When I was nineteen I was a bit of mess. It was a year of firsts – some good, some terrible. My nineteenth birthday was my first without a mom. At nineteen, I moved into my very first apartment, paid for by me alone. I loved that apartment and my milk crate furniture. I bought my first car at nineteen – a white Ford Escort hatchback. My love for the car was short lived. At nineteen, I earned my first college degree. I had my first serious boyfriend. I fell in love for first time. I had my heart broken for the first time. To steal a line from Dickens (which is on my mind since Tamara’s Books of My Life post), “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”
One thing I never imagined at nineteen was that I would be a writer, let alone be published. And yes my friends, here I go again. About the book. I am a pain in the ***. If you’re friends with me on any type of social media, you’re probably sick of me this week…
Most of you know that I’ve been writing since my twins were born. Not consistently, because my life went off the rails a couple of times. But I have been talking about writing, ad nauseum, for about fourteen years. I can say life got in my way, but honestly – I got in my way. I was afraid of not being able to write well and of rejection. When I decided to write about autism, I was afraid of selling out my kid. I felt guilty about writing about someone who had no voice, but I also felt compelled to speak for him. I felt guilty for taking all the time to write, when I was needed by my family. Writing takes time, and it’s hard to justify the time it takes. A career in writing rarely makes you rich. You write because you have to, you do it for love. You do it to tell your story. You write for connection. Your write to be read, to be heard. You write in the hopes that you can help someone. Some of us write to entertain readers, others do it for therapy.
If you want to write a book, you’re looking at an even bigger time and emotional investment. That’s why I’ve never been able to complete one (other than a very bad romance a hundred years ago). For first time authors – there are absolutely no guarantees. In fact, prospects are dismal. Its scary business, and I ran away from the keyboard many times. Writing is hard. To be clear, I have experienced my share of rejection. And each and every rejection has made me cry. This has not been all champagne and roses.
Finding out that my piece had been included in Mothering Through the Dankness, a book edited and published by people I respect and admire, was a thrill. Published by The HerStories Project and She Writes Press, the anthology was edited by Jessica Smock and Stephanie Sprenger. When I read the email informing me that my piece had been accepted, my heart started racing. I was giddy. But after a few days, I was scared. I wanted to share my excitement and promote the book, but that would mean explaining what the book was about. I’d have to come clean with what I experienced during my pregnancy and after the birth of Barrett and Hunter. Fourteen years had passed, why would I want to go back?
My Aunt Ginny called on Monday after she read the book, to tell me she had no idea that I’d suffered like that. And of course she wouldn’t. Only Rich saw the real me back then. To the rest of the world, I was Super Allie. Everyone was amazed that I could take care of two preemies by myself and I didn’t want to disappoint anyone. Also, I didn’t have any friends who lived close to me at that time. My closest friends lived in South Florida. My girls, Michele and Marcie, were new mommies at the same with I was, and they were so happy. I just couldn’t admit to them that I wasn’t.
It took me more than a decade to write about it. Writing it was difficult and brought back many feelings that I thought were long gone. I was nervous about how friends and family would react, because there’s still stigma attached to postpartum depression and anxiety. And I’m part of the problem. When asked what the book was about I was like, “Well…”
Last month Hayden Panettiere came out and shared her story of PDD. A few weeks later, Drew Barrymore did the same. Suddenly PPD was a hot topic. Same thing happened nine years ago, when Brooke Shields wrote a book about it. But remember what happened to her? Tom Cruise? Yeah, it was crazy. Isn’t it a shame that it takes a celebrity to get a women to open up? Last night, a couple of girls privately shared their PPD struggles with me. Women I’ve known for a long time. And I never knew. And they didn’t know about me – until this book. Crazy, right?
As the editors shared their book promotion plans with us (authors), I was nervous and excited. This was it. No turning back. I had to go public in a big way (for me) about my story. I was inspired by my fellow authors, who wrote beautiful essays and proudly advocated for the cause. I began to feel empowered. I’m proud to be part of the movement to #EndPPDMyths. Please learn more about this campaign by clicking here.
