Now we all know that when my life started over the last time, I gained earth angels along the way to encourage me through the journey. One year ago, I was blessed with an earth angel at the tail end of a huge battle. She kind of floated into my present life in the most unexpected way. Even now, I count that blessing and fill with gratitude at just the thought of her bringing a different light to my story.
Cady McClain has been a constant presence in my life since I was nine years old. When I was a child, my mother watched soap operas (I distinctly remember All My Children, One Life to Live, General Hospital and Days of Our Lives…) so naturally I saw them and they became routine and a comfort when comfort was hard to come by. Cady played Dixie on All My Children and as a kid, there was something about her that drew me in. Something felt safe. I didn’t quite comprehend it. There was that longing for a sense of comfort again. it’s weird watching fictional characters through a screen sometimes – like a magic mirror view into a different life.
There’s a thing that happens when you grow up watching soap operas, and I honestly can’t prove this to be true about any other television genre; You’re ingrained with fierce loyalty. If you enjoy an actor, character or show. you follow them or the shows wherever they go, until they’re done. In the case of a soap actor, if they explore a new medium like music, art, writing and so on, you follow there too. Cady is the most creative of humans, so she has always been here for as long as I can remember in the far-away sense. I never imagined in a million lifetimes that our paths would cross beyond the constant it had always been. Cady has a blog and writes many things so there was definitely opportunity occasionally to reach out once I’d grown up, but I was quiet for a long time. I didn’t really know how to approach it, so I sat silent, with the magic-mirror-view I’d always known.
And then last April happened.
Cady joined The Young and the Restless and released her memoir, Murdering My Youth in the same week last April. So with that loyalty, off I followed to Y&R even though I vowed to never watch another soap opera. I got hooked and fully invested almost immediately. Damn it! I thought. They got me. I also pre-ordered a copy of Cady’s memoir and waited patiently for it to arrive in the mail…
Remember when I mentioned she floated in to help me through the end of a huge battle? It was the fight through to my independence. In this battle she joined ranks with the rest of my angels. On April 24th, I picked out my apartment. I didn’t know at the time it was going to turn into an even longer fight. On April 25th I got Cady’s book in the mail and began reading it. Murdering My Youth was not an easy read for me. I had to constantly take breaks from it because it too closely mirrored my childhood. The more I read, the more it scared the crap out of me, but it also soothed me at the same time. I didn’t know how to process what was happening and what I was feeling. And to have it be coming from someone who unknowingly was a part of my life when the same awful things were happening to me, it just put me on overload. There was not a single person I felt comfortable talking to about this… except Cady.
Four days later, on April 29th, I finished the book and then did what I’d always been too shy and too scared to do, I reached out to Cady. Under complete lock-and-key, I wrote out all of my feelings. I told her of the connection I felt as a child. I told her of most of the ways our stories were so similar. I told her how it’s one thing when someone says they understand what you have been through, but that it’s a whole other beast when someone actually SHOWS you they understand. I didn’t know what to do with that. In my entire 30+ years on this planet, she was the first person ever to show me understanding in the way I needed my whole life. It had NOTHING to do with who she was to me before this, and EVERYTHING to do with the most raw and delicate form of human connection. I let my broken pieces, my heart and my soul go in my words. I told her things I’ve never told anyone. Her honesty, strength and bravery was exactly what I needed for longer than I realized.
I sent her what I wrote and between the time I sent it and the time I knew she’d gotten it, I thought I was going to throw up. WHAT DID I JUST DO?! I kept screaming in my head. NO ONE KNOWS HALF OF THIS SHIT. SHE’S GOING TO THINK I’M CRAZY. My hands were shaking as I clicked the notification I got a little while later. She read my words. She took them to heart. She responded. We talked. That connection and that honesty… it was even stronger than before I said a word. Through virtual space, she wrapped me up in her arms and made me believe in ME and made me feel what it meant to be okay with who I was long ago and who I am now. It’s been a whole year, and I am a completely different human being.
