Title: Relentlessly Resilient: Overcoming the Resistance Author: Monique Johnson Publisher: Monique Johnson Published: July 4, 2022 Pages: 193
In Relentlessly Resilient, the author gives us an unflinching look at her life as a young woman enduring trial after trial and her resolve to overcome all the hurdles thrown her way. Seduced by the cute, play-boy, roughneck types, Monique learns the hard way that looks can deceive when a boy she falls for forces himself on her.
From the trauma of sexual assault, becoming a young mother, battling diabetes, and much more, this book kicks into gear quickly, starting with a series of tumultuous relationships, including dating a guy who had become addicted to drugs. I grew up around many addicts in the projects, including my parents, so I know their ways and could empathize with how she felt about the disappearing acts and stolen TV.
When she went to get the stolen bike back from the dealer, I was yelling at the book at this point. Girl, what are you doing? But nothing happened, to which the author credits her faith. The dealer actually gave her the bike back. Whew. That was close.
I enjoyed the author’s candor when discussing her thought patterns during these challenging times and talking us through the lessons she learned. One of the most important ones involved her son, Tyrell. Although she was working hard and providing for her son’s needs physically, she projected the stress she took on onto him every time she yelled at him to get ready or couldn’t spend time with him because of her busy schedule.
Relentlessly Resilient is a story I believe we can all relate to on some level. At the end of each chapter, the author shares a reflection as a final touch.
Monique’s story is a reminder of the strength of the human spirit. Constantly thrown through life’s curveballs, the author always recovers quickly and regains her strength.
What exactly am I working on now? A lot of things but mostly my memoir. Now that Keep Yourself Full is on its way out, I want to get this done and I will have to deter a lot of projects to do it. At least until I finish the first draft and then I can work on other stuff and just work on the memoir from there. (I will still revise The Stella Trilogy first and release my next collection of poetry).
This is the hardest writing job I’ve ever undertaken. I have deleted everything I ever sent my email list as a sneak peek two years ago (can’t believe I let you in on that *insert eye-ball roll*) and have started over. I am fifty pages and nine chapters into the first draft so it’s not so bad considering starting over. What I don’t want this memoir to be is an autobiography. I’ve always wanted to write an autobiography, but that’s before I learned the difference between the two.
I learned memoirs differ from autobiographies. Memoirs are popular because they center on one theme and read like novels,making them much more interesting than the chronological format of the autobiography.
One thing I am working on is not making this psychoanalytic if that’s the right word. While I’ve endured much trauma in my life, I don’t want this to be a dark history of my crazy. I don’t want this to be a therapy session. This is difficult because I’m not a sugarcoat type person and neither is my mother. I gotta keep it all the way real. I gotta be honest. How do I do this without going too far?
My title is “I Wasn’t Built to Break,” so my theme is to take all the things that have been obstacles and challenges in my life, that could have broken me physically, mentally, and emotionally, but didn’t. This means that I will not go into every single detail of my life but I will focus on certain significant events, starting with growing up in the Robert Taylor Projects.
Anyone who grew up in any of Chicago’s projects is a survivor in my eyes, a warrior. It meant they not only escaped the drugs, violence, poverty, neglect, and gangs, but they also escaped literal death. Perched above the high-risers of Robert Taylor and Cabrini Green, snipers (aka Gang Members) with high-powered rifles would sit on a top floor (in a vacant apartment) and shoot their rivals. These bullets though, often hit innocent bystanders, mostly children.
I remember my Uncle coming to school to get us early because the buildings were shooting, and we had to run to our building. When I say it was a Warzone, I mean that literally. And none of us project kids ever got counseling or therapy for the things we saw. Not even the classmates of the seven-year-old Dantrell Davis from Cabrini who was shot by a sniper on his way to school in 1992 in front of his mother, teachers, police officers, and classmates.
Writing a memoir is no easy task so my approach is to research and write this as if I am writing a historical novel. Since I enjoy writing Historical Fiction, I want to incorporate history into my testimony. Instead of focusing on my experiences only, I want to take us back into the politics of some of what was going on in the world I did not have knowledge of as a kid. There’s my world where I can only see what’s in front of me and around me and then there’s the world at large. How did the decisions of others affect me, one of 21,000 children growing up in what became known as one of the poorest urban communities in the United States, a concentration of poverty they called it?
