2016 has been the hardest year of my life so far, much worse than when my husband died. It has been a great unraveling of literally everything and my self-confidence has taken a beating. As a result, I have been fighting to find solid ground.
When I'm in this state of stress, I can't create. I find that all of my creative energy goes into problem solving mode rather than novel-writing. I talk out options to the people closest to me, attempt a change of course and try something new if that plan didn't work, always in an attempt to save myself from ruin.
I'm a huge podcast fan. The other day I heard someone use the term "YAK"--you already know. As in, you already know the answer about what's best for you so don't seek outside opinions, don't waffle, don't allow others to undermine your confidence when you need it the most.
Hmm...that makes a lot of sense to me, yet I find the basics of that hard to follow. I have a bad habit of confiding in the wrong people at the wrong times.
I need to remind myself to go within to my inner guidance and do what I know is best. I alone know what I'm going through. I alone have been on the floor clawing at my flesh and sobbing for the Lord to just take me away, to end the pain. I alone know the numbers in my bank account and how they compare to the bills owed. I alone make the decisions regarding my home, my businesses, my kids' college expenses, my pets, my life--which means I alone know all that's in jeopardy. I alone know the health battles I've fought--sometimes winning, sometimes losing, mostly just grinning and bearing it because so much is riding on me. I alone know all that I've lost...which at this moment is pretty substantial. I alone know that I can't write when I'm like this--that all of the works in progress that were on my desk a year ago are the same that are there today, which is really bad considering I have multiple deadlines approaching with publishers in only a matter of weeks. I alone know the kind of pressure I'm under. I alone know what it feels like to see doubt in my children's eyes because, after all these years, they no longer can trust in tomorrow.
Yet, it's hard for me to not confide in people. I'm way too open and far too trusting. Perhaps I seek understanding or yearn for the companionship my late husband once provided, I don't know. Confiding in others, however, hasn't worked out too well. This is what I need to do: shut up, go within, and listen to the Divine.
YAK! Maybe I need those three letters tattooed on my wrist! You. Already. Know.
I know what to do. I even tried doing it--I put the house up on the market in late September but the realtor literally did nothing, never brought one buyer or held an open house, never answered a call or email. So I gave up last month before Thanksgiving and told myself I could go back to fighting and struggling again, that it was a "sign" that it didn't sell, that I'm meant to stay. My kids were thrilled, but I was still apprehensive because I know all of those things I stated above haven't changed. People tell me to fight harder...but I'm so damn tired of fighting! I'm exhausted. Fight, fight, fight has been my mantra for eleven years and I am ready to surrender.
Part of why I fought so hard for probably too long is because so many expected me to fail after Sean died. They told me so. They said it to my face, to the kids, whispered behind my back...no one was shy about their lack of faith in me. So, even though I did survive as a solo parent for eleven years, I had a bad fucking year that unraveled everything. I did not fail. I succeeded for a long time. So, why do allow myself to doubt my own decisions and my own instinct?
I know what to do. It's time for me to downsize and hit "restart" on my life. It's time for me to buy a home with the equity from this one--no more mortgage for me, no more worry about it being taken away from me. It's time for me to do what's best for ME rather than everyone else. Why? So I can write--which is what I do. Because my future is at a stake, no one else's at this point.
This year has taught me some valuable lessons--sometimes you need to let go of the good, step into the unknown, and seize possibility. I'm like someone who has been clinging to the river bank of the known as the force of the water has slammed my bruised body into boulders again and again as I struggled to regain my grip on crumbling earth. And if I'd let go, maybe I'd have less broken bones, fewer internal injuries, and wouldn't be drowning. So now I'm letting go and hoping the flow guides me to a safe place, somewhere new.
I've started over before, I can do it again.
Amber Lea Easton
Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of romantic thrillers, contemporary romance, women's fiction, and nonfiction. She also writes five different blogs, works as a professional editor and author coach, creates a line of inspirational journals, volunteers for children's literacy, and advocates for suicide awareness. In addition, she is the mother of two extraordinary human beings who lives in a small cabin high in the Rocky Mountains where she is completely aware of how lucky she is. To find out more about her books, please visit http://www.amberleaeaston.com.