Originally published 2015-07-08: The Mud People: A Parable of Recovery
Once upon a time, I had a therapist that recommended that I find and read a book called The Mud People: A Parable of Recovery. She promised that, if read with an open mind and heart, I would find solace and hope within the pages. She told me it might be hard to find, but it would be worth it to my recovery from years of abuse. Before I left that day, she gave me a copy of the scan of the book cover, and made me promise to try to find it.
It has been probably five years since that day, and I didn’t actually get my hands on a copy of the book until a few weeks ago. Even then, I hesitated. I put it away, determined that I would read it; “Just not today,” I told myself.
Finally, I made myself crack it open — and I read it cover to cover in one sitting.
This is the story of a young girl named Kaila. Kaila, along with her whole family, is a mud person. And the thing that Kaila wants more desperately than anything else in the world is to be clean, washed free of the heavy, uncomfortable mud that encases her entire body.
What struck me first was how simply told this story is. There is no clinical jargon to learn, nor is there a deeply hidden message. The message Ms. Mark tells is a clear one, right on the surface, that resonates with the reader. The mud is a metaphor for the layers of pain, deceit, and loathing that an abuse survivor may feel “covers” him or her.
Kaila’s journey is a sad, hopeful one. Her story isn’t without pain and heartbreak, but it’s essentially a positive tale. I felt the thump of truth in my chest as I read; I wanted, desperately, for this little girl to be clean. I think that many survivors of abuse feel this same way, not only about the abused others in our lives, but about ourselves — even if it is only deep down, and even if we would never speak those words aloud.
The Mud People is an absolute necessity to anyone who is recovering from abuse, especially the systematic, long-term abuse that starts in childhood and extends into an adult’s life. I give it four of five stars, and highly recommend it.
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