I didn’t like being called a book worm as a child. Not because I didn’t hold pride in my love and appetite for great books but because it was always tied together with what I was not.
The truth is I lived so much of my childhood caught up in the escape of books and fiction, living vicariously through the adventures, conflict, and resolution found within as a means of escape from chaos.
In those worlds, I was strong and heroic, fast and witty, and pain made me cunning.
Writing was that haven as well. Stories. Journals. Songs. Letters. Writing—words I didn’t know how to or wasn’t allowed to speak so I wrote them down and shoved them in between or under drawers, slipped into half-written school notebooks and pockets, and burned with the paper garbage lest they be found. Release.
It’s been a way I’ve processed life. Words. When I close my eyes, I don’t see pictures. I see letters and spelling–words–and every conversation first takes place at my fingers before it ever touches my lips.
As I eventually learned to healthfully navigate life outside of fiction, I found myself putting aside books. I still loved those worlds, but just maybe I didn’t need their havens as much any more. It’s amazing how that happens.
Healing can be funny by offering freedom from the things you loved that you used to need. Reading and writing used to be my safe place, like a stuffed animal to a child afraid of the dark, who upon greater growth determines that comforting animal is no longer a necessity.
But healing also often offers those same escapes back to you renewed. Like that old favorite toy, I have recently visited the old luggage and boxes of storage and washed, smoothed, and set on my night stand that joy found in words, a reminder of that which I love but no longer require.
It’s not an escape now from this real world. It’s a tool I use to better navigate it.
Words no longer hide me. They no longer stow me away in secret adventures or burn away my pain amongst old cardboard boxes.
They empower me and give strength and wings, give me direction and hope, and grow me in boldness as I share that healing.
Last year I read 64 books ranging from teen fiction to self-help, Bible study, and read-alouds, and I hope to spend a little time embracing that once forlorn title of “book nerd” and sharing their joys here. I hope you all grow to love these words as much as I do.