I’ve been a writer all my life. It’s true! The first gift I ever gave my husband, when we were nothing more than fourteen year old children celebrating the first Christmas of our young high school lives, was a short story. About grown up us, coming home for the holidays. I still remember collecting my pages, still warm from the word processor I used to print them out – remember, this was 1994, long before computers were a thing -placed them in a book report approved plastic binder, and finally, wrapped in curled ribbons of silver and gold, presented this monstrosity to the boy without a hint of embarrassment. Yikes.
I’m a nerd, and a romantic. Don’t judge!
Aaaaanyway. . .
So here’s the thing about all of that: when we stumbled upon some pretty terrible times later on in life, I stopped writing entirely. No poetry, songs, short or long stories. All of those artistic ways I used to define myself as more than just a mom, or a wife, I’d suddenly deemed off limits. Punishment for my sins, although I don’t think I ever acknowledged it in such a way in the moment. More than a decade went by before I even noticed what I’d done to myself. Suddenly, out of the blue, I found myself a person without substance. Looking in the mirror, I saw absolutely nothing in my reflection. Family room organizer. Prized laundry folder. Excellent cooker of italian dinners. But beyond those utilitarian talents, there was nothing inherently “me” about me. Years of neglecting my soul had left me soul-less, and it was a terrifying wake up call.
Promptly, I re-entered therapy and set out on a mission to fall back in love with who I am. That was when I realized I had absolutely no idea who that was. Not only had I lost myself, it happened so swiftly and at so young an age, I had never really become anything that could be lost in the first place. I figured, the best place to begin would be music. Writing is the sharing of the soul. My soul needed a little coddling before it was primed to be shared, so I dusted off the old guitar and plucked out some Letters to Cleo tunes. My singing voice was shameful – but at least I was playing music again.
After a few months of sore fingertips and broken strings, my heart broke wide open, and I finally felt free and familiar. Comfortable in my own skin, at long last.
One night, I sat alone in my home office, in the dark. I’ve always had a story to tell, and I finally felt ready to tell it. Now, here we are. 40,000 words in and outlined to finish close to the 80,000 word goal I set for myself more than a year ago. I know what foods I love, what foods I hate, what I’m passionately for and against, and that I absolutely detest wearing tight, short, or remotely revealing dresses even if the other women in my office all choose to dress in such a manner. Basically, for the first time in all my thirty-six years, I am wildly, authentically myself. And boy, does it feel good ❤