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The Awfulizer

I have talked before about The Awfulizer and a bit about the journey that brought me to the story. The book (I have a book, guys!) is about to be released, so I thought I would talk a little bit more about it and the process.

I started therapy for shame back in 2016. I decided to go after having a fight (or talk) with Matt. I realized I was falling into some patterns of behavior that I really did not like. I knew from my past that while I am really good at recognizing and naming poor behavior in myself, I was not good at changing those patterns. I knew I needed more than just my late-night epiphanies to make sure I was not only healthy for my family, but for myself as well.

A year into not only one-on-one therapy but also an amazing group therapy, I had the idea of the Awfulizer. I realized he was a great character for kids to understand shame and what shame does: make you feel awful. I had joked about doing a kids book about the Awfulizer, but it was still just an idea.

The real catalyst was when I started noticing my own kids having some shame talk. I knew what a life led by shame looked like, and I did not want that for my kids.

I had been doing therapy, but I was not sure I trusted myself to be the only resource for my kids’ journey so I scheduled a meeting with our school counselor. When we started talking, I asked if there were any books or tools that I could use to help me and my kids navigate through this. The counselor did not know any off the top of her head, but promised to research and get back to me. Her search did not turn up much.

That was when I decided to try and take what I had learned and put it in a way my kids could understand. The Awfulizer was what came out. It actually came out as three separate books. Being a parent, I understand the dread you feel when your kid pulls that one book for bedtime that takes 30 minutes to read, and I did not want that. I also felt that there were certain subjects that had to be covered, so I came up with three stories that covered the three most important steps in my journey to health.

Once I had the stories, I sent them to a lot of people. I really liked them, but that didn’t mean they were actually good. I sent them to friends who write, I sent them to friends who were counselors, and I sent them to moms. I wanted to see what people thought and get their feedback. I got some tips, a lot of grammar help and encouragement that this was something needed out there, so I started submitting my book to publishers.

Fun fact: I got rejected by every publisher that I sent it to. I got the same response from everyone: “This is not a subject matter we are looking to cover right now.” I was all set to start looking into self-publishing when one of my friends who had read my book (hi, Jenny!) went to a dinner party. She happened to be sitting next to my future publisher, and over dinner, they talked books and life. Jenny mentioned my story to her, and she agreed to meet with me to talk about the book and give me some advice.

The meeting went well, and long story short I ended up with a signed a publishing contract. That was where the real work began. While it had been really therapeutic for me to write the book, once the book became “real,” it became really therapeutic. Putting myself and my work out there has helped delve further into my healing process, exposing wounds that I don’t think I would have found if things had stayed the way they were.

I think I, like everyone, have some pretty sneaky ways of staying in my tried-and-true blueprints of behavior, even if they are not necessarily the most healthy patterns. It’s easy to limit yourself, your achievements and even your dreams. Your subconscious thinks it is helping you and keeping you protected, but it may also be the throttle holding you back from great things. I think a lot of my shame and fear worked as a throttle. As the book became more and more real, I had to take my throttle off. I had no choice. The book was moving forward with or without me, so I had to work on making myself ready.

It’s been an interesting journey, and one I’m sure I’ll talk about more on this blog once I feel like I have a full grasp on it. I think I’m at the understanding point now — recognizing limiting behaviors that were so subtle I never even noticed them. Freezing is one of them. Doing (in other words, “How much busy work can I give myself?”) is another. It’s funny how one was something that I was always ashamed of and the other was one I thought of as an accomplishment, but they both were doing the same thing: stopping me, throttling me, from risk but also from reward.

I’m just glad I’m at a point where, because I have been working and pushing myself, I can say I have a book about to be released. I will be doing some interviews, writing some articles and just spreading my own story and message about shame and its impact on kids. I’m nervous, but I’m really excited, too. Thank you all for walking this journey with me!

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