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How Writing Can Change Your Life Starting Today

I was seriously depressed. I had moved to LA with my husband to become a movie star, but I couldn’t even get an agent. The sad part was that in New York I had an agent, and was already booking gigs. Now I was thrown into the pile with all the countless other dreamers who had moved out to Hollywood with stars in their eyes, only to get a reality check. I wasn’t cut out for the madness, so I quit.

My husband, on the other hand, was off to a great start. Also an actor, he’d booked a movie right off that landed him multiple award nominations and all the things I wished I had. Honestly, watching his career take off was saddening, but exciting. If he made it maybe I could still live that movie star life after all. So I threw myself into ‘helping’ him, doing whatever I could for him, if I could wake up and breathe his air I would for him. Let’s just get across the finish line.

Then one day the ish hit the fan.

“You need to do your own thing!” he screamed at me, frustrated as hell, because I was so on top of him that he couldn’t breathe. “When we met you were doing something. What happened?!”

“I thought I was helping you!” I screamed back.

“I never told you to stop doing your thing!”

Tears poured down my face like water from a fire hydrant.

He was right. He never told me to stop working, it was my choice. I quit acting because I couldn’t hack it any longer, and before that I quit writing, and singing before that.

Quitting had become my thing, and I was good at it. But you can’t start trying to live someone else’s life, even if that someone is your husband, and think that he’s not going to notice. The jig was up and it was time for me to get a life of my own.

Damn.

I didn’t know where to begin. Thoughts were swimming around my brain, making me dizzy. Should I try acting again? Was I too old? Maybe LA was the problem? I had to figure it out, and fast, but I knew that no girlfriend could cut it, and therapy was too expensive. So I just grabbed a pen and a notebook and started putting things down on paper, trying to organize my life. Something magical happened. The dam broke and I began to write about all the questions in my head. I wrote about the sky and moon and things so personal I thought I’d never introduce them to a piece of paper. What if someone found this notebook? I kept going.

The more I wrote, the more I needed to write. I wrote about any and everything that meant something to me, like the time I almost stabbed my father when I was a kid, bulimia in high school, and even things more fun like when my brother and I went through the McDonald’s drive-through on Toledo’s South Side and I banged up my mother’s car. I never told her and he blackmailed me for an entire year. I wrote for a month straight and when I was through I needed a cigarette, and I didn’t even smoke.

I felt free. Now I still didn’t know exactly in which direction I would go, but at least I was neither scared nor stuck.

Writing it all down had saved me. It allowed me to look at myself with perspective. When we’re out there living life everyday when do we ever get that opportunity to look forward and back to see how far we’ve come and where we’re going? Now that I’m a mom it means I have even less time, which means figuring out my life can take a backseat to the kids, the hubby, and even work. We run like there’s no tomorrow, and then it all ends. Just like that.

Writing helps me keep track. Sometimes I write lists so I don’t forget what I need to do. When I don’t have one I’m a mess, floundering around like a fish out of water. I read somewhere that the mind is for thinking, not storage, so we should regularly dump things out. Just dump it on the page. I used to write a sex/relationship column in my 20’s and 30’s. Looking back on it, I think it helped me sift through my drama. Without it I don’t know if I’d be married today. If you wanna know why you do the things you do, write about it. I’m always discovering new things about me. Like I’m afraid of getting Alzheimer’s, and I long to sit down with Barack Obama and have a beer. He probably likes Miller High life like my mom.

Man, how I miss writing letters. Email is cool, but letters?! I found a bunch of old ones last year stored at my brother’s place in Georgia and it made me reconnect with my boy Harold from high school. I forgot how much we used to laugh. I would tease him about dating white girls, and would call them toubobs. I don’t remember where the name came from. Maybe the book Roots? Sometimes I read over my journals from back in the day, when I first moved to New York. I was so innocent then. Ah, the journey of life. To go back and watch it unfold! I wish I could put a pen and notebook in every woman’s hand, in every mom’s hand, and tell her to write. Write for fun. Write to learn about yourself. Write down your dreams. Do you know that people who write down their goals are much more likely to achieve them? It’s a fact. Write to live. To be empowered. If you do one thing for yourself today, just write.

Need a little more encouragement? Here are some testimonials from a few moms who write:

Karen Hudson- Creative Project Manager at Moguldom Media and former Deputy Editor at Mommynoire

Writing is therapeutic and more organized than my personality, which is somewhat untamed. I’m impulsive. Writing helps me organize my emotions. I communicate more through words than through language. Plus I love how words look against a white background. My best friend died in our 20s and I still have all of her high school letters. I can’t pin her voice anymore, but I can pin her words from over 25 years ago.

Carmelitha Griswald, Poet, and Owner of CraveCatering and Event Planning

Writing gives me clarity. I have always kept a journal even when I was very young, and as I started to mature and going through different things some good some horrible, I realized it was free therapy. I’d write and read it out loud to my reflection in the mirror. Once I said it out loud I could deal with it better. It let me know things I was going through were real and not just in my head. Through my poetry I have loved laughed cried hated even killed. I’ve walked on the golden streets of heaven and slithered through the pits of hell fighting the demons of my past. Writing is very important. It keeps me sane.

Rashida Temitayo, Case Manager at Park Slope Women’s Shelter, and Blogger

Writing is an outlet that allows me to get things out. Its for the times when there is no one to talk to or I just don’t want to talk to anyone about a certain topic. I love to see the ink on the paper also and, there is something exciting about having a beautiful journal to look forward to writing in and specific pens. As far as writing in the blog, it was a way to offer support and let people in on my challenges and triumphs as a mother. I want to offer hope, identification, and also leave room for suggestions from other moms who may be facing the same challenges. I just want to tell my story.

This story first appeared on Madamenoire 12/2/15

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