HANSON — Local author Isabella Rose took a sip from her Dunkin’ Donuts iced coffee before speaking about the lifetime of pain and battles with addiction and abuse that led her to writing.
“Don’t ever give up,” she said of her message. “You do matter, your dreams matter, and don’t let anybody make you think differently. Go after them.”
And she has.
Her first full book, “Behind the Masked Smile: A Survivor’s Quest for Love,” is as much a message to others dealing with similar pain that they are not alone, as it is her coping method.
“I hope, by sharing my story, it helps others,” she said of the book published independently through Amazon. “It’s a very vulnerable book.”
Amazon puts authors’ work through a review process before contracting with them, according to Rose. Her book became available on Amazon July 13. Five percent of proceeds benefit Janie’s Fund, founded by rocker Steven Tyler in conjunction with Youth Villages, to help abused and neglected girls as they transition out of foster care.
“It goes directly to survivors and their healing process,” she said.
A contributor to six books in the “365 series” of inspirational essays as well as the “Life is a Gift” and “Calling all Earth Angels and Healers” collections, the Hanson native hopes to spread a message of empathy and hope.
“This is my debut solo book,” she said. “I started writing it at 14 years old after I was raped. It was a way to express my feelings without negative consequence and to help process what was going on.”
Rose grew up in what she describes as an alcoholic family where there was no one who could help her. Struggles with depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder led to substance abuse and suicidal thoughts.
Writing was her lifeline.
“Victims don’t really have any rights,” she said of her experience as a survivor of domestic abuse. “We’re the guilty ones until we’re proven innocent and we have to relive everything when it goes through the court system.”
In recovery from substance abuse for six years, Rose found a nontraditional path, spurred by health problems stemming from her drug use, asking her goddess and the angels to take the cravings from her.
“It was a mask for my own pain,” she said of her cocaine use, which became a coping mechanism after her fiancé died shortly before they planned to move to Maine and start a new life together.
“He loved me like no one else did,” she said.
Yet, Rose is a woman who smiles easily and focuses on the joy of others.
“I feel it’s important for me to step out and share my story,” she said. “If I can change one person’s life and make a difference – and if I can help break down the stigmas, especially for teenagers, it’ll be so worth it.”
She admits that a lot of her poetry is dark, but that it invites the reader to enter the real world abuse survivors contend with, and how she found strength in her story to heal and help others – to the point where she participated in a Fed Up rally in Washington, DC in 2017 to protest opioid manufacturer Purdue Pharma.
Poetry, she said, is a kind of intuitive writing that helps her advocate for others on the page. It follows her life’s chronology – an autobiography in poetry. She said it began as a poetry volume without a specific theme, but she shared the story behind it with the publishers of the 365 book series, who urged her to write an introduction explaining that to readers and she organized the poems chronologically as she found her way to gain her own power back.
Her ultimate dream is to found a healing retreat center for domestic violence survivors with an education center and social support to help get them back on their feet.
“I worry about the burnout, but I know I won’t be doing it by myself,” she said. In the meantime, she has begun teaching a healing course online during the pandemic.
Rose will be holding a book signing at Storybook Cove in Hanover, held Facebook book launch party July 13 and will hold and author talk and book signing at the Plymouth Library Aug. 3.