By Kevin Vought
Via: Author Request
Summary: The true story of one man’s quest to confront the inner demons of his horrible childhood and chart a course toward hope and healing.
“The events that unfolded over the next few hours would define who I was to become in life. These few hours spawned much of the hatred, loneliness, terror, pain, and dread that have plagued me for decades. I still have nightmares about that day. I would go years at a time without a good night’s sleep because of those nightmares.” – Kevin Vought, I’m Supposed to Make a Difference.
This is a story of childhood abuse and its lingering, lifelong effects. It’s also a story of transformation and hope. The author shares how he not only healed from horrific childhood trauma, but how his journey also transformed him into someone who wants others with similar experiences to be able to heal and become whole, too.
After recovering a particularly horrible memory from his childhood when he’s nearly killed by a family member, the author is hit with an “insurmountable question: Why am I still here?” He then details that he feels he’s been given a “gift.” ‘I’m still here,” he writes. “I should be doing so much more with this gift. I’ve overcome so much – I’m supposed to make a difference.”
Going Backwards to Move Forward
In order to move forward, however, Vought must first go backwards, to the pain and trauma of a terrible childhood. This includes an emotionally abusive mother and a detached, angry, and sometimes violent father who feels kids just need to “take a beating” now and then.
Readers soon learn where this “Family 101” philosophy originated, as the skeletons in the elder Vought’s family closet start rattling. The consequences for young Vought and his older brother, Bryan, and an eleven year-old girl are devastating.
Barf Bag Alert!
The author’s father sends young Vought and his brother to the grandfather’s home for two weeks every summer, unsupervised. This, even though the author’s father knows full well that his father – the boys’ grandfather – is “a serial child molester” and a pedophile. Why the author’s father sent his young sons to spend unsupervised time with a known “sexual predator” – and its consequences – takes up much of the book. (You might want to bring a barf bag.)
It gets worse before it gets better. But there’s light at the end of the tunnel.
All in all, the writing is solid and compelling. However, some readers may be confused by some apparent inconsistencies. For example, early on the author catalogs his mother’s verbal and physical assaults and dubs her “Satan.” Later, he says she’s “one of my heroes.” (This is attributed to a belated realization – 17 years after his mother’s death – that she loved him.)
With regard to basic structure, the story seems redundant in places. It sometimes reads like a series of cathartic journal entries. Hence, the timeline isn’t exactly linear. It also includes numerous re-visits of specific personalities, places, and events. There’s a heavy reliance on “recovered memories” and other means of uncovering and coping with buried pain and trauma. Also “conscious/subconscious” activity as the author tries to piece together bits and scraps of memories and nightmares into some semblance of sense or meaning en route to understanding.
The final part(s) of this book offers five steps or “approaches” for taking possession of “the things that hurt you” and using the steps to improve your personal or business life. It discusses why, when, and how to seek help from others. It also discusses how to focus on the path forward – and the cure – rather than on “labels” or diagnoses.
Indeed, readers with similar backgrounds or who know those with same will find an honest, empathetic ear here. They’ll also find quiet courage, compassion, resilience, and encouragement to face their own inner demons, get help, and slay the dragons within.
“One day, one step at a time.”
Readers will either connect with the content or they won’t. For this reason, we aren’t going to rate this book. It’s not that kind of book.
We’d like to add that this was not an easy book to read. The subject matter is intensely personal. Disturbing. And frankly, outside our wheelhouse. But remember. The book’s title is, I’m Supposed to Make a Difference. In remembering his past, writing it out, and subsequently publishing this poignant memoir, Kevin Vought has certainly succeeded.
Broken tricycle image credit.