HOW IS THIS MY LIFE?
By Rachel Schommer
How is this my life?
That is a question I’ve been asking myself almost daily for a few months now. To truly understand what I mean, I’m going to need to take you back…
Back to a lonely childhood. I grew up a well-behaved only child, which means I was ‘privileged’ to be a latch-key kid by 2nd grade. Making my lunch and breakfast, getting myself up and ready for school, walking to school, coming home to an empty house to make my snack and start my homework. Summer days meant I got to hang out by myself when I wasn’t shuffled off to some family member who probably thought I was more a burden than a blessing.
Thankfully, my parents took me to the library weekly to stock up on all kinds of goodies—but mainly Goosebumps and Fear Street. And OH THE JOY I’d feel when there’d be a new R.L. Stine release. I’d spend my days watching MTV, back when the M was still music, and getting lost in the pages. This only intensified when we moved to the country and there wasn’t any friends close by…there wasn’t anything close by.
All this time alone and living vicariously through the pages of books didn’t help me develop social skills; it probably did the opposite and led me along the super fun path of social anxiety. I’m awkward in the best of times.
Fast forward to late 2021 and I stumbled upon a group on Facebook called Books of Horror. At that time, the group was still fairly small, and I felt ‘at home’ immediately. I went from loathing Facebook and contemplating closing my account to jumping on multiple times a day to check ‘my’ group, chat with people, and add hundreds of books to my TBR list.
Little by little I started to make friends who liked to read horror, and they started introducing me to all the sub-genres like Splatterpunk, Bizarro, Dark Humor, Extreme, etc. Things I thought I’d never want to, or be able to, read about, but weirdly, these dark and brutal books were helping me process trauma from my past. Making me feel (in a safe way) when I’ve spent so long trying to insulate myself against feeling.
People started reaching out to me, and my friends' list started expanding. Me! The kid who was bullied in junior high - suddenly I had friends! These friends were other anxious individuals processing their trauma and safely living their intrusive thoughts through author’s words. I started posting more about books on my social media accounts, which opened the floodgates for friend requests and opportunities. Authors would ask if I’d like to read their upcoming release and be one of the first reviews—this will never get old, I swear.
Other groups on Facebook popped up around my interests and next thing I know, I have an entire group of chosen family who I love more than anything. And know what? These goobers occasionally write me into their books—again, something that will never get old. Here I am, 37 years old and finally feeling like I’ve found my place. I’m so happy to be here. Thank you for having me.