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Heal From My Life’s Baggage

Annette Densham Author Interview

How To Eat A Shit Sandwich: and Keep Smiling tells readers your story about dealing with the bad things that happen and how you managed to get through them and get on with your life. Why was this an important book for you to write?

I have been a writer since I could hold a pen. I have always been intrigued and fascinated by people’s stories; especially the stories of people the world considers ‘ordinary’. I find these are the most compelling stories – the ones where true grit and determination are displayed; not to get attention, but from necessity and survival. I want those who have lived extraordinary lives quietly and humbly to know that their stories matter, and no matter what has happened to them, there is an opportunity to help others heal.  Writing my book was a cathartic experience – I shed a lifetime of pain by letting it pour from my head to the screen/paper. I wanted to finally heal from my life’s baggage.  I also wanted to share that our stories do not define us. Yes, they shape up but you can have a life that has been so hard, but still dig deep to heal and go on to bigger and better things.

I appreciated the candid nature with which you told your story. What was the hardest thing for you to write about?

Writing about my childhood was hard; realising how many times I have been abandoned and abused by people who were meant to love and protect me. It was also hard to write about the sexual abuse I experienced. There was one chapter that just flowed out of me…I had forgotten it happened until I put my fingers to the keyboard. I was only 13 when it happened and it changed how I looked at my body and my sexuality … and I think it left me vulnerable to future abuse.  I got to the end of that chapter and sobbed. How can people be so cruel and horrible to each other?

What is one piece of advice someone gave you that changed your life?

Whether people love me or hate me, it has nothing to do with me.  It took me a while to get this because my whole life I have worked hard to get people to like me. I’ve yearned for approval from all and sundry. Yet, it didn’t make my life any better. When I realised how people see me, whether they like me or not, is not something I can control, because people make judgements about others based on THEIR life experiences. Our beliefs, life experiences and inner thoughts shape how we look at the world… and it is not always based on reality. So if someone doesn’t like me, it could be because I remind them of someone who was horrible to them – how do you control that? You can’t. So I stopped bothering. I just be the best I can, and as long as I show up without the intention to hurt others, those who want to be in my space will and those who don’t won’t.

What do you hope is one thing readers take away from your story?

 I want people to see that everyday ordinary people can make an impact on the world. There is nothing special about me beyond I survived my childhood. I found a way to dig deep and heal through my pain. It is possible. Bad things happen to good people, and while we cannot control how those bad people impact our lives, we can control how we deal with it. I chose to live my life, despite the terrible things that have happened to me, with joy, expectancy and determination. You can eat a shit sandwich, you can eat a buffet of them, but you control how you let that impact you. I want readers to see that there is a silver lining, that good can come from bad, and that there is always a way forward to a happier life. It starts with what goes on between your ears. You control your thoughts, feelings, and how you show up in the world. Take control. Don’t let those who hurt you win, but being a victim.

Author Links: GoodReads | Website

How do you make a shit sandwich palatable? You may think it’s impossible but if you surround it with light, love and laughter, you can get it down. It is the only way to eat one. There is no escaping one of life’s truisms – shit happens. Doesn’t matter who you are, where you are from, we’ve all had to deal with our share of shit.

The only difference between you and Annette Densham, is she decided to share her shit in a memoir. Is she famous? Ah ah! Is she an intellectual giant? She is smart but nothing extraordinary. Is she popular? Only in her own lunch time. But she does have a lot to say. You dear reader, get to follow the bouncing ball of her life as she shares the gut wrenching lows and moments of hilarity.

How To Eat A Shit Sandwich & Keep Smiling may sound messy and yucky, and in some parts it is. Annette takes a trip down memory lane – exploring key events in her childhood and adolescence. Written in the voice of the age she was at the time, some parts will make you cringe and blood boil as she shares stories of abandonment, bullying, sexual abuse, and domestic violence, will others will remind you life is what we make of it. You can eat a shit sandwich and still find joy and happiness. Some people call it resilience and grit, Annette calls it getting on with life.
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