By Lizbeth Meredith
Lizbeth Meredith is a writer based in Alaska with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in psychology.
She has worked as a domestic violence advocate and a child abuse investigator, and with at-risk teens as a juvenile probation supervisor.
Her memoir, Pieces of Me: Rescuing My Kidnapped Daughters is a cautionary tale of how domestic violence often escalates after victims choose to leave. It is a silver medalist for the 2017 IPPY Awards, Memoir/Personal Struggles category and a finalist in the International Book Awards and USA Best Book Awards for memoir. The e-book version has been a #1 Amazon bestseller in the Domestic Partner Abuse section.
Recent television appearances include Great Day Live! Louisville, Seattle King 5 News, WTVG 13 abc Toledo, and KTUU Anchorage. Lizbeth’s story was also featured in Reader’s Digest.
Lizbeth has published When Push Comes to Shove: How to Help When Someone You Love is Being Abused on Amazon, and is a contributor to A Girls’ Guide to Travelling Alone by Gemma Thompson. Other work has been published in Feminine Collective, The Sunlight Press, and Jane Freidman’s blog.
Lizbeth is proud to be the recipient of the Alaska Humanities Forum’s mini-grant and the Lin Halterman Award.
“You should be glad you didn’t get your daughters back from Greece,” a friend told me after my first failed attempt to recover my little girls. “The book will be that much better.”
He knew I’d wanted to write the story about my missing daughters. And he was trying in his own lame way to make me feel better.
I did want to write the story. And I had long been interested in becoming a writer.
When I was a little girl in Chugiak, Alaska, I dreamed of becoming a writer. That and a marriage counselor. I wrote many a tragic poem from my perch on the swing set. At the end of most of them, I died, and everyone was sad.
And then I forgot all about what I wanted.
But when I was a single welfare mom at 25 after leaving the battered women’s shelter (AWAIC), I returned to my roots. I graduated from UAA a few years later with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and began working at AWAIC. And two years after that, my life became an awful Lifetime for TV type-event.
I worked on writing the story, joining a critique group, attending workshops and writers conferences.
By the time the aftermath on my grown daughters was clear, I was a trainer of the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACEs) and trauma-informed care at my day job as a juvenile probation supervisor, and I knew where I would begin and end my story. I was convinced that my book could benefit readers who simply enjoyed thrillers or had suffered their own hardships and sought a path toward healing.
By the time my manuscript was publication-ready, the publishing world had changed, especially for memoirists.
An agent told me that he loved my story but simply didn’t believe he could sell a memoir about the gritty topics mine includes unless I was a celebrity. My publisher later warned me to expect low sales. And within 90 days, I was on my second print-run. Not bad for a nobody memoirist.
Now I write most days, after my day job and before my seasonal job in tourism. I blog at lameredith a couple of times a month and continue to do book groups and presentations on my book or the topics in it.
I’m glad my kids are back, that they’re grown, and that they grew up here in Alaska. I’m pleased to be a writer.
I wisely decided against becoming a marriage counselor, however.
Prologue for Pieces of Me: Rescuing My Kidnapped Daughters
Sometimes I’m asked if I feel lucky. Usually, it’s after I’ve given a presentation about domestic violence or the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study, and in the context of “Aren’t you glad all the bad stuff happened when your kids were little?”
As though prebirth and early childhood experiences are any less impactful.
The truth is, I do feel lucky, but not because my kids were little when their father tried to kill me. I feel lucky because I survived, and so did they. I feel lucky because when he stole them years later and took them to Greece, I was still a young adult, with all the energy and optimism I needed to risk bringing them home. I feel lucky because I knew from living through my own kidnapping how important it was to right this wrong, and was adept at developing a support network that would make doing so possible. I feel lucky that I recognized how much support the girls needed when they returned, and I often did my best to get it for them. And I feel lucky that my daughters have forgiven me for the decisions, large and small, that I’ve made that were not in their best interests.
But there are times when I don’t feel so lucky.
When I take one of my daughters to the hospital for a trauma-related illness. When I am the only parent to hear their joys and sorrows. When I must reassure them, now in their late twenties, that I’m all right and I’m still here for them after they become panicked when I’ve taken too long to return a text or call.
When I’m on a date and I’m asked anything about my marriage or how involved my kids’ dad is in their lives.
I never wanted to be one of those crime victims whose identity revolves around victimization. Then last year, I filled out a grant application and listed my passions. Budget travel in foreign countries. Writing. Volunteering with literacy projects. All directly connected to surviving my victimization.
I have my daughters. I have my passions. And, all things considered, I guess that makes me better off than lucky.