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Why did Rachel blame herself for Katherine's anorexia, even though she was only seven years old at the time? Why couldn't Katherine remember very much about her childhood? What was the meaning of the terrifying nightmares that had haunted Katherine since she was six years old? Why did she stop eating at the age of thirteen? This is the true story of one woman's search for the truth about her childhood; how a small child "forgot" her past in order to survive; and how her buried memories slowly emerged over a period of forty years. Katherine describes growing up in a poor, working class family in an isolated Cornish village. She could remember only a happy childhood until that fateful Christmas when she was thirteen. Indeed, for most of her life she said that she painted an idyllic picture of her childhood to everyone. This wasn't a deliberate attempt to deceive. She said her memories were real enough, just not the whole picture.She goes on to describe being abandoned by her parents in a "lunatic asylum" for adults at the age of fourteen, seventeen years of severe depression, eating disorders, self-harming, suicide attempts, and a forced marriage to a much older man whom she barely knew. Miraculously she recovered completely and successfully raised four children, obtained a first class honours degree in psychology, followed by a doctorate in clinical psychology. Katherine described her life as perfect then. It should have been the end of her story. But by a cruel twist of fate her life fell apart again. Her husband betrayed her and she was diagnosed with a severe illness which led to permanent pain, disabilities, and the loss of the career she loved. Her childhood nightmares came back to haunt her with a vengeance, and she started to have flashbacks, revealing more about her childhood. Memories she would rather have kept buried. The effect on her was devastating and, once again, she found herself battling severe depression. Initially defeated, she only found the strength to bravely face her demons when she realised the effect she was having on her youngest daughter who, ironically, was developing an eating disorder. After a shock revelation by her sister, Rachel, Katherine uncovered a conspiracy of family lies and secrets, and the ultimate betrayal by her parents.
I met this remarkable and inspiring woman on an internet dating site over three years ago. We quickly became friends and Katherine told me about her extraordinary life in e-mails. When I first read them I realised that this was a story that had to be told. Katherine is a natural story teller and, due to her knowledge and training, has a level of insight about everything that has happened to her that is not available to most people in similar situations. She should be bitter and angry but she refuses to feel sorry for herself. She has retained a sense of humour and perspective about her life, and cares passionately about other people who are suffering from similar issues. Katherine constantly looks for ways to speak out about her experiences and to use those, and her training, to help others. She shows that there is always hope, and that anything is possible, whatever life throws at you. By the way, this book is also a love story. Katherine and I have now been happily married for two years!
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