Dapto's Robin Shaw escaped her family curse, forged a new life in the Illawarra and wrote a play about her experiences, opening on Thursday.
For generations, heartbreak swallowed the women in her family into decades of despair.
Whether it was a decision, regret or unbearable loss, they had become stuck in their suffering.
But Mrs Shaw said she had to break that cycle, move forward and choose life, love and hope.
‘‘Happiness is a conscious choice every day for me, given my propensity towards drama,’’ she said.
‘‘One of the central stories is the loss of my father and how it affected my mother and myself.
‘‘The play is a eulogy for my father, a love letter to my husband and a prayer for the healing of all the women in my family.’’
Her mother could not move forward with her life and kept her father’s clothes for nearly 20 years, she said.
‘‘His clothes were still hanging in the closet until she moved to Australia last year,’’ she said.
‘‘And my grandmother lost the great love of her life in World War II, her husband was a fighter pilot.’’
The 37-year-old wrote Beneath the Soulskin while partaking in a government funded program for Merrigong Theatre Company.
She has performed the play to two audiences, who gave feedback and helped her make changes.
Beneath the Soulskin runs from May 1 to May 3 at the Illawarra Performing Arts Centre.
Go to http://merrigong.com.au/ or phone 4224 5999 for tickets, which cost $20 + transaction fee.