Sometimes the gifted don’t realize their gift, or they’ve forgotten it; at least that has been my case with writing. Words have been my escape for as long as I can remember, but I lost sight of that for a while during a time I also lost sight of myself. I found myself in finding my way back to my words. There are few resounding moments that come to mind when I think about what writing means to me.
My parents never got married and the tension and instability around that always weighed heavy on my heart. My dad was inconsistent and unreliable and was letting me down every chance he got. When I cried to my mom she would tell me to write a letter to my dad expressing to him my frustrations, whether I decided to send it or not. I don’t know if I ever actually sat down and wrote the letter, but the power that idea gave me was indescribable. I realized in that moment I could feel however I wanted to feel about my dad letting me down, and I could decide if I wanted to express that to him or not. I may not have ever actually wrote the letter, but even to this day there are many times in my mind that I dump these frustrations on this imaginary letter in my head and it makes me feel better. This letter in my mind will always be a safe place to dump my words that no one has to see.
In high school, I started losing sight of my passions as I started focusing on my future career and getting good grades. I took AP English and the spark came back when I wrote my first persuasive essay. It left again when I got called into HR over a Facebook post. What I now realize that I didn’t then is that my words held enough weight to push someone to do/say something about it. But at the time I couldn’t see how that could be a positive and lost sight of my power again and shut down my own voice.
It took years to find my way back to my words again. This time it happened slowly, over time. I couldn’t pinpoint a specific “lightbulb moment”, but I know the start was at my current place of employment; I’ve had multiple leaders who saw my light and gifts when I couldn’t. I realized how much weight I put into my words when it took me way too long to organize a business email because “I just couldn’t find the right words.”
The two most defining moments that made me realize and accept my gift were after I started seeking help for my mental health after my divorce. I had started therapy and after a few sessions I emailed my therapist and he complimented me on my writing the next session. I was in a really bad place and didn’t believe him so he explained how my writing stood out to him. That really sparked something. I started turning to my writing and sharing my story on Facebook. After a few posts my grandma called me to let me know she was really impressed with my writing and appreciated how I expressed big thoughts. This is when I really remembered. I remembered why writing meant so much to me and why writing those business emails seemed way harder than it needed to. I remembered the imaginary letter I had written my frustrations on throughout my life and vowed not to keep locking my words away in my mind.
In a little over 2 years, that vow has changed my life. I decided the story I was writing in my head was worth telling out loud, no matter how scared I was to tell it. I slowly but surely started sharing my story online and now I’m running a Facebook page for a nonprofit raising awareness around Mental Health (SuicideSucks.com) and starting a blog. In sharing my story many have reached out and shared theirs and helped remind me and others that we’re not alone in our darkness. My words can and do change lives, and I intend on sharing them.