He who is brave is free.
Lucius Annaeus Seneca
Laura Parrott Perry
HI FRIENDS! Don’t get freaked out. Come on in – it’s still just us. Stay with me. Take a look around our new place. Isn’t it lovely? We had a little work done.
I know. I get weirded out by change, too. But this isn’t like your favorite show getting canceled or anything – this is more like when Roseanne switched out Beckys and acted like nothing happened. Same show, different Becky. Tralala.
Speaking of shows getting axed, do you guys miss the show Parenthood? I do. I loved that show. It made me feel all of my feelings. When the show was winding down and I was busy wailing and rending my garments, my dear friend Lisa gave me a stellar gift – she photoshopped me into the family dinner.
I have the best friends. I bet you think yours are the best. That’s fine. I’m pretty sure it’s supposed to work that way.
Yep, there I am sitting between Adam and Sarah. Laura, the lesser known Braverman. Braverman Minor. The one they don’t talk about.
I loved that show because it dealt with hard things honestly and with humor. I laughed as much as I cried.
And that family. Sigh.
Becoming a Braverman is a bucket list item for me. I mean, the last name alone…
Anyway, here we are easing into the new year and it has me thinking about goals that are slightly more achievable than a 40-something woman getting adopted by a fictional family. I used to be one for making grand resolutions. I was going to do a triathlon, have a great career, marry Bruce Springsteen. I was never interested in the process of getting there, though. I didn’t want to train, or job seek, or move to New Jersey and hang out at the Stone Pony trying to catch the Boss’s eye. Actually, scratch that- when I was fourteen I had a solid plan to do just that.
Totally serious. Ask Stacia.
I no longer make big resolutions like that. My zero percent success rate had something to do with the shift. Instead, for the past couple of New Years, I’ve chosen a word. I try and lead with that word and let it inform every area of my life for the whole year. Some of my words from the past few years have been light, surrender, and forgiveness. This year my word is BRAVE.
A year ago today, I published a post entitled Try Not. In it, I wrote about how I’d been saying I was writing a book for some time and that it hadn’t felt true, mostly because it wasn’t. I was TRYING to write a book, which really – if I’m being honest – meant I was wishing I had already written a book.
Cut to today. I have written a book and it comes out in ten days. You are reading this on my brand new website (which I am madly in love with – thank you, Zach!) and I am crossing writing a book off my life to-do list. It is to-done, y’all. I’ve wanted to have written a book since I knew what books were. I wanted to be an author. It feels strange to say that I am one.
It seemed serendipitous to welcome you to our new home on this day, the anniversary of setting that intention, a couple of weeks into living my new word, and ten days before our book, She Wrote it Down, comes into the world.
This book is not the book I was encouraged to write. It’s why I ultimately chose to self-publish. I finally knew the story I was meant to tell and the way I was meant to tell it. I’ve learned to listen to that still, small voice and heed it. No more unreliable narrators for me. The stories are told, for better or for worse. I’m incredibly proud of it. The vulnerability hangover has mostly worn off.
So what does bravery look like for me, going forward? There’s a saying in recovery about just doing ‘the next right thing.’ My mantra right now is just the Next Brave Thing. I’m determined to not let fear inform so many decisions for me. I’ve come to understand that just about everything good in life lies on the other side of fear. So I’ll continue to tell my stories and venture into some new realms as I do it. I’ll be a little uncomfortable, I expect. It’ll mean being more open to connection and trying out some new ideas in terms of building this community. It definitely means remembering that having told my stories, my work there is done. No being invested in reaction, no justifying or defending. Just staying open and doing what I love to do, which is tell stories, bring people together, and create safe spaces for them to be authentic with one another.
I made the decision to create a new website because this feels like a new season, and with seasons comes change. When I created In Others’ Words I had no idea what I wanted to write about, so I used the conceit of other writers’ words as inspiration- probably because I didn’t really believe I had anything to say on my own. Now I don’t feel the need to justify what I want to write about, I just want to write. I want to tell my stories and I want you to tell me yours.
When I was looking to merge IOW with this new site, obviously I didn’t want to lose my readers, but more important – it would have been an absolute non-starter – was that I not lose any of the comments from the old blog.
When He Wrote It Down went viral, it set into motion a sea of “Me too.” Before I heard of the incomparable Tarana Burke, before I knew of the official Me Too movement, before it was a hashtag tsunami on Twitter, I witnessed its power firsthand in the comments after I published that post. So many women and men stepping into the sunlight, some for the first time, and reclaiming that part of their story. So many survivors writing down what happened and sharing it, which created a safe space for more people, and more people to do the same. It was miraculous, really.
If you shared your story there, if your “me too” was an act of healing in that space, know that comment thread is holy ground and it is, and will remain, intact. I will continue to honor the stories you were brave enough to share with me.
This is still our place, I’ve just done some renovations and hung new curtains. I’ll probably still use a lot of quotes because I really dig them. My hope is that this will become more interactive as we reach more people and create a storytelling community. My goal is not to simply tell my stories, but to create a space where you are inspired and encouraged to tell yours.
We all need places we can go and exhale. Even if we’re not ready to tell our stories, there is something encouraging about being in a place where others are doing so. If you are still hauling around some impossibly heavy secrets and don’t feel ready to tell them just yet, look around at other people who are doing just that and start to believe that it can be done. That you can survive the telling. That there is freedom and peace and joy on the other side of doing so.
I’ll still write about abuse and addiction, about trauma and loss. Also, politics and justice, motherhood and music and art, love and friendship and books, and probably my dog, because he’s perfect. And we will still laugh a lot, because as Truvey said in Steel Magnolias, “Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion.” Same. Me too.
Those are all chapters in the story of my life – none of them are closed, none of them are finished.
This is not the end, the story continues. My story continues. So does yours.
If you subscribed to the old blog you should automagically (thank you, cousin of mine who invented that word) get this one. If you were not subscribed, please consider doing so. I’ll be posting more, I’ll be listing events, and there will be a monthly newsletter where I share books I’m loving, resources, and whatever else I’m thinking about. If you see fit to share it with your friends, I’d be grateful. We’re building this together, you and I. And we have a book coming out – did I mention that? We need to let people know!
Hopefully this time next year we’ll check in and marvel at the amazing year we all had. That would be great. And hopefully, I’ll close out 2018 knowing that I’ve become a braver woman.
Love you so.