I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Darcy Leech, author of the just-released book From My Mother, which details her experiences as both a sibling and a daughter of individuals with rare genetic diseases. What struck me most about Darcy was the way that she was able to use writing throughout her life as a way to process and cope with the often complex emotions that come with being a sib. Below are excerpts from my interview with Darcy. Check out the interview below and check out her book at: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1632132249/.
Why do you think writing has been such an outlet for you as a sib?
Writing helped me heal from losing my brother when I was 16. I had tons of emotions swirling around, and my life changed dramatically when I no longer had to lift my brother into bed, help unload him off the bus, dress him or change diapers. I had a lot more free time and perhaps a less clear purpose. I wrote to understand myself, to heal, and to process the paradigm shift it was to go from a sibling of someone with a disability to the only remaining child to two loving, but hurting parents. Writing is my outlet, my therapist, and hopefully the way I can make a positive impact on the world.
Who is your primary audience when you've thought about writing this book? Why do you want to write for this audience as opposed to other audiences?
I wrote for the families affected by muscular dystrophy, anyone affected by a rare disease, spouses who are caretakers, siblings who grew up too fast, anyone who suffered loss, and anyone with a mother. I particularly hope that siblings of those with disabilities read this book. I would have been a better person if I read this book when I was 16. It can feel lonely to be in a family with a child with a disability because our home lives are so different. We have to grow up fast. We don't have as great a range of freedom or free time. I took everything seriously because I was raised to think my brother could pass away at any time. I spent tons of time playing my Game Boy in hospitals and less time at sports camps or Girl Scouts or other social opportunities that took more stability than my family had living amid medical crisis. Sometimes, my peers didn't understand me. I want to find the other siblings like that - young and old. We aren't alone, and good books allow us to connect to stories like ours. If you are a sibling, you'll love From My Mother. You'll relate, I promise. This will be an especially powerful book for any sibling who managed to 'dodge the bullet' in a family with genetic disease.
What sorts of emotions have come up for you as you've written the book?
Oh, I cried often. Tears of pain, joy, gratitude, anger. I processed emotions I repressed around others. I let off steam that if I didn't would affect my closest relationships in moments of stress. I remembered my childhood, sorted through pictures, asked my father questions about things I was never told. It was cathartic. I'm not sure a therapist could have done as much processing with me as a book did. Writing probably saved me. Now that the book is complete and I can share with other families like mine, I feel this immense joy, as if I've found my calling in life and now know what I was born healthy from a mother with a terminal disease. I was born to share her story of strength. This book is mission driven for me. If I succeed in getting this book to the audience who need it, I share my mother's story of pain, loss and strength to help others with degenerative, genetic, chronic or terminal disease. It's a lonely road to walk, and in the modern era of social media and publishing, I'm uniquely positioned to help women like my mother know they are not alone. That's a gift I mean to give my best effort to. I care instantly for the people who find me on Facebook and tell me they are in a family with muscular dystrophy. I'm like them. I understand them. Some of their sons look like my brother. Some of the women have the same set in the jaw as my mother. Those are my people. I wrote for them and I want to share with them. I wholeheartedly believe From My Mother can make a difference for families like mine. Whatever emotions I had to battle to write - that end goal is worth it.
For more information about Darcy, check out her website at: http://darcyleech.com/