Amy Herrig's Long & Winding Road
By Alla Drokina
When Amy Herrig was confronted with the possibility of a lifetime in prison, she was on house arrest and had just turned forty years old. During the tumultuous legal battle, while her name ran rampant in the tabloids, she began to write her memoir.
In the midst of it all, she was also looking at a startling cancer diagnosis.
While Herrig was excavating her own raw feelings, she felt others might connect to her words and vulnerability in her book, "No More Dodging Bullets."
In this compelling story, Herrig reclaims her narrative and shares the other side of the story. Through her candor, Herrig's aim is that her path will resonate with readers, and that they, too, will find hope and courage to face their personal valleys with triumph.
When did you feel compelled to share your story with the world?
When the legal ordeal first started, I started writing and kind of journaling a little bit. Then as the legal issue progressed, I was on house arrest at a certain point, and I had a lot of time on my hands.
It's actually interesting watching what's been going on with Covid. People were on pretty full lockdown, and we couldn't do anything. It brought back a lot of memories for me. I could go to work. I could take my kids places, but the weekends were really long. I would be home all alone, sometimes for the entire weekend. I had a lot of time to soul search and look introspectively at what was happening in my life and how I got to the place where I was at.
I started writing a lot, and, at that time, it was sort of a way of therapy. It was a story that I thought would get shared publicly at some point. I didn't know for sure, and as my story continued, I continued to write more and more.
After the trial, it was like I have to get this out there. There's a big story to tell. I had a lot of people encouraging me to do so, because it's an important story. Not because I'm personally that important, but because of all the circumstances surrounding what we went through.
People need to understand how it works in our justice system. And just my personal story and a lot of the struggles I went through, I realized there's a lot I can share with other people who are struggling with shame or regret or guilt or self-esteem or any of the things I realized I had struggled with throughout my life for different reasons at different times. It all became part of my story, and it just seemed important to share that.
What would a reader be surprised by when reading "No More Dodging Bullets?"
I think they might be surprised about how extreme our justice system can be, and how citizens who don't even think they're doing anything illegal can be targeted without any notice and have their entire lives turned upside down. I lived through it, and I was surprised.
Our attorneys told us this was one of the biggest over-reaches by the government they had ever seen. I think that would be surprising to people. I think they might be surprised to know or learn how I navigated my way through it all. I don't know if that would be a surprise, but maybe an inspiration, I hope. That's one of my goals in doing this.
Of course I didn't know Covid or all these other challenging things were going to happen in the world. But I think it's a time we all need to remember and be reminded that we can get through tough times, even if it seems all might be lost.
You probably went through one of the most terrifying things you can imagine and came out on the other side.
Yeah, living for about four and a half years with the idea that I could be going to prison for the rest of my life, it's hard to put that in words, even though I've written a whole book about it ... I still have moments where I have to do a reality check: oh yeah, that's still not happening anymore. We're done with all of that.
There's still a little bit of lingering legal stuff, but nobody is going to prison for the rest of their lives. There's still a little bit of PTSD involved in that, and I don't throw that term around lightly.
My dad is a war vet. PTSD is a very serious thing. And after I actually said that to my therapist, shortly after my trial, "Sometimes I think I have PTSD, and I don't mean to sound dramatic." She said, "I don't know how you couldn't when you lived with this huge 'what if' over your head for that long. It's a traumatic experience." And I had cancer in the middle of it all.
It wasn't just going to prison for the rest of our lives, as if that's not bad enough; it was having every single penny to our name, down to our cash registers, seized. It was very traumatic.
It sounds like an insane roller coaster you had to go through, and it makes me think writing your book required a lot of vulnerability. Can you speak a little bit about the vulnerability it took to share your story in writing?
Yes, I'd love to speak about that. That's a big focus of mine right now. I think it's being talked a lot in our country right now with people like Brene Brown. There's so much courage in vulnerability, and I think that we don't always understand that. We feel it's weak to be vulnerable or even shameful to be vulnerable, and it's really the opposite.
I had to go through all of this to learn that. And my therapist again - I love going to my therapist - actually told me that at one point when I was right in the middle of it, before I was going to trial, and I just made it through cancer, and I was just having a really hard time containing my emotions.
I was trying to be strong for my kids and strong for my employees and trying to be a good wife, and my therapist said, "You know there's strength in being vulnerable, and you need to let people know how you're feeling. You don't have to be the strong one all the time."
In fact, it's the opposite. It's when we show ourselves and say, hey, I need help. I'm suffering, and I need a lifeline here. That's when we actually find our strengths. We can't get there without having those raw, almost impenetrable feelings.
It's important to go through that, and it's painful. But the reward is so great once you do it. So writing my book, it was all part of that. It was really cathartic.
What role did redemption play in your narrative?
Me and God, that's what I have to focus on with redemption. Because if I look for it in other people, in the government, from outside sources, people that aren't in my friend circle, or people who don't know me, then I'm never going to find it. And that's a hard thought, because I'm human, and I want it from those people.
So I've really had to learn, especially with publishing the book and putting it out there, that if there are people out there who are going to think what I did was horrible, even though we are acquitted of almost all the charges, I'm not going to change their minds. I'm not going to have forgiveness and redemption with them. They're going to think what they think, and so I hope my story can inspire other people.
Like what I was saying earlier, that when all seems lost, you can make it through the difficult times. Redemption to me is about grace and forgiveness. We can get it from other people, but if we don't give it to ourselves, it really doesn't matter who we get it or don't get it from.
It's powerful to be able to give that to yourself, because, you're right, we don't have control over how people respond to us.
Right. Exactly, and so, I'm not saying I wouldn't love to change their minds, and maybe someone's mind can be changed. But that's been a big lesson for me to learn: it comes from within myself. I have to believe in what I'm doing and feel confident about where I'm at and believe and know that I have made changes and learned from my bad choices and mistakes.
That doesn't mean it doesn't matter what anybody else says, but it won't affect me as deeply, if i just remember where I'm at with my conscience and choices.
For more information visit: AmyHerrig.com.
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