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Thursday, May 4, 2017

Overcoming Is Not What I Thought It Was

When I set out to write Starving Girl, I wondered what made the difference between always wanting to share my story to finally being able to do it. 

Yes, I was fasting 16-18 hours everyday, which granted me incredible clarity of mind and personal insight I’d never experienced, but there was something more.  For 30 days, I literally wrote like my life depended on it.  When I had help with my baby Canyon, I might write for 8 hours a day.  Not only did the exercise of writing help me cope, even lift me out of the hunger, but it seemed one of the purposes for which I was inspired to fast in the first place.

Hanging out with my beautiful sisters and Mom on Easter.

When Starving Girl was nearly finished, I set out to write the back jacket hook.  

This would be a very condensed description of what the book was about.  I thought about it for days.  What had I accomplished? How was my story relatable to others? 

In the past, I’d attempted to write snippets of my life here and there, but had fallen short of finding my true authentic voice.  I was still trying to hide behind shame, hurt and misunderstanding. I had a goal – to help others who’d been sexually abused find their voice again, find their worth.  Was my story one of tragedy?  Sorrow?  Injustice?  It once was.  That’s when I realized the difference.

Through fasting, through writing, through prayer and having an intense desire to help others, my story was no longer hopeless.  No more did I see myself as someone with little to no worth.  My story had changed from one of being a victim to one of overcoming.

But, overcoming was not what I thought it would be.

Date night with hubby.

Overcoming is not a goal in the end zone.  It’s not applause on the stage.  It’s not a moment in time where things go from tragic to magical.  For me, overcoming came when I finally had the courage to take my truth, the good, the bad and the ugly and reach out to help others.  My story serves as a witness that I understand, that I’ve been there, that what you are feeling I’ve felt. 

In other words, I started to see the strength in what I’d been through. When I felt (and still feel) defeated, I find strength in other's journeys of overcoming.

In writing Starving Girl, I’m hoping others will see a piece of themselves and open up to the truth that sexual abuse, low self-esteem, negative body image, emotional eating and being overwhelmed in a world that is constantly sending us so many distorted messages -  does not need destroy us.  We can overcome.

For me, overcoming was facing my truth. It was staring at it in the mirror.  I could only do this through writing.  I finally had to take time and listen to myself. Overcoming was not only being sympathetic to others, but to myself. I think everyone's journey to overcoming is different, but it leads to the same path - a desire to help others. 

This is what I love so much about the stories in What Has Your Sister Done.  There is a freedom in writing your truth. 

Overcoming is like a tidal wave.  Some days it’s fierce.  Some days I’m a force to be reckoned with. Some days, overcoming is like a ripple.  Small, it might reach one or two in my circle and I may not even know it.  Overcoming is pulling at something deep and bringing it to the surface.  Overcoming is standing as a witness not just for others, but for yourself.  It’s staring at murky water and instead of seeing muck, noticing your own beautiful reflection staring back at you.  Even muddy water has to reflect the sky.

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