Sunday Sampler: Face Forward, Move Forward by Arlene Gale


In our mission to connect readers, writers, and books, Caleb and Linda Pirtle has launched a new series featuring writing samples from some of the best authors in the marketplace today. Sunday’s Sampler is an excerpt from Face Forward, Move Forward, the journey to discard a painful past, and determine a new legacy of peace and possibilities by Arlene Gale.

As one reviewer said: Arlene’s story proves that we have the choice to move forward away from being a victim of the memories of our past. You will be blessed, encouraged, and inspired to create the life that you want and deserve, regardless of the stories of your past.

The Story

Your past does not have to define your future. If you’re running from a monster, instead of looking over your shoulder, you’ll cover more ground faster if you face forward in the direction you’re moving. In Face Forward, Move Forward the monster represents anything from anger and pain to shame and worthlessness.

I’m running, but toward what? How can I live a life 180-degrees different from what I’ve known, what I had beaten into me? This is a gut-wrenching and heart-warming story about reframing life to invoke positive outcomes.

A Face Forward, Move Forward philosophy provides momentum to cultivate a life of happiness, peace and self-acceptance. The real heartbeat of the story is felt in the longing to live as more than a survivor, to take life on as a “thriver.”

Too many people are hurt by someone or something and merely survive day-to-day, going through the motions, missing hope, joy and love. They miss becoming thrivers. If you relate, this stimulating combination of autobiography and personal how-to is for you.

The Sampler

Arlene Gale
Arlene Gale

I was normal, just plain normal. I was the oldest of three girls, with a mother, a father and sometimes a pet, nothing exotic. Usually we owned hyper little dogs, but sometimes we had antisocial cats. Where we lived the first 13 years of my life was dictated by my father’s military job. My normal life included going to school and playing with military kids. Living on base with military families created an insulating bubble that shielded us from the outside world.

My mother worked full time in a civil service, non-military job on the base where my father was stationed.

With regard to housing, in the leanest times, the five of us lived in a one-bedroom house where the kids slept on blankets in the living room. In the best times, wee had three bedrooms. We flipped a coin, or drew names out of a bowl, to determine which two girls shared a bedroom. Unfortunately for me, being the oldest didn’t mean getting the automatic privilege of my own room.

The secret hidden behind locked doors of whatever house we lived in was the alcoholism, which morphed my father from a responsible, hard-working member of the military by day, into a drunken, physically, verbally and emotionally abusive husband and father by night. The tone of my childhood home was chaos; yelling, and throwing things.

My father’s alcoholic binges were normal. He came home drunk, even on weekdays. He seemed to have plenty of company when he got drunk, too. Often he came home with his drinking buddy, the priest. Another evening it might be his commanding officer or other co-workers. On weekends, he might come home after drinking all day with a stranger he met on the golf course.

Mom often found him passed out on the front lawn. Seeing my father helped into the house was just as normal for me as seeing my mother sad and scared.

My earliest memories, on a military base in England during the 1960s, start with walking to church. Whichever one of us behaved best carried home the hot, newspaper-wrapped fish and chips. This was a big motivator for good behavior because the weather always seemed cold and damp.

Two memories from this time still haunt me. The first was as a four-year-old girl. The other was when I was six years old. It took a long time into adulthood to feel strong enough to talk about these events. The memories can make me shake, all these years later, merely from the fear I remember experiencing.

We lived in a small house without indoor plumbing. In the kitchen was a big metal trough we used for baths. Mom warmed water on the stove for baths.

I didn’t like having my hair washed. With water running into my face I couldn’t breathe, so Mom carefully poured water over my soapy hair. One evening I sat in the tub, scared, when my father came home staggering and yelling, “Shut up!” He wanted peace and quiet. I tried hard not to cry. The harder I tried, the louder I sobbed. My father yanked the pot filled with hot water off the stove and threw it at me. It banged against the outside of the tub and made a mess. I could tell by the look in his eyes this made him even angrier. He yelled louder while taking big steps between the stove and tub. Even in the warm water I shivered. He reached the tub, reached for me. Next thing I knew, he was holding me under water. I fought, as much as a four-year-old could.

Finally, he pulled me out of the water by the hair. His face hovered only a few inches from mine and his breath smelled dirty, sour, unlike his spicy aftershave. “Now you know how drowning feels, you whiney little b–ch. Shut up and let your mom finish washing your damn hair.”

He shoved Mom, “I work my a– off for you stupid b–ches. I’ll do whatever I damn well please. If I want to drown the worthless little . . ..” He pushed my head back under water as proof.

When my head came back above the water, I saw Mom pushing him. My father grabbed her blouse and pulled her to him. “You better remember who allows you to live,” he shouted. “Watch your f—ing back and sleep with one eye open.” He stormed out of the room. We didn’t see him again until morning.

Another early memory was of two cute, multi-colored kittens a neighbor gave us when I was about six years old. The kittens were ours for a few hours and I fell in love with the soft, warm little cuddlers. My sister and I were sitting on the top bunk of our squeaky beds playing and giggling as the kittens purred. Their little paws chased our hands around their tummies. It was late. We were in our nightgowns.

The joy of the moment was shattered when my father stormed in just like normal. “I don’t need any more damn mouths to feed,” he growled.

He grabbed both kittens and slammed them to the floor. It happened so fast I’ll never forget my shock. Beside me, my younger sister shrieked. I slid off the top bunk to pick up my kitten. It twitched and died in my hands. My father yanked my hair, forced my face toward the floor, barking, “Pick up the f—ing things!” He dragged me by the hair, holding the kittens’ dead bodies, out of the bedroom, down the hallway, through the kitchen and to the trashcan.

“You can be trashed just as easily if you don’t stop making my f—ing life miserable,” he yelled into my face. Never letting go of my hair, he dragged me back to my bedroom, shoved me inside and slammed the door. I cried myself to sleep, praying he didn’t come back.


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