In 2013, I lost everything I’d built my life upon. My marriage. My previous identity. Money. I was heartbroken and dealing with postpartum depression. I was struggling with motherhood, and the challenges of this new life.
But unbeknownst to me at the time, I found my identity and strength and friends and love and I began a relationship with my newborn daughter. Everything was gone but I had the opportunity to replenish my life with things and people most important to me as a newly untethered individual.
I remember telling O that I had one year to really make a change. That for a year I would be at home as a new mother and I would have no money and that that would be the year I would double down on dreams. Everything’s gone to shit, I told him. I have nothing else left to lose. I have to do only the things I love to do and see where they lead me.
I felt helpless and so I did the one thing that did not make me feel helpless. I doubled down on writing.
In 2013, I wrote the essay that was a turning point in my career, MINT and it was published in The Rumpus by Roxane Gay. It was not as widely read as some of my future work, but this was the publication that changed my life.
That essay led to an opportunity to write something for BuzzFeed in 2014. I wrote an essay about my stroke and recovery. The essay went viral and led to a 2-book deal with Ecco.
All I did in 2015 was write my memoir. I wrote and wrote and wrote.
Two months ago, I turned in my memoir manuscript. Yesterday, I finished copy edits.
In 2017, on February 14, TELL ME EVERYTHING YOU DON’T REMEMBER will be published and out in the world.
I did not do this alone.
2013 was an enormous fall. Here is a picture of me in 2013, sliding down the Codornices park concrete slide. On that day, I decided that as miserable as I felt, I would seek a minute of pure joy, somehow. My thinking was that I could hold on to those few seconds and say, “Today I felt good, even if for ten seconds.”
(Also, falling can feel good–as evidenced by the slide).
That is how I clawed my way back. I would hold on to the small parts of good. Even if the good was just one percent of my day. I would make that one percent, larger, somehow. I would hold on to any part of happiness, even if fleeting.
I would focus on happiness. I would be aware of misery and I would try to deal with the bills and legal paperwork one by one. My worries were many–at one point I wondered how it was that I would pay for diapers. I would not ignore these concerns. But I would look at a sliver of happiness while dealing with the unpleasant.
And eventually, the happiness would dominate.
And yes, it has.