I sat down at my computer 22 years ago and began compiling a book that would end up taking me years to write because I would pick it up and put it down due to some of the pain within it. I finally finished it last month and published it this week. Today the Kindle version is available the first orders of the paperback will arrive. It feels surreal. It feels like an achievement I’ve waited my whole life to feel. And it feels like something totally unexpected since I NEVER imagined this would be the story I sat down to begin writing.
The book is a poetic walk through my life with reflections providing the narrative if you would like the back story for the poems. Together, they weave this story of how a broken girl fell in love with a boy who led her back to the God she thought she knew and in the falling, she met herself and learned to love herself and God for the first time.
Here’s the first few pages in case you’d like a glimpse:
Yesterdays: A time we reflect upon, desire to return to, or regret.
Tomorrows: A time we long for, sometimes believing it contains the best of us.
For years, I lived in yesterdays and dreamt of tomorrows. I could remember tomorrow and the way it would look, feel, and smell better than I could remember the moment because I loathed the moments I was in for much of my life. By the time that wasn’t true anymore, I was so used to scripting tomorrow and building shrines to yesterday that I didn’t know the first thing about living in the moment.
Then, when I was 38 something crazy happened. Unexpectedly, I developed a friendship with someone who helped me see how important it was to cherish the space I was in at the exact time I was living in it. Sure, it was fun to dream of tomorrow; and we did. Sure, it was good to talk about the lessons learned from yesterday; which we also did. But the bulk of the time we were close, we lived in the moment. And I fell in love with living in the moment…and with him.
Yup. I’m that girl. I fell in love with someone despite the person not feeling the same way about me. In the process, I learned a lot about myself and how tainted my worldview and feelings about myself had become. I was leading youth and teaching them to love who they were while becoming who they were created to be; yet, I wouldn’t love myself because I was always striving to be someone else. I was living this so-called “Christian” life without really understanding the God I was serving. Listen, as a church body we throw many statements at people telling them that loving themselves is some type of sin and that once they understand who they are in God there will be some magic vortex that swallows them and magically life becomes perfect.
ALL CRAP! Every. Bit. Of. It.
I was doing all the things and I was living life the “right way” (or so I was told). I was honoring God with my mind, body, and soul and was serving wherever I was needed, whenever I was needed. As I did, I learned the promises, clung to them, and scripted tomorrow based upon the words written in the Bible. I’d signed up for this life without really understanding what I was doing. After all, I was 16 and pregnant when I started going to church so I was just happy to have people accept and love me where I was. By the time I met this friend, I was at a place in my life where I was questioning everything and asking God what the heck was going on. It was through that questioning and wondering that this friend helped me fall in love with myself and therefore fall in love with God.
You see, when we don’t love ourselves it is impossible to FULLY and truly love anyone else. When we don’t love ourselves and value what God created, we can’t possibly fully honor the God who created us and gave us this life. We instead look to others to validate us and affirm who we are. We look to others to fulfill some God-shaped hole we hear so much about but don’t understand until one day we wake up realizing we have done it all wrong. We fall in love with someone who becomes the mirror by which we should have seen ourselves all along but couldn’t because we were so caught up in trying to be some version of ourselves that was never meant to be. Or maybe I am the only one who did that and this story will mean nothing to you.
I fell in love with someone because he paid attention to me and spent time with me in a way that felt good and right and wholesome… all things we should all experience daily. I fell in love with someone because he told me I was beautiful, smart, and capable…things I was not used to hearing outside of scripture and church friends. I fell in love because my heart yearned to be in love with someone who loved me back in a pure and true and natural way. I fell in love.
And in the falling, I met myself.
And in meeting myself, I truly met God.
A man who doesn’t proclaim the same beliefs I do overall took my hand and led me back to the God I said I loved and served. And when I stood face to face with that God, I had no clue who He was. As such, I started rebuilding my faith. I went back to the beginning by starting counseling and neurofeedback to deal with life traumas and PTSD from years of abuse. Through the combination of therapy and daily prayer, I began to process some really intense feelings and address things in my life that were holding me back. It was through counseling that I realized I was in love. In a random conversation with my counselor, I shared some feelings I was having and how they were so new to me. Things like driving in my car and smiling wide while remembering a conversation we’d had or laughing days later at a joke we shared. How I truly wanted to see this man become everything he dreamed of becoming and how I was feeling better about who I was despite nothing changing in my life. These were things that I’d not experienced in more than a decade and I wasn’t really sure what was happening.
