We’re going to travel back in time to 2010. I know, it feels like ages ago, but it’s important. Because that was the year that reading helped me cope- YA saved my life.
I wouldn’t say that I’ve had a particularly easy or laid back life. At 21 years old I’ve already gone through a lot of things that many people will never have to face in their lifetime. But I’m not a special case because there are a lot of people who have endured what I have- some even worse. But today we’re not talking about their story, we’re talking about mine.
I grew up in a broken home. I had an abusive father who routinely beat my mother and liked to sip a little too much (and I’m not talking about apple juice). When he was taken out of the equation my mother never remarried and I grew up fatherless. I don’t dwell on it too much though because my mother is an amazing and strong women who, despite facing hard times and poverty herself, raised me to be a strong independent woman who knew she was capable of chasing after her dreams.
Money was tight and we didn’t have a lot, of anything really. We could barely afford food and there were times that all we had to eat was plain bread. Again, I was a kid so I didn’t understand or mind. I enjoyed it and my siblings and I were happy. What we did have, though, was a library card. From before I could read I was fascinated with books. At the age of two I had completely memorized Cat in the Hat and read it back to my family. I was overly eager to learn how to read and at times cried because I couldn’t. Not only that I loved the art of story telling. I would hold my mother and Grandparents hostage spinning elaborate tales and forcing them to write them for me.
Fast forward to my teenage years. We had relocated from the city we lived in to my tribe’s reservation. Being 30 minutes away from any sort of civilization there isn’t a lot to do, and many people fall into doing things they shouldn’t. I like to believe that contributes to the high rate of suicide, drug, and alcohol abuse. Because of that, I relied a lot on reading. Like I said, we were 30 minutes away from the nearest town and library, so when I went I stacked up enough to last me until we made another trip out. I barried myself in books and got lost in worlds light years away from the one I lived in. I was invigorated and empowered, saving species and battling enemies. I used it as an escape. Even when I was confused about my own life reading helped me come back with fresh eyes.
Then I entered one of the hardest periods in my life. I was going through a phase of teenage rebellion, hanging with the wrong crowd, trying to rush my childhood and swore I knew everything. Then I was sexually assaulted, taken out of school, had a stint with depression and multiple suicide attempts, and felt like I had lost myself.
I didn’t understand who I was anymore and everything had been stripped from me. I had lost all my friends and didn’t know where to go from there. I hadn’t read in far too long, but I picked up a copy of The Maze Runner by James Dashner one day and I lost myself- in the best and purest way. After letting other things get in the way and convincing myself that I didn’t have the time to read I caved and fell back in love with the very thing that had called to me when I was just two years old crying because I couldn’t read. I fell madly in love with the rush of adventure and solace that were held between the pages. When I was down and felt the itch to return to my self harm I read. I read when I was happy and I read when I was sad. I read everything I could get my hands on. I can’t even name all of the books and words I spent time in. There were so many authors whose words picked me up and cradled me between their letters. Their books were a crutch and a hug all at once. That’s when I decided that was what I wanted to do with my life. Follow the passion that I had from the beginning and hope that one day it would reach the right person, maybe a teen in the same place I was. Someone looking for a healthy escape. I wanted to write characters they could be friends with when they felt like they had none.
So here I am building my career around that idea.
Writing for those who need it.
That’s how YA not only saved my life but breathed new breath into it.
Does anyone else have a similar story? I’d love to hear how reading helped you through hard times too ❤