I get told a lot that I need to tell my story, or at the very least, I should be writing something. I’d lost that for awhile and had no idea how I was ever going to find it again. Cady approached this in a different way. She told me almost immediately that once the fight was over and I was home for good, I needed to not necessarily just write, but I needed to create. I needed to create something, anything and not stop until I found me. You know why? I realized who I was had been stolen from me. I didn’t know me anymore. I may have never known me, for all I knew. Who the hell was I? It was my turn to be who I’ve always wanted to be. Now not only am I coming home in a tangible sense, I’m coming home to my spirit and being. It’s a process and thirty-three years can’t be made up overnight, but I am not scared anymore. I am so grateful. And now, I have some things to say to Cady…
My earth angels end up with words of gratitude on my blog, and one year later, it’s your turn. I’m home now, as you know. I feel different here. I walk taller. I handle things as calmly as I possibly can (most of the time) because it’s hard to be anything but grateful for the things that I have. When I don’t know what I’m doing, or I don’t feel “normal,” or like something isn’t right, I know I can come to you because you’ve been here too. And whenever I do come to you, you never make me feel like I’m stupid because I may not know something that is common or simple for someone else. You understand the whole, ‘I wasn’t taught how to do anything’ thing. I’ve learned so much. I am so proud of myself. I hope that you and the people who love me are proud of me too.
From the second I was officially home, I took a deep breath and did what you told me to. I’ve been creating. I’ve been creating every single day in one way or another, without fear. It started when I ran my first big girl adult errand and put my Wall of Earth Angels up in my living room. I’ve since learned that my home decor style is can be classy and sophisticated and also colorful, artsy and fun. I have no idea what the hell I’m doing in the kitchen, so we go in there and create the weirdest combinations of things that actually turn out to be some incredible form of art. Bianca (my AMAZING staff person) and I have been talking about maybe starting a food blog. I’ve discovered I LOVE playing with food in the kitchen, and the great thing about that is, my “metaphorical mother” never told me not to play with my food. Wink. I bought paint and a media journal and I started to paint again, my favorite. Only I didn’t like how the paint felt while I was doing it on this paper. Nothing was coming out how I wanted it to and it was making me angry. I decided in the voyage of rediscovery as far as this went, I was going to have to go back to kindergarten. I bought a box of crayons and started there until I can afford to buy canvases and be one with my paint again. Now I color in this journal every day on top of whatever other creative outlet comes along.
I want to tell you a little bit about what I do when I paint — and thus what I’m doing with the crayons for now — because I have a surprise for you…. A few years ago, an old friend got me into painting with acrylic. There was this process she had that I kind of adopted from her and made my own. She’d put a single song on repeat and would paint whatever inspired her or whatever she was feeling through that song. I liked the idea of my feelings and emotions coming through in living, vivid color. I just take the brush to the canvas and go with whatever comes out, there is never a plan. I fell in love with painting this way, so I started doing it then and I’ve gone back to it now. What’s my secret though? Since you’ve nurtured this whole creation part of me that was lost, using the crayons and media journal, I’ve been coloring in this thing every single day using a different song from your Blue Glitter Fish album. And once I have canvases, I’m going to pick my favorite one and recreate it on canvas with the paint. A few weeks ago when I randomly asked you if you had a favorite song you’ve written, this was why. One day, I want to paint one specifically for you. I figure our “birthday” as my sister calls it, was the best time to tell you this. Actually, it was just a good time to tell you ALL of this and for everyone I love to understand what an invaluable part of my life you’ve always been and have become.
You are the strongest and bravest human being I have ever known. You inspire me every day. It’s been a year and you’re still with me, still here to show me that it’s okay. Thank you for not turning away when I reached out to you. I was so terrified and you were and continue to be so kind and gentle with me. I hope you know how much that means to me. Every time we talk now, that scared broken little girl inside of me finds solace in a safe place. You showed her that it wasn’t hopeless, that safety exists and in safety comes room for growing up with confidence. She’s going to be okay now. I’m going to be okay now. Your strength, honesty and bravery in sharing your story changed my whole world into a fearless world of utter freedom. Thank you. I hope we get that hug we’ve talked about from day one sooner rather than later. It’s going to happen, neither of us have ever doubted that. For now, I’m sending you all the love in the world. Thank you for being you.
If you read this post and you are interested in reading Cady’s memoir, Murdering My Youth you can purchase it on Amazon. You can also follow Cady on twitter @CadyMcClain or check out her website/blog at cadymcclain.com — she is the real deal.