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[SWP: Behind the Book] Letting Go into Perfect Love
Written by
Gwendolyn Plano
August 2014
Written by
Gwendolyn Plano
August 2014

When I began writing my book, Letting Go into Perfect Love, I expected to simply tell my story: a farm girl goes to the big city, falls in love, marries, experiences tragedy, falls in love again, marries but then knows abuse, and along the way has four beautiful children. As the pages unfolded though, I realized that my story was everyone’s story. The details of my journey are unique to me, of course, but the emotions accompanying those details are universal. We all know sorrow, fear, or regret; and, we all travel through life trying to make sense of it all.

Maya Angelou wrote that, "There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you." I now understand the agony of which she speaks, for the story ultimately is not mine—it belongs to all of us. I simply held a version of it temporarily.

Writing my memoir was an integrative process for me. At times it tore open my heart, such that I could barely breathe. However, my tears and gasps came and went, because they now could, and so it was that I experienced the impact of my earlier traumas for the first time. As I accepted and honored these emotions, compassion emerged; and, it was this development that redirected my writing, and quite frankly, my life.

Why did I write this book? I really did not have a choice. It demanded to be told, awakening me in the early morning and drawing me to my desk. That said, midway through my book, I explain a specific and heartfelt reason that many readers might miss. The paragraph reads:

For more than two decades I had tried to shield my children from the sorrows in our home, but I now realize that my secret separated me from them. My closeted life held my heart, with its forgotten dreams and innocent longings—a heart that the healers had described as “shattered in little pieces” and “held together with tape and string.” Though I did not know how to bridge the years of hiding, I knew I needed to bring levity into our home and healing into our lives.

When we are not free to be ourselves, a vital part of us disappears under layers of numbness. It is this shell of a person that others see—not who we ultimately are.  As I disentangled myself from a lengthy abusive marriage, I re-discovered who I am--and why I had hidden for so many years. I also realized that I needed to bridge the chasm separating past and present—for me and for others.

When any of us come out of the proverbial closet, the fear of disclosure can be overwhelming (it was for me), but the alternative is a lost life. I wrote Letting Go into Perfect Love to help others realize that they can open the door behind which they hide, and when they take this action, an amazing life awaits them.

Perhaps you wrote for similar reasons as I. If so, what did you discover when you embraced yourself and shed the façade of times past? 

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  • Gwendolyn Plano

    Thank you, Sonja.....It is, as you have said, an unmasking. I couldn't have imagined the journey that writing would evoke. But, I'm ever so grateful I pickup up a pen and started the process. With this first step, a new life unfolded.

    Thank you again....


  • Sonja Larsen

    Finding and speaking your truth is the first step to discovering yourself. It's an unmasking, not only of your own true self but sometimes of those around you. Scary stuff! Doing it is hard, but not doing it is impossible, at least for some of us. Congratulations on embracing the process, and giving your story to others. As a writing mentor told me the other day, someone needs to hear what you have to say. Someone is waiting for your book. 

  • Gwendolyn Plano

    Thank you Marlene and Karen.

    I'm so pleased we could meet through this forum. Everyone has a story, don't we.  Unfortunately, though, many (if not most) of us, hide our stories even from ourselves. Writing workshops are a perfect setting to allow these hidden truths to emerge.

    Hope you have a wonderful day,


  • Karen A Szklany Writing

    I admire you for your courage!  Writing from the heart sure does take courage.  This Thursday I begin leading a course at our UU chuch in Writing as a Spiritual Practice. I will commend all of my participants for their courage in attending and work to maintain a safe space for all of them to openly share their journeys with each other, since we all need to hear the perspectives of others. I know that in listening to countless stories of pain and recovery, I knew I was not alone, and that I was not all wrong, and in that I began to heal. Best wishes!

  • Marlene Cullen

    Love this post by Gwendolyn Plano and appreciate all the comments.  While my adult/married life has had its shares of ups and downs (mostly ups), my mother had a very abusive second husband. We were able to talk after his death, but we lived a life of hell when he was alive. I now facilitate writing workshops and I believe that we can heal through writing. And that extends to sharing our stories. I love the idea of you and others conducting sessions, workshops, signings, whatever you might call them. This can be so helpful to many people. I hope you can do that and I know your books will help many people.

  • Gwendolyn Plano

    So true....What a journey it is! 

  • Nina Gaby

    The universal question we non-fiction writers face. Nice to know we are all in this together.

  • Candace Davis

    Thanks Gwen, your comments meant a lot and helped me understand what I'm going through. I very much look forward to that moment. I love the idea of a teaching/book signing ... I think there are quite a few of us out there!

  • Gwendolyn Plano

    Oh Candace, I so understand your concern about whether or not you said too much--or if you should have spoken at all. My book came out in June, and I finally (yeah!) feel comfortable about the content. In fact, a week ago I was in CA speaking at a college about domestic violence and the sexual abuse of children. It was so freeing to do so. I mention this because I think you too will gradually feel comfortable -- and then free.  What an experience that is!  Someday...whenever...several of us with similar topics might want to meet up and offer a teaching/book signing. ☺ Can't wait to read your book!

  • Candace Davis

    I too have felt the desperate need to tell my story. Coincidentally, it is also about love but I decided to write a collaborative memoir (so I weave in the thoughts and experiences of others throughout my own story).

    My need came from years of covering my unhappiness up (similar to you Gwen, but I thankfully didn't have children) and I felt it was time to facilitate the conversations about love and heartbreak. First to share and unburden myself, but second (and most importantly) to help others.

    My only concerns now (weeks from its release) are that (a) people aren't going to like it and (b) I've said too much. The second fear plays much more heavily than the first. So I can see why you wrote your story as fiction Carole.

  • Janet Singer

    Oh, I can definitely relate to this post, Gwen. I also did not have a choice in writing my book; I just had to. Overcoming OCD: A Journey to Recovery is the story of my son's amazing recovery from severe OCD. I have to give him so much credit for allowing me to share what was ultimately our whole family's journey. As you say, it's scary to put yourself out there. In my case, people who never thought they would be open about their own, or a loved ones, mental illness, are now sharing with each other. It's a great feeling to know my book might be helping others on the road to healing. I'm guessing your book is doing the same!

  • Carole Bumpus

    Thank you, Gwen, for your heartfelt and heart wrenched musings on the 'why' of ripping open the past and allowing that filleted piece of yourself emerge.  I spent the past twelve--no fourteen years--of writing a book, A Cup of Redemption, as I stripped open not only my own past, but the pasts of two other women, (which, by the way, moved it into fiction to protect all of us).  It, too, was a story of all women and I, too, felt the compulsion to tell this story without backing away.  Never before have I written a novel; never before have I felt so guided and directed as I knelt to this process and gave my all.  Carole Bumpus