What if your husband committed a sex crime, how would you react? Read Shannon Moroney’s story.
Invisible Mentor: Shannon Moroney, Author, Advocate & Speaker
Avil Beckford: Tell me a little bit about yourself.
Shannon Moroney: I’m the author of a book that just came out titled Through the Glass. It’s my memoir of a personal experience as a victim of crime but moreover of the spouse of an offender and the journey through the justice system. I’m based in Toronto, and I travel all over the place doing public speaking and putting some of my efforts into restorative justice.
Avil Beckford: What’s a typical day like for you?
Shannon Moroney: I’m afraid I don’t have very typical days. My days are often quite different from one another. At the moment, my husband and I are preparing to move and I’m supervising a big renovation project. When I’m not traveling with my book, I spend a significant amount of time each day responding to emails from readers, and groups that are interested in me coming to their community. I try to integrate a little bit of time for personal care, exercise, and so on. Right now I’m expecting twins in May, so I have lots of doctor’s appointments. But I don’t have a regular schedule.
Avil Beckford: How do you motivate yourself and stay motivated?
Shannon Moroney: That’s an interesting question for someone like myself who has just come through a very traumatic period. It’s easy to feel exhausted or drained because I tire more easily than I did because of the emotional demands of the work that I do. But what motivates me are usually letters from my readers who are identifying with my book, who are thanking me for having a voice for them and just knowing that the work I do is making a difference in other people’s lives is what keeps me motivated.
Avil Beckford: If you had to start over from scratch, knowing what you know now, what would you do differently?
Shannon Moroney: I think because I was put into a situation very suddenly for which there was no map or guidebook, no one to ask for advice, I had to forge my way forward. Maybe the only thing I would do, would be to take a little bit better care of myself if that had been possible. I did the very best that I could, and I didn’t have any easy decisions to make. To say I would do something differently might not respect myself the way that I was coming through a difficult time. I think at the end of every day I feel at peace with myself and the choices that I have made.
Avil Beckford: What’s the most important business or other discovery you’ve made in the past year?
Shannon Moroney: It’s been an interesting . A couple of years ago, I had just been remarried, so it was a very happy time. I was going through the final editing stage of my book, and my book came out about eight or nine moths ago. One of the discoveries I have made was that the process of writing a book, which is long and hard, and thankless in many ways payless. When the book came out I thought I would feel a huge relief, or a huge sense of pride, or a big rush of satisfaction, and what’s been a challenge is discovering that putting my book out into the world doesn’t close up my own personal life and my challenges. I still have to live with taking care of myself post-trauma. It’s been a lot of hard work and I think I thought I would feel a little bit more free than I do.
Avil Beckford: What are the three threats to your business, your success, and how are you handling them?
- In the field that I work in something that is difficult to cope with is the media. There is a lot of media attention around my book. Some of it comes to me and I experience it with a lot of integrity, and other times I’ve had to put up with very sensational reporting – headlines that really upset me and that has created a situation where I need to respond or not respond. I need to choose battles or not choose battles and that’s a big challenge. I’m still trying to figure out how to stand up for myself, how to trust the media.
- The other would me making a living at all on the work that I do. I gave up my teaching job so that I could finish working on it full-time and so I could go on tour with my book. There is not a big financial success in the book publishing industry. Most of the work I do is with charitable organizations – wonderful community-based groups that want to bring me to speak with their groups but who are working with very small budgets. So I find it a challenge to negotiate the business side of my work. It’s not something I have experience in and to try to help others meet their needs while not sacrificing my own. That’s a challenge to say that the work I do has value. I have to pay my bills like everybody else, and I can’t always be expected to work for free or for charity. So that’s a big negotiation going on.
Avil Beckford: Describe a major business or other challenge you had and how you resolved it. What kind of lessons did you learn in the process?
Shannon Moroney: The nature of my book, and the experience I went through was enormous, and beyond a challenge to overcome, going from a happy, newlywed successful person working in education, to a homeowner, someone involved in the community I lived in, to suddenly overnight to become the wife of a sex offender. That brought with it a horrific stigma, such painful trauma, and a great deal of judgement by others on me. It took a long time to gain back my sense of who I am, to fight against that kind of stigma and prejudice and move forward with my life. One of the most important things that I learned is to know what your personal values are, who you are as an individual because that is what will help and heal you should you go through a significant loss or trauma like I did.
Avil Beckford: Tell me about your big break and who gave you.
Shannon Moroney: My biggest break in life is having a supportive family – a family that stood by me and helped me through a situation, who gave me the love and support I needed to go each step of the way. In terms of publishing my book, it’s a different story, I had a few big breaks and they all came by happenstance connections. Talking to friends, being open with the work I was trying to do in terms of writing led to some conversations with people who had connections in the publishing industry. Very quickly I found myself in the hands of a lovely agent and a wonderful publisher. Had I not been open with what I was doing, had I not followed up on leads I was given, when someone said, “Hey do you want to meet my friend’s brother-in-law who published a book?” I always said yes to anything like that. Any type of connection, someone who could help me, show me some insights, I think I was very open to all of that advice and opportunity and that led to some incredibly big breaks and some wonderful relationships.
