My second book, Journey to Hope, recently hit the market. I’ve had many people ask me, “Where did you get the idea?” and “Is any of it true?”
Book one, Decide to Hope, came to me in a strange way. I had just returned home from a nine-week stint in a rehab facility after having a nervous breakdown. I had lost my career, most of my friends and all of my faith. What I had was my physical body. So I started to take care of it.
I began by hiking up Stone Mountain in metro Atlanta twice a day. I always – always -- had music in my ears. On one of these hikes, a man started talking to me. He wasn’t flesh and bone, but he was REAL. He kept saying, ‘You need to tell my story. Her story.’
Seriously, I had just left a mental health facility. Can you imagine my fear when I heard voices?!
I swatted him away and kept walking.
He returned day after day with the same plea. Finally, on a Friday afternoon, I took a shower, grabbed a pen and paper, settled on my deck, and began to listen. By the time Dave was home for dinner, I’d written over 200 pages (handwritten). None of it was particularly good or even legible. But the spark had turned into a flame and off I went.
Four long years later, Decide to Hope was published and Matt got to tell his story.
Before I even wrote “The End” of Decide to Hope, I began to realize Kathleen’s story was woefully incomplete. I’d shoved her into a horrible situation, and I needed to – had to – help her find a way out. Journey to Hope is her story.
My daughter read both books and helped me with marketing. She called me one day and asked, “Is Missy real? Pia? Was that place like the one you went to?”
I had a critique partner say to me, “This is not what therapy looks like in places like this.”
I remember the day clearly. I swallowed back my sarcastic retort, put my pen down and said, “I didn’t know you’d been to rehab. Would you like to share your story?”
I know, I know, that was kinda of bitchy and wholly passive aggressive.
Fiction is just that – fiction. But other than speeding up Kathleen’s journey, I based every therapy session, every group session, every character, on what I saw and experienced. I am not a therapist. I do not run a mental health facility. I am a journeyman on the road to creating an authentic life.
No. I am not Kathleen. I am, however, a woman who has suffered through trauma and had to find a way through to the other side. Kathleen’s story dovetails mine in the following ways:
But, dear reader, there are real Kathleen’s out there and I ask you not to critique their journey. We have no idea the depth of someone else’s pain or the unique difficulty treatment presents to each individual.
Matt stood beside Kathleen. Give that to someone else.
~Be Well and Journey On
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