Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Character Transformation

I love reading more than most people know. Most people know I enjoy reading, but few know the extent of my passion for it. Like many avid readers, when I read a fiction novel, I don't just simply read the words and comprehend the context. Rather, I delve into the story. I insert myself into it, I feel like the characters, I think like the characters, I am transformed into the characters. It's the same way when I watch movies--that's when I declare something is a good movie, show, or acting--when I am transformed into the characters and forget I'm watching a movie/show. That's why I can't fall asleep to the TV or to a movie--I'm too involved in it.

I read a book yesterday called Safe Haven, written by Nicholas Sparks (my favorite author). If you've read at least two of his books, you would probably find that he has a certain story line that most of his books follow. I love them and his writing style, but they are generally the same story, just with a few details changed. This book was different though. It deviated from his normal writing style. And this book made me think about 49038 kinds of things and was one of the most emotionally exhausting books I have ever read. (It was also my favorite book by him and one of my favorite books that I have ever read and seriously do recommend reading it, even after all this.) It was exhausting and I even had nightmares about it. I had no idea that it was going to be about what it was. I started it late Monday night, around midnight and read until 5am. I was so tired, but I tossed and turned and had nightmares and woke up again at 7am. I was awake for a few more minutes and dozed on and off until 11am, nightmares still occurring. I knew I had to finish the book, no matter how difficult it was. I finished at 2pm and could barely stand up to get out of bed. I was exhausted from the lack of sleep, exhausted from the book, exhausted from the nightmares.

(Warning: spoiler alert for the book)

The book was about domestic abuse. It was about a husband and wife. It was about the wife doing something wrong, not being perfect enough, not doing what the husband wanted and so he hit her. He kicked her, he beat her, he raped her, he threatened her, he held a gun to her head. The wife tried running away twice and he tightened his grip on her. He locked his wallet, didn't give her access to money, didn't let her have a driver's license, took her everywhere, called 6 times a day, monitored her every move. And then she ran away again. For good. She got away for almost half a year...and then he found her. He was a detective working for the police department after all and he was good at his job. He found her and because she fooled him and ran away even with all that he did to make sure she didn't, he was mad. But he was conflicted because he loved her, so he just wanted to get her and bring her back home so they could be husband and wife. But he hated for the reasons aforementioned, and so he wanted to kill her. It was just a book. It was just fiction. But like the book Redeeming Love, this is for real. Domestic abuse happens. Real people live this every day. I have written a number of papers and done quite a bit of research on domestic abuse throughout my college years.

This book broke my heart and caused me to have nightmares because I was transformed into that character. I was transformed into the wife. And when I remembered that real people in real life are being abused, my heart broke even more. Having a broken heart is exhausting.

Sparks wrote the book in three different perspectives. One was from the husband. And by reading his perspective on the abuse, and from my research, I've been able to understand the general concept of abuse and how/why it happens. Generally, it's not done by a "bad" guy who does "bad" things and is just a jerk and hates his kid/wife/girlfriend (or in the rare cases, the sexes are switched). There is more to it than that. In this book, the husband did love his wife. He didn't abuse her out of hatred. And every time he apologized, sincerely believing that he didn't mean it. Given his perspective, I knew that I cared about him too, even though I hated him. I wanted him to get arrested, I wanted him to suffer, I wanted him to "go away and never return" (name that movie!). I also wanted to help him, somehow.

Essentially, I wanted justice. (Read the book and see how it goes, I plead you!) Bringing it completely back to real life, I want to be part of the movement that brings justice to the world. While just, still being compassionate. I want to give what I have to love on others. No matter the cost.