This Does Not Leave this House by Julie Coons is very close to my heart for a number of reasons. Although I cannot mention them all here, I would like to mention my top three reasons –
- This memoir puts forth many disturbing, yet real, aspects of the author’s life, but it never became a sob fest. The author has written about her painful life not to gain sympathy, but to push others, who are in the same boat as she was, to make a change in their lives asap.
- This Does Not Leave This House is a powerhouse of positivity, much like its author. Regardless of the hopelessness of the situation, there is always hope.
- An assault is never acceptable. If you are in a relationship and are suffering from any kind of assault, you must get out. This is, I believe, the primary motive of Julie Coons in sharing her life with the readers.
Since I loved this memoir a lot, I approached the talented Julie Coons to accept an interview request. To my delight, she accepted. Here is the most insightful conversation that I was blessed to have with her.
Ankita: I, like almost anybody else, look up to my mother for inspiration, courage, and confidence. If anything/anyone even tries to put her in a bad light, I don’t even pay attention to that. Considering my personal experience, it’s almost impossible for me to understand how can any child come to terms with their mother not being motherly to them. When did you finally realize that you cannot trust your mother? How did you convince your heart to believe such cruel truth?
Julie: It took me a long time and a lot of frustration to finally come to the conclusion that she just wasn’t capable of loving me. Learning that she had a mental illness also helped. However, when you’re a child and have nowhere to turn and no one to turn to, it makes you want to try harder to be more lovable and somehow try to make her love me back. I showered her with gifts (spent my entire fair money allowance on her one year), and told her how much she was loved. She needed constant reassurance of this for some reason even though she couldn’t love back. It was basically like a child begging her mother to love her, even though that should come naturally from a mother. As I grew older and thought maybe now I can finally trust her, I would test it by telling her something personal about myself. Every time I did it came back and bit me. I would hear from other people how she would take that information and find a way to use it to bad mouth me. I finally came to terms that I couldn’t trust her when I was a senior in high school. She sabotaged one of the biggest events in my life to take the spotlight off of me and back onto herself.
Ankita: Although people are becoming more open-minded, in India it was normal for families to prioritize their sons’ education, well-being, and life — in general — more important than their daughters. It’s definitely heartbreaking and unfair. Fortunately, I didn’t have to go through this situation — partially, because my mom and dad have only daughters. Did you ever take a stand against your father regarding his declaration that he would only pay for your brother’s education?
Julie: No I didn’t. I knew better than to ask that question and take a stand against my father.
Ankita: Everyday women all around the world suffer molestation and most of these cases go unreported. Of course, reporting an incident does not take the pain away, but it gives a hope of receiving some sort of closure. Do you think this closure is necessary to move on?
Julie: I didn’t have any closure. I think the ability to move on comes mainly from within oneself. When I finally got up enough courage after a year to tell my parents about it my mother said “you’re lying” and my father said nothing. I left devastated wishing I had never told them anything about it. They never spoke to me about it again.
Ankita: If this is the moment when every woman, who suffered any kind of sexual abuse, is reading your interview, what would you advise them? How can they find their inner strength and not let the culprit take away a part of their soul?
Julie: Counseling helps. Talking is the most helpful. Don’t keep it all inside and torture yourself with it. Don’t ever convince yourself that it was your fault. No means no and it’s never your fault. Don’t take that negative energy upon yourself. Give yourself the healing you need then move on and live a full life. Don’t give away your power. My tagline is: Take life as it happens, but make it happen the way you want to take it.
Ankita: When we are in a relationship, it’s really hard to see the red flags even if they are hanging on the face of our partner. Many men take advantage of this weakness and abuse their partner emotionally, verbally, and/or physically. These men are so sneaky that they would make you believe that we are at flaw and we deserve to be treated a certain way. How, under such spooky circumstances, can someone find their self-worth and draw a line?
Julie: First of all you need to love yourself. Self-esteem is the key. Realize you are a sensitive soul, you are strong enough, you are beautiful enough and you deserve a hell lot more than you are getting. If you have to say it every day in the mirror until you start to believe it, then do so. Negativity takes time and effort to overcome. Teach people how to treat you. Show them you deserve better.
Ankita: You suffered so much and yet you are a powerhouse of positivity. Where is the warehouse of your positive spirit? How can I get one for myself? 😉
Julie: Oh wow! This question is tough. It’s a really good question though. For me, I had to be my own cheerleader. I had to learn to believe in myself. I am still a work in progress and I still have bad days. Being positive is a gift you give yourself. I love to laugh and I love to surround myself with positive people. I think that’s the key. Surround yourself with encouraging and positive people. Rid yourself of the people that only want to bring you down and who are toxic to your happiness. As the song says…accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative.
Ankita: Any message for your loyal readers?
Julie: Yes! I am working on my next book. If you can believe it there’s still more stories to share that I didn’t include in my first book. This next book is going to be full of suspense and intrigue with twists along the way no one will see coming. It’s going to be intense.
Ankita: I am super thankful and honored to have given the chance of getting to know you. I am sure your book would be well-received by the readers everywhere. You are an amazing human being and a terrific writer. Good luck with your next project. Can’t wait to read and love that book too! 🙂