Wednesday , May 22 2024
you are allowed odelia elgarat

Exclusive Interview: Odelia Elgarat, Author of Adoption Memoir ‘You Are Allowed’

How well one handles life’s curveballs determines how far one will go in life. In the memoir You Are Allowed, author Odelia Elgarat chronicles the challenges she faced as an adopted child. Odelia’s struggles began when a friend introduced her to a man who later raped her. Her story inspired me to have a more forgiving heart toward those who cause harm. Forgiving others frees you from carrying toxic feelings that might be harmful to one’s mental health.

I had the pleasure of meeting Odelia and speaking with her. I hope this interview inspires you to forgive others.

Where were you born?

I was born in the 13th arrondissement of Paris, France.

Tell me about your childhood. What were the best and worst parts?

Best part: There were many beautiful moments in my childhood; the moments I liked more were working in the backyard with my father on Sundays. Dad and I went out to the garden, he taught me about plants, birds and trees. I was so impressed by his knowledge.

My dad tells me what needs to be done that day, he would show me and we would work together during the afternoon. Once we dug in the ground and pretended we were pirates looking for treasure. It was so much fun, to this day I love working in my yard.

You Are Allowed by Odelia Elgarat

Worst: The hardest part of my childhood was that my parents kept my adoption a secret, from the world but also from me. Today I know they tried to keep me safe. In order to keep their secret they had to lie; the energy they expended to keep their secret was in constant opposition [to] my authenticity as a child. After I discovered that I was adopted they asked me to keep it secret. My feelings and thoughts were not relevant.

Who was the most influential person in your life?

The most influential person in my life was my father-in-law Eli Elgarat, Sharon’s father. I met him before I met Sharon, my current amazing husband. He was an artist, a philosopher, a teacher and so much more.

We were best friends; we talked for long hours about art, writing, painting and philosophy.

He was such a good person, so wise and full of kindness towards everyone.

He was the only one in the world who listened to me and really understood me for the person I am.

He passed away five years ago. I miss him every minute of every day.

Writing Is Like Breathing

Why did you become a writer?

Writing is like breathing for me. It is my passion. I love writing because it’s magical, it’s freedom. I can write with no judgment or worries about anything. Writing builds bridges between people from different cultures and genders. Writing breaks boundaries and makes you dream, makes you feel.

What was the happiest time of your life?

I have lots of happy moments in my life. The day I published my first book You Are Allowed was one of the happiest moments in my life.

Publishing a book was a dream from the age of 18 and I fulfilled it at the age of 47. After  many years of struggles I managed to realize my dream. I thought it was too late but I succeeded and proved to myself that it is never too late to do what you love.

Tell about a time when you didn’t know if you would make it.

I didn’t know if I would make it so many times in my life. I know God has protected me and saved me several times. The last time I thought I wasn’t going to make it was two years ago. I had a hysterectomy; after I woke up from the surgery, my heart rate was at 270 beats per minute and it kept going up. I almost died a few times and I was sure that this was the end, but the doctors saved me and God protected me. After four surgeries I am fine today, I’m alive, but it was scary.

Who is the love of your life and how did you meet?

The love of my life is my husband Sharon for sure. We met in 2008 in Israel at the hospital.

I worked as a realtor; one of my clients asked me to visit his wife at the hospital while he was in France for business. Since I was available and she was alone, I went to visit her. When I entered her hospital room, I saw Sharon; he was sitting next to his father. The woman I visited was his aunt. We looked at each other and there were sparks in the air. I thought he was married but luckily he was single and I was divorced.

The rest is history.

What do you value most and why?

I value the most my family and my friends.

My family is my strength. They support me, protect me. They learn from me and I from them every day. I couldn’t do what I love without them. I will do anything for them and they will do anything for me. I love my family so much and I’m so proud we are together in that incredible journey of life, with respect, love, and acceptance for each other.   

My friends are also important to me; they are a very big part of my life.

They give me strength, joy and hope and I couldn’t survive without friends.

For me friendship it’s like vitamin C, a little bit every day to continue the race of life.

Tired of Keeping Secrets

Why did you decide to write your memoir, and what lessons have you learned?

I dreamt about writing my memoir since I was 18 years old. I started writing in 2016 and published [it] in October 2021 at 47 years old. At first I decided to write my story because I got tired  of keeping my adoption secret hidden. I never revealed to anyone about me being adopted. I was sad, frustrated, but mostly I was ashamed. With time and an amazing writing journey I did a “review” of my life and had the opportunity to find closure.

More importantly writing my memoir helped me appreciate the power of forgiving others. I finished writing my book as a different person; I have lots of compassion, I’m happy and fulfilled with no regrets about the past. At age of 45 I said, I am no longer ashamed to tell people I was adopted.

I learned so many lessons during my writing journey. The most important one was to forgive myself first, to love myself first, and to respect myself first. I learned that happiness is a state of mind and that I’m responsible for my own happiness. Writing changed my life and believe me it’s an understatement. Writing saved me, writing healed me.

My intent was to write about my adoption; however the memoir ended being about about being raped. I hope my story can help other rape victims and people who were adopted [whose] adoptive parents kept it a secret.

What advice would you give to another rape victim?

It’s still really hard for me to talk about it. Forgiveness is the key; I know this is the hardest one to do.  Forgive yourself first. Second I would love to give advice to mothers of girls: Please talk to your daughters about sex, relationships and everything they need. Put your ego in your pocket and be there for your daughters. 

I’m still processing that part of my journey. Luckily I am stronger now. I plan on writing more books on my journey to finding peace and happiness.  

Thank you Odelia for granting me this interview, I am looking forward to reading your future books.

Visit Amazon to purchase a copy of You Are Allowed.

About Nicole Weaver

Nicole Weaver is an award-winning author. Her first trilingual book Marie and Her Friend the Sea Turtle was published in 2009. Her love for languages and other cultures resulted in publishing the award-winning book, My Sister Is My Best Friend which was published in 2011 by Guardian Angel Publishing. My Sister Is My Best Friend has won the following awards: 2012 Creative Child Awards Program consisting of moms and educators has awarded this book the 2012 PREFERRED CHOICE AWARD Kids Picture Storybooks category. 2012 Children's Literary Classics Seal of Approval 2012 Children's Literary Classics Gold Award Readers' Favorite 5 Star Review Her newest book , My Brother Is My Best Friend was also published by Guardian Angel Publishing, January 2014.

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