I want to go into how the projects under the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) replaced the Chicago Slums, the discriminatory policies like redlining that kept blacks from purchasing homes in their own neighborhoods, the kitchenettes and one-room basements blacks lived in during the 30s, 40s and 50s, the beacon of hope the projects promised as a replacement, the mixed-community that was there (because whites and blacks both lived in the PJs!), the racial riots that never made the news, and the racist policies that caused many white families to move out of the projects and into the suburbs.
And what about the Plan for Transformation that demolished Public Housing and replaced them with a mixed-income community of condos and townhomes? What did this cultural mix mean for former public housing residents? And who was Robert Taylor? The black man on the board of CHA who opposed building the projects on the same land as the slums? The black man who wanted to spread the buildings out, so they fully integrated blacks throughout Chicago and who, after CHA refused, quit. I hope that if I do this, it will be a much enjoyable read.
I want to incorporate both history and personal testimony with the testimony supporting history. I remember for instance that whole “Homie the Clown” Scare of the early 90s. I remember that because I had nightmares of the clown coming into our apartment and chasing me around the couch. In 1991, rumors surfaced that a man who we called “Homie the Clown” was riding around in a van kidnapping and killing kids.
“Homey the Clown,” was the name of a character played by Damon Wayans on the early 90s sketch-comedy show In Living Color. The character was an angry black ex-con who carried a sock for knocking bad kids upside the head. His catchphrase was “Homey don’t play that.” Our “Homie the Clown” was allegedly dressed as a clown and went around kidnapping kids. Rumors said that he rode in a van and liked to stand next to mailboxes eating bananas.
This sounds silly now, but it was serious back then, just like the recent clown scares. We got let out of school early and children were afraid to walk by mailboxes. It also didn’t help that Stephen King’s IT had also just come out.
It wasn’t all bad though so I want to talk about the close-knit community that existed there too that never made the news. Generations of families grew up together in what is rarely seen today. My mother’s friend, who lived next door, helped her to babysit. People watched one another children, shopped together, stepped up when someone was in need and shared food. We could go next door or downstairs to ask if someone had sugar or flour. We bartered services and passed along information about job openings or what was new at the Aid office and the candy lady was an entrepreneur. She used her food stamps to open a candy store back when you can get one piece of candy for every penny you had, better known as Penny Candy. People threw house parties and sleepovers.
Robert Taylor was not just a concentration of poverty. It was also a thriving community. When things were good, they were really good, and everyone was family. But you didn’t see this on the news. We were not all crack babies. We were not animals.
Really enjoyed this interview with Lewis with the Breakfast Club. She got me pumped to finish my own memoir! I may be quiet and reserved but I love realness and I love people (as an introvert, extroverts keep me balanced lol). I love real people because life is real. The rest of ya’ll can walk around with your noses in the air and your high horses but I ain’t got that kind of time. Be real with me. I am the closest to people who just keep it 100 and this interview is pretty much that. I haven’t read her memoir yet but I am about to go get it. (Note: I try not to use profanity and posting this video should not be taken as consent that I condone it. Lewis is hilarious though.)
My favorite quote:
“Love yourself so that love will not be a stranger when it comes.”
Check out this most excellent post from Shayla on writing a memoir. Number One is a most important point. I always wanted to write a memoir but I stopped writing the drafts and deleted the sneak peeks I’d shared with my email list (so embarrassing lol) and decided to start over. I’ve learned so much since then with one of the major things being the difference between a memoir and autobiography.
1. Learn the differences between a memoir and an autobiography.
A common mistake is to pour your heart and soul into a book and market it as the wrong genre. An autobiography is a chronological telling of your life, but a memoir hones in on a specific timeline or event. It doesn’t mean you can’t have flashbacks or backstory; you can. But you must understand the big and subtle differences between the two before you write, publish, and market your story.
Does my story reflect on my entire life (autobiography), or a key aspect, theme, or event (memoir)?
