Driven to Share

Whether I am writing regularly or only on occasion, I love my blog. I have been sporadic in my writing since we moved to West Virginia for a variety of reasons. Weeks go by without any new blog entries, but my blog has still been active for those searching for CLL or Morton's Neuroma information and encouragement. If you don't read for either of those reasons, then you have no idea what I'm talking about . . . . 

My blog is read daily by people who are searching for information on both. And their searches take them directly to those posts. I really enjoy hearing from those readers. Lately I am getting a lot of feedback from others suffering with Morton's Neuroma and either considering or recovering from surgery. Knowing the experiences I have shared here are helping others is more rewarding for me than I can express. Whether it's the common experience of abuse or a medical condition; whether it's in person or online; I love relating to other people and offering hope. 

Celebrities are often asked how they would like to be remembered when they are gone. You haven't asked, but I will tell you how I want to be remembered. I want the people who know me to be able to say that I was the kind of person who put others at ease, who made them feel less alone in their struggles and more hopeful about their future. Of course, there are other things I would like to be said of me; that I was unconditionally loving, kind and generous. What do I know will be said about me? Ha Ha Ha . . .That I lived and expressed myself passionately, and that I loved food as much or more than anyone ever has or ever will. 

I started this blog in 2007, the same year John was diagnosed with CLL. But in the beginning I could not write about his diagnosis. It took two years for me to get his permission and I have written about our journey ever since. I am so thankful I have been able to open John up a little bit and help him be less private. Not that there is anything wrong with being a private person (I wouldn't know, obviously, since I'm one who thinks out loud), but there is such value in sharing our life's experiences with others. So many people have written to me both in comments and in private messages, telling me how much my blog (and first book) has helped them. Whether it's medical or emotional or spiritual, that means so much more to me than my privacy. 

I will publish my second book (Through My Eyes: Overcoming the Emotional Injury of An Abusive Relationship) in April or May. It is written and edited. This morning I approved fonts and layout details. I will now turn my focus to the cover and updating my website. 

In some ways, this book is more personal than the first. As I initially wrote, I feared giving too much detail and then my editor prompted and prodded me for more. I did not expect him to ask for more information in all of the areas he did. And some of it was tough to put on paper. When I write, I think about the different people who may eventually read my words. I'm acutely aware that once it's in print, I can't take back anything I've shared. My own privacy is never that important to me, but I truly don't enjoy causing discomfort for others who place a higher value on privacy than I do. This is the only anxiety I have occasionally felt as I've written and edited Through My Eyes

In order to tell my story, I had to write about my relationship with my dad in a few places, as well as my ex-husband. Fathers play a big role in the emotional development of their daughters. My dad instilled many good things in me. He also played a role (however unintentionally) in my low sense of self-worth, which fostered some of my unhealthy choices and behaviors. This was the hardest part of the book for me because I love my dad so much. Our relationship is finally what I always wished it could be. I know he loves and accepts me just as I am. And it's apparent that he appreciates me and my love in a deeper way than at other times in our relationship. He is getting older and his health is failing. He is suffering with Parkinson's Disease. Every day is a struggle for him now. He doesn't read anymore and I know he won't read this book. I don't plan to mention it to him, even though I thank him in the acknowledgments and would love for him to be able to read it. I think he is at the point in his life where pride and privacy have lesser value. I don't think he would have a problem with what I've written other than the emotion he would feel, which might trigger physical symptoms. If he could read it without his health issues, but with the open, compassionate heart he has gained through his suffering, I believe it would be enlightening for him and he would be proud of me for trying to help others by writing. 

My greatest concern with both of my books was not wanting to write anything that dishonored my parents. I was fearful of doing that with the first book and needed a lot of reassurance from others that I had not (through the writing process). I am not fearful with this book. I know my heart is as pure as a human heart can be when it comes to my intentions and my desires for this book. I hope that anyone who reads it and feels critical of me for being so open will at least feel my heart. That's about all I can ask, I guess. 

My parents chose the right name for me. They called me Stephanie all through my mom's pregnancy and I really do like that name. But Shari is better because I am driven to share. I can't imagine not sharing and relating to others. I know there are plenty of people who could not share as openly as I do. So many people have said (after the first book) "You're so brave." But I don't really feel brave. This is simply who I am. I have stopped trying to live my life according to the dictates of other people's hearts and preferences and am trying to accept and embrace the person God created me to be. That doesn't mean that I haven't needed to change. But I believe I am closer to being the person He has always intended me to be than I have ever previously been. 

The last ten years of my life have been such a profound illustration of God granting the desires of my heart. Just giving me John would have been more than enough. But God provided the life experiences, the learning, the endurance, and the writing ability to grant a "heart desire" that I never really believed would happen -- becoming an author. It doesn't matter that I'm virtually unknown and self-published and will never make money by writing. It is simply the accomplishment and the reward of knowing I may help a few people by sharing my story. I may make someone else feel less alone, less crazy, less helpless. And I know my story will offer hope to others in similar circumstances. I would love to sell a lot of books and be a successful author, don't get me wrong. But no amount of money or success could mean as much to me as one person telling me that I helped them heal or have hope.