Tomorrow I’ll be featuring the first chapter of Stacey Danson’s book Empty Chairs for you to read. Empty Chairs is going to be published by Night Publishing, a decision which makes me respect the owners of her publishing house. And I’d like to take this opportunity to also thank Tim for giving his permission for you to read Stacey’s first chapter tomorrow – Thank you Tim.
I wanted you to get to know a little bit about Stacey before you read the first chapter of her memoir tomorrow, to give you insight into what an amazing woman she is. Her sense of humour shines through, as does her humility.
I respect her greatly, I know she is more courageous than any president in any office who can get other people to fight his battles for him – yet is given the power to rule a country.
Life is war, some of us start off so deep in the trenches that you cannot fathom what *normal* is. Normal is relative. Tomorrow when you read Stacey’s excerpt, I want you to consider just how lucky you’ve had it in this life.
Humans are prone to complaining, about the weather, the traffic, inflation – whatever – just as long as the jaw is working and misery is oozing out. Stacey Danson manages to make all of those people seem utterly pathetic. She has every reason to complain, to blame her childhood, to blame society, to blame everyone – yet instead, she grabs each day with both hands and inhales deeply, grateful to be here, alive.
I am moved to tears just thinking about Stacey’s story. I urge you to never take a day for granted again. The next time you open your mouth to whinge, think about this woman. And please – read the excerpt tomorrow – it will transform you – forever. I am greatly honoured to have the opportunity to interview Stacey before Oprah does (grins).
Hi Stacey, thank you so much for allowing me to interview you. Your book Empty Chairs is an explosive account of your life behind closed doors, which takes courage and bravery to write.
• I’d like to know when did you first decide to write your memoirs?
Thanks for inviting me to your site, Poppet. Decision is a complex word isn’t it? I know the day I decided to write this was not one I’ll ever forget. I had promised someone very dear to me that ‘One Day’ I would share this. One day I would tell people about the things that happened, to me … and to her. Her name was Jenny. I met her living on the streets in the sixties. I was eleven, she was barely nine. For over 40 years we remained friends, supportive and loving. We kept each other’s secrets well hidden. Jenny committed suicide a year ago. I was utterly convinced that I had somehow let her down, I hadn’t written a word of it. I decided the day of her funeral, that it was time to honor that promise.
• Can you explain to the reader how it feels to revisit your past and make yourself so vulnerable again?
It would be an understatement to say this is a difficult process, I wasn’t prepared for the pounding my emotions would take. Stupid …yeah? I have worked so very hard all my life to keep this locked away, doing everything I could to shield myself from the memories. It was always there lingering on the outskirts like a nightmare that you have had and don’t ever want to have again. I thought at first that I could distance myself from it and write it down chronologically so I didn’t need to invest my emotions. I can be a stupid woman sometimes, this isn’t a story I’m creating as a work of fiction, the nausea and fear I am experiencing by writing it down are very real. I am showing strangers and friends alike my underbelly and hoping like shit that no-one takes advantage of me being so exposed. I feel like I have cut myself and the bleeding hasn’t stopped. Does that make any sense at all? (perfectly)
• Who did you write this book for? Is it for you, to help overcome the silence and the pain, or someone you love? (This is aside from the reader who you obviously want to influence when it comes to abuse in society).
At first I thought I was doing this as an honor thing for Jenny; then I tried convincing myself that it was only to make people aware of what happens behind closed doors. Finally and only after getting stinking drunk for a week solid I had to face the fact that this is just as much for me. I had never touched on more than just the basics of it with anyone. If I am to be truly honest this is as much for me as it is for anyone else. Facing the dragon and slaying the bloody thing is something long overdue. Whatever the outcome … it’s time.
• Has this book influenced your day to day life? Do people behave differently around you now – has it helped to open up about your past so that the future is baggage free?
Phew…three questions in one! Okay “has this book influenced my day to day life?” Hell yes. I have isolated myself from the outside world as much as humanly possible whilst I am writing this. My main contact with anyone in my life at the moment is via the internet and the telephone. Once a month I have friends over and they stay a weekend…that is keeping me sane…or as sane as possible. I order my groceries on-line and have them delivered. I go days at a time without seeing another human being. I am like a raw exposed nerve, and I don’t want to lash out at people who care about me … so until this is done, that’s the way I’ll just have to be. Not a good plan for my long term health and I know that, yet it’s the best I can do … I just don’t have anything left in me to give at the end of a day or nights writing.
“Do people behave differently around you now?” Uh huh…yeah, some do. Nothing really bad or at least so far, people that care about me were angry with me at first, really damned angry. It was as if I hadn’t trusted them enough to confide in them for all these years. I was shocked initially, at the anger. I had this vague notion that perhaps I wouldn’t still be loved if they really knew about my past. That was not a very fair way to look at the people that love me. Perhaps I should’ve trusted them more? Trust is still something I have problems with, I am learning … slowly. Whether I can ever completely lower my guard is debatable, I have built it so well over all these years. The other and more obvious thing that has happened is that friends that have known me a long time are being cautious what they say in front of me. It’s like… “Oh hell I’m sorry…I shouldn’t have told that joke.” Or… “Whoops sorry, I didn’t mean what I said to sound that way.” I have had to resort to yelling at them…I am the same female that you sat and got drunk with and hit on a year ago…I laugh at almost anything, have a very colorful vocabulary! I still eat, sleep, fart and take a crap the same way…so stop with the sensitivity already.
As for the future being baggage free…can any of us say without reservation that we are not a bi-product of the baggage we carry? I’m learning to lighten the weight of it. That’s the best I can manage for now.
• Do you have a motto?
I have several, most of which are too risque to put in an interview. I guess my favourite repeatable one is “If you always do, what you’ve always done. Then you’ll always get, what you always got.” That makes perfect sense to me.
If there is one thing you could change in this world what would it be?
Now that’s a heavy duty question! The one thing that I believe would make any difference in this screwed up world … yeah. I believe no child on this planet should ever go to sleep without knowing they are unconditionally loved. Simple.
• Do you have anyone you aspire to?
• Name two things that make you happy?
My daughter. And Sunrise.
• If you could thank someone, who would you like to thank and why?
I feel like I’m getting an Oscar or something… “I would like to thank the members of the Academy and every person I have ever met and their relatives!” Sorry … seriously…yeah, apart from my friends and family…I would like to say a big thank you to Tim Roux and the other people at Night Publishing…it takes guts to take on a book like this. They believe in me … and that feels wonderful.
( It just takes one to believe in you for anything to be possible x)
Stacey thank you so much for your contribution to society. I know that Empty Chairs is not a fairy tale or the scribblings of a delusional woman, but a painful recollection of your past. The reader can never understand what it’s like to show people the horror of your history, but you are a phenomenal woman today, a gentle woman who takes each day as a precious gift, and I really hope our readers count their blessings after reading your excerpt. Thank you for letting us in.