Kay Bachmann leaps into her freshman year of college, eager to start fresh and be the girl she’s always wanted to be. She meets Carter, who falls for her like a skydiver with a busted parachute. He sweeps her away in a whirlwind romance, and before Kay can think straight, they’re going on dates. But when Kay discovers a family secret, she starts looking at the relationship with new eyes.
Then she meets her old friend Wyatt again – who she’s loved desperately for so long. Kay tries to break free of Carter, but he raises the emotional ante and attempts suicide right in front of her. That act pulls her right back to his side.
Kay knows she cannot stay with Carter. She knows that his next attempt may be fatal. But she wants, above all, to live her life on her own terms – not on somebody else’s.
This story is rather personal to me. I am not crazy about discussing the background of the story, partly because the guy I based it on still monitors me online. The real life story took place from 1989 to 1990, but I still can’t get rid of him. Gaah!
Basically, this story is about a very bad relationship and a very good relationship. It is based on some things that happened, but it’s very much fictionalized.
But the fact that the real-life Carter threatened to kill himself if I left — that’s true. Yeah, that’s pretty effective. I stayed.
You know, I worked nine ways to Sunday to try and make that damned relationship work. Why the hell was I so compliant? Because I was scared that I was going to kill him if I did the wrong thing. It’s weird reading my letters now. I grimace at how sugary I was. And yet at the same time a little line would pop out about how I wanted to get out of this relationship. And then I’d go back to sunshine and lollipops again. Even my writing was at odds with itself.
That suicide talk really sets off a depth charge in your soul.
Now, there’s an idea out there that killing yourself out of love shows true devotion. No. It is not. This is a form of control. It is emotional abuse – a form of emotional blackmail.
Emotional blackmail is when somebody takes something of yours and uses it to force you to do their will. If you leave me, I’ll kill myself. Or, If you divorce me, I’ll take the children and you will never see them again.
Emotional blackmail is never okay. It’s a threat. It harms your well-being. And it’s very, very subtle.
In Those Black Wings, I included ways to understand what the abuser is doing – and ways to combat it. I want my readers to know that there are ways to escape. That they can leave. It’s not pretty, but they have got to find a way out.
I wrote this book because emotional abuse happens a lot more often than we realize. It happens to men and women, adults and children, and it crosses every race, every class.
Leaving such a relationship is scary as hell. Even just thinking about being back there again and trying to find a way to leave – even that feels overwhelming. And that was 30 years ago. But you deserve your own life. A good life.
That’s why I wrote the book. Also, it’s got a sweet love story in there. The guy I wrote it about is sitting in the next room. Even after all these years, I am a lucky, lucky gal.