I was at a party the other night and was discussing some of my exciting current projects with a new friend.  He asked me: “Five years ago, could you have ever imagined you would be where you are today?”

He probably didn’t get the answer he was expecting.  In fact, this question hit me like a punch in the stomach.

You see, five years ago I was hopeless.

It’s a long, gruesome story and it’s not necessary to reveal all the personal details, but let’s say that I went through a series of tragic events that seemed beyond my emotional, psychological, and physical capacity as a human being.  I was in a storm of debilitating life changes and for two years, the overwhelming tone of my life was colored by relentless fear, pain, despair, and rage.

I clawed my way back from this edge through the grace of God, the support of friends, and something else that might surprise you.  Blogging.

I discovered blogging at the cusp of my new life. I wasn’t very good at it when I started and I didn’t have any readers but I didn’t care because it was therapeutic.  When I was writing, the rest of the world fell away. During this period of life-changing stress, I was having problems with high blood pressure. I had to monitor my BP every hour and there was only one time it always fell back into a normal zone — when I was blogging. Blogging put me in a zen-like state of peaceful concentration. Literally, the act of blogging improved my health.

After about six months, I began to find my voice on the blogosphere and somehow found a few regular readers.  I clung to these new friends like a lifeline out of my dark world. I was so happy to connect with anybody who was apart from my chaos.  I didn’t want anybody to feel sorry for me. I just wanted to be appreciated for who I was in that moment.

To this day, the primary reason I blog is for the intellectual stimulation and personal connection. It is the most fun part of my job. My blog is like a modern day Parisian salon where interesting people stop by for a bit of a chat. I can’t wait to see who will come by each day and what they have to say. I really love your comments, even if it is only to say “hello.”

I have come to love many of my new blog friends. Not in a Facebook way, but in a “come stay at my house” way.  A circle of new brothers and sisters surrounds me and we support each other in some way almost every day. Maybe you are my next friend? You never know where this journey will lead next.

I would not want anybody to experience what I had to go through, but looking back, my personal nightmare was a gift. Suffering provided me a unique capacity to understand.  If you haven’t experienced darkness like this yourself, you can never truly empathize with the suffering of others.  My heart can connect deeply with those who feel hopeless. Suffering stretched me out.  I am an emotionally larger person.

And maybe that helps me as a blogger too. I’m sure it shows up in unexpected ways.

In any event, it has led to this, to this day and to this moment. And that is a very, very good thing. Thanks for being here.

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