I've spent over three years living in fear. The crippling kind. The kind of fear that holds you hostage, convincing you that you'll never achieve the "thing" you're fighting for... dreaming of... hoping for.
I promised myself that in spite of the chaos of 2018, I would NOT let it end the way it started. I would not let it end the way the last 3 years have started and ended... with my heart and hopes collecting dust on a shelf.
I would pursue what scared me.
I would saddle up and take the mountain. Even if it killed me. Honestly there were days I thought it would.
Maybe that sounds dramatic, but I've discovered that writing your story... the sacred story that's stewing inside your bones... the one filled with grief, and loss, and guilt... can take you out if you're not careful.
I threw out chapter after chapter... tore them up... literally filled trashbags with manuscripts. I started over more times than I could count. Hit the delete button and stared at a blank screen wanting to claw my own eyes out. I screamed at God and begged him to to take it from me. The story. Because I honestly didn't think I'd ever be able to tell it. Not in the way it really happened.
What would people say when they knew? How would people react if I painted the real picture? Coming face to face with myself... and the memories.. was freakin tough.
After many intense conversations with an amazing author and friend, he convinced me to keep going, telling me that the only book worth reading is the one that's true. And if it unraveled me, then so be it. Let it unravel me.
I spent time away with my counselor, who also told me the same thing. I couldn't quit. I had to push through. "The story will shake people. It will change lives" she said.... I think what she really meant to say was "Telling the story will change YOUR life Erica... yet again."
I holed away for weeks. Those weeks turned into months... and before I knew it... it was December 23rd.
After countless days and nights away from home. Tossing and turning with little sleep...
I took the mountain.
I finished the book.
I did the one thing I was so afraid to do. When I finished the final paragraph... and realized I was done...
I was stunned.
Then the tears came.
Not because I was proud necessarily, but because I knew her story would finally be told. The truth about the injustice would finally be revealed. I couldn't necessarily celebrate... you see I'm one of the villains in the story... in so many ways...and I've carried the weight of that fact for years. At least now.... I can make things right... in the best way I know how.
I will be her voice.
Maybe, after you read the story... you can join me. We can raise our voices together and speak up on behalf of all children who are lost, stolen, exploited, and killed... because of injustice. If I can look into the mirror and admit my wrong doings... walk away from my cookie cutter living... abandon the notion that we are the saviors... that we are the superheroes in THEIR stories... maybe we can actually do something to end suffering in the world.
I guess the bottom line is this... I'm not who people think I am. I've never been heroic, and at times I've been the oppressor... but in our own way... we all have. We have all stood silent in the face of injustice... and it's time we claim responsibility and do something to fix that.
So here we go.
The book now heads to the editor... then on to publishing. Then, hopefully you will choose to sit down and embrace each chapter for what it is... a sacred look into THIS truth...
Nothing is always as it seems. We must learn to navigate living in the gray, remembering that we all belong to one another... and we all depend on each other. So let's carefully follow the fault line... the space between what isn't so black and white...and take the next step... choosing to live with eyes wide open, arms outstretched, and hands willing to get a little dirty.
A huge thank you to the handful of people that have walked with me through the dark over these last few years... who read my chapters and cried tears with me... taking the story as your own... reminding me that I'm not in this journey alone. It takes a village to tell the story... to change the world... and I am so thankful for mine.