Being abused by one’s immediate family is a traumatic experience, sometimes leading to lifelong psychological issues. But some kids have a great healing potential and 13-year-old Armond DeGasperis is one of them. Having just published his book The End is the Beginning, Armond has left behind his painful past and has moved on to live a healthy, normal life with his adopted parents. At 13, he is one of the youngest of authors and his story carries the purpose of creating awareness against child abuse in America and beyond. Given below is my e-interview with this gifted person.
Ernest: Hello Armond and thanks for joining me! First, congrats on authoring your first book at such a young age! Tell a little about yourself and whether you’ve been writing before authoring The End is the Beginning.
Armond:Thank you! My fabulous career in the foster system actually started the day I was born. I have lived a majority of my life in orphanages, group shelters, and several foster homes. I’m currently 13 years old and in the 7th Grade. I was finally adopted in 2009 and that’s pretty much when I decided to go forward with an autobiography. At first, my predominant aim was to just realize my own potential, develop my abilities, and prove my capability. My book The End is the Beginning was my first attempt at authoring anything. It truly helped explain “ME” to “MYSELF.”
Ernest: Your book is about the trauma you experienced. You mind telling a little about what happened and how young you were then?
Armond:The abuse and neglect that I was forced to endured was repulsive and excruciating. I was physically, mentally, and sexually assaulted on a daily basis. Over the years, it ate away at my mind, body, and spirit like a crippling disease. I was just an innocent child, the product of two completely self-destructive people. I was born into a life of negativity and total dysfunction. My biological parents were uneducated parasites to society. They filled my early childhood with excruciating pain, unforgettable sadness, and sheer terror.
Ernest: So what were the negative effects of those experiences on you – on your feelings, behavior, studies, and life in general?
Armond:I struggled for many years with flashbacks and nightmares. I also found myself dealing with feelings of grief. I would mentally re-experience the horror of my trauma every night. I was hurt so deeply that it caused me a great deal of stress. I was agitated and felt I caused it to happen. I was shameful and thought something was wrong with me. I was extremely sensitive and experienced panic sensations several times a day. I felt helpless and begin to withdraw from people. I was carrying around such intense fear that I struggled to cope with my life experiences. I needed to make sense of what happened to me and once I could understand my trauma, I was less fearful and finally able to start managing it.
Ernest: And due to this, did you lose trust in the people around you?
Armond:Surprisingly, once I understood that it was not my fault, I refused to let my personal weakness turn me away from friends and people that wanted to help me.
Ernest: Where and from whom did you seek help during and after the trauma?
Armond:I have had several social workers and all of them have always been helpful and willing to listen. The in-home Pastor showed me a journey of spiritual healing from within. But my defining moment was in December 2007 during a counseling session at my last group home in Lansing. My counselor asked me to write my biological parents a letter and say whatever was on my mind (speak freely); he then had me fold it and watch as he burned it. I stared at the flames as they engulfed my letter; it gave me a sense of freedom; I had a new identity and I was able to mentally relinquish all my rights to my biological family!
Ernest: What source(s) of help or support you found most uplifting and healing?
Armond:I always found Mozart very uplifting. He had a very difficult life, as did I. He was an amazing composer and accomplished so much at such a young age. His music gave me a sense of wholeness within myself; it transformed and uplifted me – physically, emotionally, mentally, and energetically. He inspired me – his music is astonishingly happy and full of hidden complexities. It’s simplicity and beauty on the surface, and complexity and optimistic at deeper levels; I can just relate to that.
Ernest: And when was it that you thought of writing a book about it?
Armond:Just after I was adopted. I had a sense of security and a feeling of belonging. I was impelled to put my thoughts into words. I gathered as much information on my early life as I could get my hands on. In early April of 2009, I began to write and published in June 2010. I wrote my book to serve as a symbolic release of the accumulated weight I had carried from my painful past. In coming forward, my hope was to derive something positive from something so painful for me. I wanted to reach out – beyond myself as nothing more than a survivor only to help raise awareness for all the abused and neglected children.
Ernest: That’s very inspiring! How did you feel while writing the book and after you had completed it?
Armond:I felt that my book The End is the Beginning was going to be so unique because I am only 13 years old and able to make some sense out of my misfortune. I clearly wanted to express myself in a way most victims my age couldn’t do. Writing my book made me feel good inside, it was a wound that had begun to heal. I wanted to test my own capability and try to do as much of the work as possible. I shocked myself as I saw that I was going to be able to write, self publish, and then try to market my book completely on my own. I truly believed my reader-friendly style of writing would make my book something that all kinds of people want to pick up and read.
Ernest: Have you received any appreciation and encouragement from your family, friends, and teachers?
Armond:When I first began to write my book, people kept asking me, “what is your main goal and why do you want to dig up that pain?” I always explained I wanted to write a book of hope from a teenager’s point of view. I’m so thankful that everyone has encouraged me and been 100% supportive of my idea. My new Mom has been a huge positive influence in my life. She just seems to understand me. I think what I love most about her is the fact she never probes or forces me to tell personal details of my past. My new parents have never made me any empty promises that they couldn’t kept. My new Dad always tells me, “Mean what you say, and say what you mean!” Good advice to live by.
Ernest: And will you like to continue writing and publishing in future?
Armond: Well, as far as writing goes, I don’t want to go overboard with my story. I have always felt less is more. As for my future in publishing, that remains to be seen.
Ernest: Thank you Armond for your time and best wishes for you in future!
Visit Armond DeGasperis’s book page online at http://theendisthebeginning.book.tripod.com.