A few weeks ago, I shared on Facebook that there were some reasons why "Belinda the Author" was absent for a lot of 2015. Sure, I was around, but I only released one book, and it wasn't the story everyone was chomping at the bit for. I received a lot of messages and comments asking where the next Mystic Wolves was--why readers were having to impatiently wait.
If you were one who asked, I'm sorry if I didn't answer you straight away. I wasn't being rude or disrespectful. I wasn't game playing or being evasive. I promise.
Each time the question was asked, my heart hurt because there was nothing more I wanted to do than sit down at my laptop and write like a fiend. I took a TON of notes in 2015, for many different stories, but it was Bittersweet Melody that was released--a story more for me than anyone else.
Because I was DROWNING in grief and guilt. Just like my character, Cooper Hensley, I wasn't able to see clearly because I'd lost something extremely precious to me.
I'd lost hope.
I'd lost probably the most significant wish/desire I've EVER held.
I had to shut myself down to survive.
But wait! You saw me posting on Facebook a lot . . . fandom things, daily life stuff, funny videos etc. If I could do that, why wasn't I sitting at my laptop and giving you all what you wanted?
Because I SERIOUSLY didn't have the heart space. I took a step back from pain, confusion, self-doubt, and life-changing decisions. I stopped completely and allowed myself the ONE thing I needed desperately.
Sounds ominous, right? To some, the reasons why don't matter. Life throws shitty curve balls at everyone and there are others who've been able to push through their challenges and not fall apart.
This is where I would've said sorry and apologized profusely for disappointing people.
But I'm not and I won't. I NEEDED that time and I'm stronger for it. Did I intend to take so long? No. I'm still shocked at how fast the time flew. Sometimes it feels like I blinked and suddenly it was 2016. The world kept turning. Funny how that happens.
So while I won't go into details, because as a wonderful reader shared, our personal lives are that--personal and private. Being an author, and having my name out there, doesn't obligate me to share anything. It doesn't give people free access to me. It doesn't mean I have to justify my actions at all.
But I see you all as friends . . . fellow travelers in this journey we call life. So I'll share what I can. Bare with me, because while I've done a lot of healing, I still get a lump in my throat and tears surface. I'm pretty sure it'll be this way for the rest of my life.
Having said that, however, life does go on and happiness is mine. I've fought hard for everything I have--every step in the right direction--each wonderful blessing.
I lost who I was.
Five words but damn, the darkness felt REAL.
First, I walked away from a church and belief system that eventually did more damage than good. There's no words to describe how shocking it is to see how twisted thinking can become when you attach yourself to something that no longer serves you. Those moments when you hear your self-talk and shout out, "WAIT, WHAT? That's NOT what I believe!" Last year I got an up close and personal look at just how miserable I was because I was trying to be something/someone I wasn't. Guilt. Manipulation. The constant fear of hell. Every decision becoming one of dire consequences.
Seriously . . . how is someone supposed to be HAPPY and find peace when you're ALWAYS at war with yourself? When you sacrifice all the pieces that make you unique and YOU because you fear God will turn his back if you're not perfect? When you realize that the way you govern yourself is actually hurting you?
I'm still trying to figure this all out but yeah, talk about a complete belief system overhaul. Talk about guilt for being so blind. Talk about anger over feeling like a fool. Talk about the incredible sense of loss when you wonder . . . how the hell do I fix this?
This was enough to keep me occupied but it was the lesser of the two things that threatened to cripple me. Wait . . . if we're being honest here, it DID cripple me. Hello, I stopped doing something I LOVED because anything that required me to feel was TOO much.
Let me say this next word . . . carefully . . . respectfully.
Let me say another word.
And another two.
For those who've also experienced the life-changing blow of NEVER being able to carry a baby to term, my heart is with you. I love you. You are NOT alone. You are NOT crazy for mourning something you didn't get. You are NOT to blame. You are still YOU.
Let me say that again . . .
YOU ARE STILL YOU.
It took me all of last year to realize that. I can't tell you how desperate and dark things got. How embarrassed I felt because I couldn't "get it together". I felt like an epic failure because despite all the well-intented comments, I HURT SO BAD. I felt like I was left there standing with my shattered heart and soul in my hand, wondering, "Why am I being punished?" Then came the, "If I'd just waited longer, maybe I would've got one of those miracles people talk about."
Maybe if I believed hard enough.
Maybe if I hadn't wasted time.
Maybe if I was better.
Maybe if I hadn't let my fear and past abuse trauma affect me.
Maybe if I was someone else.
Maybe if I was perfect.
Maybe. Maybe. Maybe. Maybe. Maybe.
All while I felt expected to smile and be happy.
All while I was DYING inside.
I bit my tongue a lot. I cried privately a lot. I bargained with God a lot. And then, I simply stopped caring. I had to so I could survive. I shut it all down because in the past, again because I'm being honest, I knew where this pain could lead me.
Self-injury. Numerous suicide attempts. Hospital stays. Medications. The endless screaming inside me over just how UNFAIR this all was. I knew if I kept feeling, my grief would swallow me whole.
I no longer had a 'organized' religious belief system and I no longer felt like a woman. It took some time to figure out that I was still Belinda Boring . . . even though I stopped feeling like a woman. Infertility is MUCH MORE than the ability to not have children. It's not something you easily "get over" and dismiss. At least for me, it attacked me at my very core. I felt I had failed my husband and parents. I felt I had failed life. When you lose the thing you have spent over half your life dreaming and doing everything within your power to accomplish, it leaves scars. All the agonizing pain from endometriosis, PCOS, medical tests, negative pregnancy tests, medications, and the heartbreaking realizations that, for that month, there was no baby . . . I endured it all with the one hope of a miracle.
To get pregnant and miscarry.
To hold photos in your hand of just how much damage there was.
To be told there was basically NO chance of EVER carrying a baby to term.
To know that by having a hysterectomy, you'd be able to have a life again, but that it also meant you lost your greatest wish.
To feel utterly broken.
BUT in the midst of all that, despite it all, I found the strength to dream again. I know that I'm far from damaged goods. I am still me and still 100% lovable. I learned that in order to heal, I HAD TO be gentler with myself.
I emerged empowered. Tender, but hopeful.
So there you have it. My 2015 in a nutshell. What does that mean now?
It means that life is better. I feel like a bear coming out of hibernation, trying not to worry that taking a break has negatively impacted my career. First and foremost, we are people--not the titles we hold. As overwhelming as it feels sometimes, it's about taking each step forward, grateful for the chance to keep doing what I love.
Please be patient with me . . . or should I say keep being patient while I get back into my routine. Thank you for not giving up on me or walking away. 2015 definitely was a tough year but knowing I still have the love and support of others helps A LOT.
Most of all . . . thank you to everyone who helped me laugh and smile last year--those who unknowingly made that moment easier for me to breathe. You really do make a difference. We don't always know what's happening privately behind closed doors.
So here's to a better 2016. I'm currently working on Bittersweet Symphony, sequel to Bittersweet Melody, because it's still the song in my heart that NEEDS to be shared. Once that's finished . . . it's full steam ahead with Blood Oath. I promise . . . it will be worth the wait.
It always is.
Much love and peace to you all,