When I was a little girl, I played make-believe, like so many young girls do. I made up my own characters to accompany my favorite television shows (She-Ra and He-man if you must know), not content to just accept someone else’s creations. I flitted around the yard fighting dragons and the darkness and the forces of evil. I was fortuitous, full of fire and spirit and life. I was a leader, a comforter and a friend. Through the years, I used those daydreams to cultivate a picture of the kind of woman who I wanted to be once I grew up. I would be bold and wouldn’t take less than I deserved. I wouldn’t back down in a fight. I would hold onto the goodness in others and ferret out the shadows to expose them for what they really are. I would continue to create characters and worlds and stories.
But, somewhere along the way, I lost track of that girl. She faded against the backdrop of what I thought was my “reality” and the inevitable. Bitterness crept in, and I allowed myself to live only half a life.
I said once, a year or so ago, that I wanted to be the sort of person who did those brave things—who traveled and experienced life and had no regrets. This was said in the context of my being “unable” to do much of anything out of reservation, or anxiety, or lifestyle or preconceived notions, or whatever. Fear and monotony had me by the soul and it was eating away at my heart day by day. I wondered how I could be coming so close to achieving and having what I most desired, yet still be so far away.
It’s amazing what can change in a little over a month’s time.
The truth was there all along. In my writing hid little bits and pieces of the life that I’d always longed for. The girl I’d known so well, so long ago. The sort of affection and warmth and passion that I’d always given and never wholly received. But, I segregated that part of my life away and refused to look down deep enough into that fictitious world to see what my unconscious mind was trying so desperately to tell me. What Ariana, and Jessica Slate, and Garren were trying to show me. Things about myself that these characters, in their own ways, were displaying so boldly.
Like the act of murder, once the deed is done, your world is irrevocably changed. Nothing will ever be the same. Once the truth was revealed in my personal life, and I was set free, it was like a veil being lifted. Everything is different. And not in a bad way. Not anymore. Because there were things that I needed that I wasn’t getting that I didn’t even realize I was lacking. I was a full color girl living a black and white existence full of “you can’t” and “you’ll never.”
More than merely living that half of a life, I was accepting less than I deserve. I had long since given up on things that I now insist upon in my future: I want to feel pursued, adored and cherished. Nothing less will do.
I thought I was weak, and it turns out that I’m forged of stronger steel than most. I thought I was dependent and it turns out that I’m quite fond of blazing my own trails and creating my own destinies. I used to lay awake at night, dreaming of a world where my options were limitless—figuring that the closest I would ever come would be in my writing–and it turns out that the world ahead of me can be anything I want it to be.
After all, I said I would “grow up” to be a writer and I have six books under contract with a publisher. If I can accomplish this … then setting my eyes on the future of my dreams is within reach. All I have to do is keep on going until I get there … and not settle on the way for “almost” or “good enough.”
I have several paths ahead of me. I can sit back in fear and wait on time or fate or experience to usher me to the right one, or I can step out bravely on my own and take a chance on life again. I can swallow the fear as one would a breath of fresh air, and take it as a sign that I’m still alive. I can accept that my life and what happens to me, what becomes of me, is completely up to my attitude and how I approach the things that are set before me, be they obstacles or blessings.
The doors are wide open. The paths are begging to be traveled. Dragons slain. Darkness found and set alight. Worlds are bare clay, ready to be created. My happiness is in my own hands. My ability to love and be loved is ever stronger for the strain. My insecurities and fears, like those moments as a child when I wasn’t sure which way to go in the firefly-lit night, will serve as fuel for a greater internal fire than I’ve ever set ablaze before. This life of mine is only beginning. My dreams have only begun to take shape. My future is limitless.
The prodigal daughter has returned.