The Story Behind the Story (and What It’s Like to Write a Book)
As a little girl, I always had the sense that there must be more to life than I could see… more than our shabby little home on “the hill” in the ghettos of San Diego… more than the cramped two-bedroom apartment I shared with ten other people, half of whom always seemed to be squabbling or squalling… more than me sharing the fate of my heartbroken mom or drunken dad.
Everything around me screamed that struggle was the only way of life; it was the only thing I heard and the only thing I saw. My survival instincts kicked in from a really young age. I saw the raw pain in my mother’s eyes, her tears of abandonment, and an avalanche of kids she couldn’t take care of. She was the primary female figure of my childhood. I knew I wanted something different for my life.
I escaped through my imagination those days… my mother told me around the time when I was six years old, I would say to her: “One day, mommy, I am going to get a mobile home and travel the world with you.”
I had no idea how I would make that happen, but I knew one essential thing: I wanted out. Even then, there was this light inside that kept me dreaming and believing. No matter how many punches and kicks life threw at me, that light persisted throughout my childhood and even adulthood.
Over the past decade of my life, I have indeed had the opportunity to travel the world. My most recent trip was to the Maldives, all the way on the other side of the Earth. As I sat and sun-bathed on the bungalow deck above the water, the sea stretched out endless and perfect before me. Immersed in the peaceful sounds of the waves and feeling the sun warm my skin, I began to reflect on my life, the lessons I’d learned, the hardships I overcame, and the people I met who helped me at critical times in my life. I looked back on where I was and at how far I’d come… and I shed tears of joy.
I felt, then, that if I could feel uplifted and inspired by reflecting on the painful obstacle course of my life, why couldn’t I extend this hope and this encouragement to others? Look, I wanted to say. I’ve been there, done that. If you’re at a low point, don’t give up. If you’re going through Hell, keep going. You’ll break free. You’ll break through. I did. Why not you?
Books have always been a source of escape and inspiration for me. If I could write a book that could inspire and uplift and encourage others in their own times of hardship, I wanted to achieve that.
So here I am, one year later. Emerging Butterfly is complete and I am starting a new chapter in my life. I’ve never done this before—I haven’t written and I haven’t spoken up, not formally and not officially. I’ll be honest: it’s a little scary opening up to the entire world. It’s scary being vulnerable and exposed to scrutiny. But if I can help just one person… it will have been worth it.
Writing a book is not easy. It takes time, commitment, and hard work to see it come to life. It takes collaboration and patience, going back and parsing through memories. It takes teamwork, working with an editor and designer and publisher. It’s also a very cathartic experience. I cried on so many occasions going back in time and reliving some of the most devastating memories I had buried deep within my soul. Feelings emerged, carrying me along as if on the wings of a butterfly, and I flew all the way back to the beginning.
So yes, it was hard. It was emotional. It was beautiful. I had to forgive people who hurt me, thank those who held me up when I could barely hold on to life, and throughout it all God was there guiding my footsteps. It’s true that He will not give you more than you can bear, even when you feel like you’re a feather that will be knocked over from a breath of wind. I see now how everything that has happened to me served to make me stronger, more grateful, and better. This is who I strive to be today: a strong, determined, resilient, kind, loving, and happy person.
The sky is the limit… so I will keep flying and embracing life… and I hope to take you with me on a journey of self-discovery.