I write because I was silenced for decades by an enemy who wanted to destroy more than just my voice but also my life. I write because every voice matters, because I discovered that I say things that resonate with other people and that give voice to thoughts and feelings inside of others. I write because my voice is my purpose, because I have been called to speak up for the oppressed. I write because my enemy can no longer keep me silent.
I grew up in an abusive home. The abuse was less when I was quiet and when I hid. So that’s what I did. For a really long time. But God had other plans for me. Though it took a while for me to respond to His voice, His gentle invitation to set me free.
After I left that abusive home, I ended up in a worse situation with someone more abusive than anything that I’d known growing up. But God stepped in and caused that man to demand that I go to law school. I laugh at that now, because I know that law school was the key to my freedom that my foolish jailer literally forced into my hands. He had no clue what hit him a year later when I stomped out the door slamming it behind me, never to return again. Just the first year of law school alone showed me enough truth to motivate a brainwashed, beaten down, dehumanized woman like me to just go. And so, I did.
It wasn’t easy undoing all the brainwashing, filling in all the beaten down neural pathways, and building up little by little new neural pathways of confidence, faith and hope. It was a long road. It still is. And that’s another reason why I write. Because it quiets my mind, because it gets the poison out, because it sets me free. I started journaling within the first year of my freedom. Even as early as then, the few other persons who knew of my writing said that I needed to write a book. I didn’t know whether to trust them or what they said, but their encouragement sounded ok.
I kept journaling. I kept working toward becoming whole. I finished law school and graduated. I worked and worked, until one day I decided I couldn’t continue working at a job that left me unfulfilled and empty. My whole life I’ve wanted to do something that impacted people, that made a difference in people’s lives, that gave hope to others. Decades had passed, and I couldn’t shake that feeling, that desire to do more and to be more. So, one day I took a leap.
At first it was pretty scary, because I had no clue what I wanted to do. I spent some time with myself figuring out what I wanted and what I needed. One day it came to me to write a book, to tell my story or at least a part of it. I mulled that around for a while considering different aspects of my story, different styles of story, different genres and so on. Eventually, one idea gained traction – poetry.
I’d written poetry when I was about ten. I’d even written a poetry book, which my sister illustrated, and we then gave to our cousins as a Christmas gift. My sister and I were quite proud of that book. I don’t remember my cousins thinking much of it. The next year tragedy struck, and I stopped writing poetry. I must have blocked my ability to write poetry out of my mind as I slid deeper and deeper into hiding in order to survive the chaos that was swirling around me. It would be more than thirty years before I would write another poem.
When I did begin writing poetry again, it seemed foreign and strange to me. At first, I didn’t recall that I’d written poetry when I was a child. As I was journaling and listening to worship music trying to process painful memories, I began writing rhythmically and even rhyming some of the lines. Then the poems began spilling out of me more frequently and readily. As this awakening progressed, sometimes poetry was the only way I could express myself, as if my feelings were locked way down deep in some place that only the gossamer thread of poetry could reveal.
After about a year of poetry writing, I decided that a book of poetry would be my first book about my story. I curated a selection of poems that I felt expressed the heart of my story and that I hoped would resonate with others and encourage them on their journey to freedom. Now that book is published, and I am once again pondering what stories to tell next.
Telling a person’s story, any person’s story, is more than one book. It could easily be a library’s worth of books for each person to publish the stories of their life. People are fascinating, complicated and complex creatures. The stories we each have to tell are compelling, playful, powerful, heartbreaking, extraordinary and beautiful.
What stories do you want to share? What stories echo within your soul waiting, aching to be told?