Memoir on Abuse and Recovery

Here are the opening lines:

IT'S ONE OF THE GOOD MEMORIES. My father is bending over the hull of the upturned boat, picking out the old caulking, scraping away at last year’s paint and barnacles. He uses a putty knife to push ropes of smelly, tarry oakum into the cracks. He will paint the boat gray, with a rusty fouling-resistant paint on the underwater part to keep the barnacles from slowing it down. ...

I HAVE OTHER MEMORIES, blurred in a sickly fog. Urgent night voices behind closed doors. “What can we do about it?” “There’s nothing we can do.” “She’s too young to remember; she’ll be all right.” And memories murkier still, fastened into my spine and pelvis with binding force, huge with emotion, no pictures.

When the foggy memories arrived, they rocked my world, forcing me to ask dizzying questions: What is truth and how do I know it? Is it in the Kodak-sharp image? In the wrenching gut, the nausea? How do I keep the clear-cut detail and also give the nebulous shadow its weight, neither denying the other?

This is the story of how the past overtook me, how I found help, and how at last I integrated the shadows of my childhood into my life. In the process, I found unexpected love, joy, and freedom.

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