Rag Dolls and Rage
The memoir written by Sheila Tucker can easily enrage any reader. The kind of story that should never have happened so that it never needed to be written.
Three-year-old Sheila was a secure, affectionate child, living with doting grandparents and several fun-loving teenaged uncles and aunts in an old house near the English seaside. Her idyllic life consisted of hugs, sandcastles and helping Nana roll pastry.
Twelve months later, Sheila was terrified, lost, and abused in a grey, grim house, by a strange man her mother insisted she call “Daddy.” After a year of terror, Sheila was rescued by her aunt, but by then the damage was done.
Rag Dolls and Rage is Sheila’s coming-of-age journey through fear, brokenness and self-hatred, towards peace, forgiveness and love. It’s the story of a woman who travelled the world seeking risky adventure to escape her past, before finally revisiting the painful memories buried deep inside her.
This is a powerful and uplifting memoir of hope, healing and resilience.
Rag Dolls is an autobiographical memoir about the very troubled and difficult life of the author, Sheila Tucker. It’s not a pretty story.
Tucker has written her life story as if reading from a well-kept journal or drawing on a phenomenal memory. Mind you, the events and family relationships she recalls are so traumatic they are likely clearly and permanently etched into her memory forever.
The book is a straightforward narrative chronicling her life from birth [Sheila was born to a single mother, and had a very happy early life until age 4] to the present, vivid recollections of painful events she endured for many years with the emphasis on her first twenty. The agony comes in varied forms from sexual abuse to psychological and emotional deprivation. Her developmental years were years of assault, insult and offence at the hands of a multigenerational group of family members. This abuse went beyond her family, continuing outside the home, in her schools, and in her neighbourhood streets. She was bullied by fellow students, by other teens, even by teachers. The relentless and frequent mistreatment seems to have been everywhere and ceaseless.
It is amazing she was not driven mad by the endless abuse she experienced. It was close. However, in 2010, she sought professional help. Dr. Beal’s strategies and professional advice were Tucker’s salvation, along with writing her memoir. She learned from her therapist how to see her life and herself in a different light.
A courageous story
Tucker’s story is a very courageous one, a testament to the strength and depth within a person. Hers is not the story of wartime trauma, the suffering of a prisoner of war. But there was economic deprivation. This is the story of family and peer abuse in her early life, the kind no one hears about until some courageous person like Tucker steps forward with the revelation.
Tucker likely felt shame and embarrassment with the abuse she endured and mentally buried it much as rape victims allegedly do. Then too, being so young, she would not have known what to do, where to find solutions to the psychological damage to her mind, to her psyche. Solutions and emotional recovery came decades later when Tucker reached middle age.
Perhaps the offenders were not as culpable as readers may prematurely judge, not realizing or recognizing the pain they were causing. Perhaps blame be partially rationalized by the momentum peer pressure that turns youth into full-blown victimizers. The bullies transformed her tough-as-nails neighbourhood streets into war zones for the young girl. However, no matter how blame is spread or rationalized, it cannot be disregarded, ignored nor buried away from reality. Besides being shockingly victimized by her mother many for years, she was also neglected to some extent by her grandparents.
This book is a portal to the troubled and tortured world of a young woman who in later life was able to verbalize and write about her difficult life, maybe as a catharsis for her, maybe as a beneficial witness to advise others who may be suffering similarly.
The book is a difficult read. It is a story of suffering and anguish. However, there are lighter scenes and a victorious outcome. Tucker writes well, completely engulfing her reader in a heavy shroud of pain and misery. There is no escaping the raw emotions of rage and grief. The book is a “page-turner” where one hopes the next page will bring some improvement to Tucker’s life. Tucker makes that happen in adult life by leaving home to work abroad, eventually settling in Canada. The epilogue delivers the needed redemption and salvation and Tucker is now in a happy and peaceful place in her life.
Rag Dolls and Rags, a story of courage and survival. Sheila Tucker’s.