July 12, 2013
By Sara Niles (A.K.A. Josephine Thompson)
The term ‘bucket list’ is a term that was made more popular by the 2007 movie by the same title: The Bucket List and it means to list things that you want to do before you die. Most people list things that they never got around to, or special achievements that may have been lifetime dreams.
I have one primary thing in my life that has achieved a ‘do or die’, sacred mission status to me: it is the one thing I want to do, no matter what happens in my life. It is the thing that is of greatest importance to me, besides the most obvious and universal goal that most of us who are human share, that of putting family and loved ones first; but in order to clearly articulate why this one thing is so important to me, I have to tell a short version of my long life. The life altering, and consuming mission that I have been propelled into, was aroused by my own personal life experiences and cultivated by unfortunate circumstances along my journey.
In order to tell the story of my mission, I have to tell a snippet version of my life:
I was born to a country prostitute during a time when race relations in the southern United States were less than ideal and as a result, as a child of mixed race in the 1950’s, I was given away to my great-great uncle and aunt to raise, both of whom were in their eighties when I was barely past my toddling years. My relatives died while I was still a child and I married a man who was both abusive and mentally unstable, and about fifteen years and five children later, I found myself on a run for my life with five small children. After a traumatic upheaval, my children and I found an oasis of sorts in a small community in another state and life appeared to be grand.
To make a long story short and without telling the details, life was far from grand, as I discovered over the years. My five children had been damaged psychologically in ways that were not readily apparent, and it would take years before I fully understood the triple impact of domestic violence and abuse upon impressionable young children, or how childhood abuse affects them as adults. The impact of prolonged and extreme dysfunction is often triple and generational, successive generations are affected. I call this triple effect that predisposes victims toward drug addiction, trauma reactions and mental health issues, the ‘Three Headed Monster’.
My mission is to keep the Three Headed Monster at bay and my tools are my words: I wrote The Torn Trilogy, a monumental 1200 page work that is a testament of the power of the human spirit under fire, and as a long mission statement against family dysfunction and extreme domestic violence.
When my mission is completed, I want to visit one of the greatest mountains in the world: