Yesterday marked thirteen years since I made the life-changing decision to choose to live... instead of dying a slow internal (and eventually physical) death.
In truth, I was already over-half dead by the time I walked out of my marriage with nothing more than a suitcase of laundry and a floppy-eared puppy on a leash. That day, I said goodbye in my head to everything I owned in order to save myself. They're just things, after all.
It was the hardest—and easiest—decision I have ever made in my life. Hard because of all the obvious reasons, but easy because it was a hard-wired biological reflex on some level.
You see, we are all hard-wired for survival. It's in our biological DNA. This is why I feel immense compassion for anyone who was able to complete suicide. I can't begin to imagine how bad things had to get for someone to override their hard-wiring. Though, actually, I sort of can.
By the time I walked out, I had already been contemplating suicide for a few years. At the time, I didn't see any other way. I didn't know how to leave, because I made a commitment "for better or worse"—but there only seemed to be a lot of "worse". Living with an addict, that's often the reality.
Of course, there were "better" moments, too, but on the whole, the trajectory was downward. On this last relapse, as I sat on the living room floor listening to my ex-husband barter with his mother about getting sober (again), I heard that voice in my head. I've written about this before, but if you're new here, the voice simply said, "I'm dying." I wasn't dead yet, but I was well on my way. If I had stayed, I feel certain I wouldn't have made 40. The day I walked out, I was 38 1/2.
Now, thirteen years later, I look back on that day and feel incredibly grateful that I listened to that voice, though admittedly I am still a bit sad remembering just how bad it had to get for me to finally choose to live. The empathy I have for younger me... well, let's just say there is no tool in Greenwich, England by which to measure it.
What I can measure, however, is the life I have lived since that day. In fact, it's now these measurements that give me pause, in the best way. They are, in a word, astounding... at least, they are to me. Here are just a few:
7 published books — the NEWEST released just yesterday!! (16 more in the works)
3 ghostwritten books
1 Masters degree, 1 license, 3 certifications
2 major deaths (my father and my Dude)
4 surgeries (too many injuries, if you ask me)
2.5 companies created
25 published books, written by other people (23 more in the works)
60 products designed and released
8 private writing clients, across various industries
3 loving relationships (all of which taught me something more about myself)
1 PhD application (until I thought better about it)
Dozens of private coaching clients
And so much more (including surviving a pandemic and turning 50!)
Since I chose life, I have managed to LIVE! In truth, it feels like a lot more than 13 years. How I have managed to do all of that in such a short period of time is somewhat baffling. However, it also explains why I'm tired a lot of the time. I don't live life by halves. I've been there, done that.
I know what it feels like to live partially alive. I know what it feels like to bury part of yourself every day in order to just survive. So, I have chosen differently. There are days when it's too much, and I recognize that I need to shift my priorities a bit, and I'm working on that. I'm working on restructuring things in order to focus more on the things that make me feel alive and vibrant.
What does that look like? For me, it's more writing. I'm honestly never happier than when I'm writing. Whether it's a children's book, a novel, poetry, or self-help, I'm happiest when I'm at the keyboard, typing. After that, I love designing. The stylist/buyer in me is never far away when I get to play with design ideas. In fact, the cover for my new book, The Author's Journey, was conceived of and designed by me—I love it so much! (I hope you do, too.)
And so, that's where 13 years has taken me. In The Author's Journey, I share what I have learned about the publishing industry, in order to help aspiring authors navigate the system. However, and perhaps more importantly, I also talk about the three different types of authors. In my experience working with writers for the past five years, I have come to see that there are three distinct types of authors. Knowing which type you are is key to understanding what type of publishing would work best for you.
Interestingly, it took creating that book for other writers for me to realize an astonishing but simple truth: I am all three. My passion for writing—for sharing story through the written word—is where I feel most at home. I can write for hours without pausing. Writing is like breathing, and I can't imagine not doing it. I had wrist surgery five days ago, and while it has been incredibly challenging to live life with one (non-dominant) hand, the most frustrating thing has been the inability to write... anything. (Dictating isn't the same.) In fact, in order to write this blog post, I am alternating typing and icing. (That's commitment!) And it feels so good.
Now, I can say with some certainty that I know what the next thirteen years will hold, in at least one way: more books! My attention and time are shifting to writing more and doing what I do best—doing what makes me feel most alive! I can't wait to see what awaits me around the proverbial corner, and I hope you will join me on this journey and enjoy all the various work I am creating.
PS: You can check out my books and designs on the IOM website. Just click here!