These uplifting tales prove that even the broken can find unconditional love.
When it comes to family, there’s no such thing as “normal”; some families just appear less abnormal than others. Yet it is our upbringing, the vulnerable years we spend with our family, which defines our view of normality. For some of us, as we break free of harmful situations, we realize that we must reshape this perspective before it corrupts all our relationships and potential happiness. Such is the case with Sammy Lee Gott, author of When Love Doesn’t Start at Home: Surviving a Dysfunctional Family.
Gott recounts his experiences being raised in an abusive household and his process of breaking the hold that his past has on him. He dives into the raw pain of the emotional, mental, and physical abuse suffered at the hands of his parents through personal anecdotes and poetry written by him and his brothers. Readers follow him through his school years, the military, his first marriage, and finally learning to love and be loved. While Gott makes it clear that he does, eventually, find happiness, the questions are how and when it will happen.
Gott’s story is unfortunately common. However, he is among the few brave enough to share his experiences in the hopes that others might find inspiration in his tale of recovery. He does not spare any details for the sake of “sensitivity.” Rather, Gott tells readers the entire truth about himself, his family, and how he was raised. He even admits when he does not clearly remember something and that the secondhand accounts might be flawed, a level of honesty which autobiographical novels often lack in order to portray the author as reliable and sympathetic.
While Gott does not downplay the abuse, the details are not too harsh for readers to bear. Instead, he focuses more on the emotional scars and lasting effects of his suffering. He discusses estrangement from his brothers, how the military lifted him up and renewed his love of learning, and gives advice to other abuse victims as to how they can begin to heal. The poetry and photographs also provide a welcome break from Gott’s accounts, making a 146-page book an even quicker read.
This book contains Christian undertones, although not heavily so. A major part of Gott’s recovery involved finding God, and much of his advice and many of his tales are sprinkled with references to God. For this reason, non-Christians might find these parts uncomfortable. Nevertheless, the references do not detract from the reading experience overall, and Gott does not use this book to preach Christianity. He is, instead, using the message of God and His love to encourage other victims to find unconditional love; not only is it out there, but they deserve to feel it.
When Love Doesn’t Start at Home by Sammy Lee Gott is a must-read for abuse victims and those wishing to understand people who have been abused. You will feel as though you’re listening to Gott telling you his family history directly, and you won’t want to stop until you see Gott receive the love he so desperately wants. By the end, you will realize that while every family has its problems, you can always find happiness if you persevere.