I have always known I wanted to write a book. I have dreamed of it for as long as I can remember. Once I set out to tell the story that I am meant to tell, I knew it would be difficult. A reckoning of both my pain and my healing, the product of my heart and spirit, the rising from the dark night of the soul. I wanted to undertake the writing process as a commitment to self-discipline and as an act of self-love. To honor the desire that has always been in my heart by writing something that brought me peace, clarity and closure.
Just starting the process was daunting. Where to even begin? Writing a blog is one thing, but a book is an entirely different matter. I’m talking 80,000+ words, bound pages and an actual beginning, middle and end. Dialogue, character development, hooks, story flow, voice, tense…holy sh*t! I’ve always been inspired by people who write books—their discipline, commitment, investment of time and energy. It is a huge accomplishment. Could I be one of those people? Not until I created the time and space in my life, not until I made writing my first priority. This past year, 2021, I finally did. It turns out that when you work three jobs, you don’t have a lot of spare time. I didn’t start writing in earnest until I left those jobs, absconded San Diego and set out on a road trip across the country with my partner in a self-built camper van. (Not that this is a prerequisite for writing a book, but having nature as my office certainly didn’t hurt.)
It was in the wide-open spaces where the earth could hold me and silence created space, that I began to write. And write I did. For hours a day, weeks at a time. My story came into form over dusty back roads, mountain views, towering trees and the sounds of flowing water. The more time I spent away from the world I knew—the three jobs I left behind, the constant stress and burnout my life had become—the deeper I was able to dig.
When I first set out to tell my story, I dreamt it would help others on their healing journey. Women who have gone through betrayal, divorce, depression or abuse. I soon discovered the weight of that intention was too much to bear. I could only write it for me. I could only be authentic and honest, broken and healing out of love for my own journey. My prayer became: the closer I get to the wound, the deeper I share my truth, wherever there is pain and shame—let it become the soft, vulnerable place of connection.
To write my memoir and put my healing on the page, I relived the most painful and traumatic experiences of my life. I ventured into memories and emotions that had been buried and forgotten to bring them into the light. Writing required me to ask the hardest questions I have ever asked myself, and to be honest about it all, to get vulnerable and raw and messy and brave, to be intimate with my pain and come face to face with my truths.
I realized that I couldn’t compromise the work that was required to be honest and broken, healing and whole all at the same time. I did it for my past self, my present self and my future self. I did it for the beautiful people around me, so I can show up more fully with them, having journeyed deeper within myself. Writing has been my gateway to deeper healing and transformation. There were times when the heaviness of the past brought tears to my eyes, times when the joy of a break-through inspired my process, times when I needed to hear hard criticism to improve, times when I broke down—surrendering myself to what my book was asking of me.
When I finished the first draft of my memoir and held the printed manuscript in my hands, something inside of me cracked wide open. I locked myself in a bathroom and fell to my knees as tears rolled down my face. They were tears that spoke of seven years of pain and healing. Tears that celebrated a dream’s realization. They were tears of courage as I finally learned to own my story and love myself so deeply that nothing else mattered. When I found the strength to stand and look at my reflection in the mirror, pride and love stared back. My memoir is the biggest, most beautiful gift I have ever given to me.
Granted, it was a very rough first draft. Anne Lamott’s advice, “to write a really shitty first draft” was my mantra. I just needed to get the story out, to get it on the page. While the first draft took eight months, all the edits I received took another four month to implement—a full year of writing. Sharing my work was terrifying. Fears of inadequacy, judgment and rejection haunted. But the input from others only helped me grow and improve immensely. She Journeys—my memoir—wouldn’t be where she is today without the invaluable edits from my partner, my parents and my best friend.
Writing has been profoundly transformative. The heart is universal. Lessons around love, worth, forgiveness and healing are transcendent. When we share our stories, I see how they strike a tender place, that vulnerable space where being wounded does not make one weak or pitiful or deficient, rather strong and beautiful and real. Togetherness heals so much more than aloneness. When we share our stories, we make bridges. When we heal, we cross them. That alone was cause enough to find the courage to write my story. And hopefully one day soon, to share the journey with you.