Jay D Roberts MD is a board-certified physiatrist, specializing in the treatment of physical disabilities with a focus of adding quality to life. He is currently in private practice in California. He is a member and lecturer at national and international conferences related to his specialty, a contributing author to Current Trends in Physiatry, and author of various scientific papers. In addition to his career, Dr. Roberts volunteers as part of a Christian ministry in maximum security prisons. He and his wife, parents of two grown sons, live in Indian Wells, California. Break the Chains is Dr. Roberts’ first book. Following in the long tradition of doctors who combine their passion for saving lives with their passion for writing, Dr. Roberts is currently at work on a novel, concerning children forced to work in mines.
Title: Break the Chains
Author: Jay D Roberts, MD
Publisher: Tate Publishing and Enterprises, LLC
Tell us about your book:
It is called Break the Chains, Transforming Shame into Forgiveness. Break the Chains has two means: 1. Stopping the cycle of abuse from father to son. 2. Breaking the chains that bind your heart with unforgiveness.
Break the Chains is my story—the story of a turbulent lifelong dialogue with God, beginning when I was a child being bull-whipped by my alcoholic father, and my subsequent compulsion to become a pain and wound care specialist. It’s the story of medical school in a third world country against a dangerous political backdrop, of my return home to deal with the demons I had left behind, of my spontaneous healing from a fatal illness, and of finding the ability in a maximum security prison to forgive the one I hated the most. My book affirms faith in God, the human spirit, and the mysterious power of forgiveness. It is my hope that you will read my book and believe in it enough to help me spread the word. It is my prayer that others can break their chains and be set free.
How long did it take to write the book?
I started about ten years ago. But it was awful. It read like an emotionless scientific paper, so I stopped for a few years. Then I bought books on the craft of writing, attended writing workshops, and started writing again. After a year I stopped again. This time because it was too painful to write of my past shame. I could not write for two years. Three years ago, I surrendered to my burning desire to write and dove head first into my memoir.
What inspired you to write the book?
It began two decades ago in Palm Springs with my some of my friends – Harold Robbins knew some of my story and told me to write a book. I didn’t. A few years later, Sonny Bono told me I needed to tell my story. I didn’t. That same year, Sidney Sheldon echoed their sentiments. I still didn’t. How could I? I can’t write. English was my least favorite subject in school.
Years later, for some strange reason I thought of my friends years ago encouraging me to write. I’d like to think they were screaming at me from heaven. So I wrote, a memoir. It was awful. Read like an emotionless scientific paper. So I stopped.
After I was healed in 1999, I had a deeper desire, passion to write, despite my head telling me not to. I ignored the feeling for a few years, but I could not extinguish the burning flame to write my story. Buddy, who you will meet in my story, kept telling me that I must write, to trust him, that everything would be okay even if I told of my past.
Talk about the writing process. Did you have a writing routine? Did you do any research, and if so, what did that involve?
I read books on the craft of writing and attended several workshops. For me, it was necessary. My first attempt at writing, before my studies, read like a medical report void of any feeling. It was awful!
I had a rough outline at the beginning. But as I wrote I went to places I had never planned to go. So there went the outline. I found my best writing was early in the morning, between 3am and 6am, while drinking coffee. I always prayed at the beginning of each day for God to guide me with the right words. After three hours, I would eat and get ready to go to my office. In the evenings I wrote a little, but the next day I would often not like what I had written. I sat in my home office and played the same CD over and over- “Filipino Love Songs in a Classic Piano Mood, volume 4, by Raul Sunico. It always put me in a good writing mood. On weekends I would sit out on our patio to do stream-of- conscious writing, if I was stuck (afraid of digging up an old memory). A few times, I stayed in a mountain cabin to be alone and scream if I had to. I did the more painful writings up there. I went back to the Philippines for forty days and nights to add texture to my story. I wrote and re-wrote and re-wrote some more.
What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?
Many need to forgive themselves, God, or others who have harmed them. They may also need to ask forgiveness from someone they have hurt or done wrong. I hope that my book will help them with forgiveness, break their chains, and set them free.
My eyes water as I stare at the whirling ceiling fan. The blades blur and transform into bolos (machetes) that slice through the air and my thoughts. The physician in me dissects my infirmity, orders treatment for cure, and demands to be in charge. The Christian in me calls for faith without understanding, to die to self, to surrender to Christ and his will. My medical and religious beliefs battle and clash like opposing bolo blades.I lay wasting in my bed with muscles, once toned and defined, now atrophied and weak. I am wounded. I struggle to push the opened Bible away from my bedside. Beverly has placed the Bible next to me for weeks. She and I have been married since 1975, after a three-year courtship. I wonder if she wants to reconsider the “for better or for worse” part of our vows. How easy those words flowed from our naive mouths. The Bible falls to the floor. The fight is over. I smile. My inner voice and friend, Buddy, warns me I am wrong to
disrespect the Bible. I tell him to go away. He does. My eyes close. My brain waves surge and scenes are projected on the back of my eyelids, reflections of my past. I am in fifth grade. It is late at night. I walk like a robot to the kitchen. My pajamas stick to my bottom. The dried blood from the bullwhip lashings holds the fabric to my skin. My father is passed out, drunk. His right hand, with its thick, stubby digits and brownish-yellow stain between the long and middle fingers, hangs over the edge of the couch. He snores with the intensity of a train. I select the sharpest knife and walk over to the bullwhip that hangs on a wall near the living room. I remove it from the wall, walk back to the kitchen, and stand at the table. I methodically cut the whip into small pieces. It takes several hours. I return the knife to its proper place and put all the pieces of the bullwhip into a paper bag. I open the back door and hide the bag in the bottom of the trashcan. I look up and see a million stars, turn, and then walk back into the house. I stop to pee and go back to bed. When I awake later that morning, I try to sit up but cannot. I stand and cautiously walk to the living room. My father is not there. A squished pillow partially hides his body imprint on the sofa cushion. Stale beer odor hangs in the air. I turn and walk over to the wall. The whip is not there. I thought it was a dream. My eyes scan more images from my life. Wounds dominate the picture. I have always tried to heal wounds, others’ and mine. Some wounds are not easily sutured, some impossible.