About my background

Mary Anne Willow Potrait
My Background

I was born in Yorkshire in 1962. As a child of three I witnessed my father violently beating my mother ‘like a deranged baboon’ as I clung to my baby brother believing we were going to die.

At the age of 7 my family moved back to my parents’ hometown in north-west England. Over the next ten years, I would face domestic and sexual abuse, maternal alcoholism, the agonising death of my beloved grandmother from breast cancer and the sadism and indifference of my school teachers.

Growing up in a misogynistic working-class culture, surrounded by irrational hatred and lack of female power, I escaped to Wales to work in a seaside hotel where I became enlightened by the beauty of the coastal scenery while discovering the joy of serving others. Empowered by the respite from domestic violence during my Welsh working holiday, I decided to return home and train as a nurse.

In the years that followed I worked and studied in some of the most prestigious hospitals across England. I constantly strived to reach my full nursing and academic potential achieving a distinction in a master of arts degree in Leadership and Management.

Despite my flawless career success, pain and suffering were constantly revisiting my life. Following a brief disastrous marriage I began to feel empty and lost. Haunted by the legacy of self-contempt, guilt and shame from my childhood abuse, I began to search for a deeper meaning to life.

After an unplanned journey to see my brother, who was suffering from PTSD following his experiences as a naval seaman during the Falklands and Gulf wars, my life changed forever. One brief desperate phone call to the naval chaplain, Paddy the Padre, was the beginning of a journey of healing, hope and lifelong transformation.

The book describes my journey of self-discovery, as I fell in love with nature, animals, music, beauty and God.

Extracts from spiritual writing and literature are used to help the reader make sense of the often painful events described, bringing a measure of understanding and facilitating the construction of new life-giving perspectives.

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