I had no reason to start writing. I just did. When I began, I did it for me. For my sanity. Because there was too much to process and understand and figure out and unpack.
It had to come out. And it did, thousands and thousands of words, recounting every detail of the day I had just lived through. And then it would all come out again, the next night, as I retreated to my deck after tucking my kids in and allowed the events to transition from this intangible space where it was, to a very reachable place – on paper – in words.
It’s like I needed to see the truth. I already knew it, because I live it every day, but it was somehow comforting to see it, too. It was my back-up. For me.
And at some point it became something that needed to go beyond me. It just did, on its own. So I began publishing. That first time I hit the “publish” button, too, was monumental. It hit me in the stomach.
And all that writing, all that analysis, all that reflection, really did do some good. I know, because I heard. Counselors asked if the writing could be used in support groups for abused women – for sure. A victim’s advocate asked me to speak, to share my experience, so others could learn – specifically police officers responding to calls. Yes, absolutely.
And then I’d get messages. From friends, because I had to lock down my social media so my ex doesn’t harass people I know (although he still does). But those friends would ask for advice, knowing that speaking with me was a safe place.
About their interactions with their partner. About interactions they’ve witnessed with their kids or other family members. About friends trying to intervene and let them know that they deserve none of what they’re living through.
So, I’m glad I was there for them, just to give perspective. And I still speak up when I hear of people surviving or even figuring out how to manage abusive or toxic relationships. Because there were so many people who did the same for me.
But in the end, it’s not why I write. I can’t choose that. I just do. I have to. And to challenge myself, with this skill and with a certain emotional and analytical depth, I chose to begin writing and publishing every day nearly six months ago.
And I have, with the exception of the few days we were without any signal whatsoever as we hiked our way through a bunch of national parks this summer. Despite that, I still found time and inspiration to write while we drove to our next adventure. I squeezed it in, not because I felt like I had to as part of my promise, but because I had to get the thoughts down.
I do, though, have those days where I wonder why. And if I should continue – and then I quickly remind myself that I only do this for me and the benefits it gives me. And if it helps someone else, or inspires them to travel, or gives someone promise of something better – than that’s a really incredible bonus to my own personal challenge.
And I’ve seen that bonus. I get messages all the time from friends and strangers who ask me to keep writing, who wonder about certain places we’ve been, who let me know that something I wrote hit home with them. What a cool cherry on top of something I already love doing.
I watched a documentary recently called Iron Cowboy, and it chronicled a man who was challenging himself to complete 50 Ironmans in 50 days in 50 states. And his overarching message, after watching him fall asleep on the bike and take IV fluids to keep going, resonated.
Find all the excuses you use. And then stop using them.
Right? It was so powerful it made me frustrated that I had just spent about an hour watching the documentary because I felt so inspired that I felt guilty about not getting anything done while watching the thing that inspired me.
Holy shit. That was big. But true!
Making promises to yourself is big. It’s big enough to continue with something, no matter what. No matter the excuse. If you promised it to yourself, do it. And if it helps someone else, total bonus.
Because, something that doesn’t get done can never have the opportunity to help someone else.