The newest partner of Sweet Gypsy Books is also the daughter of senatorial candidate Paul Marshall Jr as well as a Veteran's advocate. I sat down with her today to discuss her background and her future.
Q1: Ms Marshall, news travels fast in a small town and we're wondering what brought you back to Sweet Gypsy after being gone for so long.
A1: News does travel fast down here (*smiles). It's true I left Alabama right after college. Adventure called me from an early age. It probably started with playing hide-and-seek right here on the lake in Sweet Gypsy. When I met my husband Charlie at (the University of) Alabama, it was like looking in a mirror and finding my inner soul, my partner for life. As soon as we threw our graduation caps in the air, he took my hand and away we went. The Army provided just the adventure we were looking for. (pauses and looks at her wedding ring). But like all good adventure stories, ours had to end. When it did, I needed my home. Home is the best medicine. So, I'm back.
Q3: Would you like to tell me how your marriage ended?
A1: For more than ten years, our country has been at war but that war has affected less than 5% of the population. Unfortunately, that 5% has endured a nasty burden, and I've seen it have a very ugly effect on some people. Families have been torn apart. Strong, proud service members have been reduced to shrunken images of dejection and inconsequence. My husband is a prime example. Charlie deployed six times over ten years. Each time was at least a year, and two or three were for 18 months. Each deployment changed him. He became more withdrawn, yet explosively angry. Not the sweet, fun guy I knew. Not the one who laughed at everything. After the last deployment, he became violent.
Q3: And that's when you left?
A3: Not at first. I truly didn't understand he was physically abusing me and our daughter, who was seven at the time. After the first time he hit me, he was probably as shocked as I was and couldn't stop apologizing. But one day, I was cleaning up the dinner dishes and watching Olivia play with her dolls. The cast on her arm was bright pink. For some reason, the color screamed at me. It was then I realized I wasn't protecting her; I wasn't doing my job as her mother.
Q4: I know this is tough to talk about, but thank you for sharing your story with us. Why don't we move on to a lighter topic. What are your goals now that you're back?
A4: (*laughs) Sure. Well, I'm finishing up my prolonged exposure therapy, which I recommend to anyone who has been through an awful experience. Honestly, it has been a godsend because it forced me to look at what happened and through repetition, gave me freedom from it. So, talking to folks about prolonged exposure is one goal.
Another is to help my father with his senatorial campaign. As a retired Marine, Veterans hold a special place for him. Together I think we can bring a bold awareness to Veteran's issues and hopefully more support.
And lastly, as the new managing partner at Sweet Gypsy Books, I'd like to bring books into the lives of children. Veterans from my support group at the VA are helping me put together a children's authorfest. It's a way for me to marry two issues I'm passionate about -- reading and Veterans.
(Jackie Marshall is the newest citizen of Sweet Gypsy Springs, Alabama, and we thank her for taking the time to interview with her author today).