I believe that love and compassion cut through hate. I believe that when we use them, they help make the world a kinder place. I believe this, even after all the hate used against me, all the hate my abusers tried to teach me; love and compassion cut through all of that. And that’s something that I try to show in every book I write–love and compassion bring healing, greater kindness, and empathy. I think they work especially well in YA lit, where hope is often expected or encouraged.
I didn’t grow up with love. My parents were part of intergenerational, interconnected cults. Their hate was a constant, along with daily and nightly rape, abuse, and torture that they used against me. They tried to make me hate like they did by using torture and mind control. And while those things had some effects on me, I will never be like them. Never hate like them.
A part of what kept me from hating like they did was a conscious choice that I made. I remember at a very young age being raped after torture and looking up at my rapist, seeing the hatred that twisted his face, and thinking that I would never be like him. Another thing that helped me be different was my own intense compassion for others. I knew what it felt like to be in deep pain and to be tortured, how unbearable it was, how much I wanted to die, and I never wanted anyone else to have to feel that pain. Books also helped me to be different–they showed me that people could be kind and loving, showed me that people could fight against evil or cruelty and win. And the small bits of kindness and compassion that I was offered by various people over the years–usually teachers, but later as I grew older, also two therapists–helped me immensely. They were soul food that I clung to, warmth in the coldest, bleakest times in my life. They kept me alive.
My abusers tried to teach me to not only to hate other people, but also to hate myself. I would not turn my hate on others–I vowed over and over again to never be like my abusers–but I did turn it on myself. The bits of kindness, love, and compassion I experienced from others, especially from two good therapists I had, helped cut through that hate. It helped me learn, slowly, to love myself. And it helped me give even more love and compassion to others. And that love and compassion I received was incredibly effective at cutting through mind control–even though that mind control was repeated, extreme, and enforced through torture.
Love, compassion, and kindness are powerful. They help us heal. They help us love with an open heart. They help us hang on when we feel that we can’t. They help us believe in ourselves, love ourselves, and treat others more kindly. And those acts of compassion, love, and kindness can make a HUGE difference in someone’s life, whether it is a small or big act of kindness or compassion–given in person or long distance–or whether it is found in a book. Never doubt that any act of Kindness, compassion, or love that you make will make a positive difference. However you do it, I hope you will keep compassion and love alive in your heart. I know I will.