Does my story start at the beginning of my life and progress to the end (autobiography), or does it start anywhere and move around in time and place (memoir)?
Does my story require hours of fact-checking (autobiography), or is it more personal, requiring less fact-checking (memoir)?
“A memoir is how one remembers one’s own life, while an autobiography is history, requiring research, dates, facts double-checked.”
—Gore Vidal, Palimpsest
Read more of Shayla’s Guest Post by clicking through to the original post here.
When I first read the title of this book, I knew that I would read it. With a powerful statement, as Even Rain is Just Water it had to be good. I was not disappointed. Lynette Davis gives us a riveting account of her life as the victim of emotional abuse at the hands of someone who is to be a girl’s first teacher, supporter, and motivator. Her mother.
The testimony switches back and forth between Lyn’s experiences as a child and as an adult, both of which include some form of emotional abuse and neglect. Lyn’s mom treats her sister Vanessa better than she treats her and at just three years old Lynette concludes that she is unwanted and unloved. One of the most heartbreaking moments for me was when Lyn and Ne-Ne were at her mother’s friend’s house eating some good food and Lyn approaches mom to ask for more potato salad. The way in which she asked was filled with such innocence that it made my heart melt. As someone who has worked extensively with children, I can just hear the tiny voice ask, “Can I have some more ‘tater salad, please?” To my astonishment, Lyn was chastised for saying ‘tater salad instead of potato salad.
There were many of such incidents as this one that made Lyn bow her head in shame. Ella’s sisters also seemed to give her the same treatment, like Aunt Cleo using Lyn and Ne-Ne as if they were her personal servants, promising to take them shopping only to have them washing her dishes. I wanted to jump through the book and tell her about herself. That was bogish all the way around.
When we got to Lyn’s adult life and her marriage to Ray, things did not look much better. Ray seemed to check out and Ella treated her grandchildren with the same level of disdain as she did their mother. Despite all this, Lynette does not lash out or rebel the way we may think. Lyn is kind, compassionate, and takes the abuse with a strength that not many people in this world understand or that many people could appreciate. It takes strength and courage continue on to be a kind-hearted person in a cruel world.
What I absolutely loved was how Lynette gave us a glimpse of the time by the many historical events that happened and what she was doing when it happened. Everything from the death of MLK, the Rodney King beating and even the shooting and eventual death of Tupac. As Lynette lived her life, all these things were happening around her and we get to witness them in real time. She even did this with the music. The New Millennium craze was funny when her friend said, “They didn’t believe Noah either.” I remember that time and how hyped everyone was that the world was coming to an end. These kinds of historical events infused into the narrative as well as the music of the time, for me, provided the story with light and was refreshing amidst the suffering.
Overall Rating: 4/5
Even Rain is Just Water is Available Now on Amazon
Be Sure to Follow Lynette Online. Also, you can learn more about her in our interview HERE.
I have known Lynette for about two years now. Though it’s hard to pinpoint exact moments in the blogosphere, I believe we met when she commented on my blog post, Why Memoirs are Special. From there, we have followed each other’s blogs, email lists, and social media.
Today, I am honored to help to promote her memoir, Even Rain is Just Water. Eck!
Before getting into the book, let’s learn more about Ms. Davis. I had a chance to “sit down” with her for a special edition interview.
Lynette, what inspired you to write a memoir?
I was inspired to write my memoir to facilitate my healing. I know that “all things work for the good of those that love the Lord and are called according to his purpose” (Rom 8:28). I was driven to continue writing when I realized I was not alone that my experience was more common than I ever could have imagined. I decided to develop my story and make it available to the public to raise awareness about emotional abuse.
Even Rain is Just Water is a powerful title. Can you give us some background on why you chose it and what it means?
I went through a dozen titles before God dropped rain is just water in my spirit on a clear, sunny Southern California day. Months later, the word “even” was added to the beginning. It means at the end of the day, the storms in our lives are just that–storms. And storms are temporary. I particularly liked rain is just water because it made me think of Psalm 1:3. The storms of our lives may come in like a flood. But, at the end of the day, it’s just water because, ultimately, God is in control of our lives. And after the storm has come and gone, we’ll still be here like trees planted along the riverbank.
