I recently listened to the audiobook of A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard, narrated by Jaycee Dugard. To say this book was difficult would be overstating the obvious. If you have lived under a rock for the past couple years, then you won’t know that Jaycee Dugard was kidnapped at the age of 11 and held in captivity by a convicted child molestor until she was 29 years old. At the time she was recovered, she had two children, aged 11 and 15.
Just let that sit there in your mind for a moment. She was kidnapped at age 11 and when she was recovered she had a daughter who was 11. But Jaycee at 11 had been on her way to school when kidnapped and her own 11 year old daughter had never been to school. Ever. She had rarely been outside the backyard of her captor-father. Jaycee was younger than her 15 year old daughter when her 15 year old daughter was born. Her children had never been to the doctor, had never been to school, had not known the normal growing up that the rest of us Western families take for granted. They never played with friends next door, organized games of stickball or hockey in the street, didn’t have crushes on the cute boy in class, nothing.
I cannot tell you how many times I wanted to cry for Jaycee and her daughters while listening to this book. As a woman, a mother, a grown up girl, her story is horrifying. It is beyond comprehension that someone could be forced to endure the tortures and abuses that Jaycee endured. What is almost more incomprehensible is that Jaycee Dugard came through that experience with a seemingly positive outlook on life. She explained that she had some dark times, but the overall impression at the end of the book was one of an amazingly strong woman who just survived and did the best she could for her daughters.
That strength inspires me to do the best for my daughter when push comes to shove in my life. Frankly, I am a queen in a palace compared to Jaycee’s experience, and it really puts my complaints into drastic perspective, but if Jaycee can be strong, loving and optimistic for her daughters, then I can do my very best too. Each of us mothers – who feel strong enough in the first place – could benefit from a read through of A Stolen Life. It will cause you to realize that your shitty life really isn’t all that bad after all, but not in a way that makes you feel riddled with guilt and shame.