It's been a while since I shared a book excerpt here, and since I'm currently most focused on writing Selkie II, I thought I'd share a little bit of Selkie with all of you this week. It's a peek into the very beginning of Annie Jacob's growth as a character; she's a newly divorced young woman recovering from the pain of her husband's infidelity, and she's run away to build a new life in a place where everyone isn't looking on her with pity. All she wants is to put her heart back together and move on with her life ... what she doesn't know is that her life is about to take a drastic turn away from everything she once thought was real. She's heading into uncharted waters, unknowingly walking a path that will bring the most secret mythology to life, right before her very eyes.
Here's a look at one of her last "normal" moments:
Annie had been reading one of her new books and it had her emotions in a complete tailspin. Sitting at the table with a plate of leftovers for breakfast, she'd been so engrossed in her reading that she had actually had to reheat her meal twice. Finally, she just scraped the leftover cabbage dish into the garbage and took her book with her out the back door.
There was a soft breeze and as Annie settled into one of the patio chairs, she brushed an errant strand of dark hair back, tucking it behind her ear. She crossed her ankles on the edge of the table in front of her and settled back into the pillows to re-read and soak in what she'd just learned.
It was a book about how sexy self-confidence was, about self-esteem being the most valuable trait that a woman could possess. The problem, Annie realized, was that she honestly hadn't known that she didn't already have that kind of confidence. She had always thought herself to be a confident and independent woman, one who could stand alone and who lived her own way, a woman who was always true to herself. Now, though, she could see parts of her life that had not been as she had believed them to be, and she was determined to do something about it. Annie had decided that she needed to figure out who she really was, and how to become more authentically herself. She held within her heart the hope that someday, she would meet a new man; that someday she would stumble upon a man who believed her to be as wonderful and beautiful as she herself was trying to believe that she was.
In the pages of the book, Annie had discovered several ways that she’d allowed her marriage to limit her, and that the entire situation was partially her own fault. The way she had allowed herself to stagnate in an effort to always be what Chase had once wanted, had probably been part of what had driven him to an affair in the first place. She only wished he hadn't taken up with the vivacious and fiery neighbor woman that Annie had so admired. It might have been nice to still have her best friend to talk to about her husband’s betrayal, but since Chase had chosen Annie’s best friend, she felt as if she’d lost them both. Still she could understand his choice in that too, if she was honest with herself.
Somewhere along the line, she had stopped being "Annie," and eventually she had drowned in being "Chase's Wife." In so many ways, she had allowed herself to belong to him, to behave as a possession and not as a partner; she’d stopped being her own woman. She wore what he approved of, not because he made her do it, but because she wanted his approval. She did and said and behaved as he wished, not because he said so or because he exerted his will over her, but because she wanted him to always choose her.
In the end, it had backfired. She had resented him for the things she had or hadn't done, telling herself that her dissatisfaction was his fault, and that all her perceived sacrifices had been for his sake. He had felt her silent anger and had returned it with his own; he’d filled himself up with his disappointment in her lack of growth as the years wore on, seeing her as being more and more stagnant as a woman while he grew beyond her as a man.
It had been hard to realize and admit those things; it had been harder still to admit that she had to release some of the anger she held toward her ex-husband. Annie couldn't honestly fault him for wanting more than an obedient servant. He'd wanted a partner, someone to match with, to spar with, to fight with, and to feel passionate emotion with. He’d wanted someone who would be her own authentic self, who would never belong to anyone else. She didn’t deny the fact that he had his own faults in their marriage, but she’d never before been willing to sit down and look at herself so honestly.
Still, she fought daily with the pain that he'd chosen to betray her with a beloved friend. More than that, the ache of her best friend's betrayal was like an apple stuck in her throat, one she couldn't seem to stop choking on.
"Argh! Enough of this," Annie suddenly said out loud, slamming the book shut. "I've had just enough of this for now. It’s time to shut it down, let it sink in and go do something else." Still, as Annie carried the book inside and placed it on the kitchen table, she couldn't help taking another look at the back cover, and the short little quote listed there among so many others that had reached out to her right from the first moment.
"Happiness is not a goal," she read aloud to herself, trying to memorize the quote. "It is a by-product." She smiled, muttering, "Eleanor Roosevelt, what I wouldn't give to take you to lunch."
Annie was, and still is, one of my most favorite heroines. She's on the same powerful journey that every woman alive is on, the journey to self-acceptance, self-love, and comfort in her own skin. But the best part of that journey is the way it often takes us on unexpected turns, leaving us changed forever into something entirely different from what we might have imagined. Still, we press on, and we persevere. We accept the change, sometimes with grace and sometimes without, and we learn to keep putting one foot in front of the other ... even when we feel trapped, bound, helpless. Even when we're drowning in the waves of life that sometimes wash over us, we "keep swimming." We find a way. And we become, in our own ways, the very magic most of us no longer believe in.
If you'd like to get to know Annie before her story continues in Selkie II, you can find the official blurb and download links for the first book in the Selkie Trilogy here. You can also check out my Pinterest board of celebrity inspiration here.
Until next week,