Jen Steele is our guest blogger today. She shares her emotional story and experience writing her memoir.
“It is important that we share our experiences with other people. Your story will heal you, and your story will heal somebody else. When you tell your story, you free yourself and give other people permission
to acknowledge their own story.”
— Iyanla Vanzant
Each and every one of us has a story inside. These stories are the very fabric of our being. It’s easier to share the good stories; you know the ones about true love and rainbows and butterflies — the happy ending kind where the babies are born healthy and your wedding day had sunshine. Everyone likes to hear a feel-good story. Sometimes life is hard. Life doesn’t always give us rainbows and butterflies. We also experience heartache, loss, addiction, depression, and grief. These are the stories we tend to tuck away deep in the back of our minds and our hearts.
Today, June 18, 2019, is a bittersweet day for me. I am officially a published author who has always been a dream of mine. My memoir, “One Step at a Time,” officially went live on Amazon for public purchase. As I reflect on this accomplishment, I feel many emotions. I am quite proud of my accomplishments and very excited to see my name on the cover of a book. I am also extremely nervous and a bit sick to my stomach. What if everyone that reads it hates it? (I mean that’s GOT to be a normal reaction, right?) While I feel proud and excited, I am also pretty sad. Sad because my story is one of great loss, depression, and heartache. It almost feels wrong in a way to feel proud and excited based on the circumstances.
My story is about the journey of losing my husband suddenly at the age of 34. I take you through the hard times of raising our two young children on my own. I talk about the yucky stuff, like crying myself to sleep every night and being so depressed I didn’t want to go on. I let the reader see the vulnerable side of grief and loss that can be uncomfortable to share. My hope is by letting people see that side of myself they can find comfort during their personal journey through a similar situation.
When I was struggling with my own loss, I searched everywhere I could to try and find a similar story to mine. No one talks about grief. It’s one of those taboo subjects that gets stuffed down or hidden. I wanted more than anything to know that what I was feeling was “normal.” I needed to know that I wasn’t going to feel hopeless forever. I needed a lifeline.
It will be seven years this July since my first husband passed away from an aortic aneurysm. I felt a strong pull last year to write my story, so I began the process. It was by no means easy. I had to re-live all of the hard memories again. I had to process emotions that I thought were long gone. I felt deep sadness and anger and experienced the loss at the same intensity as I did when it first occurred. I wanted to quit, numerous times. But that little voice that kept saying “your story is going to help someone like you” kept me going over and over. My why was strong. Writing my story has been single-handedly the best thing I have done to help me begin to heal. I have been able to process all of the emotions that have built up over the past seven years in a way that hours of therapy couldn’t even touch. Each person that I have shared this story with has told me they could relate in some way and has thanked me for sharing. If you feel like you have a story inside of you that needs to come out, don’t be afraid to share it. Your story just might be the light at someone else’s tunnel.
Jennifer C. Steele is the author of the memoir, One Step at a Time. She was widowed at the age of thirty-four when her first husband passed away suddenly from an aortic aneurysm. She was married for almost eleven years and had two small children. She was suddenly left behind with a mortgage, a mountain of debt, pennies in the bank, and severe depression. She also hopes to continue her writing career by writing other inspirational stories and self-help books. Her book is available on Amazon.