Revisiting The Illuminated Heart: We are not Alone

Seven years ago, I wrote and published The Illuminated Heart and, seeing as it’s 2020, it seems appropriate for some hindsight.

*waits until the groans subside*

In case you don’t know, I wrote The Illuminated Heart during Camp NaNoWriMo, which is the summer edition of National Novel Writing Month (November), so I find it a propos that The Illuminated Heart is in a Storybundle during Camp NaNo. I mention this partly because cool timing and partly because I’m finding myself doing something that I did seven years ago: writing a very personal book.

April 2013, while trying to make a fairy tale with zombies work, I also found myself dealing with some painful questions regarding my faith. When I was younger, ages 10-12, I’d gone through a heavy depression that I’m sometimes honestly surprised I survived. During that time, I felt utterly alone, abandoned even by God, who I’d always grown up hearing would always be there for me.

I tried not to think about it too much. Not then, not after.

My heart ached too badly.

But, seven years ago, I found myself sitting in bed at night, saying to God as loudly and angrily as I could without waking anyone else in the house:

“You abandoned me!”

It broke my heart to say it, because how could I say that to someone I loved? How could I say that to God?

It also broke my heart to realize it was exactly what I’d felt at the time, and what I was still feeling.

But, in saying it for the first time, I was finally able to start facing all I’d gone through, all that still haunted me. I was able to write The Illuminated Heart.

I was able to face the lies that depression told me and find the truth instead.

There’s another part to this story, though. Because none of us goes through our lives alone, even if we might think or feel they do. You see, the reason I was trying seven years ago to put zombies into a fairy tale to begin with was because Emily Casey had messaged me some months prior to that April, asking if I wanted to join her in writing fairy tales with zombies in them.

Without Emily, The Illuminated Heart wouldn’t exist.

I don’t know how to begin to express how grateful I am to her for that.

Writing, like life, isn’t something we ever really do alone, although we can most certainly feel it at times. Even when we feel abandoned, there are still people around us, with us, contributing to our lives in seen and unseen ways. And we’re doing the same for them.

Which is an apropos thing to be reflecting on, I think, in light of the fact a) I’m currently writing a book that deals, at least in part, with loneliness and togetherness, and b) that The Illuminated Heart is in a Storybundle with other authors, all of us working together to help each other.

None of us is as alone as we sometimes think. I used to see sentiments like that and go “of course of course” and go off to do something else.

But it hits differently now.

Especially now.

Oh good gosh, especially now.

You’re not alone. Maybe, like me, you need that reminder sometimes. Maybe you don’t. Either way, the fact remains: you are not alone.

And you never have been <3

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