This morning I feel anxious.
The old feeling, one which had woken me up in the past, with shaking hands, a feeling of cold terror, and the urge to hide, accompanied every morning I had through junior high and high school. It scoured my confidence, and caused me to feel like an actor in a play, as I would walk the dreaded school halls. I didn’t know it at the time, but I had PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) from a long-repressed event that happened when I was a 5 year-old. All I knew, during those painful years, was that I didn’t fit, that something was wrong with me.
This morning I feel anxious, but nothing compared to what I used to feel. Now I understand the root of my feelings. I understand that feelings won’t kill you, and that, like bullies, if you face them, they disappear like a shadow in sunlight.
During those high school years, others seemed to have charmed lives. I would watch with yearning as the Beautiful People walked the halls in the morning ritual parade of who’s-who, and wished I could be the popular one, the confident one; beautiful, free of fear.
It took decades of healing, of self-reflection, to find my feet. It took time to unwrap the self-absorbed pain that mistakenly believed that everyone else had it together, that I was the only one on the outside, looking in. As I passed through stages of growth, I started to see other people’s pain. I realized, with a shock, that everyone I see is burdened, is brave, is fighting some kind of battle. Even those people in high school whom I was sure led “charmed lives,” went through pain, felt fear. We all do. It’s part of being human. It’s ironic to me, now, that I have had people who view my life as charmed. And from the outside, it is. I have a wonderful husband who is my best friend, two daughters who are good, loving people, parents that I love; I live in a big old Victorian home that my husband and I are renovating, with two dogs, two cats, and two hives of bees. From the outside, I’ve been handed a pretty sweet deal.
Yes, fear is still something I have in my life, but it doesn’t define me. And those points of time that were so painful to me, allow me to write stories for children and young adults, like my new young adult novel, The Great & the Small. It was born from trauma, but transformed into a story of hope and the strength of the human (and animal!) spirit. I am able to write from the point of view of a child, or a teenager struggling to find their way. Those ages are still part of me. It’s the place from which I write. That old pain has become an engine of creativity, which, when harnessed, has brought me great joy.
This morning, I feel anxious, and that’s okay.
About the author:
Andrea Torrey Balsara writes and illustrates for children and young adults. Her illustrated YA novel, The Great & the Small, which took 15 years to complete, has just been released. For more information on her books, or to contact Andrea, go to www.torreybalsara.com.
Find and Follow Andrea
Deep below the market, in the dark tunnels no human knows exist, a war has begun. Lead by the charismatic Beloved Chairman, a colony of rats plots to exterminate the ugly two-legs who have tortured them in labs, crushed them with boots, and looked at them with disgust for as long as anyone can remember. When the Chairman’s nephew is injured and a young two-leg nurses him back to health, however, doubt about the war creeps in. Now the colony is split: obey the Chairman and infect the two-legs with the ancient sickness passed down from the Old Ones, or ancient sickness passed down from the Old Ones, or do the unthinkable… Rebel.
“Pulling the reader in with a force and sense of purpose that never subsides… rife with gorgeous, sensitive illustrations, as well as thoughtful, intelligent prose.” Extract of Amazon review.
All artwork © Andrea Torrey Balsara, 2017. All Rights Reserved.