I feel like this is a confession. My name is Brandi. I’m a writer, and it’s been two months since I last published a blog post. It’s my longest gap since launching this site two years ago. Has it really been that long?
Lately, I’ve been reflecting on where I was in life two years ago. I was just starting to write again because of a burning desire inside I could no longer ignore. I was haunted by past heartache from which I’d never properly healed. I was depressed, anxious, restless and an insomniac. I was also exhausted from the “perfect” facade I’d been presenting that was finally crushing me.
Medication came first, then a year of therapy, then an additional medication. I did all this while writing and publishing two novels— my dream from my teenage years. I did three book signings, two for Caroline’s Lighthouse and a combo one for it and Jordan’s Sister.
I gave two presentations at libraries and one at the Boys and Girls Club in my town. I sold books, engaged with readers and (hopefully) inspired young and old writers.
Through Twitter and Facebook, I’ve connected with many fellow indie authors I now proudly consider my friends. Their support is extremely valuable, and I relish in my ability to offer solid editing advice when I can to help them improve their writing and editing skills.
I forced myself to draw and paint again—activities I had previously thought I could never do because of my error in associating them with someone from my past. I am sad to report that it still hurts me to draw and paint. I’ve only completed three projects, but I know I will find the courage to do more.
There was a day when I wanted to make something with my hands, so I built a small bookshelf out of leftover fence planks. We now have a chain-link fence, so they were not needed. I used only materials we already had on hand and designed everything myself. I had some help cutting the boards because I had to borrow a saw, and my husband helped me get enough torque with the drill to bury the wood screws, but it’s still mine.
An unexpected (although much needed) apology arrived at the perfect time during my heart-healing therapy journey. Right before I made the decision to end therapy because I had met all the goals I’d wished to tackle in my treatment plan.
I’ve devoured so many novels during the past few years that I have to review my Goodreads account to remember what year I finished reading each one. Of course, it doesn’t contain all of the novels I read prior to joining. I just don’t have time for that. Each one I opened became part of me somehow as I read through the words and became lost in the stories. I am already 16 books ahead of my goal for 2018—at just past the halfway point for the year.
I’ve stopped worrying about trying to be what I thought everyone expected me to be. I ditched the soccer-mom bob haircut and grew out my hair, which is now to my mid-back, almost as long as it’s ever been. I bought a pair of the Sketchers boots I adored as a teenager and started wearing them again because, damn it, I like them. I increased my concert/musician t-shirt collection because, damn it, I like them too. I colored my hair for the first time in 15 years.
I got my first (and probably only) tattoo at 37 years old. I stood my ground with the tattoo artist who thought it should point the other direction. I wanted it so that it looked correct to me. What it looks like to everyone else is not my concern. It’s not for everyone else; it’s for me because my story isn’t over yet. It’s a reminder that despite my momentary lapse in judgment many years ago, I didn’t make that choice. I lived in conscious hibernation until I was strong enough to step into the light to heal completely.
I’m working diligently on my next novel, What I Learned That Summer, and can’t wait to share it with anyone interested in Kincaid’s summer of life lessons. It will also publish under my own independent company, Luminesce Publishing. Soon, Caroline’s Lighthouse will republish there as well.
Maybe I had an early mid-life crisis two years ago, or maybe the parts of me I’d been hiding finally woke up. Whatever happened, the journey was worth it and worth the wait. I am better and stronger than I was two years ago. I am a better writer and editor than I was two years ago. I’m sure as hell happier than I was two years ago.
-Brandi Easterling Collins