reaching shows how easy it is for a damaged person, or one who is in a weakened state of depression or illness, to be brainwashed and persuaded to hand over power to another person or group. She is given the promise of “healing” by a self-appointed pastor, supposedly of the Christian faith. For years she follows his dictates, to the point of being held under water in the river. This is followed by a slow dawning that she is not being helped by this man; instead, her own identity begins to re-emerge, and with it a sense of self-worth. She is able to get back on the boat and return to her life, as a wife and mother, and lover of gardens. Her diagnosis in the end makes perfect sense, but you’ll have the read the book for that!
This book should be read by anyone who is following a “faith-healer” or senses indoctrination in a guise of grief or other counseling into any form of religious fundamentalism. It is a cautionary tale.
As I read Grace Peterson’s book Reaching, a memoir, several words immediately came to mind: courage and strength_ to tell the world.
So many who have been abused have a difficult time going it alone, some never come away being whole again, dig deeper into the abyss and never fully cope. There are those who remain too ashamed to say, while others fortunately recognize the need to seek counsel and guidance. The journal Grace kept and the steady factor of her loving husband were truly blessings, and her strength and will were indeed a saving grace as finally Brock couldn’t take her beyond reality. At her core she always had a sense of right or wrong direction.
Beautifully written prose had me rereading certain passages as she painted a picture: “… Stoned or sober, life is a trek through a pitch black room, stumbling over injustices, maneuvering blindly around bullies and blunders, dusting off the pain, licking the wounds, picking the scabs, remembering where the trouble spots are… “.
Those going through difficult times might learn from Grace’s experience and ultimately seek professional guidance to help work through those wounds. It takes time to heal the pain and suffering, and no one can tell you what, when or how to do that, and only you know the time to make a change.