This Too Shall Pass with Kate Pavelle

October 23, 2015

This Too Shall Pass

Hi, I’m Kate Pavelle, and my book “Sire” is coming out today. It’s classified as “new adult” because it deals with two 17-year olds. You’ve met one of them, Brent, in the “Steel City Story” series books “Wild Horses” and “Broken Gait.”

One of my beta readers remarked that he and his boyfriend act a bit over-the-top. “But they are teenagers,” she said.  “I guess they can be forgiven.” Which is my point precisely – teen thought and action is often punctuated by black-and-white drama. All or nothing. Triumph or disaster. Love or hate. Which is why I decided, about 15 months ago, to write a book about Brent.

A news headline had caught my eye back then: a 17-year old girl, who was a star student with a bright future, had committed suicide because she couldn’t bear the thought of her religious, conservative parents rejecting her once they were bound to learn she was a lesbian.

Her grieving parents had been appalled. They would’ve loved her the way she was.

 

You might think this is an isolated example. Maybe she was stressed (who isn’t?), or depressed (we all are, on occasion), or scared. You might think there was “something else wrong with her.” That’s not what I thought. I thought, “This could’ve been me.”

I still remember the cold ball of dread in the pit of my stomach and the writhing shame I felt when I had been dismissed from my AP chemistry class, and demoted to the slow, uninspiring chemistry for stupid people. I can still see the warm autumn sun drift through the pebbled bathroom windows of the third-floor girls’ bathroom. The small, antiquated tile in cream and mint green, the single sinks and the drip-drip-drip of a leaky faucet.

I should’ve continued to the stupid people chemistry class, but I needed to escape for just a little bit. Or, maybe, forever.

Would my father, the world-famous chemist and inventor, hate me?

Would his father, another world-famous chemist, scoff?

Would my mom drink away her disappointment?

I had brought shame upon the family.

My English still sucked and I couldn’t keep up.

I was a failure.

The pain, it cut deep. Twisted my gut, squeezed my shoulders, pricked my eyes with tears. I tried to envision a positive outcome of this situation, but I couldn’t.

It wasn’t there, and I wanted it to stop. Stop the stress of constant little failures, mediocre grades, and parental expectations. Stop the shame, eliminate the failure, cleanse my family’s honor.

There had to be a way to wipe the slate clean.

The windows were the kind that tilted in instead of opening wide. I walked all the way to the wall and leaned for a better look.

I could’ve fit through the window – I’d have to squeeze, but there was just enough space to crawl out. The interior courtyard of the school had a little concrete pad in the middle, and grass all around it. I couldn’t see where I was going to fall. Would it hurt? For just a little while, maybe. Unless I fell on grass and survived. If I lived, I’d be in a world of pain and my parents would have those mad, irritated faces and they’d call me stupid again, and… dammit, it sure looked like it would hurt a lot.

I backed away from the window, washed my face, and trudged on to the classroom where only losers too slow, too ignorant, too unintelligent to carry on a glorious family legacy, sat in an unruly gaggle of seats. As I joined them, I held on to the thought that later I’d find a way to wipe the slate clean and stop the horrid and unbearable shame.

My parents’ reaction was a revelation. They didn’t explode. They just nodded and carried on, burdened by their own troubles. It wasn’t all about me and about my AP chemistry class failure. Life wasn’t black-and-white. There was no “big talk,” except for my dad letting it slip that he failed a class at my grade level too.

Inconceivable!

 

That girl who’d discovered she was into girls, she too couldn’t comprehend a world without absolutes, and I feel for her. I connect to the turmoil of helplessness she must’ve felt, the conclusions she must’ve reached given both limited information and a limited perspective on life.

Then I thought of Brent, and his father, and the kiss Brent had shared with Lindsey in “Broken Gait.” The kiss that was merely okay, and didn’t even begin to compare to the one Brent had shared with Robbie. And I thought, Brent, this book’s about you.

If I can convince just one young person that parents are both fallible and loving, that this, too, shall pass and a better day will come, writing late into the night will have been worth it. If I can convince just one person of any age that disappointing a parent does not equate to being a failure at everything, the painstaking timeline coordination with “Broken Gait” will have been worth it. If I can keep just one teen from thinking that erasing their existence is the one and only way to stop the pain, then all the endless edits will also have been worth it.

Live on, my friends. Cherish your triumphs, but also cherish your learning experiences. For no one can grow without falling flat on the face, scrambling up to the feet, and moving forward again. And spread kind, loving words to offset the sting that comes with these lessons. You never know – even a boy or a girl who seem to have it all together might think a reasonably benign situation is the end of the world.

For them, it might be.

 

If you’d like to put your name into the hat for a drawing of two free e-book copies of “Sire,” leave a comment below. Respond to this topic. People with hidden inner lives are all around you, and a kind word can make a world of a difference. So, go on! Interact! I’ll respond to your comments as best I can.

 

7 Responses to “This Too Shall Pass with Kate Pavelle”

  1. jilrene says:

    I love all your books, and the steel city books the most. I can’t wait to read Brent’s story!

  2. Trix says:

    I’ve always had a pretty rich inner life, so I’m intrigued…

  3. Sara says:

    Thank you for your wise words! It gets a bit easier to stop seeing the world in absolutes as you age, but at times you find yourself back at that point. I’m in a middle of a home renovation project gone a bit wrong, and in hindsight I should have gone about it very differently, and you’ve just made me realize I must see it as another learning experience. Those learning experiences keep coming no matter your age; in fact at times I think they come more often as I grow older, or maybe it’s just that I am more susceptible to them, anyhow your blog post was another eye opener. And congratulation to the new book!

  4. H.B. says:

    It’s painful to think that a parent may not approve when you don’t live up to expectation. But I think we are more harsh on ourselves than our parents are in some cases.

  5. Kate Pavelle says:

    Jilrene, thank you! I enjoy writing them, and have one or two more in me.

    Trix, thanks for commenting! Be intrigued, go exploring!

    Sara, hope your construction turns out good! We had a kitchen remodel last year that took 4 months instead of 6 weeks, so I really sympathize.

    H.B., I used to think my parents disapproved of me in so many ways – but ours wasn’t a demonstrative family. And we are harsher than our parents, and try to please, and then they end up appalled! :-)

  6. Yvonne says:

    This is a great post. I made a very stupid decision once because I was afraid of my parents’ reaction and I’m paying for it to this day.
    One of the good things about starting to read m/m has been more talk in our family about LGBTQ issues which in turn made my daughter feel safe enough to come out to me. My kids being gay would never have been an issue for me but I guess unless you tell them that they don’t know and will worry.

  7. susana says:

    Great post! I’m lucky to have really supportive parents, who never forced or questioned their children decissions. I can’t imagine how difficult it can be to live in fear of your family’s rejection. Thank you for telling us about your experiences.

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