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The Dark Moon – Anne Maria Clarke. (Paperback)

The Dark Moon – Anne Maria Clarke. (Paperback)
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Editor: Hazel Marshall

The impetus behind Desmond Tutu’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the knowledge that we can best or only be healed of trauma and abuse by listening to the stories of, understanding and ultimately forgiving the perpetrators of that abuse is the core thread of this powerful book.

The day that Anne Maria and her husband discover that their teenage daughter has been sexually abused; that their best friends have supported their daughter in her grief and distress; that all of them have adhered to the vow of silence she has implored of and imposed on them for at least a year and a half; that they have unwittingly been living a life of secrets and lies for all that time, is the day their world falls apart.

For an instant in that moment of awakening to the truth, Anne Maria feels the presence of angels, and, fleetingly, an immense empathy with everyone involved. She knows she is being given a choice. For no reason that is apparent to her, simply, perhaps, as a gut reaction, she chooses to take what she calls ‘the hard path’. With that, she feels the angel leaving her and embarks on the longest and most painful journey of their lives.

And what a hard path it is. Feeling the burden of the responsibility of the parent to nurture and protect her daughter, she feels utterly betrayed and is enraged by what her friends have done as they colluded with her daughter in the keeping of this huge and traumatic secret, and in entering into the inevitable web of lies that supported that. Her instinctive initial reaction is to express her very understandable anger, which exacerbates the isolation of her and her husband in their joint misery. The more she rages the more she is abandoned by the very people who could and should have supported her and, inevitably, the more she becomes estranged from herself. This book and its story detail her long journey to understanding, forgiveness and healing. Every reader will recognise and feel the power of that journey. It is the archetypal journey of all women: Demeter’s journey; the loss of the child, their daughter; the wild search for meaning; the plunge into despair and the dark world of the psyche; the overwhelming trials along the way in the seemingly endless search to find a way of reconciling herself with the truths she has discovered, with her daughter, who has locked herself away from her parents, with uncovering the darker aspects of her self and, ultimately, to becoming whole again.

Anne Maria uses poetry, fairy story and myth to support this intimate and brutally honest recording of her initial feelings of helplessness, remorse, and guilt, and to sustain and nurture her epic tale of progress towards her own soul healing in this extraordinarily honest, powerful and beautiful piece of writing. The multiple layers in which she intricately entwines and wraps her story, the way in which she connects and reconnects, weaves these into her emotional progress on the journey, the honesty and lucidity of the expression of her thinking and feeling are emotionally taxing but essential reading for those of us who know that we need to embark – or are already on – our own personal journey toward truth and reconciliation

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