There was a hole in my heart, and no matter how hard I tried, I didn't know how to fix it.
My failures, what became my greatest source of strength.
Little Love is based on my own story.
It poured out of me, almost as if I had been writing this story for years, and it just needed to be told. It needed to be said.
And it all started with a prayer.
I woke up one day in the early morning with my chest feeling like it was being split open. It was still dark outside, but I was wide awake, and I realized that I had woken up crying. I laid there, thinking about my life and asking myself how I had gotten here, and if it would ever be different.
And then I started to pray.
When I say pray, I don't mean like a formal I got on my knees and started throwing out thees and thous with perfect etiquette. I mean this was the snot filled, eyes so swollen I couldn't see, rocking back and forth, whole body sobbing kind of prayer.
It was ugly, and that's exactly what made it so beautiful.
I didn't hold back. I told God every thought, every fear, and every reason why my life had turned out wrong, and that it was his fault.
Yes, you heard me correctly. I told God how he was doing his job wrong.
I brought to the table every bit of evidence, every thing that had happened in my life that pointed to the only conclusion that I could make sense of, that God hated me.
God hates me. I shudder even typing those words, but at the time, this was my truth. It was the truth because it was the story I kept telling myself over and over again in my head because I couldn't understand how these terrible things kept happening to me. After awhile, I felt like I was being punished, or had done something to deserve it.
Just like anyone, I had dreams for my future and the life I would live. I'm sure your dream isn't that much different. Great family, beautiful home, great friends, great job, and great relationships. That sounds reasonable right? I mean that's what was modeled for me, if not by my family and friends then definitely from social media and culture.
I had of course felt deserving of those things. I had always been a decent, kind, faithful, and good person.
But life took a turn for the worst.
Almost back to back in a period of 4 years, I had overnight lost my best friend, I had an engagement dissolve from deception, had a failed business and crippling debt, and learned that it was quite possible that I wouldn't be able to have children.
Every dream, every desire, and every expectation that I had for my future.....was suddenly gone, ripped from me.....and I blamed myself.
The harder I tried to make my life better, the worse things got. The worse things got, the more helpless I felt.
Because here's the truth people:
You can't control tidal waves.
No, you can't control tidal waves. An unstoppable force that destroys everything in it's path instantly, and there's nothing you can do but brace for impact.
It was a daily battle in the aftermath, of picking up the debri, the pieces, and slowly starting to rebuild a life. A life that I didn't want, a life that I didn't ask for, and yet.....a life that I still had the responsibility of living.
I had experienced a total loss of control, and I had no idea how to cope.
The first place my symptoms started manifesting, was in my body. I would have night terrors, nightmares, and a level of exhaustion that I didn't know was even possible. My body was in a constant state of panic and my chest constantly hurt. I couldn't seem to control my emotions, and this began affecting every area of my life. I felt incredible amounts of shame, low self esteem, and self loathing. It changed how I viewed myself, how I related to others, and how I performed at my job.
I simply wasn't okay, and I began to realize that this was way over my head. I decided to go to counseling, and it was there that I truly learned that I was dealing with something that I was completely unfamiliar with: PTSD.
PTSD? I remember thinking, wasn't that something that war veterans experience? I hadn't known combat, and yet here I was being told that I had this condition and was clinically depressed.
Now how did I know this? Because I went to talk therapy faithfully and religiously for 2 years, and through practicing a lot of self care, I thought I was healed. Only I wasn't. One year later, I experienced another loss that triggered a traumatic flashback, a symptom of PTSD.
Note: Traumatic flashbacks are a completely separate thing than anxiety or panic attacks. With traumatic flashbacks, there's no past or present. Time is blended together. Your body recreates every sensation of terror you felt in the past, in the present moment. There's no difference. It's like reliving hell, or your worst nightmare over and over again, and you have no idea when it will happen, or what will trigger it.
It wasn't until I read the book, "the Body Keeps the Score," that I really began to understand what I needed to do in order to heal.
Within 3 months after receiving EMDR therapy which is specifically created for trauma, did I begin to see progress.
But there was still the other struggles to come. The loss of a business, and my health struggles with PCOS. It was a perfect storm of trials. Some from the harshness of life, some from my own naivety, and some as the consequences of others choices.
So fast forward again to me saying this prayer.
