I quickly scanned through my inbox this morning on my phone while getting dressed. My eyes rested on an email from LinkedIn, notifying me that people were congratulating me on a work anniversary. Puzzled, I logged into the site to see what work I was being congratulated for, considering I don't have motherhood listed on my LinkedIn profile as my full-time gig.
I've been writing in this space for the past four years. Well, actually a little more than four years, closer to four and a half-my first actual post here was in March 2010. I wrote one or two posts after that, but it wasn't until November 2010 that I said, "I'm going to really make this a home for my words," and became intentional about utilizing this space to write out my thoughts and share my life.
Four years. So much has happened in my life since I made that first post (Truth vs. Circumstance), and I've chronicled most of it here with you. I started this space in part because I wanted to do just that-chronicle my life. I wanted to create a space where I could leave behind a legacy, a story for my boys to read when they're older and want to know about who I am as a person and a woman-not just their mother. I wanted to share my experiences with mental illness and abuse so others feel less alone and empowered to find beauty in their brokeness. I also just wanted to create a safe space where I could come and think and be completely A'Driane-as raw and honest and ME as I want to be...unmuted and free. Growing up, I wrote in journals, but my father always found them and took them away, threatening to use my words against me in some way. I was never given any agency as a child or teen nor the freedom to let my voice speak. So I wanted a space no one in my life could touch unless I allowed them to. So I came here and determined this would be a space I could process and find my way through my life.
I've written my way through postpartum depression and anxiety, my diagnosis of bipolar disorder, the ups and downs of my relationship with my husband who back in 2010 was just my boyfriend and co-parent. I've posted dance videos here, written about the soul work I did in therapy in 2011-2012. I graduated from one college and attended another for 2 semesters. I left the Church. My faith evolved to something completely different than what it was when I created this space. I've had two children since I began writing here; Alex is the same age as this space. I had my first psychiatric hospitalization. I moved to a brand new city. Brennan started school. Alex was diagnosed with Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder. I got married in the Texas Hill Country surrounded by family and friends. Austin was born. I stopped attending school and became a stay at home mother. I've completely rebuilt my life.
Writing my way through the highs and lows lead to my finding my voice as a mental health advocate. Two years ago, I attended a panel at BlogHer 12 that featured other women who blogged openly and willingly about "the issues." I walked out of that session with their words burning hot in my heart and shortly after began giving my thoughts on various social issues based on my lived experience, reawakening if you will, a deep passion for activism I've had since I was a kid. I've lead a team in a worldwide fundraiser and awareness initiative for Postpartum Progress and am a contributing editor to Postpartum Progress' blog. I'm currently working on a development project that will help Postpartum Progress diversify its outreach and engage mothers of color. I had the honor of helping in the initial planning of their upcoming Warrior Mom conference. I spoke at BlogHer's HealthMinder Day in 2013 on a panel about mental health and sharing in the online space. This year I was selected as a Voice of the Year and given the additional honor of reading my piece, "America's Not Here For Us" at the keynote reception...and received a standing ovation I left the stage too quickly to see, I've been told :) Upworthy picked up the video of me reading that piece and featured it on its site. I've been featured on BlogHer. I've been Freshly Pressed, and had the joy of hanging with the Automattic Team in the Wordpress booth at BlogHer. I've become a visual artist, opening a shop on Etsy to share my paintings. I've taken eCourses from amazing artists and creatives. I attended Lime Retreats with the phenomenal Karen Walrond aka Chookooloonks.
None of that compares the community I've found here though and in other spaces online over the last four years. Blogging here has brought the most incredible people into my life, some of whom have become my closest friends, my tribe. I've danced to Prince with some of my sHeroes. The Warrior Moms and the PPDChat communities are my sisters. I've been challenged, encouraged, loved on, lifted, and empowered by the people blogging has brought into my world. I've grown and changed in ways I wasn't expecting. I am the person I am typing these words because of my online community, because of YOU. You've celebrated with me, you've cried with me, you've danced with me, you've laughed and clowned with me, you've mentored me, you've hugged me when you saw me in person, you've said, "hey girl, I know you, come here, it's so good to finally meet you!" at conferences, you sent me gifts when I got married and love letters and rainbow colored flowers when I got home from the psych ward. You've befriended me and you've entertained all I've shared with you in the last 4 years. You've given me life and allowed me to share mine with you. I could go on, because there's so much more but I'd be here til the morning typing it all out, sharing memories...I'll just save those for future posts :)
I'm blown away by all that's happened since I sat down and typed the words "Butterfly Confessions" into the domain box and signed up for a Wordpress account. I honestly don't know what's next, and I'd be lying if I said I haven't wanted to walk away from this space from time to time over the last 4 years....but I keep coming back because this is home, this is my safe space, and I'd miss it too much to abandon it completely. So...I don't know where I'm going from here, but for right now I'm content with just being grateful for all this space and blogging have given to me. Thank you for reading.