In the spring and summer of 2015, I wrote a novel.

It took two months of careful planning, but then the words just flew from my fingertips. At the time, I was a stay-at-home mom of two small boys and a ten-year-old girl. Everything else about my life then is up for debate. I was happily married, except I wasn’t. My then-husband felt that God had told him that I needed to write this book — at least that’s what he told me at the time — but last month as we sat with our divorce lawyers, he said that we had always treated it like my job, that we even had hours set aside, like clocking in and out. I remember a book that had to be written. A book that seemed to be writing itself.

Once the divorce was settled, and Idyllwilde belonged to me free and clear, I found myself afraid to read it. What if the women I’d written were as small, diminished, codependent and sorrowful as I had been, all those years? What if I would change every word if I were writing it now? What if it were simply no longer true?

I read it anyway, and there I was. The woman that I had hidden beneath a cloak of submissive, conservative-Christian virtue and duty. The woman I had quieted and hushed. The woman who been given no space to want or dream or be. Somehow, she was awake and alive in the pages. I wonder if, without any conscious awareness, I had been writing myself awake. Would I have had the strength to end my marriage, the wisdom to see that it was broken, the courage to embrace love again when I stumbled into it, if I hadn’t written this book? If I hadn’t shown myself the way out?

I can’t imagine having arrived here any other way. And so, to the Elizabeth of 2015, thank you.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.