As 2018 began to draw to a close, I felt a little unsettled on a personal level. I watched my social feed flood with summaries of the year that was, resolutions for the year ahead and mostly what felt like the world publicly taking stock of where they were at. I lost count of the times I opened Instagram and thought about posting a farewell message for the year and just couldn’t. Nothing came. Just the unease.
For a while there, December 31 brought with it emotions that had me flipping the bird to the year I’d barely made it through and praying life couldn’t get any worse. Then finally, first light. 2016 was a year of new beginnings and hope reaffirmed. 2017 saw us welcome our second baby and we bought a home to really settle into our life in Queensland. We had ticked things off our goal list and rolled into 2018 with purpose. I’d reached out to my editor at The Eye and got back into writing since having Jones. I was journalling in the mornings, writing at night and focusing on myself again. Everything moving as it was meant to, albeit requiring me to be disciplined in my approach, the flow naturally there. Easter arrived and with it my husband’s three year clean and serene anniversary and the universe gave me an almighty shove to do the thing I’d wanted to do for years; share the most personal piece of writing I had ever written. The magnitude of what followed was something I could never have anticipated. Our story was thrust into the public eye on a national platform and required both of us to face some really uncomfortable moments. Not between the two of us, we knew how strong and stable we were, but it meant us opening up publicly and allowing ourselves and our children to be judged by others. Once this was out there, there was no going back. There was anxiety and recurring dreams but the universe kept pushing me. I knew we needed to do this. I just had to trust there was a larger plan and this was all happening for a reason. Since our story aired, I’ve lost count of the strangers who’ve reached out to us, explaining they are going through the same thing. Mothers with smalls and their husband’s have just entered detox. Husbands with wives who are the throws of active addiction. Highly educated people with jobs in the top tier sector reaching out for someone to talk to because they don’t know how to help their loved one. It’s allowed me to share the knowledge I learned through all the therapy I did. It’s allowed Carl to really understand what I was going through when he was in active addiction. It’s been a very therapeutic process for the both of us and has made us understand that his addiction was as necessary to our life journey as the air we breathe. His addiction was the catalyst for something for much greater, writing being one of them for me.
The ripple effect from those moments, connections made within our community, it gave me the courage to continue sharing on a public level. I began to submit more of my personal work with the hopes of being published and succeeded. I still remember the first time I got paid to write, I danced in the hallway with Baker, feeling insanely proud of achieving something I had only ever dreamed of. I quickly changed my Instagram bio from aspiring writer to writer. Full stop. No hiding anymore, this is what I wanted and I wasn’t going to stop until I got it. I continued to write for one of the best new magazines in the country and with it honed my abilities to research and share stories that connect with others. Each time there were moments of trepidation, was I good enough to be doing this, am I doing this person justice in delivering their message. Each time I’d finish an article I’d enjoy that sense of achievement, immediately followed by eagerness to get my hands on the physical copy when it was released so I could stack it on my bookshelf in the section reserved for my own published work. Again, another thing that was only ever a dream.
In 2018, I went from one published article the prior year to 23. As I sat reflecting on that number as the year drew to a close, instead of being elated, I was daunted by what is to come. For the first year since becoming a mother, I was doing something just for me. Not as a mother or wife but Courtney, the woman. I was doing what I needed to do to live my life how I wanted. I was harnessing my creative energy as best I could but at times, I didn’t and still don’t know how to let it come out. Sometimes it harbours inside, swirling and moving in an attempt to escape but the knock backs, the unreturned emails and unanswered submissions form a strong hold and I feel paralysed with doubt. What if 2018 was my peak? What if, this year, I try and fail? I feel like I’m at a complete impasse between my head and my heart. I have no idea how to navigate the road from here. How to take steps forward in an effort to continue to grow, evolve, succeed. I have no clue what I am doing and I’m scared to death of never knowing. Deep breathe.
So as I try to lean into the discomfort of the unknown, there is only one intention that keeps presenting itself to me for the year ahead: Just write. Write about anything and everything. Because writing means vulnerability. Writing means developing. Writing means connecting. Writing means reading. Reading means opening my mind and experiencing new things. It opens dialogue in conversations I may never have had and leads to discoveries of new passions I didn’t know I felt. Writing, ultimately, is my anchor. Without it, I’m lost.
As I went to post this, I opened my deck of CrazySexy Love Notes by Kris Carr that had been tucked away in my cupboard for a long time to find this on the top. Well played, Universe. Hold my hand while I try.