Landis L. Graden's memoir, "Bent, Not Broken: Crossing Life's Bridges of Tragedy, Trauma, and Triumph", takes an earnest look into how one of the most important moments in his life was affected by the abuse and trauma of his younger years. Wearing a mask of self-doubt and fear for most of his life, Graden starts his journey in this book with a visit to the Obama White House as an invited VIP guest. It is this visit that serves as the catalyst to uncover how generational abuse seeped its way into his adulthood and made him feel like an unworthy imposter.
A successful entrepreneur, Graden uses his own stories of hardships and battles to encourage all people, but particularly men who have fallen victim to "strong stereotyping", to lean into the idea of vulnerability and continuous healing. The many personal moments documented throughout the book give stark honesty to how his father laid the foundation very early on for what he thought a strong man was supposed to be. He draws back each layer of what made his father abusive, noting how even his father's foundations had been laid generations before him.
This reflective investigation into finding why he felt like an imposter and how to heal ultimately takes Graden into memories of his mother's love, the eventual forgiveness of his father and the babysitter that molested him, and the various relationships and business ventures that were impacted by the traumas he had yet to start to heal from. He discovers that he presents his confidence, success, and ego through his mask that has hidden years of unsifted traumas.
Through patience with himself, therapy, and faith, Graden shares his path to healing using vulnerability as his biggest strength in determining what it really means to be a man. The sharing of his stories cultivates messages that in the end bring about conversations on societal expectations of men and how years of abuse and trauma can give even the best and brightest wounds that require healing.
Graden's story of overcoming trauma to find wholeness is an inspiration to all, and a call to action for men to access vulnerability to find healing and happiness.