Thankful I can tell my story and it doesn't make me cry
I remember how the tears flowed while I was in the process of writing both my books. Tears of loss, pain, anxiety, fear, shame.
With the first book, my tears were more about the fear and anxiety of anticipating people's reactions, rejection, hateful words steeped in resentment and hostility. I knew people I loved would view me as a betrayer and an adversary for writing, from my heart, what I believed would bring light, hope and healing to others like me.
With the second book, my tears were a little different. I was reliving experiences of intensely personal contempt, condescension, ridicule and cruelty. I cried for the younger woman in the story who was not me anymore, but who I definitely remembered being. I grieved especially for the loss of myself as a person at such a young age, when I should have been discovering who God intended me to be.
I was also exposing to every reader what a willing doormat I was, with so little self-respect or courage, for the better part of 27 years. Despite how confident or assertive I may have seemed outwardly to people who didn't live with me, the truth was that I groveled regularly in my constant pursuit of peace and harmony at home. It seemed like I never stopped dodging mood swings and defending my motives against twisted words and hostile accusations. I remembered how exhausting it was to live that way. But for readers with no experience of a relationship like this, I wondered how pathetic I might seem for staying so long.
I now looked back -- especially on the groveling and pleading -- in embarrassment. I asked myself, How could I have been that person for so long?
I cried each time I proofed a chapter for typos. It seemed like I would never be able to read my own details without tears. But I guess that's one of the reasons writing is so therapeutic. Eventually, I cried all the tears I had for the old me. By the time I was ready to let go of the book and send it off to printing, I could read without a single tear. I could share without shame. And, perhaps biggest of all, I no longer felt ashamed of my struggle with shame.
I'm an emotional person. So if I'm relating details of my own story to someone who is stuck in the same pain today, I still might feel the emotion or get tears in my eyes. But it's different. They are relational tears. I'm connecting with someone through shared pain. They are not tears of sadness for my own suffering or tears of embarrassment.
I'm more comfortable than ever with my own flaws and imperfections. I'm at peace with who I am and have even come to like who I am (most of the time). And I give very little thought these days to who I used to be or how I used to live.
I'm grateful for the progress I've made. I'm grateful for everything I've gained as a direct result of my losses. And because I'm thankful for where I am today, I have to be thankful for the path that got me here.
I don't know if this is the full definition of healing. But I do know...
I have never been more content.
My story definitely doesn't make me cry.
Healing is a journey.
And I'm very thankful for mine.