I’ve given myself a word this year.
The word is BRAVE. I have used it lot these past few weeks.
Why do I need a word?
Because I do. That’s the sum of it. I don’t need to explain it or justify why I feel this need, but I thought I’d tell you about it anyway – in case you need to find a word too.
Every time I feel afraid – which isn’t is frequent as it used to be – the word BRAVE keeps jumping feet first into my thoughts. It nudges me a little when I’m about to bottle it and continue to procrastinate by doing things that are not essential. I have a tendency to be busy but not productive when I get the wobbles. I’m trying to ignore those wobbles now.
I’m at the last stages of self-publishing my book – It’s Not about the Food.
It’s the story of how my daughter’s eating disorder affected our family but mostly, how it affected me. Most people are under the impression that eating disorders are only about food – I was too. I knew it was a control issue but I had no idea of the complexity.
It’s not about the food. It’s a mental health issue.
I’ve been working on this book for over two years now. I can write other things much faster but writing this book hurt. Really hurt. It dredged up all the memories of that time, of how I thought I would lose my beautiful daughter, of how I was terrified to go to sleep and afraid to wake up in the morning. It went on for months. We were lucky. Some people have to go on like this for years.
We were lucky. We got help fast – from day 1. But it was tough, wondering what to do and what to say. I had to be brave – as did my daughter. I’ll never forget how brave she was to fight, and keep fighting, to get herself well. I’ll never forget the wonderful doctors and medical staff that helped her in her recovery. I’ll never forget how bad it was at times and I’ll never forget how hard it was to get through it – and out the other side.
Self-publishing is a huge learning curve.
You have to write, edit, find a proofreader, an editor, a cover designer. Then you have to go through the hoops of whether to buy your own ISBNs, publish a print copy or stick to kindle, go with other distributors or pay someone to do the whole shebang. That’s without considering how you will market your book and let people know about it. I’ve had some great advice and support and without that help I don’t think I would have published it at all.
Last year I took some baby steps. I put together a small collection of my short stories that have been published over the years. If Helen Baggott hadn’t held my hand throughout it all I would still be at the crawling stage; my knees would be red raw by now.
Asking for help is about being brave too – it’s about admitting you don’t know, and that’s hard. We encourage children to try to do things for themselves – and quite rightly so. We cheer when they take their first unaided steps, we applaud when they use the potty, we reassure them and coach them to tie their shoelaces, button their coats and write their name.
And then they go to school and they ask questions. If they are lucky they get teachers who are kind and inspiring, who encourage them to ask more questions, show them how to solve problems and support them as they learn. A guiding hand that helps those little fledglings fly. Heaven forbid that they get a teacher who is dismissive, who says “You should know how to do that by now,” or “Don’t you know THAT!”. How embarrassing to be ridiculed, to hear your classmates giggle as your cheeks burn, until one day, you don’t put your hand up to ask anymore – because you are afraid.
If we don’t feel safe and secure how can we learn? How can we be brave?
We all need our cheerleaders.
My parents were my greatest advocates and I’ve gathered others along the way. My writing mentor Margaret Graham and my self-publishing mentor Helen Baggott. Friends and cheerleaders both. When I am not feeling confident they lift me up and help me remember that I CAN DO THIS.
You may not struggle as I do. You might think ‘Wimp’.
There are worst things to be scared of – I’ve lived through some of them – but I don’t mind admitting to being afraid if it might help someone else. The scale of scariness is only measurable by ourselves and how we feel. The same as eating disorders are not measurable by how ill someone is in relation to how thin they are.
I have been brave many other times in my life for all kinds of reasons, and I will keep on being brave. But for now I need to have my word BRAVE because I might falter – and I really don’t want to. Not now.
Get yourself a word to help you have a great 2017 . And if you feel so inclined then please let me know what it is. I might need it for 2018.