At this point, almost 4 years later, I was ready to ask a different question.
Because here's the thing, up to that point, I wasn't interested in overcoming my pain.
I was only interested in having it be gone.
The answer came very clearly. I was asking the wrong question, and because I was asking the wrong question, I was missing the whole point.
Somehow without even realizing it, I had bought into the lie that suffering makes you special. Some days I wore it like a badge of honor because it gave me excuses. Excuses to hold on to anger. Excuses to blame others, and the worst, to look down on or invalidate the feelings of those who I felt didn't have it as hard as I did.
Don't get me wrong, what I had experienced was one of the hardest and most isolating times of my life. I don't mean to invalidate my own experiences, but over time I realized that my pain was nothing more than fear.
And the need to self preserve and control, turned me into the ugliest version of myself.
It's hard to talk about this, and to look back on the woman that I had become. She was filled with bitterness, self loathing, and a brittle hardness that shaped her into a survivor. She lacked faith, and she lacked vision. She lacked humility.
Because I was constantly trying to quiet my pain, I wasn't willing to learn the purpose or meaning in my suffering. In other words, I wasn't willing to love ALL of myself. And because there was no purpose to my pain, there was no purpose to my happiness.
I didn't understand that my trials were actually a stepping stone for me to learn and grow. I didn't understand that I actually was that strong, and that peace didn't and couldn't come from anyone else or any thing, or from any outcome. I didn't understand grace, that I could be in pain and still choose to be happy by simply embracing it and knowing that God loved me no matter what.
I learned that life wasn't happening to me. It was happening through me.
This was a complete turning point for me.
And that's when the words of my story, Little Love came to me.
Truly if you're going to ask me, Rose how do you write a book? I wouldn't know the first thing to tell you, because this was not the typical experience of writing a book. Like I said, these words poured out of me. I felt like I was watching a reel of my experiences, of this girls journey as an outside observer.
In about an hour, I had written the entire story.
I have worked on dozens of creative projects in my lifetime. I know how to communicate an idea, how to write proposals, how to form content, all of it. And not once previously in any other creative project have I experienced what I experienced in writing Little Love.
I can say that it truly was nothing short of inspiration.
I simply started with trying to put into words how I felt. " I feel like there's a hole in my heart, and I can't fill it no matter how hard I try."
But as I wrote, I was overcome with an emotion of a different kind.
I pictured myself differently. I pictured 5 year old Rose, 12 year old Rose, 19 year old Rose, 24 year old Rose, and now 30 year old Rose, and my heart was filled with a love for this girl. I saw all of her weaknesses. I saw all of her self doubt, mistakes, and self struggles, but I also saw how incredibly strong and kind she was. I saw how she refused to give up. And I saw how she truly wanted nothing more than to be a good person. I saw myself how God saw me.
This wasn't a story about PTSD or trauma. This was a story about an existential crisis, about who I was, my purpose, and what I had come to understand: that true happiness comes from within. It's not something that's found.
I learned that every thing in life, good and bad, will all lead to the same end, a complete version of myself. There's value in success, there's value in failure. There's no difference, it's just a different side of the same coin, and because there's no difference, I could feel complete freedom regardless of any outcome or circumstance.
I could be happy.
And the craziest part is, I'm the happiest I've ever been, and it's exactly because of all of my trials, the exact ones I kept asking to be removed.
My circumstances even now haven't drastically changed, but I've changed. I've come to value the simple things and I've come to see life differently.
I've learned that in time, things do heal, if we if we decide to tell ourselves a different story, and Little Love is the story that I believe in.
Little Love isn't just my story, it's the story of so many people. My experiences and struggles certainly weren't unique. Anyone can struggle with feelings of abandonment, disappointment, abuse, depression, sickness, self doubt, self confidence, and the list goes on and on.
Little Love is a story about overcoming fear, about embracing who you are, and about choosing to make a difference no matter what hand you've been dealt with in life. We can all make lemonade with lemons.
So I'm here to tell you that you are enough, that you are loved, and that no matter how hopeless things can seem, when you feel like the world has turned it's back on you, you are not alone. You are beating the odds. You are becoming resilient. You are brave. You are strong. And you can choose to let these struggles mold you into the best version of yourself.
You simply just need to believe it 🙂