Last night I had a soirée at my house, to celebrate the publication of Mothering Through the Darkness. A bit self-indulgent, yes – but I’m a gal who loves a good excuse to pop the bubbly. Huge shout-out to my girls who attended. Thank you so very much for supporting me! I didn’t invite everyone I know, because this was my “first time,” and I had no clue what I was doing. I invited the girls from my book club and my pals who’ve had to sit through my endless book/reading/writing chatter for the last ten years. I knew they’d get why I was being a tad over the top. When I write a book cover-to-cover, and get it published, it’s gonna be off the chains. Or as the case may be, off my rocker, time’s a tickin’!
My daughter Audrey was the hostess of the party – at her insistence. And I was her worker bee. It was a blessing to have her there, because she was quite the saleswomen. Even those who may not have wanted a book ended up buying one. Again, I thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for being my friends and cheerleaders. My friend showed up. And I will never forget. Oh – and they brought bottles and bottles of champagne and wine. And Candles. And gorgeous journals. And notes written from the heart that I will save forever. I am so damn lucky to have these women on my team.
Some of my tribe. Jackie D, Jackie P, Barbara, Kate, Kathy P, Amy T, Gretchen, LynnAnn, Jen, Marcy, Amy M. and in absentia – Nicki & Kathy P – we missed you!
My Patriots partner-in-crime – Miss Paula – who may have been more excited than I was!
Book Club Buddies! Barbara & LynnAnn.
My “oldest” (but best looking!) Atlanta Friends! Jen & LynnAnn.
Last week Audrey read my essay and got very emotional about it. She didn’t know what her brothers had gone through when they were born. Sometimes she seems so grown up to me, that I forget she’s only eleven. Perhaps I should have waited a few years before I let her read it, but she had sage advice for me. Last night my friends tried to coax me into reading an excerpt, but I couldn’t (in fact, my friend Amy said she’d never seen me blush before). Audrey discreetly suggested that I probably shouldn’t read it, because Hunter was upstairs. She was afraid he’d get upset if he heard me (my essay is about Barrett and Hunter). Oh my girl, she is wise beyond her years. Lucky for me, Hunter wouldn’t dare pick up the book!
My friend Diane brought these two lovely ladies, my new friends Nina and Lisa. And proving that we do indeed live in a small world, Nina went to grade school in Toronto with my friend Michele, who I met Michele in Naples, FL, but she now lives in Seattle!
I signed my first book last night. How weird was that? Very. When the first person asked me to sign, I froze. I couldn’t believe it. Do you have any idea how many book signing I’ve been to in my life? Truly, I was caught off guard and had no clue what to write or where to sign. The champagne didn’t help matters. Talk about jumbled thoughts. I have no clue what was transcribed, because it was like somebody else was holding the pen.
I’m so proud and honored to be in this book. But even if I wasn’t in this book, I’d be supporting it. It’s important. So important. And guess what? I have a copy to giveaway. Already have a copy? Thank you! But you can win one to give to a friend. In addition to Mothering Through the Darkness, I have three more books to giveaway. Stars of Fortune by Nora Roberts, Wake-Up Call by Avanzino, and The Wrong Man by Kate White. AND because I am so excited and happy, a $15 Amazon gift card to buy whatever book you want to read! And a few more surprises. All you have to do is leave a comment – about anything. I will randomly (random.org) pick a winner next Wednesday.
The post was written out of gratitude for all members of my tribe (real and virtual) and as a link-up with Finish the Sentence Friday. This week’s sentence is “When I was nineteen…” Please visit my good buddies, Kristi of Finding Ninee (co-contributor of Mothering Through the Darkness) and Mimi of Mimi Time (contributor of the upcoming anthology, So Glad They Told Me).