Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Hitting the wall... and finding the other side

So far, in this blog, I have written about my experiences in opening a bookstore. I haven't yet shared too much about myself personally, and I haven't shared much with regards to the stress involved in a project like this. I may have mentioned it, but I'm really good at paving over whatever stress I'm feeling.

I'm really good at doing that.

Then something small will come along, and it's the lit piece of straw that sets off the entire bomb, blowing that smooth road all to hell. It usually blows up at those closest to me, and then at myself. Why am I not doing more? How am I not working harder on this project? When in reality, it's just the mess of stressful thoughts that have already been swirling around my mind for the last several weeks.
My amazing family unit!

This is a cycle that has gone on essentially since I was a child. Mixed in with the "normal" stress of puberty, body image issues, bullying, and classroom/home life, I also has the extra strain of numerous surgeries from a rare spinal birth defect. I won't begin to say I've fully recovered from those years of screaming tantrums and fights with my mom and dad that my sister often witnessed. But time does shade over them, and brings with it maturity and wisdom. And forgiveness. As an adult, my parents and sister and I have had numerous talks about those years and the pain and fury I felt and inflicted.

Chemo me, circa summer 2008. I'm reading the YA novel "Carpe Diem."
I won't say it was easier to cope with scary, scary cancer as a 24-year-old, but again with growing up comes maturity. Despite the 13 surgeries I had already gone through - some of them pretty terrifying in nature - I had come out of that experience a (mostly) happy and content young adult who was ready to explore the world. The rage I felt at the universe, God, Gaia, whatever deity or science that created those tumors in my body ignited in me both fury and a fiery need to live. I HAD NOT gone through everything as a child and teenager JUST to be brought down by another, unrelated disease.

This battle, now six and a half years behind me, brought its own stresses, blow ups, and triumphs. In the last year or so - when I finally started really feeling strong in body, mind, and spirit, rather like that plucky 20-year-old version of myself- I began to dream of what I would do with my life.

The answer was so easy. Books. Books have been, from day one, something I've clung to, to see past the scary. Past the darkness in myself. I could see the goodness in characters, and if these characters were battling (and winning!) big, scary circumstances like I was, I could surely rise up and conquer whatever was in my way. The wall. The wall I hit every time I had a tantrum, a blow up, a fight with a loved one. On the other side of the wall, there were tears, but also hugs and reassurances of love.

Yesterday, I hit my wall with opening this store. I said a lot of things like "this just isn't worth it" and "I should just set this down, walk away" minus an expletive or five. I yelled at my husband, who took the brunt of it and then started helping me brainstorm. Who assured me that under no uncertain terms would I be able to let myself walk away. That this is important. The Neverending Bookshop is already a part of my life, and while large parts of it are currently in other people's hands, this bookstore feels like the culmination of what I've been working on throughout my life.

World Book Night 2014 with friends.
I hit the wall yesterday, and now I'm on the other side. Who knows what's waiting for me over here. I hope it's strength and guidance and love and silliness. I think that's all anyone can hope to find on the other side of life's wall.


  1. I'm so excited for you, Annie! I'll definitely be coming across the water for a visit when you open.

  2. You are so strong, Annie! You can do this. Stop and breathe, it will happen in good time. Patti