Well folks, I haven’t finished The Gentleman’s Guide yet. Aside from a few little fun things, I’m not actively writing. So this ‘diary entry’ is going to be more personal in nature. If that’s not your thing, I’ll catch you on Wednesday for some writing inspiration. If it is, then here, take my hand. Walk with me. I promise, I’ll make it worth your while.
I always breathe a little sigh of relief when the calendar rolls over to October. September is an emotional roller coaster for me. It’s the month my younger sister was born, and the month of both my parent’s and the same younger sister’s wedding anniversaries. It’s the month in which I lost my father. I also have mild seasonal depression, and fall always brings that along with it, unfortunately.
Yesterday was my sister’s first wedding anniversary and I can remember exactly how I felt on that day last year. I was at the awkward stage in weight loss where nothing fits right, but I didn’t really have the confidence to buy new clothes yet. My mind was still stuck at the crossroads of living in the past and wanting to jump into the future. I was more depressed than I ever let on, although I know the people who love me probably saw it. Some days were a struggle and regretfully, my sister’s wedding was one of them. I wanted so much to live in the moment and be happy. And I did enjoy it. I love her, I love my family, and I love my new sister and her family as well, very much. I’m happy I got to be there and be a part of one of the biggest weddings in our family’s history.
But…it wasn’t all roses. In spite of 3 rounds of alterations, my dress still didn’t fit right. In spite of practicing several times at home, bustling my sister’s train was one of the most nerve-wracking few moments of my life. In spite of writing what I believe was a lovely Maid of Honor speech, I could barely get the words out, so nervous I was shaking. Overall, the wedding went off wonderfully, no doubt about it. But I was far from well at the time.
After it was done, a year ago today, I expected to feel a weight lift from my shoulders. I expected all of my problems and mental woes to ease. But the fog remained. There were moments of happiness, sure. Alter Bridge put out their new album and announced a tour. Christmas was coming. But there were also moments of pure darkness. I stopped reading. I wasn’t writing much at all. All I did was work, work out and sleep. I got to the point where I was completely obsessed with my weight and working out. I thought somehow, if I got back down to my high school weight, I could undo all of the damage I’d suffered since then.
Well friends, the first of the year 2017 rolled around and I finally reached my goal weight…and the fog remained. Sure, I was proud that I achieved my goal…but I also knew what it’d cost me. I knew more of my weight loss could be attributed to stress, anxiety and obsession than actual healthy, hard work. I was obsessed with calorie-counting, obsessed with running, obsessed with seeing the number on the scale go down. To say I was dismayed when reaching my goal didn’t solve all my problems is an understatement.
And now I believe I understand why. You see, until about a month or so ago, I was still stuck in this idea that, if I could go back to the age 15 or 16 and fix everything, I would. I had it all planned out, the decisions I’d reverse, the things I’d do differently.
Thankfully, I can tell you that sitting here today, I wouldn’t change a single thing. I wouldn’t take anything back, as painful as it proved to be. Because without my past, I wouldn’t be who I am now. And I happen to love who I am right now, in this moment. I love my body, I love my heart, I love my soul, I love my face, my hair, my smile, my sense of humor. I love all of me. Even the shit that gets on my nerves (I’m mean when I’m hangry/tired, I zone out looking at Facebook/Instagram for hours when I could be doing more constructive things, I forget things people tell me sometimes minutes after they tell me, I repeat myself without meaning to, etc).
The turning point was realizing that, without my distinctive past, I wouldn’t be this person, I wouldn’t have my book.
My book. That’s where this all leads back to. Speaking of which…
Would you like to meet Character A? Because without him, I never would’ve found acceptance. Watching him grow and change in my mind as my book played out helped me process my own demons and finally heal.
His name is James Morgan. Like me, he’s 28 years old. Unlike me, he’s a musician. He has short brown hair and some of the prettiest green eyes I can imagine. He’s exactly like me. He loves to read. When he’s nervous, his hands shake. He’s nothing like me. He’s an omnivore. He forgets his cellphone regularly, to the dismay of his friends. He’s a little like me. He’s an ISFJ on the Myers-Briggs scale. He’s a little different than me. He’s a Cancer, born June 22. He’s homosexual.
And when he finally stood up for himself, when he finally looked around and realized that without the past, he wouldn’t have all he has at the end of the book, it brought me to the same realizations. He’s beautiful and imperfect and I love him dearly because he helped me see the beauty and strength in myself. I couldn’t create someone like him if I wasn’t a little bit him myself. He helped me accept what was because he finally accepted what was. In the words of my good friend Adrien English, “a scarred hide [is] a small price to pay for being alive…” (Josh Lanyon, The Dark Tide). James showed me exactly what that means.
So there you go. Since the genre-reveal, I haven’t shared any other details about my book. Now you know a little bit about our hero. And I can’t wait for you to meet him in earnest.