Have you ever been that broken? Broken to the point that you fall in love and don’t even realize you’re not still standing on your feet? That was where I was, and I wasn’t upset. I wasn’t scared or concerned so much as I was intrigued. Why him and why now? I enjoyed our friendship while I kept pressing into my past and writing the scripts for my future. Then one day there wasn’t a friendship anymore and I realized how I had allowed myself to fall for someone who was simply being a friend at a point in my life when I needed it. I share this ending at the beginning of this book because it is important to understand how I was able to take this walk back through my past and share my poetry with you. In the process of stopping myself from remembering tomorrow and what it is supposed to look like, how it should feel, and what it should entail, I had to address some really dark things that had happened to me and that I had done to others. I had to heal from myself and some pain I had allowed myself to undertake because of my lack of love for who I was.
To read the full chapter and book, please consider purchasing it from https://www.amazon.com/dp/1093672943.
I don’t want to do anyone dirty with teaser text since it is already awkward promoting my own book after years of promoting others and writing for others as a ghostwriter, so here is my favorite poem from the book.
As a child whenever I wanted something just out of reach, I’d stand on my tippy toes.
Arms held high, hands reaching out, letting out that little grunt sound that implied I needed help but didn’t want to ask for it.
I’d try to become taller and taller just to reach what I wanted.
Sometimes a toy that had been put away from me or a snack that someone had pushed too far back.
As I grew older, I stopped the grunting, realizing that if I really wanted something I had to get it on my own.
I’d wiggle and try to find some way to make my arms a bit longer,
as if wiggling would somehow activate Go-Go-Gadget-type springs to extend my reach.
I began to see how I could have the things I wanted if I just reached high enough or made myself tall enough.
Sometimes, I even had to climb on counters and get a little creative with my footing.
But I always got what I wanted.
Then I met you.
Standing on my tippy toes to look into your eyes made me feel smaller as I allowed inside thoughts to cloud my mind.
Putting on heeled boots so I could be closer to your height and be more eye level with you allowed me to see my own deficiencies and areas where I wanted to improve.
These aren’t bad things.
I became who I am today.
I learned that I didn’t need to stand on my tippy toes because all along you were there with a stool.
I learned that I didn’t need to get creative with my footing because you were there to help me reach the things I wanted.
When I was with you the stars were suddenly at my fingertips and the sun was hot against my skin.
The world was a playground of ideas and was without limitation because we could go as far as dreams allowed until it was time to execute.
And you never judged me for trying to take the whole world but instead helped me divide it into conquerable pieces.
Then I fell in love with you.
I’m not sure if it was the excitement of finding someone who matched my zeal or could spend hours talking about the things I was passionate about,
But somewhere in the reaching an arm came around me and picked me up to a place where I lost my footing and fell for you.
Somewhere in the laughter and the looks, my heart left my chest and while I possessed all I’d been reaching for,
I lost control of my fortress.
You’d made your way inside and my heart was allowing you to roam free.
I realized this along the way and froze,
the same way you did.
And then I lost you.
Flight or fight are the two things we choose from and it seems you chose flight.
Even if only for a moment, we both chose to run.
And in that running abandoned what could have been.
So now I sit staring up at the things I placed back on the shelf,
Keeping them just far enough out of reach that I get to stand on my tippy toes and hope you’ll appear again to help me reach what once was in my hands.
And the reflection from it to give you a sample of each section within the book except the epilogue. 🙂
This one made me cry a little rereading it tonight to add these backgrounds. I love this man. But we all have to admit when we know something has ended and, in a way, this was my way of admitting to myself that I knew though I would give the world for this man, he would never feel the same for me. And it wasn’t because I wasn’t enough; it was for reasons beyond my control and that I would never try to change. I had to accept that this was not going to be the way my life played out and that was okay—but I still had a little hope that maybe, just maybe, he’d wake up one day and realize how much better life was with me in it and decide it would be worth the risk to see what could happen if we jumped in and took a chance on one another.
This book was a labor of love. I am proud of myself for completing it. Today it launches and you all can choose to buy it for yourself, share it with someone, or move on. I value you reading this far and look forward to working on the next book and experiencing this process again as a second-time author of my own book. I hear it’s quite the challenge!
Really love what you’ve shared Shell Vera and the poem is beautiful. Thanks for sharing your heart. I think you are very brave.
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It’s my calling…bravery and honesty! 🙂
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