Sunday, 8 April 2018

When dreams come true

I hike up the hill, breathless and soaking wet. The rain is pounding down mercilessly, but it suits my current mood: I'm desperate. My tears mix with the rain, both rolling down my cheeks unchecked. I don't bother wiping my soaking-wet face, choosing instead to howl with the wind. 
"What am I supposed to do now?" I scream into the storm, startling my dog Roxy who is scampering along next to me, undisturbed by the rain and wind.

I fucked up, big time. And I got busted. Over the last several weeks, I've skipped school more often than I attended it, opting to hang out with the coolest kid from school instead. I'm fed up with it all. I'm 18, scared of the future, unable to figure out what I want to do after graduation, and I've had enough of being the good girl. I've been the good girl all my life, and where has it left me? Feeling afraid, insecure and completely clueless. So I checked out for a while, hanging out at the lake, the pub, or simply driving around with Frank, the other rebel. 
But one of my teachers ran to my parents and told them all about it, and they are majorly pissed. And even worse: disappointed. Is there anything worse for a people-pleaser than disappointing her parents? I don't think so.
So here I am, walking around in the rain, desperately searching for a solution to make it all good again. I thought I was a rebel, but I'm not cut out for it: all I want is for my parents to like me again. 
Briefly, I think of the vague goal I had in mind: studying German language and literature. But I don't really know what that means, and besides, what kind of job could I get with it? We are in crisis mode here, and I need to offer my parents something tangible; something they can understand.
Inexplicably to me now, I decide to head into the forest. The good news? My parents like that idea (a lot), and our strained relationship recovers. 
The bad news? I hate it. Luckily, thanks to a series of unfortunate (which will turn out to be fortunate) events, I end up in Canada, having dropped out of college and leaving Forestry far behind me. 

My love life is back on track, but my professional life is in tatters. I only know one thing - outdoorsy work is not for me - but I don't know at all what is for me. Again, I go for long walks with the dogs, trying to figure out what to do. 

When I walk, what frequently crosses my mind is this: "I wish I could write a book about our story one day. It's such a good one. It's positive, and hopeful, and magical! It proves that love is real, and that crazy things can happen to ordinary people! Too bad nobody will ever know about it."

In the end, after several (!) more hits and misses (again, read this post), I settle on a satisfying career: being an x-ray technologist. It ticks all the boxes I thought are important: adequate income, health insurance, benefits, pension stuff. I'm really grateful for having found a career, (finally! I'm 30, after all!) I can see myself working in for the rest of my working life. 

And yet. 

On my walks with the dogs, the voice in my head keeps nagging at me. 
"Is that really what you want to do for the rest of your life? What about your dreams? What about your ambitions? Are you really giving up that easily?"

Dog walks are my meditation time. I usually listen to an audio book, but frequently, I notice that I missed big chunks of the story because I was too wrapped up in my own thoughts. 
And what my thoughts always lead up to is this: I want to write. 
I've wanted to write since the first time I picked up a book and managed to read the entire thing for myself. I love books more than I love most things in life. 
But from the very beginning, the message I've heard all around me is this: writing is a hobby. Writing is frivolous. Nobody ever makes a living of being a writer. And to top it all off, it's freaking hard! I've tried to keep a journal, and I always give up after a while. Writing sucks! I'm better off without it!

All my life, I've tried to run away from it. Who needs a hobby that will make you cry, sweat and curse, and if you're lucky enough to get published, you will be ridiculed by other people? Not me, thank.you.very.much.

And yet. 

Those damn dog walks. 
They tell me, day after day, week after week, month after month, what I deep down know to be true: I'm a story teller. And if I don't tell my story, it will suffocate me. 

But I resist. "I'm not a writer!" I tell my inner voice. "I have no education! English is my second language! I have no business writing anything, let alone a book!"

On and on we go, year after year. 
But the story won't leave me alone. The happier Rich and I get, the more THE STORY wants to come out. She is a real THING, something I see coming from a mile away. Barely a walk goes by where I don't play the words of THE STORY out in my head, forming a story line, deciding what I would and wouldn't include in it. 

Still, I can't do it. 
So I start blogging.
It's a completely irrational, uneducated decision. I hear about a blog one day, and start my own the next. It's not until years later that I find out that many people think about starting a blog for years, before they finally do it. It never even occurs to me to agonize about this decision, even though I agonize about everything else in my life. But blogging? I know deep down that this is right for me.  

Blogging helps me find myself. It makes me explore all my dark, deep secrets: my depression, my desire to be alone so often, my secret shame of not wanting to have kids
But most of all, it makes me see that we are way more alike than we think we are. I thought for so long that I'm alone in my fears, my weirdness, and my hopes, only to learn that this is not so!

Even better, every vulnerable post I publish, feeling nauseous with anxiety, is received with kindness and grace. People understand. They sympathize. The tell me: I feel that way, too!  
And still, I walk. 

I've been walking through it all. Since the time I made the decision to join the forest, throughout quitting the forest, moving to Canada, leaving Canada, getting married, moving back, mothering step-daughters, going back to school, embracing a new career, deceiving myself about who I really am, breaking down and re-building myself - I've walked through it all. 

Walking is my meditation. 

And one dream has accompanied me throughout all of this: the dream of telling my story. 

I'm terrified. What if I suck? What if people judge me? What if my family will get mad at me? What if I can't do it? What if I'll fail? What if I'm just not good enough?
I'm not special. 
I'm not interesting. 
I'm not good enough. 
I listened to those voices for years. Decades. They ruled my life. 

But then I start to read about other writer's experiences. And I learn the most astonishing truth: they all feel the same way! Even the most successful ones! At first, it seems unbelievable. But then, it dawns on me: we all start out the way I did: with a strong desire deep inside us to share our story. Nobody knows us yet, and we all think we are too flawed, too ordinary, too boring to be worthy of being heard. 

But here is the thing: all of us are worthy of being heard. We all have a unique, interesting story to tell.

What separates the ones from telling their story from the ones not telling it, is not how interesting their story is; it's how brave the story teller is. 

And all I've ever wanted to be is brave. 

I've been so immensely lucky in life, that now I want to be brave: brave enough to share all my weak, shameful, not-so-glamorous-moments with you. 


It's a dream come true. It's messier than I imagined; but it's also more real. 
It's scary, exhilarating, and it makes me want to crap my pants. 
It's just right. 



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6 comments

  1. Congratulations!!! That is such an amazing accomplishment!!!

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    1. Thank you so much Kaity! I'm thrilled!

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  2. Writers write because we have to. I've heard it over and over again, and it's so true. If we don't we burst! Congrats on turning your passion into a living breathing book despite all doubts. It's truly amazing. And it's funny because I don't tend to think blogging is the biggest deal until I tell people and they say they don't think they would ever, could ever do it. They're scared, but we are not.

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    1. Beautifully put Cece! And you're SO right. Blogging has always felt easy and fun, and like no big deal at all. I credit blogging with a lot, and finding the stamina and courage to write this book is one of them! I hope you'll find a way to publish your novel, I'd love to read it!

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  3. So excited for you Miriam, such an achievement! You deserve this so much, can't wait to read your life story. Thank you for your friendship and support these last ten months it's meant more than you'll ever know, I was meant to find your blog that day 💖

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    1. Thank you Letitia! I'm so happy that you found me, and I wish for you and David to find your own happy ending as well!💖

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