How many times have you wished something wasn’t true? I can think of plenty of examples –Coronavirus, last summer’s catastrophic bushfires, 9-11 – the list is endless, but there is one that selfishly tops the list for me – a 67-day period in late 2016 that saw my family self-destruct.
I chose to share my family’s true story in hope that others can learn from their emotion-charged choices and avoid making irreversible decisions that have far-reaching impacts, not only on the people they love, but others who ultimately become part of the journey.
When things began to implode, I was motivated by trying to keep my family together as a series of events grew into a nightmare. We had battled so hard to fight back from that 67-day period and then one morning I learned of another family tragedy that left me shattered again, and needing to let things out … I felt compelled to write Shattered.
Later that day, my wife Amanda was again mopping up my tears. I was angry and upset and after talking at length with her I began typing away. The words were flowing that afternoon and before I knew it I had written a prelude and the first chapter.
I always thought in the back of my mind that my family’s journey would be one hell of a story.
Grief was the motivator behind taking to the keyboard but as I kept writing over many months, I began to feel that learnings could be had from my family’s demise.
My brother, eldest sister and father all battled various issues and all made life changing decisions. Amanda, myself, my mother and other sister were left to pick up the pieces and it was a complicated puzzle.
I wish Shattered wasn’t true but it is, and I’m sure many other families have battled serious challenges with loved ones suffering mental illness and, or domestic violence. Unfortunately, others will be able to relate to parts of my story and I desperately wish that no other family ever has to go through anything like mine did.
Certain things are avoidable, for every action there’s a consequence.
I don’t want to sound like a preacher, nor do I want pity from those that read Shattered, I just hope people realise that life is worth fighting for and that there’s no shame in talking, or accepting help. I always thought that’s how families worked, but mine unfortunately forgot some of those fundamentals.
I hope this story helps victims of domestic violence, sufferers of mental illness and their support networks to think about things differently. We often hear about sufferers of mental illness and victims of domestic violence; they need all the support they can get, but we never hear about help for those that support them. We can’t forget about the people that help those doing it tough.
They hurt as well, but have to remain so strong in very trying circumstances. People need to think about the options they take, especially when they are at breaking point.
I believe many people have learnt to appreciate things more in the face of COVID-19. In life we also need to make smart choices and not let high emotion or pride get in the way. If you make the wrong choice the ramifications can have a major impact, not only on one’s self, but on those that love and support you.
My family will never be the same again, but we continue to support each other despite many other challenges. We make the most of what we have.
I’m grateful for my amazing wife and beautiful compassionate children. We all have to continue living life. My sister Amy has done that after being released from prison and serving her sentence. She now operates a fashion boutique and is making the most of her new freedom, after not only getting out of jail, but out of a toxic and violent relationship.
I wish I could say the same for my brother and my father.
Travis Winks – Author of Shattered