The Unexpected Gift: How a Book Event Helped Heal My Inner Child
It was after my book event in Toronto when my conversation partner invited me with some of his friends for drinks at a nearby bar. Somewhat anxious after the event, but mostly elated from all of the love and gratitude I’d received, I decided to join because the release of an after-event drink usually does my spirit well.
You know, if I had a kid, I’d be so proud if he was just like you. You’re kind. You’re curious. You’re brave. That makes sense to me.
As I travel throughout the country for my tour, I had to fight a sense of loneliness — loneliness for the fact of all the grief that I was experiencing over the past year from losing my writing mentor, and my friend from college, and my grandmother. This loneliness was compounded by being in new cities, wanting to meet up with friends in the cities that might not be available, and having to negotiate what is meant to experience these new life milestones alone and far away from communities that I got used to.
Loneliness is strange because it always has some origin or flawed belief. For me, it comes from the feeling I always had a child that said , Maybe they don’t want to listen or care what you have to say. Say it quickly and get it out so there’s less attention on you.
But what does it mean to be lonely when you are also grateful, also grappling towards savoring the moment when you can stare down your dream, and now that your inner child is healing? You push through the loneliness anyway.
After the Toronto book event, I signed copies of my book. Person after person came up, usually people that looked like they could be aunts or uncles. They congratulated me on living a big life, for having the courage to share my stories, and for being so vulnerable during the event. Although I could register what they were saying, a strange and beautiful feeling bubbled up in my chest.
I couldn’t beg down this feeling until I walked away from my dinner and drinks with Mr. Walcott and their friends; the feeling radiating through me was joy and loss.
Joy for the beautiful moments of validation that I was experiencing. Loss for the child in me that hungered for those moments as the youngest of two latchkey kids with an immigrant mother that had bills to pay and not the time to satiate some of our childhood emotional needs. To be seen and seen for your beauty. For your love of the world around you. For the power, it has taken for you to come this far. To be reparented by your own writing and the world is a strange and overwhelming thing. To love something that saves you again and again and again.
This is what struck me as I left the restaurant and walked back to my hotel. I realized, “I’m 28 years old and living in NYC and finding new ways to love, to hold myself, to let go of some of the past, even if that past is a part of me.”
So there was some of the loss too; realizing that healing meant I had to let go of some of the pain, of some of the story to be an adult less affected by it and more moved by the kindness in front of me.
Is this grief and joy as well? I’m not sure of the answer, but I am willing to find out. And I am proud.
Because I always like ending MWL with some kind of writing resource or post,