by Tracie Sudermann
Using an autobiographical style for her first book, A Series of Flashbacks: Darkness Within, author and self-proclaimed “recovering perfectionist” Melissa Anne takes readers into her world of hopes, career goals, commitment, past trauma, and heartbreak through her own experiences with her husband and their struggles before and during their marriage.
Through an easy-to-read writing style, Melissa shares intimate, previously unknown details about the life she and Michael embarked on together. Melissa Anne shares the memories of the growing love between Michael and herself while still keeping part of themselves closed off from each other, a choice that would become a glaring obstacle in their future. Michael, who was pursuing his goal to become a Green Beret, wooed Melissa who was pursuing her own military medic career goals.
Though independent Melissa held Michael at arm’s length for a while, the walls came down and they connected in many areas and interests of their lives. After discovering baby Christian was on the way, they married and committed to making a life together, which includes Melissa leaving the Army. Then, Melissa discovers that Michael has an addiction issue, and admits to readers that she did not confront the issue but acted as “if nothing happened” after a scary overdose.
After tragedy strikes, Melissa works through the stages of grief in her own way, giving others a guide about disbelief, guilt, and anger, and ultimately sharing her journey toward another path in life. Writing that “every piece of me knew I was lying to myself and everyone around me” and that she was a military wife with other ramifications to the choices Michael and she were making, Melissa offers others, both in the military and beyond, a way to see their lives with a unique perspective, with a greater purpose in mind.
Unresolved trauma and past demons plague the couple, but that does not mean that Melissa’s story ends in despair. Intending to make an impact for good, Melissa reflects on their life together, and readers can learn from Melissa who works through her own “emotionally defensive” relationship style to eventually get an unabashedly raw view of the life they had together and to forgive herself for her self-imposed series of what-ifs and if-onlys.
A Series of Flashbacks: Darkness Within is for those who feel out of control within their own imperfect relationships and who need healing from trauma. This is also a guide for those who are watching others in situations of trauma and grief, allowing onlookers to join in with a troubled couple or friend to seek appropriate help and remedy. The journey alongside Melissa Anne gives hope, understanding, and shares how forgiveness of oneself and others is necessary to move past self-inflicted mental torment into a life of health and well-being.
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