An Interview with Author Mary deMuth

Martha: My passion is helping people get healed, whether it’s physical or emotional and that’s the focus in this interview with friend and author, Mary deMuth. 
Mary, we met at ICRS several years ago when your novel, Watching the Tree Limbs came out. I remember being impressed by your frank honesty about the abuse you endured in your childhood. And now I am even more impressed by your latest book, Thin Places: A Memoir. 
How has writing these books aided in your personal healing?

Mary: Writing has been completely therapeutic. I caution writers who write memoir to not be so convinced that they’re supposed to write a memoir for publication. Often God will use your own words in your healing journey. He did that for me during years of journaling. Only many years later did I write my thoughts in book form.
Martha: A Publisher’s Weekly Review said, “DeMuth revisited supremely challenging and emotionally transformative junctures in her life as she reveals the childhood sexual brutalities of which she was a victim, the confounding death of her biological father, and ongoing years of neglect and parental irresponsibility with which she had to cope.”
 And, “At every signpost, the author presents life as it is, even when the offering is ugly.”
Mary, it’s got to be wrenching to write with such honesty. How has honest writing impacted your life as well as your family’s? What do your children think about your honesty?

Mary: It’s very, very hard. But I firmly believe that if you tell the truth (gently), you help set people free. You show them that they are not alone in their abuse or the aftermath repercussions of that abuse. My children now know my story (I didn’t share it until they were old enough to digest it). They have empathy for me, and maybe they understand me a little bit better. They also know that I’m not raising them the way I was raised. I hope they think I’m courageous.
Martha: Do you think everyone should be as honest about the abuse in their past?

Mary: Yes. I know that sounds like a blanket statement. But you simply won’t heal in darkness. I’m not saying broadcast it everywhere, but find one good friend, a friend who listens and empathizes and prays, and dare to share your story. That one encounter will open up your heart to further healing. It’s a risk, but it’s worth the risk.
Martha: Is honesty cathartic or merely the first step in healing?

Mary: It’s cathartic, yes. But you must also really want to heal. You have to doggedly pursue health. You have to be so sick of the past that you absolutely don’t want to duplicate it. This means finding mentors, counselors, friends, and godly people to speak into your life, pray for you, hold you accountable, and walk alongside you.
Martha: The biggest question I have refers to another quote from Publisher’s Weekly: “Despite the bitterness and anger that could naturally characterize her, the author clings to her faith in God and his goodness, deriving victory over her circumstances.”
Talk about the “how” of how you do that in practical terms–how has your faith helped you to heal from these horrific experiences?

Mary: Jesus is everything. He endured sin on the cross, so He empathizes with every person who has ever been sinned against. I would not be okay today had it not been for the intervention of Jesus. He found me at fifteen, scooped me up, listened to me tell my story to Him one thousand times, then slowly, methodically healed me. I’m still in the process of healing.
Martha: What else have you done in your life to facilitate healing?

Mary: I have honest, open relationships and ask my friends if they see parts of me that need addressing. That’s painful. But it helps me grow. Also, being a part of a sweet family (husband and kids), helps me re-understand what family should be like. As I parent my kids, I see what it means to be healthy, and part of me heals. 
Martha: How do you handle those moments lying in the dark when the enemy of our souls whispers accusations in your ear, trying to bring blame and shame?

Mary: I used to listen and coddle and believe those words. I don’t anymore. I have learned that the enemy’s destructive voice is always accompanied by shame. So now I tell myself the truth, that I’m wildly loved by my creator, that Jesus died for every sin, even the sins committed against me, and I can walk in freedom and newness of life today. It’s a choice to stay chained to my past or anticipate the future today. I love what Oswald Chambers writes. “Let the past sleep, but let it sleep on the bosom of Christ. And go out into the irresistible future with Him.” 
Martha: If you were to offer advice to abuse victims reading this, what would you say?

Mary: Tell your story. Tell your story. Tell your story.
Martha: In closing, let me say how much I respect and appreciate how you are able to link your calling of writing with your own healing. Perhaps you would agree that they are divinely enmeshed.

Mary: I hope so! Thanks for having me!

My links:

3 responses so far

3 Responses to “An Interview with Author Mary deMuth”

  1. Mary DeMuthon 20 May 2011 at 4:33 pm

    Martha, thanks for having me here. You have a lovely blog!

  2. Mary DeMuthon 20 May 2011 at 4:35 pm

    By the way, those interested in Thin Places can find out more here:

  3. Jenibelleon 18 Dec 2011 at 5:29 pm

    We defiitnely need more smart people like you around.

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