You’re just a failure. The sooner you accept it, the better.
Have you ever heard that voice in your head? The one that says you’re not good enough? Maybe, like Arleigh O’Neill, you heard the words out loud from someone who should have been there for you. Someone like a spouse or a beloved parent. In Arleigh’s case, her father.
I haven’t experienced gaslighting personally, but I’ve seen it in action. I’ve seen more than one grown woman – although men can be victims, too – begin to doubt her perception of reality.
You’re not good enough. You’re clumsy. You’re stupid. You’re confused. It didn’t happen that way. You’re paranoid. You’re overreacting. You’re making things up.
No one will believe you.
Because look at me! I’m a pillar of the community. A respected businessman. Possibly a respected church elder. I’m charming. I have everyone fooled.
No one will believe you.
You don’t have any bruises. I would never do anything to hurt you. Not physically, but I do like you to cower a bit in front of me. To remember I’m in control, and you most definitely are not. And besides…
No one will believe you.
As I wrote A Green and Vibrant Hope, the heroine’s background became clear to me. Arleigh’s parents had split up when she was a teenager, when her maternal grandmother finally got through to Arleigh’s mom about how unhealthy her marriage was.
Because Arleigh’s dad had been projecting his reality on his wife and two daughters for many years. But even though Arleigh rarely saw her father anymore, his voice lived on.
As the first scene in the story closes, we read this:
Everything she touched turned to muck in her hands. Her father’s voice barked inside her mind: Get your head out of the clouds, Arleigh Maria. You’ll never amount to anything with all that daydreaming.
Dad was right. Why had she ever thought she could make a go of her own business? She’d risked everything… and lost.
A few chapters later, Arleigh’s sister, Juni, returns to town. They get talking about Dad.
Arleigh poked her booted foot at the table leg. “I could never be enough for Dad. Not like you. All I ever hear is his voice in my head.”
“Wait.” Juni surged to her feet. “You think Dad approved of me more than of you?”
“Duh. He did.”
Juni gave her head a quick shake. “I’m not sure what evidence you have of that.”
“Seriously? Everything I said or did, he told me I would fail. That I wasn’t good enough. That a girl couldn’t handle whatever it was.”
“I’m two years younger than you.”
“Your point?” Arleigh dropped into a chair beside the table and waited while Juni took her seat again. “Because there’s no way I made that up.”
“You didn’t make that up.”
“But you weren’t inside my mind watching you butt heads with Dad all the time. You were so brave.”
“Stupid. Not brave.”
“From my angle, you looked brave. You knew he wouldn’t approve, but you kept tackling new ventures regardless. You didn’t let him stop you.”
There was so much Arleigh wanted to say to that. If she’d had a glimmer of hope that he’d approve if she made a different choice, she’d have buckled without another thought.
“Me, on the other hand? I guess I decided to bend and try to please him.” Juni looked down as she twisted her hands together. “It didn’t work over the long haul.”
Meanwhile, Arleigh is getting to know widower and single dad, Mitchell Ackerman, who has a few minor hang-ups of his own where chauvinism is concerned. But, with Arleigh’s background, she blows those possibly little things way out of proportion.
Which is reality? Is Mitchell a nice guy who can love her as Christ loved the church? Or is he merely a more subtle version of her earthly father?
Come join Arleigh and Mitchell as they work through their perceptions of God the Father and the vibrant, living hope found in Him! Even though there are some heavy themes, I think you’ll find it an uplifting read.
Arleigh O’Neill gambles on starting her own flower farm with a tight budget on leased land… and loses when the river overflows its banks, demolishing the rented greenhouse, drowning her fields, and destroying her mobile home. She needs both a home and a job, but no one in Galena Landing seems to be hiring.
Widowed farmer Mitchell Ackerman is at wit’s end with his two rambunctious sons, but his brother’s suggestion he hire Arleigh to nanny the boys is a nonstarter. He can’t afford to pay anyone, and besides, she annoys him with her hippie-flower-painted van and independent attitude. When, after a particularly bad parenting day. Arleigh drives a bargain to care for them in exchange for greenhouse space, Mitchell is in no position to argue.
Arleigh thinks he’s arrogant. Mitchell thinks she’s frivolous. What will it take to get them to see into each other’s hearts and grasp a green and vibrant hope?
A Green and Vibrant Hope releases May 4, 2023, and will be available in Kindle Unlimited. Preorder today for the best price!