What Amazon says
Inspiring and unforgettable, Letting Go into Perfect Love is a riveting account of a journey through the terror of domestic violence to a faith that transforms all. As a college administrator, Gwendolyn M. Plano lived her professional life in a highly visible and accountable space–but as a wife and mother, behind closed doors, she and her family experienced unpredictable threat. The statistics are staggering–every 9 seconds in the United States, a woman is assaulted or beaten–but to Gwen, this was her secret; it was her shame. When her husband eventually turned his brutality on her son, she knew she could no longer remain silent.
Alternately heart-wrenching and joyful, this is a story of triumph over adversity–one woman’s uplifting account of learning how to forgive the unforgiveable, recover her sense of self, bring healing into her family, and honor the journey home. Accompanied by glimpses of celestial beings, Gwen charts a path through sorrow to joy–and ultimately, writes of the one perfect love we all seek.
The story that unfolds is not a blow-by-blow account of savagery hidden within a twenty-five-year marriage; rather, it is a walk through innocent dreams betrayed–to courage found. “Tragedy spares no one;” Gwen points out, “it just courts each of us differently. One way or another, it finds a path into our hearts, and there we do battle with the intruder.” As a survivor who came out of her unhealthy relationship determined to start over, Gwen artfully depicts the challenges of balancing the obligations of motherhood and career with her family’s healing process, while offering hope to anyone facing monumental challenges.
Integral to Gwen’s journey is her faith. Because of her Catholic upbringing, she struggles with the scandal of divorce, but finally makes her peace. When her daughter reveals her molestation by clergy, however, her fragile sense of serenity dissolves. We walk with Gwen as she tries to make sense of this horror. The agony experienced by the entire family is devastatingly palpable. Against all odds, Gwen emerges confident of her faith and begins to see the threads of meaning in even the darkest moments.
This is a book for all. But, for those who have been in a destructive relationship, Gwen’s story will be heartbreakingly familiar. For those who have been spared such diminishment, it will provide insight into the often misunderstood phenomenon of domestic violence. Since one in every four women will experience such threat in her lifetime, understanding that murky world may provide the reader with the skills needed to help his or her sister or friend or neighbor. Whether victim or friend, though, readers will be inspired by the author’s courage and ultimate resolution of her predicament. And, you may see your own challenges a little differently.
Initially, I found this book quite difficult to read. I am a very determined person who has always been focused on equality for women, so when I first started reading this book it seemed incredible that an educated and attractive woman like the author could become trapped in an abusive relationship, especially for twenty-five years. How could anyone accept such bad treatment? I asked myself. Why didn’t she leave Ron and turn to her family for help? Despite my emotional agitation during the first part of this story, I continued reading because it is completely compelling and beautifully written. As I progressed through the book, I found myself undergoing a metamorphosis as I gained insight into the heart and soul of Gwen, as an abused woman, and how the abuse completely broke her spirit and destroyed her confidence. She didn’t really have a choice about her life. Her ability to make decisions was stolen from her by her circumstances. Not even her protective instinct for her children could overcome the destruction wreaked by her husband.
Gwen was fortunate enough to have people in her life who cared enough about her to work hard on guiding her along the journey of healing and self redemption. She also clearly has a strong character and was able to finally take the necessary steps to free herself and her family from the destructive situation they were all in. Her own abuse was not the only cross Gwen has had to bear in her life and your heart bleeds for her when you discover how some unscrupulous and frankly evil people nearly ruined both her daughter and her own lives.
For me, there were two really pivotal moments in this book. The first was when the author describes herself as living in a box of fears and her unhealthy marriage as being a safe place within this box. By safe place, what she meant is that her marriage, although it was dysfunctional, was at least predictable and there is a strong element of security in predictability. This particular description had a strong impact on me as I realised that most people, myself included, have our own box of fears. It may not be fear of being alone, or being able to support your family alone, it can be many other things, but we all have fears and we all have our crutches that we cling to in an attempt to avoid dealing with our issues.
The other defining revelation for me was when the author explained that our fear and personal anguish is carried in our physical bodies and expresses itself ultimately in pain. If we do not learn to control and cope with our fears, we will never be free of pain and will eventually do ourselves great bodily harm.
This book is a description of the author’s life journey through an initial failed marriage and then into another long-term abusive relationship. It describes the downward spiral in the victim’s mental health and psychological well being. The tone of the story turns when the author starts to recognise the dysfunctional nature of her relationship, not just know, but really understand its destructiveness, and starts taking small steps towards turning her life around.
This is a story of determination and courage, which I came to realise are attained in many different ways and in varied circumstances. I believe that every person in any kind of relationship with their parents, children and partner, can benefit from reading this incredible story.
Purchase Letting Go into Perfect Love: Discovering the Extraordinary After Abuse