Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Look Me in the Eye

Caryl Wyatt, Anita le Roux

“One of the best personal odyssey stories I have ever read”
Dr. Sam Vaknin, author of Malignant Self Love

“This is a story that I will never forget”
Alison, author of I Have Life

Love addiction is every bit as addictive as any narcotic; ask me, I have been there. I knew I couldn’t stay in an unhappy, abusive and destructive marriage. I didn’t just love my husband; I was obsessed with him. I believed that if I stayed and loved him enough, he would change—but I was wrong. All addictions escalate and can result in death—mine was no different. Broken bones and a broken heart, private clinics and prison, would not stop me from going back, time and again for more of the same. I falsely believed I was powerless to leave. Out on the street with no money, without work and nowhere to go, after a failed third marriage, I didn’t make the choice to leave—but I did make the choice to survive. I chose to learn and understand the nature of domestic violence, its root and its cure. All addictions are ‘one day at a time’ journeys to recovery—join me on mine.



Love doesn’t hurt

Caryl’s story is hard hitting and powerful, writes Annette Bayne

Look Me in the Eye is a window into the private prison of an abusive relationship.
With bars made of silence, guilt, fear and powerlessness. Yet it is also a remarkable journey of forgiveness that doesn’t end on the last page, but leaves the reader with hope, watching Caryl take the next steps into a more positive future.
Having finished the book I was able to meet up with Caryl Wyatt a little further down that road to discuss writing the book. We were joined by Anita le Roux, the co- writer of this remarkable story.
It is hard to imagine that this beautiful, confident artist was stuck in the vicious dance that goes on between the co-dependent and the narcissist.
This is not an easy book to read, Wyatt is brutally honest and hard on herself. “Many people have said I was too hard on myself,” she says, “but this was about taking responsibility for my life, there was no space for watering anything down, addiction (which is what this was) is not nice and I had to say it how it was”.
Although she details the tremendous domestic abuse she suffered at the hands of two husbands, this is primarily her story and the book is more about accepting her shortcomings and mistakes and becoming the women she is today than passing blame. She doesn’t tell the stories of her children, friends or husbands and believes those are for them to tell.
Writing this story was an eight month journey for Wyatt and le Roux and the closeness of their relationship is tangible. The story is so well understood by le Roux, that at no time in the book did I hear any other voice than Wyatt’s.
Le Roux was often responsible for reigning Wyatt’s thoughts and challenging what she had to say. For le Roux the book involved the difficult process of being both detached in order to avoid subjectivity, and engaged. “The book was an amazing healing journey for me” she admits “One never heals alone and I had to deal with my own personal baggage in order to write this story”.
“It was my story, at no time did Anita interpret the story in her own way,” Wyatt agrees.
“Writing the book was a very rewarding experinece, I was able to take back the parts of my life that I had lost.” .
If one believes the statistics, domestic violence affects at least a quarter of the South African female population, but because it so often shrouded in silence there is a lack of understanding for those who return time and again. Perhaps Wyatt’s story will open some of the tightly closed doors surrounding abuse, giving people a better understanding of the relationship between the abused and the abuser.
Due to the nature of story, it is a very personal read and and I think that one’s response would be determined by one’s own experience and understanding of abuse. But I know it is not a book I would loan to friend, I would buy them a copy of their own.