Please welcome Peggy McAloon, a talented author, mother, grandmother, beauty queen, and all around wonderful person. She inspires me with her desire to empower children in abusive situations, with her compassion, and with her strength of character. Peggy has agreed to share her thoughts with us on a couple of tougher questions, because I felt that she had important answers to share.
Peggy’s debut novel inspires children in abusive situations to speak up and get the support they need:
Gina: What was your publishing experience like?
Peggy: I was determined to get the book out as quickly as possible so that children would have the opportunity to be inspired by Elle’s story. That desire made it impossible to go the route of standard publishing so I chose to explore indie publishing. I talked to an author I met at an event for writers here in Menomonie at the historic Mabel Tainter Theater. Dick Edwards is the author of Mom, Dad…Can We Talk? and a man I highly respect. He recommended his publishing company and I didn’t check any further. The publishing firm arranged for the editing services on the book, managed the printing company and putting the manuscript in format for kindle, nook, etc. They handled everything including setting up my website.
Would I do things differently if I had it to do again? I probably would. I have learned a tremendous amount in a very short period of time. I went into this with no knowledge of how the publishing industry works. My background was in commercial finance.
The majority of the process went very smoothly. I have had some disappointments with the process and some successes. This is a process that can be incredibly expensive if the author does not do due-diligence. I’m still learning more about the process and definitely wish I had done some things differently.
Gina: What is your favorite part of the Elle Burton books?
Peggy: As an abused child I would definitely have to say the most important part of the book for me is the hope it can give to a child in trouble. It’s difficult to explain the terrors a young child faces to someone who has never experienced it. Children who are abused live in a world of constant fear and turmoil. I created Elle as the girl I always wanted to be…a child who could stand up to the abusers and the bullies and come out a winner. That is what every child dreams of who has experienced the social injustices I did. Elle became a character who I knew could touch the hearts of children and the minds of parents everywhere. We all believe we can protect our children. I have learned that is not the reality of the world we live in.
Gina: You’ve been through a lot of adversity in your life, including being disabled in a car accident, and now you’re extremely inspiring. How did that happen?
Peggy: Gina, you ask some difficult questions. Looking back on my life I would have to say my personal healing began when I confronted my abuser back in the 60’s. I offered forgiveness and that was met with the response, “You were the one who wanted it!” All I could think of was the little seven year-old child in pigtails who cried herself to sleep every night. I walked into that moment with an open heart. I believed I needed to forgive in order to move on and live a productive life.
That was the moment I realized pure evil does exist in this world and there is no logical way to change it or deal with it. That was the moment I turned away and finally realized that I was an innocent child who was totally incapable of doing anything to inspire the abuse I suffered. My desire to help others in trouble intensified at that moment. I became committed to the desire to make certain it doesn’t happen to others.
After the car accident, I was told I would never work again. The specialists who were treating me recommended that I sign up for Social Security benefits for the disabled. Quite honestly, that was the second day in my life when I was driven to suicide. Instead of taking pills like I did as a teen to get beyond the pain, I called a neighbor. She spent the entire day with me. I think she was the only person in the world who felt the same sense of total loss I did. Her husband and the father of her three children had recently been killed in an airplane crash. I thought if I were dead, my husband could marry again and find someone who could raise the boys.
The next morning, I woke up angry. I knew I was the only one who could protect my children and instill in them the faith my mother has raised me with. That was the incentive that kept me working every day to prove the doctors wrong. I believed that if I could overcome the abuse I had suffered as a child that I could also overcome the traumatic brain injury that had taken my sense of smell, taste, left side control, and short-term memory away from me. I knew if I could only work hard enough, I could learn to talk properly and use another part of my brain to remember things. It was difficult and took nearly five years of struggle, but I was able to land another job as a part-time employee and within three years work my way up to full-time.
During the years I was employed, I used my passion to help others by writing the book “The Art of Business Credit Investigation” and conducting seminars that helped businesses avoid losses due to both fraud and the honest inability of some businesses to be profitable. In the back of my mind I have always had the desire to find a way to help children who have been hurt. The Elle book seemed to be something that no one had ever tried before…a fantasy that could inspire children to have courage in times of tremendous stress.
As for inspiring: I am a simple woman who has a dream. My dream is for children everywhere to have the opportunity to learn and grow in a safe and happy environment. Can we reach that dream during my lifetime? We probably can’t, but we can start to actively pursue the answers and solutions that will allow children to grow up unafraid.
