How My Love for Writing Saved My Life

By Carolyn Findley

Since my birth mother taught me cursive at the age of 4 (before learning manuscript or starting school), I have been in love with the craft of writing. As far back as I can remember, I have carried journals and notepads, anticipating any chance to write. To this day, I carry multiple journals and notepads and along the way, I seem to have developed a “you can never have TOO many” belief in regards to pens & other writing utensils.

Even I (a human being who can’t seem to hold on to her belongings without someone inevitably stealing or destroying them) have journals dating back to middle school. I refuse to throw memories, notes, and seemingly meaningless scribbles away. As a teenager, I wrote poems about everything from boys to my past; I even got a few of them published into a book.

Writing’s Role in my Childhood
As a child, my life was tumultuous and unstable, to say the very least. My mother was a mentally unstable drug addict and alcoholic who was abusive in every way imaginable and the man I believed to be my father at the time, well, he was an altogether different kind of monster. The sexual abuse, molestation, and physical abuse were his wheelhouse.

I wasn’t an only child; I had a half-sister 2 years younger that I practically raised in the earlier years of our childhood. At the time, however, I was completely unaware that she was my half-sister, though now, looking back, it all kind of makes more sense. Roger never touched his own daughter (which I don’t buy for even a second) but had no problem stealing my innocence.

If that wasn’t detrimental enough, my mother would come home drunk and scream at me, calling me “daddy’s little whore”, telling me I was a mistake, that I wasn’t even supposed to be born because she had wanted an abortion. And that’s just one night when she got off work. I needed an escape; some form of release.

Writing Was So Much More than Words…

It was at an early age I learned writing not only offered a means of escape, it allowed me to record the rare instances when there was a glimmer of joy, and writing enabled me to “vomit” the toxic and negative feelings often accompanying the situations and circumstances in my life. Writing gave me hope and in many ways, I feel like it saved my life.
Writing was my only escape from life. It was the only stable thing I could rely on. It allowed me to create places, people, and events that would have otherwise only been in a dream or wish. It would take me to a place where anything was possible and nothing was out of reach. I had no problem translating my thoughts and feelings into words that I could scribble down. I could write a letter to someone, saying everything I needed to say- without them every having to read it.

See, I have this thing where whatever I’m feeling or thinking at the moment, if those thoughts and feelings are geared towards a person, I have to physically expel them. It’s like a volcano needing to explode; the words like hot lava bubbling up, burning for release. It doesn’t matter if they hear it or know what I’ve said- the key is that I was able to get it out somehow, scribble or spoken.

I Trusted Writing
I had trouble opening up to anyone because of fears and emotions caused by the people and situations in my life. Writing afforded me the ability to form my thoughts and feelings into stories, poetry, and analogies- something others could understand and relate to while still keeping them at arms length. It kept me in touch with the world and emotionally connected when I would have otherwise faded into nothingness and become completely shut-off from those around me.

Writing Quite Literally Saved My Life

As I’ve said before, writing has literally saved my life. I can remember one time when I was 16 years old and I felt like I just couldn’t go on living like I was- I had been bounced from foster home to foster home, group home to group home, beaten and abused by those entrusted with the responsibility of keeping me safe and protecting me, torn down by those I believed cared about me and abandoned by those who swore they would never leave, feeling as though I was God’s only mistake, his forgotten, unloved child, heartbroken, filled with fear that I had to face this cold, uncaring world on my own with no guidance, no love, a broken heartand the unending feeling of pain, anger, and hopelessness. It was at this point that I had made the decision to mercifully end the mistake who had been forgotten and left unloved and alone.

While writing a suicide letter to whoever cared enough or curious enough to open it, I spilled my soul out, tears pouring out unstoppable, dry heaving the uncontrollable gut wrenching sobs that were accompanied by the pain, anger, and fears that my writing had been unable to expel- it was that moment writing this letter, someone came into my room at the group home.

A girl 3 years my junior, had found a journal I had apparently forgotten on the Rec yard. After addressing the situation for a moment, she asked if I was okay, apologizing for being nosy. Continuing, as she kept her head down with her eyes focused on her shoe, she quietly told me she had read my journal. Well, most of it.

She confided that for the longest time, she felt like she was alone, like nobody could or would understand how she felt and what she had been through- UNTIL SHE READ MY JOURNAL. She found it on her way to school that morning, where she had intended on committing suicide in the girls’ basement bathroom.

She went on, tears pouring from the overflowing pools that had welled up in her eyes, telling me she felt like she was reading her own journal and thanked me. When I gave her a look that must have been one of bewilderment and confusion, she slowly shook her head.. Then she looked at me, scoffing with what I took to be disbelief or that of bewilderment on her part, “ You don’t get it, do you? Just knowing that I’m not alone; that there is someone out there who could understand. The possibility of someone I might be able to share all these f**ed up feelings with, well, for some unknown reason it makes the weight somehow easier to bear.”

We talked for hours into the night until a Youth Care Worker came to tell us it was lights out. Before she left, she turned back and asked me if I was okay, and after thinking for a moment, I replied “I am now.”.

From That Point Forward

That day, I had an epiphany: if I wanted something more of of my life and my writing, I had to write for my audience. My writing needed to be fueled by my readers’ questions, desires, and needs. That’s the only way I knew that my writing would mean anything. That’s the only way I would be able to write and never run out of things to say. Everyone is different, with each person having their own way of processing thoughts, asking their own questions, and seeing the world with their own unique point of views- all leading to an infinite supply of muses for my writing.

My Writing

When I write, I write for the reader- not for myself. Don’t misconstrued my words: Yes, my writing is my words and my ideas but they are written in a way that interests my readers, answers their questions, and with them always being the primary thought in the forefront of my mind..

It was that day at 16 years old when I realized that my writing and the things that had happened in my life, could be so much more- that the could be used to help someone, educate someone, or just be what someone needed to know or hear. I could make a difference in someone’s life or even save it- that’s when writing became so much more, when words became so much more.

Writing Is…

Words can be used in so many different ways, to do so many different things, they possess a power that is unmatched by anything else in this world. They can build someone up or tear them completely down, they can record, influence or persuade, build or degrade, aggravate or mitigate- depending on their inflection, how they’re combined, and the intent behind which they’re spoken or written-words are universally the most powerful thing we as human beings have the ability to wield. They can be used as a tool or as a weapon. The Bible states that the power of life and death is in our tongue- our tongue means the words we speak.

Writing is a work of art, a unique masterpiece, if you will, composed to be read. It’s author has an motive and often times, it is accompanied by a hidden agenda. Whether it be to stir emotion, trigger a memory, or spark a conversation, that piece was written with the reader being the main driving force behind it’s intent or goal, not the writer.

Passionate Word connoisseur. Outspoken Blogger. Student Multipotentialite. Recovering Addict. Advocate. Jewelry Crafter. Creative Unicorn Lover. Wife & Mom.