I received an email that stopped my heart.
I was chatting with my friends as we finished our warm soup. I noticed through the tall window of the restaurant the cool spring day blowing the icy Minnesota winter away. I reached into my purse to check the time on my phone. An unread email caught my eye.
An email that stopped my heart.
An email telling me that yes, my book, my story will be published. That finally a contract was being sent to me.
In a pink diary with a gold lock and tiny key, I wrote my first journal entry.
"I hate Bobby. He smells.”
I was five. There were thousands, some notebook papers with frayed edges, some fancy leather books with pretty ties, but often they were simple spirals with lines.
It was the words that fell on those lines that mattered. The words that were an expression of my heart and of my soul. An outpouring of the person banging up against a world that offered little breaks and much pain and sorrow. Joy was there too, but mostly the scribbles of me in an unreadable outpouring of words trying to figure life out.
Was God telling me to write? Was God urging me on? I don't know...but I know I needed to write. Late at night when the lights were out, under my covers with a flashlight camping, on a bathroom floor, on a plane. Wherever. I needed it like humans need air.
I was afraid I would forget.
Forget the kiss at Prom with Jeff, forget the fight with Mom about my friend Jessica, or forget the day Chris asked me to be his wife. If I forgot, who would remember?
I never forgot. But I kept writing and writing and writing.
I read that email thinking of that same little girl who took a pen to paper so many years ago. To me, the now grown woman who battled years of life threatening depression and anorexia. To me, the woman who has a story. A story that I believe needs to be told. One of hope, of redemtion, of a life worth living. It isn’t my story really…I am just the main character.
It is God’s story.
“They said yes!” I screamed. “They said yes! ”
I fell on the floor. I needed the dramatic. This moment called for the dramatic. It was dirty, that messy dirty flor, but I didn't care. People were staring. I didn't care.
“THEY SAID YES!” I kept screaming.
My book. My story. God's story!
You see, I had dreams of Broadway and stage lights. Did God have a plan too? One where the little girl who was five writing in that diary didn't know? Maybe.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jer. 29:11
I tell you this, because I want you to believe as I did that our stories...our lives are worth telling.
Are worth living.
It doesn't feel like it. Often it doesn't. But do you have a desire? Something that burns inside of you that you can't let go? Sure I dreamed of Broadway...but secretly I wrote. Wrote my words to God. All of them...addressed to Him. Hoping he would hear.
Many said I was a good actress. Only one told me I was a good writer. My eleventh grade English teacher. So is that enough? Enough to make me a writer? Most wouldn’t say so.
But, the desire ...the burning desire in my soul told me to write.
So I did.
I wrote and wrote and wrote. I wrote my entire life and then for seven and 1/2 years I wrote the book. I wrote anything and everything. And then, I went back. Back to the past to the diary with the lock, to the spirals, to the leather journal. To the writing from all the years.
From the journey.
From the often heartbreaking and disappointing journey. Because somewhere I believed the story needed to be told. The story that you CAN have an impossible dream.
That you can have a dream and it can seem impossible, but the ONLY way to live that dream is to not give up. To one step at a time put one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward.
There were rejections. There were heartaches. There was even a day when I stood in a line staring at a stage with buckets of sweat pouring off of me while I waited to approach Dr. Phil. Oh yes, Dr. Phil.
His wife was doing a book signing. I wasn't there for her book really...I bought it and had a pen handy. But really I was there to pitch her. And him.
As I approached the stage, I hid my manuscript slyly in my sweaty pit hoping the police officer wouldn't spot my little gift thinking it to be a harmful artillary. No, I just wanted someone to read my story. To belive in it.
So I gave it to her, asked her to read it, asked her to give it a chance. She smiled. She took the now sopping wet manilla envelope in her nicely manicured hands and I moved right along.
I never heard from Dr. Phil. Nor his wife.
Over and over and over it would be rejected.
I applied for writing grants. I was rejected. I hit every agent possible in the market guide and over and over the door was shut.
I should have given up.
But a nibbling in my soul said, keep going...keep going. Don't give up. I kept going. Each time a rejection came I allowed myself 24 hours to throw a temper tantrum and quit. And then I sat back down in my blue and white striped chair, pulled out my computer and began writing again. And over time my voice in my writing grew and developed just like my voice in recovery did. Over time. And then, I knew I didn’t just have a story but a story with my own unique voice. Not the voice of an author or the voice of what the latest publishing blogs wanted. But, my voice.
I believe in impossible dreams. Do you?
Recovery from an eating disorder is difficult, hard, tortuous, and discouraging. So?
Trying to publish a book is like banging your head against the wall over and over again and getting up the next day for more. So?
I beieve in impossible dreams. Do you?
Do you believe that recovery from an eating disorder is possible? I do. I also believed I had a story that needed to be told. It took a long time to find the right words to tell it, to find my authentic writing voice, and to find the right publishing house to publish it, to not give up. But I didn't.
You shouldn't either. Please don't.
Just because you fell down...why won't you get back up again?
So there I am on the floor of the restaurant an (almost) 40 year old woman screaming my lungs out. My sweet friend was kind enough to calm those enjoying what was once a quiet lunch by announcing, "she just got a book contract!"
They didn't care really. Lots of people publish books. But this is my story, my journey, and it has been a long one. So I screamed and cried and hooted and hollered!
So many times in recovery and on this writing journey I cried out...Is this worth it? The same prayers I once cried out ...why do I live? Why do I have to fight so hard. Is it worth it. And God whispered ...yes. Believe.
Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." Matthew 19:2
I believed. I will keep on fighting for you to believe this impossible dream. That yes, people do recover from eating disorders. And yes, people like me just one person wanting to tell her story can publish books.
I am on a new journey now. One that includes an entire new set of fears, hopes, joys and anxious thoughts. This journey to the day my story is on the bookshelves it brings with it a terrifying joy. Do I want my neighbors to know, strangers? If it means you will believe in recovery…then yes. I will lay it all out there. Naked. I decided today that I am going to write about this journey and share with you here and on www.findingbalance.com
Won't you join me on this new adventure? Won't you believe as I did that there is life on the other side of an eating disorder? Won't you?
This is my quest
To follow that star
No matter how hopeless
No matter how far
And I know if I'll only be true
To this glorious quest
That my heart will lie peaceful and calm
When I'm laid to my rest
And the world will be better for this
That one man, scorned and covered with scars
Still strove with his last ounce of courage
To reach the unreachable star
*"The impossible Dream" from Man of La Mancha
**Accidental Peace will be published in Spring of 2013 by InterVarsity Press
**(title to change)