Corners of My Mind
Sorting Out-of-Sorts Memories
(a memoir... of sorts)
“Memories…light the corners of my mind…” but with light, shadows are always cast: behind, to the side, and sometimes, underneath.
In her new eclectic collection, Corners of My Mind, J.A. Carter-Winward explores the darkened shade near the brightness, both views essential to understanding our pasts.
Although deeply personal, Carter-Winward’s tales and words are universal. This is her gift and why her words resonate so powerfully for people across all lines.
Poetry, creative non-fiction, non-fiction comprise this memoir-based look into the author’s dark corners. Many of the pieces focus on Carter-Winward’s family life and time as an active member of the LDS Church. Along with healthy doses of regret, grief, and sorrow, Carter-Winward also gives us the satisfying taste of redemption within each piece.
Her “Door” series are the most personal—and powerful—in the collection. Like bolted doors that had been locked for her own safety, Carter-Winward is ready to break her silence. Her experience is only one of thousands, as the secrecy of the Mormon Church’s policies are becoming known in this age of information. Carter-Winward’s courageous explorations will reach thousands of others who need a light to find their way to safety.
Included in the collection is the brief, yet stunning memoir piece, Stories, Wounds, and Doors: Of Silence and Coming Back to Life. This true account is the most stunning and revelatory work Carter-Winward has ever written, a "door" she has been unable to open for almost two decades.
With exacting, powerful, and evenhanded clarity, this story is the real-life experience of Carter-Winward’s frightening journey in 1994 when, as a young LDS mother of two small children, she fled her toxic, abusive marriage. When she turned to those in whom she trusted most, she found herself alone and betrayed by her church leaders, and a pariah in her once-close-knit Mormon community and family. To save herself and her children, she was forced to make the most harrowing choices of her life.
With dignity, compassion, and even love, Carter-Winward imparts one of the most life-changing experiences of her past without the usual edge of bitterness and anger that often accompanies former Mormons and the departure from their faith. No, J.A. Carter-Winward turns a tale of outrage and treachery into one of healing and redemption.
From the author: “Even in the murkiest corners of our past, we have a choice whether we leave the shadowy memories in darkness, or illuminate them—and with that illumination, rise above what shadows they cast with grace and forgiveness.”
Sample excerpts from Corners of My Mind:
my therapist asked me why i wasn’t angry.
i told him i can’t be angry at dead people.
my parents are dead,
what harm can they do?
what harm have they done, he asked.
then i thought about getting angry.
but i can’t be angry at dead people.
there’s no way they can say, i’m sorry
and there’s no way i can say, me too.
From Stories, Wounds, and Doors: Of Silence and Coming Back to Life:
"Stories are born of events and fact, and a little imagination. The specific quantity of each differs in each tale. Memories are stories we tell ourselves about the past, and gaps may be filled with imaginings, because no one has perfect recollection. Additionally, in the face of a single event, the occurrences may be recalled differently by each player.
I know this isn’t just my story. This story echoes throughout the personal histories of many of women, because we are creatures that are not only individual, but also, in many respects, the same. Patterns, archetypes, stereotypes—they all exist because in the end, we are all human. And our stories are housed within structures that hold many rooms, with many doors: some open, some closed, and some locked for our own protection.
So this story, then, is a door that has remained closed until now. Many more doors like this one exist, and behind them is untold and vivid pain. They will need to open. Although it’s the first of mine, this door may give someone, somewhere, the courage to open her own. Every painful door is a wound and every wound has a door—a door that opens to a story.
And so, here is mine."
i wish didn’t know.
he told me about his parents,
there was love and support and respect
and he was never criticized or
they believed in him and encouraged him.
his parents loved each other
and never fought.
i didn’t know that’s how
a childhood could be.
and for some reason,
i really wish i didn’t know.
inter-generational and the inheritance of what was
the beatings and hittings and name-callings and bullying and dysfunctional boundaries and controlling and screamings and vitriol and hurt. juxtaposed with the shaming religion. our dad.
and my oldest brother became ocd and very hard on himself and a perfectionist, but he never hit his kids.
and the second is ocd and adhd, has fought inner demons his whole life, and he and his wife fight and he criticizes but he never hit his kids.
and my sister was "co-dependent," her husband a shit-heel for breaking her heart, and so much was for him, it's maybe why she was a bit too lenient, but she loved her babies and supported them, and she never hit her kids.
and then the next brother, he throws himself into the religion and laughs his way to sanity and prays and he never hit his kids.
and the next brother, ocd and a perfectionist and way too hard on himself and performs a ritual-like kind of self-flagellation to make up for not being good enough, and has forgotten how to be soft because he had to be stronger than lead, but he never hit his kids.
and then there is me and there is too much to say on me, really, there’s too much and three marriages later and a lifetime of floundering and torment then good things now, and i never hit my kids.
it ended with my dad, the hitting. the other stuff ekes out in ways we could have never predicted. we all tell ourselves we are a vast improvement over our dad—
but then, he’d told himself the very same thing.
Self-Portrait in 2-D Minor
Brown and green orbs
that didn’t see his intentions
but worried about too-wide hips.
Silken chestnut, like a mare’s mane.
You hold on when the beast bucks and runs;
he snarls his fingers into strands to immobilize.
Nose points slightly west, a break from a back-hand. Three chevron
lines form between brows when you remember, a hand pushing
your face West.
Rose buds, lips turning up, then down. Parted lips in a smile
because you know him. Taste of blood behind rose lips.
Heart-shaped face, light, then dark.
A Body. Young, soft, new, nubile; then blood, hair,
rosed-nipples, small fleshy hills, legs closed, legs forced open,
legs remain open (for many years to come) to black out the force.
Brown and green orbs surrounded by black sweepers. Clumped
by salty-wet. Brown and green orbs clenched tight, then opened.
I wanted my body back the way it was, but he took his piece.
I want my eyes back.
I want my ears back.
I want the piece he stole
when he looked at me in 3-D
and turned me into 2-D, still a minor,
and left me forever uneasy in the presence of male.
Thinking on it—he can keep it, that piece.
It was young, pliable, naïve.
It saw itself in 2-D for too long.
I’m a craftswoman now.
I’ve constructed a new piece out of
scar-tissue and steel.
I tempered it with tears, then rage.
I sealed it on and in me with the fire of
a 3-D sun. Yes, he can keep it.
I am no longer pull-apart bread-stuffs.
I am a galvanized Visigoth and
not at the mercy of a coward’s hungry will.
I should warn him—the piece of me
he thinks he has?
It will turn on him
the moment he thinks