Amp up the heat?

Word back from a publisher I queried for my manuscript Catching Her Balance. It was a question. Would I be open to amp up the heat between my Derrick and Jenna? The answer is: SURE! Considering my discussions on this blog, am I selling out? No. (At least I don’t think so.) Both Jenna and Derrick’s slightly unusual sexuality was always a factor in Catching Her Balance. Why?

– Derrick, because of who he is and the ease of girls willing to lay down for him. He’s looking for someone who will know and love him for something other than his social position and rank. He want to be loved for himself, and that includes all of him. His love, his not-so-perfect moments, and his explorative sexuality.

– Jenna? That’s a more complex answer. She, like me, is a product of child exploitation specific to her sexuality. She, like me, has a lower threshold because of that. She, like me, has had to make peace with that part of herself, to find peace with her sexuality and the fact that she’s been irreversibly twisted to viewing her/my sexuality as inevitably emotionally traumatizing.

Jenna, like me, struggles with her body’s shape and allure. I’ve gained weight, lost weight, worked out at the gym, and slopped on the couch to gain weight all in my quest for someone to love me for me. Not the “stream of income” thing between my legs, not for my useful, photographic teats bouncing around on my chest, but for me.

I put myself back on the path to emotional recovery late 2014 by rejecting my kidnapper (read: my mother) and hitting the shrink’s couch. As I’ve gone through the healing process, my body recovers its natural shape, which folks find attractive. Something I’ve said, to my friends and my therapist as this has happened: “My body betrays me.”

It shouldn’t be this way. I shouldn’t feel like that. I found the greatest bit of healing when someone close to me reached out, took my hand extended in friendship, and pulled me in for a kiss. (It wasn’t friendship he wanted.) More, he doesn’t find my body’s responses disgusting. He values them. He ennobles them. Instead of letting me disassociate and view myself as a twisted freak’s obsession  (read: my mother. Text book sociopath) he’s urging me to continue to work with my therapist to learn that passionate love is a gift, not an unobtainable dream.

His acceptance and support of my emotional damage, my tentative steps to healing, and my sexuality is a gift I can never repay. It’s something I’ve always sought, which is my struggle presented via my Jenna.

Can these two wounded souls find a balance? Can they be the answer to each other’s dreams? I say yes and I’ve always wanted to deliver that aspect of their growth but since I’d written Balance for Seton Hill’s thesis project, where I didn’t think they’d be open to a discussion of this type, I scrubbed all that from the manuscript. I’d given hints, yes, but I scrubbed it.

Now, this publisher has scented something unseen in the manuscript. Would I be willing to deliver what I scrubbed back to the public? Yes, because child abuse and child sexual exploitation must be faced down and defeated. But more importantly, the ongoing struggles of the survivors must be honored. Not for Jenna and not for me.

Those scars never go away. Jenna’s fight and her dreams happen inside my head daily. Likewise, it does to far too many survivors of abusive caretakers.

Would I be willing to amp up the heat? Yes. Yes. YES!

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