Beautiful. Let’s get into the book. You have been through some stuff! What do you think some of the major differences are between Emotional and Physical abuse?
The major differences between emotional abuse and physical abuse are one is visible, and the other is not. Emotional abuse is an invisible abuse. There are no tell-tale scars, no broken bones, no black eyes, which is what makes this type of abuse so insidious. Emotional abuse, just like physical abuse diminishes the person’s sense of identity, dignity, and self-worth. If our scars were visible, there would be lots of scar tissue from scars that never fully healed before we got another scar.
How important is the role of mother in the life of daughters?
The role of mothers in the lives of daughters is of utmost importance. It’s the first relationship the daughters has. And it’s the one that provides a mirror, for the daughter, as to how she sees herself and the world around her. If you can’t trust your mother, who can you trust?
Man. I feel you. OK. Let’s switch it up a bit. I hear you work in education? Tell us about that.
I work in education as a substitute teacher. I work in one school district, however, with many schools, generally with elementary school children, and occasionally, with junior high and high students. Substitute teaching hasn’t changed much since you were a student. When a teacher is out, I take the teacher’s class for the day.
You was jamming in this book! Tell us about the kind of music you like.
I love R&B oldies from the seventies, eighties, and nineties, and some from the sixties such as Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, The Four Tops and The Temptations, especially when I’m cleaning the house. And I love contemporary gospel music. I also like jazz, although I haven’t bought any jazz CDs in a while.
What takes up most of your time?
Writing, my blog and Twitter, in that order.
Lol. In your own words, what is humility?
To me, humility is when you treat everyone the same, not some people different because they have more, or some people different because they can’t do anything for you, or some people different because no one is looking. Humility is not being stuck on yourself, and being able to understand how someone else may feel, having empathy for someone else, trying to imagine how they feel. Humility is knowing who you are, no matter how other people treat you. Humility is not being arrogant, walking around saying, “Look at me.” It’s being comfortable wearing a tee shirt, your favorite pair of jeans and a pair of flip flops because you know who you are, and don’t have to impress anyone.
I.Love.That.Definition. What is the most thought-provoking book you’ve ever read?
Anne Moody’s Coming of Age in Mississippi. Reading that book was like I was there, right along with Anne during the early days of the Civil Rights Movement. Being from Florida, I related to a lot of the things she wrote about in Coming of Age in Mississippi.
Oh my goodness, yess! I so love how you incorporated history into your life story. It was brilliant and made me wish I was there to experience many of those historical moments.
Lyn, who is your favorite historical figure?
I would have to say Martin Luther King Jr. (Although Muhammad Ali runs a close second.) The way he initiated the Civil Rights Movement, through the jail visits, hate, and imminent threat of death. And how so many people did lose their lives, like the four little girls at the church in Birmingham, Alabama, and the three civil rights workers. He was clearly operating in his purpose.
Indeed. He went hard toward the end of his life for sure. Lyn, faith plays a big part in your story, would you define yourself as being a religious person?
No, and yes. If you mean, do I go to church every Sunday and follow a set of traditional rules and regulations? No. But if you mean, do I believe in God—that is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit? However yes, in that I’m more spiritual than religious.
In your own words, what is truth?
Truth, especially as it pertains to memoir, is all about perspective. In a memoir, when we tell our truths, it’s from our own perspective. No two people will have the same perspective about everything, not even siblings who were raised in the same household. Or husband and wives, for that matter. Truth usually goes along with facts, although not necessarily. Truth can be verified. Truth goes along with humility – being true to who you are, being authentic.
Why is writing important to you?
Writing is important to me for three reasons. First, it helps me to express my feelings. I’m an introvert. And as such, I’m naturally quiet and don’t express my feelings often. Have you heard the saying, “I write to know what I’m feeling?” Well, that’s me for sure.
Secondly, when I write, I’m able to express my truths, not just facts. Maya Angelou has a quote that expresses what I mean here. “There’s a world of difference between truth and facts. Facts can obscure the truth.” And thirdly, writing brings new revelations. I learn a lot about myself when I write.
Powerful. What skill would you like to master?
