I grew up by the side of the road, about ten yards from the shoulder of a rural highway. Most of my youth was spent, trying not to let anyone know the goings on in my home life. Everything was wrong, but the important thing was not to let on. That I pass for "normal." What would happen if I let down my guard? If I told someone, anyone of the alcoholism, the poverty, the emotional abuse, the sexual abuse so covert and confusing I didn't even know what to call it at the time? The thought of telling anyone and exposing the truth seemed like the end of the world.
So much shame.
I got out. Went to college. Moved away. Healed.
The pull to write was strong. Day after day, it woke me from a deep sleep urging me to go someplace I'd never been. It didn't feel like a choice. I thought it would be a story about my precious little girl. All we'd been through with autism. What we'd learned.
But that story is still in process. A different story needed to be told.
Around this time, we were driving an hour and a half down a rural highway to Riley's sensory processing therapy. Rundown houses dotted the side of the road for miles and miles.
It was shocking.
That life, so far behind me, was still there.
"There are girls living in those houses." I thought to myself.
Turns out my story is about a precious little girl. One who needn't be ashamed. One who did her very best and kept going.
With the completion of my manuscript I'm finally letting my guard down. And it feels not like the end of the world, but the beginning.