Sunday Salon: House Rules by Rachel Sontag

I just finished reading House Rules by Rachel Sontag. It is a memoir about her childhood growing up with a psychologically abusive father. It is a very brave book. Rachel’s father set out these very strict rules for each of this two daughters. They had to be home by a certain time and he was so fanatical about it that Rachel often hitch hiked home in order to avoid her father’s wrath. If she wanted to study at the library, she had to write a proposal of what she wanted to do while there. The worst was that he would often get her out of bed in the middle of the night and spend hours berating her, telling her she was scum, a slut and never amount to anything. Her mother made a choice to stay married and Rachel paid the price. When she graduated from university her mother wanted her to write an apology letter to her father so her mother could go (because her father had forbade it). But Rachel’s mother chose her marriage over her daughter. Rachel’s father was at a medical conference in New Orleans, so her mother could have come if she was willing to stand up to her husband.

When the book was published, Rachel’s father wrote nasty reviews of the book on Amazon and even set up a website refuting the book. I found the website and took a quick look at it. The man thinks he is refuting Rachel’s book, but all he has done is prove just how sick a man he is. I won’t provide the link, but you can find it with a little Google sleuthing.

This book reminds me a lot of my own childhood. My father was extremely controlling, made fun of in inappropriate ways, called me horrible things and told me more than once that he wished he’d never had children. My parents are divorced and now I can can count on my father to call me or be interested in my life when he is between girlfriends. I’ve tried to write about this before, but I have stalled after 50 or so pages. Deep down I fear what my family would think. I found a couple of interviews with Rachel, who encourages people who want to write about their families to write the first draft and then worry about the possible reaction. There is also the fact that people don’t see themselves as you see them and may not even recognize themselves. My own story has been banging around my head for ages and I feel I must write it out in order to move on with my life.

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7 thoughts on “Sunday Salon: House Rules by Rachel Sontag

  1. I’ve heard about that book and the father’s response. He really doesn’t understand that people see who he really is by his comments.

    I hope you get the courage to write your book one day. I know someone will likely benefit from reading your words. If not for anyone else, write it for yourself. Good luck.

  2. I am STILL typing my memors; like Ms. Sontag, I have a hyper-acute memory and recall EVERYTHING of my 44+ years. Some 240+ pages and still not done, I am trying to finish typing so my brain can be wrung out like a sponge; the memories still will be there, but positively nobody believes what I have gone through and I find it a pitiful shame the website Ms. SOntag’s parents set up, refuting her claims, which really only showed she had been right all along about how abusive and unyielding they had been. I hope she is okay now. I wish you both well.

    • Hi Torrance. Thanks for your comments. I admire your hyper acute memory – mine isn’t as good. I find some of my memories are very strong – good and bad – and other memories have disappeared. I guess having such an acute memory could also be a bit of a curse, as nothing fades over time. Good luck on finishing your memoirs. I do believe in the healing power of just getting the words out on paper. I’ve been progressing with my memoir and now have around 200 pages. I’ve almost completed a for my-eyes-only first draft. I’ve talked to my family about what I’m writing and feel like I have permission to proceed, although they haven’t read any of it yet.

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  6. Yeah, for some her book is haunting. May write my own Masonic programing has lasting effect, people should know what they do and get away with using children. Oh its just the reasearch lodge for generations.
    still doing reseach how do check a person for being predator? have you developed a system? how are the children presently do you have to shut them up permanantly not to talk about it. Monarch program your own ass, stalked threatened daily at job residence 360 pages might do it. Some will believe Rachel sounds Monarch programmed her personality was split weather was intentional or not? Father being a Doctor? Reasearch hard to say however I was research and history nearly identical. Not much proof of mind control experiment with that family. Nice post hope you continue book once your primary abuser/handler dies you will get better every day till they drive buy with a look alike laughing histerically into phone as you stare mesmerized fun for chosen targeted individuals. I really feel for Rachel and others as yourself.
    PCJ

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