You know, the saying “there’s no place like home” really couldn’t be any truer! We just returned home from a week and a half of visiting family and friends in Fort Worth, TX. I grew up there. Actually, I lived most of my life there until we moved to Virginia in 2012. In spite of that, for me, Richmond is home. Not just because that is where we now live, but because this city is where I actually feel like I can be myself. I feel like my soul is alive here. Even shrouded in fog, this city stirs me with beauty.

It’s really a sharp contrast to Texas. Not just from a standpoint of the beauty of Virginia having four seasons and a milder climate. It’s the place were I feel like we have made a fresh start. I should probably elaborate on that a bit.

You see, Texas for me is filled with many haunting memories. I grew up with a father who was a text book narcissist. I didn’t actually realize that is what he was until after his passing a few years ago. And what I also didn’t realize was that there was absolutely nothing I could have ever done that would have resulted in him behaving differently toward me. He was incapable of being anyone else.

Now if you knew him, you’d think he was the most wonderful human being. But to those of us who were close to him and/or a threat to him, his true nature was revealed. The damage he left behind within my family is deep and widespread. By the grace of God, I continue to work through forgiving him and becoming whole. However, going back to the place where it all happened is soul-sucking for me. No matter how much I try to prepare myself for it, the darkness that washes over me and then follows me home for a few days is suffocating.

Why do I share this with you? Because I think there are many of us who grew up under circumstances that could otherwise have squelched the life out of us. For a long time, I wondered what was wrong with me. And for a very long time, I felt alone in my struggle. You know what I’ve learned on this journey? I am not alone. So many of you who have connected with me through the music have told me that you have struggles, too. I think this is what forges a deeper connection between us.

I have come to realize that what I went through has been vital for me to become the songwriter that I am. It has been a catalyst to my writing songs with depth and transparency. Honestly, mostly for my benefit because it is in the writing of those songs and in the writing of my book that I have been able to find healing.

I am grateful to all of you who have told me what my music has done for you, how you can relate to my stories and how hearing my stories helps you with your own journey. I feel alive because of the freedom I feel in this city to be the person I was meant to be and to follow the course set out before me. One thing going back “home” does is make me thankful I changed course and set out on this music journey.

80