I write a lot about my life and the experiences I’ve been through. I like to think that being honest and open about the hardship I endured could potentially help someone going through the same thing. I wasn’t always this open.
During my sophomore year of high school, my honors English teacher taught a section on poetry. Poetry wasn’t new to me. In fact, I already wrote hundreds of poems by the time this topic was introduced. I used poetry as the main form of therapy after my dad died. I found that poetry gave me a creative outlet where I could hide behind metaphors and literary devices. I could run on autopilot for hours writing those poems, which kept me from thinking about anything else that was wrong in my life. It distracted me… but at the same time it let me temporarily release all the rage, anger and depression I felt.
But this was all very private. I didn’t publish them on my livejournal or turn them in for assignments. Occasionally, I would share one with a very close friend. It was a way to communicate how I felt without having to open up too much.
So, when my teacher taught this segment, she made us put together a portfolio of all of our poems. It was a huge percentage of our grade. At this point, I wrote about artificial things – wanting to move to a city, my best friend, graduating high school… nothing too personal. Then she gave us an option – we could write two freestyle poems for extra points. I was in a crunch and didn’t have time to think of a topic. So I just wrote for two hours. By the end of the poem, I was sobbing.
I wrote a piece connecting dance to my dad’s funeral. It was the first thing I ever turned in that had to do with that subject directly. I was terrified. When we got the project back, I found a post-it note on my extra credit poem. It said, “Annie- You’re very talented and have endured a lot at a young age. I know that you only write for yourself… but if you publish, you can help others heal too.”
I still have that note. It took me a really long time to actually follow her advice. I was terrified of appearing weak and vulnerable. I was scared that my “funny girl” image would be distorted. It was much easier living in silence and denial. When I started this blog a few months ago, I was scared that people reading it would feel bad for me. I hate pity.
None of that happened. Instead, people started to relate to me. Friends of mine opened up about their past. Family members shared my posts because they thought I did a good job articulating how they felt. Readers sent me messages to thank me for helping them through their own tragedy… telling me that they didn’t know anyone else felt the way they did. People commented saying that they didn’t know there could be a light at the end of the tunnel until they read my story.
Seven years ago, I was in a really bad place. Every other night, I had a panic attack so bad that I was convinced I was dying. I didn’t see a way out. Today, I’m incredibly happy with life. At one point in my life, I simply didn’t think that was an option. Through being honest about my dark days, I hope others can see that it can get better.
Don’t be afraid to tell your story. Wear your scars with pride. There is nothing you can do to change the past. It happened. The only way I’m able to accept my past is to see it as a lesson for someone’s future. Let others learn from your mistakes and misfortune.