I would like to master graphic design—book cover design, in particular. That was the one aspect of my book that I wouldn’t—that is, couldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole.
Who is your favorite author?
My favorite author is Maya Angelou. And I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is my favorite memoir. Angelou is my favorite writer because not only does she write so descriptively, but she was a survivor of sexual child abuse and wrote about that experience in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. That memoir encouraged me to bring my story out of the dark and into the light. Another reason she’s one of my favorite authors is that she rose from a sexually abused child to an empowered woman that empowered others.
Speaking of memoirs, let’s get back to your book, how can victims of emotional abuse recognize the signs?
A person can recognize that they’re being emotionally abused by the way they feel. Here are a few subtle, but not so subtle, signs. Generally speaking, if a person makes you feel bad or makes you feel bad about yourself, on a regular basis, there’s a good chance, you are experiencing emotional abuse. Here are a few signs.
Emotional Abuse As to children–
Constant belittling, shaming and humiliating a child. Calling names and making negative comparisons to others. Telling a child he or she is “no good,” “worthless,” “bad,” or “a mistake.” Frequently yelling, threatening or bullying. Ignoring or rejecting a child as punishment–giving him or her the silent treatment. Limiting physical contact wit the child–no hugs, kisses, or other signs of affection. Exposing the child to violence or abuse of others, whether it be a mate, parent, sibling, or even a pet.
Emotional Abuse as to adults–
You are blamed for their problems, life, difficulties or unhappiness. Your behavior is constantly being corrected. You are put down in front of others. Your ideas and beliefs are regularly disregarded. Your hopes, dreams, and achievements are minimized or ignored altogether. You are constantly reminded of your flaws or shortcomings. Your boundaries are repeatedly crossed. You are accused of being too sensitive. You feel as though you need their permission before you can make decisions. Or you are not allowed to make any decisions. They invalidate or deny their emotionally abusive behavior when you try to talk to them. You are constantly being threatened with abandonment or neglect. They don’t seem to notice or care about your feelings.
Even Rain is Just Water is your first book. What was it like publishing for the first time?
I published my first book, Even Rain Is Just Water on May 30th. Writing the book was a journey. And getting it ready for publication was another journey, in and of itself, a learn-as-you-go experience, for me. Since it was my personal story, I decided to go the self-publishing route so that I could have control over every aspect of the book. It took me four years to write and develop my book. Two things I learned from the process. One, know what you want and how you want it. There are a lot of people out there willing to take your money and give you little to nothing in return. And two, plan for everything to take ten times as long as you initially thought it would.
And now…drum rolll…Even Rain Is Just Water by Lynette Davis
When Lyn finds herself homeless with three children in tow, she is forced to deal with the demons of her childhood—being unwanted, unloved and rejected. As she embarks on a search for a place to call home, her sole desire is to give her children what she lacked growing up—a sense of belonging and security. But she is not so sure she can make that happen. Will Lyn conquer the demons of her past and save her children from a generational fate?
Alternating between a lonely little girl’s coming-of-age in Florida during the Civil Rights Era and her adult years, Even Rain Is Just Water, traces a daughter’s quest for love and acceptance that transcends into adulthood—illuminating between how childhood emotional trauma shapes our adult identity.
There’s a lot to take from this book. I absolutely loved how the author gave us a glimpse of the time through the many historical events and what she was doing when they happened. Everything from the death of Dr. King to the Rodney King beating and Tupac’s shooting and eventual death. As Lynette lived, these things were happening around her, and we witnessed them in real time. She even did this with the music. It was brilliant. My full review is coming soon.
PRAISE for Even Rain Is Just Water
“Like rain in the desert of a parched soul, Lynette Davis’ poignant narrative of rejection, revelation and redemption, offers hope to those of us who have felt displaced, disconnected and alone.”
—BETTY TUCKER, author of Don’t Worry About the Mule Going Blind: Hazel’s Daughter
“A remarkable and heart-wrenching accounting of Davis’… undeniable courage and tolerance for suffering a lifetime of conflict, adversity, and emotional abuse…”
—D.G. KAYE, author of P.S. I Forgive You: A Broken Legacy
“A courageous voyage of one daughter’s remarkable journey in finding love, security and a place to call home against the demons of her past.”
