My life as a writer is not unique, but the joy it’s brought is unique to me. Fact is, I have recently come into my stride as a troubadour. This is not to say I discount the material produced before this epiphany-of-soul, but rather an admission that the happiness I now cherish creates literature free of fear, drama, and chemical dependence. There is a poisonous, long-standing myth that to write effectively, you must do so from a place of desperation. That is a lie. Desperation is a part of life and thus deserves a spot in your panoramic worldview, but in my tenure as word spinner, misery only begets misery, and misery gets old quick.
I adore my first three books. My struggles, ever-evolving philosophy, and triumphs are legitimately, honestly captured within those pages. Yet, during that decade of publication I was haunted by self-destructive habits, self-centered list of priorities, and toxic relationships. There were wonderful things that happened during this time, but they were often dotted with pockmarks of my bad decisions. Alcoholism from my early twenties reared its head once in a while. A new addiction to my prescription medication did me no favors. My low self-esteem and undiagnosed autism often made me incapable of gauging a tragic romance or friendship ahead of time, and/or feeling unworthy of anything better.
All of this is evident in my work. I am a zealot for telling the truth during victory and defeat. I do not point out a mental health condition or person as the culprit in my tumultuous last few years. That blame is justifiably on me. Instead of finding a remedy for my constant unrest, I threw my efforts into building the Southern Collective Experience LLC. I do not regret one ounce of energy, time, or emotion I feel God put me here to create. In its organization I ran across an army of men and women who taught me who I did not want in the company, those who I do, and provided a highly effective crash course in organizational leadership. I hold no grudges. I believe that revenge poisons everything it touches.
In August of 2018 my prescription pill addiction, binge drinking, unaddressed past trauma, undiagnosed autism, an inability to forge a healthy romantic relationship, and a crippled spirit culminated in a grand mal seizure of my sense of self. For this first time since I was twenty-two, the bad far outweighed the good. I hadn’t written a word of consequence in over a year. Many friends, by necessity, removed themselves from my erratic behavior. I raged on anyone I perceived as the enemy. In a moment of legal and divine clarity, I realized the only villain in this story was me.
I began my rebirth by finding a church that spoke to me. One unexpected blessing from that church is a priest who sits with me two times a month to talk about God, forgiveness, and jazz music. I went back to my Alcoholic’s Anonymous family that never stands in judgement. I found a therapist I met fifteen years ago, and this time focused on my sore spots instead of glazing over them with a quip or half-hearted, “I’ll be fine.” In the face of withdrawals so painful I couldn’t sleep, I began to exercise, eat healthy, and write. The writing was a hobble at first, but as my mind cleared, it grew to a steady jog.
I put God first. I do not preach. I do not stand in judgement. I let resentments go and regrets free to the past. I am sober. I have created a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly schedule that, coupled with a balanced lifestyle, has made me a happy, efficient, and productive poet. I recharge in my hours spent landscaping. I flex my nerd muscles as the church librarian. I spend rejuvenating time with my parents. I’ve reconnected with my friends. I have a woman in my life who is the beat of my heart and former Marine. (Ergo: A source of happiness with the knowledge needed to hide my body in the event of foolishness.)
Life is good. I get up early and burn off my anxiety in productive ways instead of masking them with chemicals and/or uncaring folks. I do not have the answers for anything yet, but I am devoted to figuring it out. I urge anyone who reads this who knows the suffering I’ve endured to nip it in the bud. It doesn’t get better on its own. It sucks for a while, but nothing sucks worse than regret you can’t shake off. Please let me know your stories if you have time. I’d be honored to hear about your stories to add to my life as a writer.