Avil Beckford: Describe one of your biggest failures. What lessons did you learn, and how did it contribute to a greater success?
Shannon Moroney: That’s a hard question for me. I never really think of the concept of failure in terms of my own experience because I had to survive so much that I also had to be kind to myself when things didn’t work out – when I took two steps forward, and then a step back in my recovery, and my efforts to move forward with my life. I couldn’t think of them as failures. I had to continue to move forward. A lesson I learned though is that nobody moves forward in their life on their own, and it’s a good idea to take up any offers of help that you get along the way. Not only did that lead to greater success, it also led to much greater happiness. Having people to share a success with at the end of a long road is a lot more beautiful than enjoying it alone.
Avil Beckford: What’s one of the toughest decisions you’ve had to make and how did it impact your life?
Shannon Moroney: One of the toughest decisions I had to make was to break my wedding vows. My first husband already broke them to me when he committed these horrific crimes, but ultimately I had to choose to break mine to him. They weren’t broken automatically. That was very painful for me to be forced to change the kind of love I have for him, to decide to leave him behind in prison while I move forward with my life. To hold him accountable for what he had done, but also hold myself accountable for making a better future for myself. These decisions came with a great amount of pain. They took time. They took a lot of courage in terms of me saying to myself, that I deserved to still live a full and wonderful life even after I had been so terribly betrayed and victimized. The impact has been incredibly positive. I don’t live a life without sadness when I remember that time. It will never stop being painful but deciding that I could have a life, I deserved a life, that I wasn’t going to let my life be controlled by someone else’s horrible action. I found happiness again. I found a purpose in the work that I do and I also found a way to trust again and a way to love again. Now I’ve arrived at a time where I feel a great deal of happiness with my new husband and as we expect our twins to be born very soon I feel proud about the decisions that I’ve made to move forward.
Avil Beckford: What are three events that helped to shape your life?
- Obviously the one I write about the most – the great trauma involving my husband’s arrest and incarceration.
- Before that, in the 30 years of life that I had before this horrible trauma, what shaped my character and gave me the skills to cope in a way that I did, or when this trauma happened. Major events involved travel, choosing to travel at an early age, as a teenager on my own, going to Indonesia to live three months, choosing to live a year abroad in South America with my university.
- After everything happened with my husband, choosing to go back to school, get a Maters degree in England, and open doors for myself. All of those travel experiences were incredibly educational and opened my eyes to the way people live in other parts of the world, and gave me a perspective and a lot of gratefulness in life I had even when I had to go through a horribly, painful time, I still had the perspective of the suffering that other people have to go through, and I could still be grateful for what I did have instead of think that everything was over for me.
Avil Beckford: What’s an accomplishment that you are proudest of?
Shannon Moroney: Deciding I would be able to find happiness again, and to come through a trauma that I think many people might not have made it through, or might still be suffering greatly from. I think the greatest accomplishment was deciding for myself that I deserved a wonderful life, and working every single day, every day, to get to a place where I could reach that point.
Avil Beckford: How did mentors influence your life?
Shannon Moroney: I’ve been so fortunate that I have had so many mentors, leaders in my life, at all different points, all different kinds of people, every age, that have given me perspective on things, have given me advice, who have modeled for me who I would like to be. I would be nowhere without all the people in my life who are champions of the human spirit who offer guidance directly or by the way they live.
Avil Beckford: What’s one core message you received from your mentors?
Shannon Moroney: Overall, a message I picked up along the way is that we’re not in control of what happens to us, but we’re in control of how we respond, and who we are. That message of knowing who I am, knowing what my values are, is something that has fortified me through difficult times, and good times as well.
Avil Beckford: An invisible mentor is a unique leader you can learn things from by observing them from afar, in the capacity of an Invisible Mentor, what is one piece of advice that you would give to readers?
Shannon Moroney: My one piece of advice would be that every night when you go to bed and put your head on your own pillow, you have to feel at peace with yourself, what you’ve done during the day, how you’ve interacted with other people, how you’ve treated yourself and others. If you feel at peace with all those things then no naysayer, no critic can get in the way of who you are in accomplishing your goals and that’s the advice I would give.
Everybody has people in their life that will judge them, that will be critical, be negative but ultimately at the end of the day, what you think of yourself and how you are with other people is what you have to live with. You’re the only person that you have to live with for the rest of your life, the only person you’re guaranteed to know your whole life is you, and that’s not being self-centered, but its’ about making sure that who know who that is, and you’re at peace with that person. When you see shortcomings in yourself that you not beat yourself about them but you work toward improvements.
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