I’ve spoken before about how I did not have a good childhood or teenage years. Like most gay people who came out in their teens, my life was a living hell, and my home life was even worse. I ended up being homeless at the age of eighteen because I was a lesbian and my very conservative parents were not nice people. I experienced horrific physical and mental abuse in my growing up years that, looking back, I’m not quite certain how I survived.
The only thing I can point to that saved me, really, are stories.
Every day was terrible–there were very few good spots I can remember from my teenage years, actually–but every day, no matter what, I would manage to find my notebook and my pen, and I would hide myself away so that I could write.
In writing my stories, I would leave the terrible life I was living. For a while, just a little while, I was a strong, courageous woman falling in love with a vampire (a story that would eventually become this one)…or a werewolf woman leading her own pack, wild and free in the woods (and this one)…or a knight in shining armor falling for another woman, ready to wield my sword against a dragon (and this one). I lived a life, in the pages of my stories, that was happy and fulfilling, and I always gave my characters happy endings, because in my day to day life, I never got any.
Looking back on it, writing was the only thing that saved me. I dove into the worlds of my stories on incredibly hard days that I didn’t know I could survive. I lived vicariously through the characters I cared so much about, rooting for them, telling their tale and wanting them, so much, to be happy.
Not much has changed.
My life now is wonderful. I’m married to the love of my life, and I get to tell stories for a living. I write so much, every single day, because even though my life is good now, I still get immense happiness from telling my stories. Even more so, because now they don’t have to break through the barrier of terrible things to make me happy.
But our life hasn’t been so good for the past few days. Because a few days ago, we had to put our kitten to sleep. Our kitten that we loved so much that even typing this is bringing on tears. We loved him with our whole hearts, and his unexpected, shocking death has hurt us immeasurably.
Natalie and I have been unreachably sad and depressed, unable to do pretty much anything but grieve. But, today, the itch to write was so strong, that–even in my haze of grief–I could no longer ignore it.
So I sat down and wrote.
What’s terrible is that the day that Kai died was supposed to be the day my new story came out. I was very, very close to finishing it that previous night, and was going to stay up and just finish the final edits…but I thought–naively, really–that “tomorrow it would be finished!” Because tomorrow was just going to be another day. It wasn’t. It was the day our precious baby died.
But, as I wrote today, I felt all of the old, familiar warmth and love from writing that I have felt, in good times and in bad, as I finished up the story of a woman who needs love, so much, and finds it from an unexpected place. I finished up her story, and I gave her a happy ending, like I give all of the characters that I care so much for.
And though my grief is still tremendous, though this pain will last a very, very long time…
I felt, for a small while, the familiar comfort of what I love most in this world besides my wife: the world of stories.
I have been telling stories since I was very, very small, and they have given me so much. Comfort, when I needed it most. Safety, when I couldn’t find any in my day to day life. Peace, when there was none to be found. And love, when I wondered if I’d ever find love myself, wishing for the love of my life and wondering if she could possibly exist… (Spoiler alert: she does exist. 🙂 ).
I am so grateful for this ability to tell stories, to be able to slip into a world of happiness for just a little while when I’m terribly sad, and for the ability to build a wonderful world when I’m happy. It is a gift that I am deeply and profoundly thankful for.
Stories saved my life so many times. And they continue to make my life beautiful.
One of my oldest stories. 🙂