When you find yourself stuck in a life you hate, how do you get yourself unstuck?
Do you burn down your current life? When Vieve Chapman finally answers that question, she is forced to admit that she’s been emotionally numb and shut down for the past 25 years. She’s placed herself in a loveless, psychologically abusive marriage. Victim identity often prevents people from focusing on developing their own uniqueness, personal boundaries and individual comfort levels. Vieve unlocks the emotional tools that will prevent her from returning to her harsh, emotionally damaged husband again.
When Vieve escapes, she teams up with a young, street-smart mother with two small children, who are also escaping from a psychotic ex-husband and father who is stalking them. Together they create their own version of a “witness protection program” and they hope it will be enough.
In New York City, the two women find their own strengths and build new lives. Once Vieve finds her authentic self, an attractive widower pursues her. Tony is the Captain of the neighborhood firehouse and he is seven years her junior. Tony struggles with Vieve’s triggers and the barbs of painful memories that work their way out of her heart. Vieve wrestles with the idea of raising Tony’s three children, with trusting again, and with his dangerous profession. This heroic man is certainly not perfect, and an edgy argument over Vieve’s former lover forces Vieve to make a decision far outside her comfort zone. As Vieve heals, she discovers Eastern philosophies, masculine and feminine sexuality, and even Tantric sex.
Both casualties of different kinds of abuse, Vieve and Gemma move forward. They battle their own misperceptions and limiting beliefs. Since they fear future involvement with another abuser, they burn emotional bridges that would not serve them well. After analyzing how she got to this point in her life, Vieve challenges all of her beliefs. Her new skills and feelings provide rich textures in a life that she never imagined, and for the first time ever, she comes alive as the authentic Vieve—a mature, intelligent, creative woman with loads of confidence.
The inspiration for The Song of the Willow, came after 30 years of mentoring work with women in abusive relationships. Their experiences and their voices, compelled me to write The Song of the Willow, partly to let their stories be told and partly to show how some of these women were able to heal and have successful, happy futures. The Song of the Willow is not a "Burning Bed" or "Sleeping With The Enemy" story. Sadly, some of the women I knew lost their voices when tragedy overpowered them and they died or were killed. Since I know the details of their sad lives, and some happy endings that they absolutely deserved, I feel impelled to tell their stories.
Renée Labrenz The Author