In 2020, Maria Franciscus decided to write her life story: the good, the bad, and the funny. She explains it as, “a compelling story of a child sexually abused, physically and mentally abused throughout my life, moving into a troublesome marriage that ends in a rocky divorce.” She says, “I raised four kids by myself. I have determination, courage, motivation and resolve despite health setbacks and a frugal lifestyle. Through it all, my faith kept me anchored when all else failed.”
Maria had no desire or inclination to write this book until last year. Over the years, she has kept most of her life private. Her son said she should let it go, and leave the past in the past, but she felt inspired by her Higher Power to share her story, in the hopes that it could help someone by inspiring them to get out of an abusive situation. Years of counseling, as well as working as a counselor, has given her insight into the process of growth, and breaking free from the effects of trauma. Maria says life is not easy, and it helps to know that someone else has survived trauma. Even if one person is helped by her story, the writing will have been worth it.
Maria changed the names in her story to protect privacy and chose to use a pseudonym in order to protect individuals from embarrassment and shame. Her goal is to share her story, and the truth of her experience, not to hurt others. Some of her family members are unaware of what happened, and others have their own interpretation of events and their own experience.
It Is What It Is, is Maria’s first book, and currently she has no plans to tackle another subject. The title is something her grandson says a lot. It encapsulates a lot of Maria’s take on life and her experience. The saying, “It is what it is,” means that whatever is happening is beyond our control. How we react to events, though, is up to us. Incidents and events mentioned in the book are simply that: it is what it is. She explains that the title suggests that actions have names.
In the process of writing, Maria realized that she was able to tell the story without tears or nightmares, which she believes is indication that counselling works. Healing is possible, and does occur. Through writing, she has had the opportunity to look back at her life in awe, thinking of all that she and her children accomplished. She explains that “most times I’m just too busy doing “today” to reflect” on the past. When asked what she hopes that people will take away from her book, she says: “If only one person can relate and make a change to their troublesome life, then I am happy. I sure hope people stop and listen to others and are prepared to support and guide. If one person stops and contemplates their relationship with God, then that is a huge bonus. I truly hope people are not judgmental at any time. Life is a tough journey – tougher for some of us.”
Getting her book to print was a challenge. She experienced challenges with publishers, and a good deal of expense in the process. The subject matter added a challenge to publishing, and she says it’s not easy or cheap to get a book published. Some supportive friends helped with proofreading. She acknowledges that there are a “few grammatical slip-ups”, but nothing to detract from the story. She just hopes to help someone with her story. One of her readers told Maria, “I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry!” but Maria maintains that there are many incidents that will leave you laughing. In short, Maria says of her book: “It is not for everyone, and that’s ok. It is my life and it is what it is.”