For many years, I let fear rule my life. I was afraid of failing, at everything, so I just didn’t try. I just existed. I pushed my hopes and dreams of being a writer and an editor to the back of my mind. Raising a family with six children, it was easy to let my dreams lie dormant. Moms are supposed to focus on their kids, right?
I had forgotten that I even wanted to be a writer. I let the thought of it slip away. Then the pain began. Debilitating, depression inducing, horrific pain. Then more fear. Fear of not being able to complete tasks, of judgement, of failing as a wife and mother. I basically gave up. The pain ruled my life. There was little to nothing in my life that inspired or excited me, beyond my kids and grandkids. I had let the dark cloud of chronic illness permeate every aspect of my being and my life. I was completely without hope.
Then, during a chat, a friend suggested journaling, to get my feelings out, thinking it might be therapeutic. At first I just sat staring at the blank pages, wondering what in the world to write. I hadn’t written anything in so long, I just couldn’t imagine where to start. Starting at the beginning, my childhood, I wrote the story as if telling it to a stranger. Then the ideas starting flowing! Out of nowhere, all of these characters, scenarios, and locations were coming to mind. So I decided to run with it. Turning the page, I started over, giving voice to the stories and characters in my head. And I just couldn’t stop! It was so freeing. My mind felt alive, on fire. I began to feel like I did before the health issues took over, like I had something interesting to say and finally knew how to say it. Starting with a family friend, who is a publisher, writer, and all around creative genius, I began letting people read what I was writing. It was nerve-wracking, waiting on constructive criticism. But feedback was good. Yes, I had some learning to do, some things to work on. But, according to people that I trusted to be honest, the ability was there. It would just take time to hone it. I just had to keep writing.
Fear of the pain and the unknown had paralyzed me. But the possibilities of the future, once I recognized and nurtured my gifts and talents, were immeasurable. Hiding in fear is no longer my first instinct. This has not been an overnight process. It’s been off and on again. Early on in this journey I had lost myself. I was behaving as if I were only my diagnosis, not myself at all anymore. Now my heart and mind are open to new things, new ideas, new experiences, and I see new things on the horizon.
The physical limitations have opened up a world of possibility for me. Through loss of some physical abilities, many other abilities have been realized. Just because my body doesn’t work how I want it to doesn’t mean that my mind will do the same. Keeping my mind active gives me hope. Hope for change, for growth! So, as odd as it sounds, I am thankful for my health issues. Because without them I wouldn’t have rediscovered my love for writing, my passion for editing, and my desire to create. My horizons have broadened since becoming chronically ill. We all have so much more available to us if we would only look inside ourselves and believe!
Your issue may not be chronic health problems. Your gift may not be writing. But this applies to so many of us in so many areas of our lives. We must not let fear rule our decisions. There are goals to be achieved, dreams to be followed, for all of us. How will we ever know if we don’t try? I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be lying on my deathbed, wondering what if!
My writing may never be popular, best-seller material. I may never make a living at it. Or maybe I will! Jumping in with both feet is the only way I’ll ever know. At least I can say I tried.
I’ve found that this industry, although there are exceptions, is filled with kind, encouraging, creative people. The level of support, the tons of advice, and the friendships I’ve formed since entering this world have been overwhelming. Along the way I also discovered that editing is something that I am quite good at and enjoy. Whether or not the writing takes off, I now have a fulfilling job. A job that allows me to work from home. IN MY PAJAMAS! How awesome is that? 😉
What I have are “chronic” conditions. They currently have no cure. No treatment or med will “fix” me. However, as long as I continue to fight, keep putting words to paper, chasing my dreams, and I do NOT give up…there is hope. Hope that I can achieve my goals. Hope that the four walls of my bedroom never again have to become the center of my world. Hope that I can be someone better than I was yesterday.
I allow myself the down days, the times I need to recover, rest, and just “be”. And the days where I can do more, I do. But I try to remain thankful for small accomplishments. Being able to do the dishes, cook a meal for my family, write a chapter or two. These things are all important. Things that most people take for granted mean the world to me. Living with chronic illness can give you a grateful heart. If you let it.
And you, whatever your dreams are, chase them. Chase them with all of your heart. Be a fighter! Whether that means fighting from behind a laptop, banging out words on the keyboard, running a marathon, going back to school, or being the most loving person you can be! Do it! Don’t let anyone or anything, especially your own self doubt, steal from you the life you were meant to live! Books are still magical and your life is not over when you receive a chronic illness diagnosis. I am proof of that.
Vikki lives in Northern Alabama with her hunky husband, the youngest of their six children, three dogs, and a cat who thinks she’s a dog. She’s recently started writing again, after setting it aside to raise and homeschool her kids. She’s been editing for several years now, with rave reviews from clients, and is thrilled to be able to work from home at a job that she adores. When not curled up in the recliner with the laptop and her ShihTzu, Rebel, you’ll find her camping in the woods, drifting on the four wheeler, slinging mud.