—MARY A. PEREZ, author of Running in Heels: A Memoir of Grit and Grace
Riverside, California, 1996
I imagine I look like mother goose walking with her baby ducklings as my three children trail me, one behind the other. The convenience store is a good ten blocks away. It seems more like twenty. Although it’s only a few minutes before seven o’clock, we’ve been up since day break. And the morning sun is beaming down on us like it’s the middle of August, instead of the first week of June. My children must understand the gravity of our situation because they’re as quiet as three mice as we trek to the convenience store. This is not our normal routine. Twenty-four hours ago, I couldn’t have imagined the events of last night, or that I would be walking down the main boulevard with my three children this morning. For the umpteenth time in the last fifteen minutes, I check my beeper. No pages.
Although I’m dressed for walking—a pair of just-above-the-knee gray biker shorts and a tee-shirt which is what I slept in last night, and a pair of tennis shoes with no socks, I feel weird like I’m half naked. I didn’t even bother to comb my hair this morning. Luckily, I’m sporting a short Halle Berry look, and the slightly disheveled look is in. I wonder what my children think about all the drama of last night as I marvel at their resilience. Despite everything our family has been through these last couple of months, they’ve never complained. My daughter, the youngest of the trio, is doing a good job keeping up with her brothers and me. I thank God, they’re such good troopers. We’re used to walking from time to time when my Jeep Cherokee acts up. Right now, it’s parked in front of mom’s house where it’s been all week. As we walk down the boulevard, I contemplate my situation. I’ve run out of options. What am I going to do?
We get to the convenience store. And I dial my grandmother’s telephone number from the phone booth, just outside. It’s almost seven thirty now, so it’s close to ten-thirty in Florida where she lives. I hear the phone ringing loudly through the phone lines and envision my grandmother, a pert seventy-nine-year-old who still drives herself wherever she wants to go, making her way to the phone. I let the phone ring awhile, to give Mother—that’s what her children and grandchildren call her, time to get to the phone—and me time to get my emotions in check. I’m still reeling from the events of last night. I need to tell someone what happened, to help me process it.
After six or seven rings, my grandmother picks up the telephone.
“Hello,” she says, in a sweet southern drawl.
“Hey, Mother. How you doing?”
“I’m doing fine. How you?” she asks, raising her voice higher when she says you.
“Mother, you’re not going to believe this.”
“What? What happened?”
You can keep reading. Click on the cover below (or the linked title) to support this author with your very own copy ofEven Rain Is Just Water, available now on Amazon.com.
Lynette Davis is an educator, author, editor, and survivor. Her memoir Even Rain Is Just Water draws attention to emotional child abuse and narcissism’s mounting prevalence, as she joins the growing number of people speaking out about the ill effects of such relationships. Her short narrative, “The Fatal Blow,” is featured in the anthology I am Subject: Women Awakening: Discovering Our Personal Truths Fall 2014, a collection of stories featuring women re-claiming their lives in life-altering moments. To other survivors, she recommends “The Invisible Scar,” a blog that supports adults who were emotionally abused as children. Davis received her B.A. in English from California Baptist University, studied Composition and Rhetoric at California State University, San Bernardino, and facilitates writing workshops in the Inland Empire, California.
In Waiting in the Wings, Stevie’s mother, Dot is sick and getting worse as time progresses. Dorothy Eliza Wilkins or Dot had a breech birth. (My twin sister was breech as well. It means that she was born feet first instead of head first.) Sadly, Dot suffered a dislocated hip due to being pulled from the womb by her left leg and developed osteomyelitis at four years of age after a fall.
This would play a major role in her adult life, especially as she ages and her body deteriorates and her mobility becomes limited.
The relationship between Dot and Stevie is one in which Dot has become the child and Stevie the adult. Both mother and daughter struggle to endure this transition, which understandably takes its toll on them both. Stevie helps her mom through her depression by reliving old memories.
We are invited into Stevie and Dot’s past and watch how it influences Stevie in real time. We watch her examine her relationship with Dot while enduring the trials of caring for a sick parent while balancing her own illness.