The Journey to Well
The inevitable events that led me to write Heart Warriors began on December 30, 2002, the day in my pregnancy when Liam was diagnosed. The earliest drafts were written in 2008 and promptly discarded. I’d never written a book before and didn’t know what I was doing. I joined some writing groups, read a ton of books, and finally started and finished the book very quickly in 2010, the same year I finished graduate school, fundraised for and attended our second Hearts United event, launched the inaugural Congenital Heart Walk, started a Children’s Heart Foundation Chapter, published a poetry anthology, and changed day jobs. I’m sure I did other things, but that was a lot for one year.
Nine years later, I see that everything I did was to avoid being. Being would mean stopping, settling into the truth, and while I was good at telling my truth, I never wanted to feel it. My mentor once told me we are human beings, not human doings. In 2010, and really all of 2003-2013, I was a human doing.
I started therapy for the first time months after the book was published in 2012, to lose weight. I had a complete breakdown in 2014. I’ve not raised any money for charity since that last event in 2014. I’ve donated, but I’ve not fundraised. That crisis was the best thing that ever happened to me because it happened only to me and forced me to confront many things. None was my weight.
I wasted more than a decade suffering the past and in fear of a future that never came. Sine the summer of 2014, I’ve only spoken on stage once. I made grown men cry. I’m talented at making people cry, and less adept at allowing myself to do the same. The last five years since my full-on melt down, which I hid very well by hiding from the world, I’ve done little more than take care of myself.
Yes, there have been a few articles I’ve published, and I did write two other books, but neither were about CHD, and neither has been published. Those books were about writing, not running. Two of my short stories won honorable mentions, a compliment sinceI never wrote fiction before. Given the events of my life, why would I ever have need for fiction? Alas this fiction was based on real events coupled with speculation. I never stray too far from the facts.
So, here we are, a month and two days from the anniversary of a trauma that defined too many years of my life, my first book, and from which I’ve had to work harder than I’ve ever worked at anything to come close to well. I am almost there, but there is one last dark passage I must traverse.
Next month, I will do traumatic processing of Liam’s diagnosis. This is going to be ugly crying, not the clean dissociative writing that I read in front of crowds of crying strangers without shedding any tears of my own. I’m about to do the hardest work of all – confront the full past with my whole person, to exorcise it and finally reside fully in the present.
I will do this thing. I’ve already come so far that I know I will not go back, and forward is the only path available. I will do this thing that I believed impossible, inconceivable, an affront to my very real pain in 2010. I was wrong because I did not know what I did not know. I did not know myself. Now I know that healing is possible. I know that I can be whole, and I will be.
Then I will done running, and I will begin writing again.
HI Amanda and thanks for your post. Its great to hear you are getting back to being in the land of the living again.
I touched base with you (I think while my son Daniel was still in utero) and I had read your book about 5 times in preparation of my own journey of having a child with a heart defect.
6 yrs later, 4 surgeries under his belt, he is thriving. I am doing ok too after now transitioning to being a single Mum to 4 young sons (and an ex alcoholic partner whom I had to boot out of the house for safety reasons about 2 yrs ago).
Life is good, always a challenge but I wanted you to know that I am almost ready to publish my own book, moreso a guidebook for other mumâs about to enter the roundabout of CHD and a newborn baby. I am nearly there!!!
Happy Thanksgiving to you
You always share so generously and honestly. I admire your courage as you confront past trauma and work toward healing. I look forward to reading more from you… soon. Courage.