I’ve talked a little bit before about how writing Obsession was both difficult and cathartic. I’ve also talked a little bit about how The Darkness Falls story arc was going to be all about descent in Obsession and about ascent in Redemption. I kind of had this naive idea that Redemption was going to be so much easier to write. I thought, with it being about Noelle’s rise from the ashes, that it would feel ascendant to write it. I’m not entirely sure how I got it so wrong.
I’ve never made a secret of the fact that I was in Noelle’s shoes. In many respects I still am. I wanted to write Darkness Falls because it was easier to express it in fiction and because I felt it was a journey worth talking about. It was raw and powerful. I wanted people to read it and feel inspired. There are so many people out there in damaging and destructive relationships and I thought that if I could reflect even one iota of how I dragged myself out, it might give someone else the courage to go for it.
As I’ve been writing and editing Redemption these last few weeks and months, what’s become clear is just how hurtful that rise from the ashes was. For the sake of fiction I’ve condensed it down into a much shorter and more intense time frame, but in my own life those were some of the longest and darkest days of my existence.
Like many others in my situation, I went through intensive counselling. I know Rivka’s written posts about it in the past. It’s not an easy thing to submit to. You think you’re going there to be helped out of your woes and instead they break you even more. You have to be completely, absolutely, utterly and traumatisingly broken before you can be remade. Sometimes I think of it like a puzzle. Every now and then you’ll tip all of the pieces out of the box and there’ll be a section or two that are still intact from the last time the puzzle was completed. The temptation to keep them as they are and build around them is strong, but in the end you don’t know if they were constructed right the first time. The only way to be sure is to dismantle it completely and put them together yourself. Whatever shreds of Ivory Quinn existed before the counselling had to be dismantled so that I could be remade.
Noelle’s journey to Redemption is not an easy one. It’s dark, littered with screw ups and often takes the road less travelled. It’s full of hard decisions and painful moments. It’s full of throwdowns and assistance from where she least expected it. I wrote the entire last chapter in floods of tears, more than a week of sobbing for hours each night.
I guess I just never realised that Redemption came at such a cost. I did it because I needed to survive. It never occurred to me to think about the process as I was going through it. You just do what you have to because you want to come out the other side.
In the end it is ascendant. Redemption is what it’s all about. But I’ll never underestimate the power of a human’s will to survive again.