With: Lisa Burstein
I think everyone wants to believe that the heart once broken can be healed again. As vulnerable as we are to pain, we have to believe that otherwise what is the point in trying again. Why would we bother looking for love once we’ve lost it, or been wounded/broken by someone who was supposed to love us?
I believe as readers and writers we gravitate towards this theme in books because there is something life-affirming about knowing there is something or someone waiting for us at the end of heartbreak. Like a modern fairytale, mending the broken heart is a trope that has resonance in the real world.
In my recent release, The Possibility of Us Cassie the main character has gone through something pretty horrific at the hands of an ex-boyfriend from her past and it has closed her off from being able to trust anyone. One of the ways she learns to trust again is by learning to love again, through the other main character Ben. I think this is key, learning to love again, not having someone love her. I wrote it that way purposely because I wanted it to be clear that her falling in love with someone was a choice she was making.
Here's the thing, some people might think that she should have been able to get over her trauma without help from a guy. I believe this statement and I agree with it and so it made me wonder, how do you write a story like this and give your broken female the appearance of strength if she ends up with the guy? Would Cassie choosing to be alone have made her seem stronger? Is that even realistic?
What about the guy? In The Possibility of Us Ben reunites with Cassie three months after they have broken up. He’s been hurt too. How strong is it of him to give her another chance? Would anyone call him weak for being willing to love her again after she’s broken his heart?
As an older teen that had my own traumatic experience at the hands of an ex-boyfriend, very different from Cassie's but just as life-altering. I personally chose instead to be with everyone. That was what being raped by my ex-boyfriend did to me. It made me crave companionship and sex from anywhere I could get it. I was broken like Cassie, but dealt with it in the complete opposite way.
Cassie pushes everyone including women away. It isn’t just about keeping guys out or letting guys in. She deals with her trauma by closing herself off, by putting up walls. Her choosing to let someone in isn't about him being a guy. It isn't about being rescued. It's about her starting to believe she deserves to be loved, to let people in again, regardless of who or what they are.
I suppose in some ways my acting out with guys was the same as Cassie’s walls. I was letting them in, but only sexually, emotionally my barricades were up. By being with them in a physical way, by making it my choice I suppose I was able to take any power away from them. I was able to decide not to be hurt.
Cassie opening up to someone emotionally was all about illustrating her growth. It was not about being swept off her feet, or saved by some guy. At least that was not what I intended when I wrote it.
I'm not sure what reaction is more authentic? Stronger? I'm not sure it matters. What does matter, or did matter to me was showing that someone can get past heartbreak, past a trauma and be able to let people in again. Whether that's strong or weak, I don't know. I just think it's human.
What do you think?
THE POSSIBILITY OF US
One weekend together could change everything…
When her friend called to tell her about the funeral, Cassie wanted to say no. She had enough to handle with her own hollow existence. But she knew she should pay her respects to her old camp counselor…as long as her ex, Ben, wouldn’t be there.
Except Ben is there. Still gorgeous, still angry, and still able to penetrate her defenses with one intense stare. All the reasons they left each other in a flurry of heartache start to fall away over one long, snowy weekend.
But tough Cassie can’t truly open up to Ben when she knows confessing her secrets will leave her raw, defenseless. And the possibility of forever might not be enough to gamble on all the impossibilities of now.
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