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FROM BOOKWORM TO WRITER: HOW I BECAME AN INDIE AUTHOR
Getting married at 49 is a big deal; At least for me it was. Let me go back a few years: After being a victim of abuse by my ex-husband, for 17 years, and falling into another bad relationship after that, I thought I was going to be alone for the rest of my life. Between the time I was divorced from my ex-husband, and the second abusive relationship I hurled toward, I obtained my Bachelor's degree in Sociology. This was a huge accomplishment for me, especially since my ex-husband didn't allow me to go to school. "Didn't allow me..." I still cringe at that when I think about it.
The next relationship was not much better, it seemed better at first, "I'm not like him," was the famous line of, "Bob," (Not his real name), talking about my ex-husband. He took me out to eat, was very attentive, bought me flowers; it all seemed very romantic at the time, and I fell into it, hook, line, and sinker. I had no self-esteem, and I was afraid to be alone. Then Bob's true colors came out one day while we were leaving a restaurant, after dinner. A man saw us approaching the doors and held the door open for me, I smiled and said, "Thank you." As I walked through the doorway, I heard Bob snarl in a loud voice, "Don't look at her ass!" I was horrified, as my face turned scarlet. I was about to apologize to the gentleman, but when I looked his way, Bob turned to me and rasped, "Were you looking at him!" "No!" I replied, on the verge of tears. A little voice in the back of my head mocked, "Here we go again."
At first, I found the jealousy, kind of flattering, like I was being protected. When I think about it now, I know how irrational that was. I couldn't have any male friends. If I was at work, and he heard a male voice in the background, I got interrogated. He would call me at work a few times a day, and got annoyed when I said I couldn't talk. I was a department store manager at the time, and had people in and out of my office all day. Not feeling fulfilled by my job, I decided to apply to graduate school. Surprisingly, Bob supported my decision. I got accepted into a graduate program for Mental Health Counseling, in a college in Pennsylvania; it was 3 hours away.
I had always wanted a career where I would be helping people. In hindsight, I really couldn't help anyone else though, until I helped myself. This, I did not realize until later on. Bob and I went to P.A, to look for an apartment for me, close to school. The plan was that he would come up on the weekends. Why I still stayed with him at all, was still a mystery to me. During my studies, I started seeing a therapist. As a counseling student, you were expected to do this anyway, to feel what it was like on the other side of the desk, so to speak. I found out a lot about myself. I found out I had anxiety, and low self esteem. That explained the heart palpitations I frequently experienced, and why I spent most of my time alone.
I felt like a zombie most days, just going through the motions, spending all me free time working on school papers and projects. Bob would come up on weekends, I would continue with my studies and my part-time job; life went on. Then it happened, the bottom fell out from under me, and I thought I would die.
Bob started coming up less frequently. At first, I chalked it up to him being tired, driving up on the weekend, and then going back home, and having to work the whole week. He worked full time as a Crrections Officer, and was supporting me until I got my degree. I thought I was doing the right thing for the both of us, even though I knew deep down, this was not a great relationship. Now it was a few months, and no Bob. He sounded differently when he spoke on the phone, I noticed charges to our joint debit card to restaurants and other places we had never been to. He made up crazy excuses like, "Oh, I just stopped there for a drink after work and the server overcharged me." Every fiber of my being was screaming warning signals. I might have been naïve, but I wasn't stupid.
When I told my sister over the phone one day, what was going on she said, "He's definitely cheating!" I guess I didn't want to believe it, after all, I was doing this for us, I always treated him well. Then a month later, I received an email from him, when I read it, my heart sank, and I was overwhelmed with nausea. It read, "You still have boxes of stuff at my mom's house, my fiancé, and I will be up to drop it off, and I will give you my key, do not contact me anymore."
"FIANCE?" When did that happen? It didn't make sense to me. So, he was cheating on me this whole time? I was busting my butt at school, and working, for what? My life, so I thought, was a complete wreck. He was supporting me, how was I going to live, pay my rent, and bills? Every time I told him I wanted to get a full time job, he had told me, "No, I don't even want you working; you should just concentrate on school." "How stupid was I?" I yelled at myself. You'd have thought I had learned my lesson. One by one, he shut my cell phone down, my credit card, and I received threatening emails from his mother telling me not to touch the bank account. I had to go to school and take out an emergency loan, just to keep afloat.
I felt completely deflated, and I knew I must have looked like hell. It was the first day of classes of the new semester, and my professor, looking very concerned, asked me if I was okay. I tried to smile and told him I was just tired. Then, that night, I realized I couldn't do this anymore. After doing practicum last semester, (Practicum is when you actually start counseling people, and get graded on It.), I realized, I didn't want to do this as a career, I found it very depressing. I almost cried along with my clients. Listening to people who had been abused brought up the ghosts of my past experiences, and I didn't want to be haunted anymore.
