watched through tear-filled eyes as the hundred or so pages of my manuscript fluttered in many different directions. About a minute later, the pages blurred as a blow delivered to my head caused my vision to distort, and I found myself resting on top of the pages that had finally settled to the floor. The pain in my body paled in comparison to the pain in my heart, which was crushed—for bruises always healed, but a broken heart lasted for an eternity.
My work, I thought, all of my hard work.
What happened next was a series of events that began the new chapter in my book of life. On my hands and knees, I began gathering those pages. I ran to the closet, shoving them into a book bag, as I said nothing. I decided to accentuate the pain that was inflicted upon me because I knew it would invoke vile pleasure for my spouse, if he thought that his actions caused me physical agony. This would in turn take his focus off of the carefully written pages that I had diligently worked on for months, as his goal was to achieve satisfaction at what he thought would hurt me the most.
To take his focus off the book bag, I doubled over in pain, as I tossed the bag deep into the protection of a dark closet. Carefully walking past him, I proceeded to the living room. My confidence and disregard for his presence angered him once more, and more punches ensued. The pressure of my scalp lifting with unbearable tightness made me writhe in pain, realizing that he was trying to rip my hair out in chunks. When this failed, he put his arm around my neck; and with a python-like grip, he squeezed tightly and twisted my head. I could hear the bones in my neck crack, and I realized that my life was ending; deep sadness set in.
Something inside of me just wouldn’t let me die this way. I had two children whom I loved so much, a family who loved me, and a story that I wanted to get out; and I needed to fulfill my destiny! I took my life back from the hands that did not have the authorization to take it. I curled into the fetal position, so he could no longer twist my head. He stood up and left the room, long enough for me to grab my keys and purse, as I fled. The police were called, and he was arrested. This gave me the opportunity to return, pack everything that I could fit into my car, and leave for good. That was five years ago now, two days before my birthday.
“I took my life back from the hands that did not have the authorization to take it.”
I used to daydream, and say that I would be a millionaire by forty, hoping that the laws of attraction would bring it to fruition. My 40th birthday came, and I had nothing but a broken heart, some of my clothes, my laptop computer, important documents, and that book bag with my pages, wondering if it would ever become a book. Nonetheless, I pulled those crumpled pages from that bag and typed out those words to create chapter after chapter. The chapters in my life also began to unfold.
During that transition in my life, emotions and resiliency were an uphill battle. Typing the last sentence of that manuscript, which literally read, “Do on Earth as it is in Heaven,” was not only a great ending for a novel, but was also the prayer that kept me from ending my life. “On Earth as It Is in Hell,” became the title of my first novel, which I found relatable to my life of pain and torment.
Trying to get my book published with zero knowledge of the process only added fuel to the firestorm of hurt, disappointment, fear, and depression. I had no money and could not even afford an editor.
I queried hundreds of publishers and agents; and with no knowledge of how to properly format my manuscript, I received hundreds of rejection letters; this only made me feel worthless once again. My husband had rejected me, the publishers had rejected me, and I could not afford vanity publishing. I decided that this rejection was not going to stop me or set me back. I fought hard to live; now it was time to fight harder to keep living and achieving.
I started researching everything about self-publishing, and decided to do all the parts that I could myself, to save money. I looked at everything that the vanity publishers offered to find out what was needed to turn a manuscript into a book.
As I collected knowledge of the steps of book publishing, my heart soared with joy. I bought an ISBN number and found a company to make my book cover. The beauty of the book’s appearance shone in my eyes while I fixed margins and spacing. Remembering that day when my pages fluttered to the floor because of my ex-husband, I thought about how far I’d come when I found a book binding company to keep the pages from ever falling again. I cried when the book appeared on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple iBook.
“Remembering that day when my pages fluttered to the floor because of my ex-husband, I thought about how far I’d come when I found a book binding company to keep the pages from ever falling again.”
Fear crept in as I wondered if I would be accepted this time. Would anyone buy my book? However, after all I had been through, turning back was no longer an option. I could no longer give this emotion of failure any power. My moment of pure bliss came when I received a notification that I had sold my first book. I literally jumped out of my chair and began to leap up and down as tears flowed uncontrollably. Thanks and gratitude for this moment poured from my heart. For the first time, I felt like I was something more than a victim; I was a victor!
I am somebody. I am a writer.
And with that realization, I started taking classes and ultimately ended up with two master’s degrees. In 2016, I graduated with that second degree, which led me to finish a second book that I released in May 2018.
I went from rock bottom in health, wealth, and esteem to a life lived more abundantly. I’m so thankful for everything I’ve accomplished, and I smile all of the time.
When I think about that day when my ex-husband beat me and I shoved my book bag in the closet, I don’t recognize that person; that person didn’t have a voice that was heard or a reflection I thought anyone could see. I have come so far, and I feel accomplished and loved.
Millionaire in my 40s, you bet I am; I feel like a million bucks. My book of life is still being written, but spoiler alert, it ends very well.
Cortina Jackson is the author of the novels, On Earth as It Is in Hell and The Sounds of Silence are the Loudest. She is a domestic violence survivor, and advocate against all forms of abuse. The proud mother of two young adult sons, parenting is still one of her favorite jobs. When she is not working hard at making her young men laugh, she enjoys writing tremendously.
Cortina has also worked in corrections, criminal justice, and law enforcement for many years. She has often seen that life is scarier than fiction, which is often portrayed in her novels. She holds two Master’s degrees in Safety and Criminal Justice, but would gladly leave all of it behind to write, produce, and act full-time.
Cortina thoroughly enjoys meeting new people, and can be found smiling all of the time for the many blessings that God has bestowed upon her.
Visit her website: www.CortinaJackson.com
Connect with her on social media: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.
More Tales from the Trenches:
My Writing Coach in the Looking Glass: Overzealous Mentor or Moneymaker? By Lisa Mae DeMasi
Finger Gone Rogue, Writing Gone Mute by Rhonda Wiley-Jones
Just Say No, or Being a Bitch for My Art by Judith Sornberger
My Favorite Rejection Letter by Tatiana Claudy