I’m sitting in my hotel room in Vancouver where we have our I Can Do It! conference here this weekend. As I’m deciding on which poems from the newly revised and updated edition of my book Writing for My Life…Reclaiming the Lost Pieces of Me: A Poetic Journey to share with the audience, I’m also reflecting on the arc of my journey that has led me to this very moment. Finally I can see how each and every bit of my experience is an equally important star in the constellation of my life preparing me for here and now and forward.
This new version of my book is divided into three sections, each corresponding to one of the stages of reclaiming myself. The poems within became the stepping-stones leading me from fear to self-love and self-forgiveness. Here is the piece that opens the first section called bone. I offer my heart to you with the hope that it serves as a compass to lead you back to yourself, and an invitation to find and trust your own voice.
For most of my life, I needed validation. I looked outward for permission. Permission to offer myself love and acceptance. I put everyone else’s dreams and needs before mine. I spent my days managing the perceptions of others, projecting an image of perfection. In the process, I forgot something.
I forgot to live my own life.
I didn’t feel loved for who I was—especially not in my marriage—so I believed I never would be. I checked out. Went to sleep. And was awakened only by an explosion of epic proportions.
After the dust settled, I had a choice. I could either stay numb and go back to sleep. Or, I could face my fears. I could embrace change. I could stop living my life in reaction to others.
And so the journey began.
The journey to knowing, deep in my essence, that I am loved. No matter what I do or don’t do. Even if I don’t do anything I will be loved.
But how? I needed courage. I found it in my body.
My body—flesh and bone—a treasure chest. Its cellular secrets under lock and key until the moment they were ready to be freed. The thaw came that way: an instant, a window, an opening. If I’d left sooner, I would not have been able to stay away. If I’d stayed a moment longer, it would have been radical self-betrayal.
I remember leaving for the last time. I bought a clean, new mattress just days before, knowing it was a last offering to a lost time. I quietly told the truth to someone safe. There was the night I thought I heard him coming for me—first hope, then fear, then resignation. I remember finally asking for help. I remember when I didn’t think all the help was going to help. I remember when it finally did. I remember all the hours around the hours. Those hours building the skeleton of a leaving. Those hours of bone.