Gina: What advice do you have for readers who are going through tough times right now?
Peggy: You have two choices. You can give up or you can fight to survive and thrive under the harshest of circumstances as I did. I pray you chose the second path.
Gina: Please finish this sentence in your own words. The best things in life are_______.
Peggy: the love of your children and the lessons you can teach them through love and understanding of the challenges they face daily.
Gina: This is one of the tougher questions I’ve asked, but I’d appreciate your insight on this; what advice do you have for adults who still associate with an abuser from their childhood when there are hard feelings? I know a number of people in this situation.
Peggy: This is a very important question. Obviously my abuser was my father. I was raised by my mother to be a Christian. That meant I was supposed to forgive. Forgiving wasn’t the problem. The problem was forgetting. I promised myself that I would never teach my children to hate. That was not the message I wanted to share with them of the important lessons in life. They were allowed to make their own decisions about the people in their lives.
I want to make it perfectly clear here: There was never a moment…not even a second, when I left my children alone with this man.
As we traveled to Iowa one year for Christmas, my youngest son asked if we had to go visit (he used his grandfather’s actual name here).
I was stunned, I asked when it changed from Grandpa to “name”.
His response was quick and determined: “Grandpa is a name that has been earned. He has never done anything to earn the name from what I’ve seen of other kids and their grandfathers. So, I decided I wouldn’t call him grandpa anymore. But, I really don’t want to take time out of my Christmas to go see him. Do we have to?”
I asked my other son what he thought and he agreed he didn’t want to go visit this man either.
My children were extremely bright. They knew this was not a man they wanted to spend time with. I had the luxury of never having to teach them to dislike or hate another individual. I had taught them respect and honest love. They knew the qualities they wanted in a grandfather and this man didn’t possess any of them.
So, my answer to the question is simple: These people will always be abusers in our eyes. Our job is not to judge or to condemn. Our job is to make certain that they never hurt another under our watch. We have the choice of keeping the secret forever or of taking their power away completely by finally being honest with the world around us.
Gina: Your compassion inspires me, Peggy. I hope others can find strength through your experience.
Gina: Who, and or what, has inspired you to become the awesome person you are today?
Peggy: My Grandpa Burton was the kindest man I have ever met. When I was a teen, we were at his house for some holiday and a special report came on the television that the Boston Stranger had been apprehended. We all sat spellbound as the special announcement played out on the small screen. Grandpa sat in his rocking chair, rocking, and puffing on his pipe. When the news special ended, his words were short but life-changing: “Humph, something terrible must have happened to that boy when he was young to have caused him to do all those horrible things.”
Grandpa never judged another human being. His heart was so filled with love and compassion that he was not capable of judging others. He could only pray honestly for their salvation.
Gina: What are some things you wish everyone knew?
Peggy: Evil can exist under your own roof without your knowledge. Take off the blinders and ask questions if you suspect anything is wrong.
The majority of the people on this Earth are honest and compassionate. If you’re in trouble, find someone to confide in.
Most children are terribly honest. They may be threatened if they tell a secret, but if you ask them a question directly they will most often tell the truth. I truly believed my grandmother had eyes on the back of her head. She was a master at getting information out of me by making me believe she already knew the answer. I so wish she had suspected I was being abused, but that was not something she ever guessed. Ask your children frequently if anyone has hurt them recently.
Gina: What are some things you loved to do as a child that you still love to do?
Peggy: I loved to read. I escaped the reality of my life by becoming the hero or heroine in the books I read.
I also loved playing the piano and organ. If I was sad, the music I played would start with a melancholy tune and slowly evolve into a fast-paced song of exuberance. If I was angry, the song would start out loud and fast until I finally wore myself out and started playing slow and soft songs. These were the ways I escaped the pain of living from day to day.
I also loved to play and be in the water. That is one of the reasons we retired to a lake home.
Gina: If you could travel by wish travel, as Elle Burton does in Elle Burton and the Reflective Portals, where would you go?
Peggy: My first wish would be to find my Grandpa Burton in heaven. I so miss talking to him! He was not a famous person or a wealthy person. In the end, those things don’t really matter. What matters is the heart and how it leads you to treat others.
Gina: Where can we find you on the Internet?
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ @peggymcaloon
If you have any questions for Peggy, feel free to ask. I hope you enjoyed getting to know this inspiring lady as much as I have.
As always, thanks for reading.
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