I went to my professor and told him my boyfriend left me, and I couldn't afford to go to school anymore. I found a full time job, and still kept my part time job. I went into a deep depression.ommy
A good friend of mine, who kept checking on me, was getting married a few months later, and invited me to her wedding. A couple of other girls I went to school with were also invited, and they coaxed me to go with them. I figured what the heck, I had $40,000 in student loan debt, I was alone and abandoned, what did I have to lose? I had a great time at the wedding, and tried to see my friends more.
A few months later, I happened to be on Facebook. I figured I would try to connect with some old friends back in New York. I found my friend Jenna, and we reminisced. It felt so good to talk to an old friend. For some reason, a guy I used to work with when I was around 18, popped into my head. "I wonder how Tommy is doing." I thought to myself. I looked him up, and friend requested him. A day later I noticed he accepted and had instant messaged me. I wound up breaking down and telling him what happened to me. He was so easy to talk to, and very sympathetic. He told me, "Don't worry, one day you'll meet your prince charming." (Little did I know, it was going to be him!) We reminisced about the old times; we used to work in Sears, but we were both very shy. We started messaging each other every day, until one day he said to me, "Hey, do you want to talk on the phone?" So I said, "Sure, when?" He replied, "How about now, my fingers are getting tired!" I started laughing, and it felt so good. We began talking every day. He called me during my lunch breaks, we talked until midnight after we both got home from work. We had so much in common. He told me about the woman who pretty much did the same thing to him, as Bob did to me. Before I knew it, it was Christmas time. Tommy's mother had invited me to come to her house for Christmas but I was too nervous, and I was afraid to drive that far, I'm more of a drive close to home person. My sister suggested I ask him to come up by me. "Do you really think I should," I asked her nervously. She laughed, "Alisa, you're almost 50 years old, live a little! Besides, you already know him, and he's a nice guy."
I invited him come up for New Years, and he said yes. I was nervous, and excited. When he first got there, and came to the door, we hugged each other hello. Right away I felt at ease. He was a perfect gentleman, and we had a wonderful time. We actually stayed up all night, laughing. After that wonderful weekend, he started coming up more often. He had told me he told his mom, "She's just like me, in female form!" I knew after a few months that I had found my soul mate, and that this was meant to be. After a year, Tommy asked me to move in with him, and a year after that, he proposed.
Always supportive, when I told him one day, "I want to be a writer," He told me, "Honey, if that's what you want to do, I stand behind you a hundred percent, go for it!" I already had two stories on my laptop that were just waiting to be told. He bought me a computer and set it up for me. I've always been an avid reader, and he bought me a beautiful set of bookshelves to place my mountain of books on. We joke with each other all the time that I'm Belle, and he's the beast. Once my computer was ready to go, I began perusing every article I could find on how to self publish a book. I came upon a wonderful article by Carrie Lowrance, who self-published her first children's book, "Don't Eat Your Boogers, You'll Turn Green. In Ms. Lowrance's article, she gives you step by step instructions on what she did to make her dream come true, after receiving rejection letters from a few major publishers. I decided right then and there, that this is what I was going to do. I didn't want any more time to go by without me trying to fulfill my dream of being an author, or be sorry later on that I didn't even try. Yes, I was kicking myself a little bit because I was wishing I started when I was younger, but I figured, better late than never!
I had my story written, so my next step was to contact an illustrator, and a formatter. I contacted the ladies Ms. Lowrance used, and they were wonderful. It's a little pricey for illustrations when you write a children's book, but I wanted my first book to look appealing, and I love the way, "Dipsy Doodle's Noodle," came out! While I was going back and forth with the illustrator and formatter, making sure things were the way I wanted and so on, I started promoting my book on Face book and Instagram, I started a Face book author page, and joined some wonderful groups on Face book. There is a plethora of good information on the internet, if you know where to look. I definitely recommend joining authors and writer's groups on Face book, as well as booklovers groups, and so on. Don't be afraid to ask questions, and do your research. I contacted my local library, and the librarian of the children's department said they would be happy to set up an event for me, so I'm excited about that as well. I cannot wait to have a copy of my book in my hand.
In conclusion, I have to say to any woman who has any self doubt, or is thinking negatively, about herself, please do not give up. Surround yourself with positive people. You deserve every happiness, and you are worth it. If you are feeling depressed, or you are a victim of abuse, please get help. Counseling can do wonders for you, and it is nothing to be ashamed of. Finally, go for your dreams, if not now, when? My family is so proud of me, but, more importantly, I'm proud of myself.
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