Empath Turns 5 – And Still Teaches Me Stuff

Empath Turns 5 – And Still Teaches Me Stuff

Five years ago today, I published a little book called Empath. It was my third published novel, a quick side-trip into my psyche in the middle of writing the Razia series. The cover featured a dragon drawn by my very talented cousin Cassondra, a wee babe at the time. I sold it at conventions, but it never did very much online, but I also didn’t give it much effort. Standalones, you know? Plus it was so personal, I wasn’t really sure how to square that circle other than to hand-press it into people’s hands.

I published it on this day, May 12th, because in 2013, that was The Break-Up. The day the world ended. When I cried myself to sleep on the bathroom floor, completely alone. The book depicts how it happened exactly, from the words we spoke to getting sick to falling asleep on the floor. It was devastating not just because the relationship that I’d hoped would last forever was ending, but it also revealed a hard truth. I had given myself entirely not just to this man, but also to an unfulfilling career, because I thought it was my only shot at the white picket fence and 2.5 kids sort of life I’d been coveting. And clearly, the hard truth was that I was not enough.

Once I dusted myself off, got some therapy, and listened to the little voice in my mind, I realized that I was actually just fine, the life I wanted was bullshit, the man was garbage, and I could build myself a better life that brought me so much more happiness without asking for a single sacrifice.

Recognizing Happiness

Looking back on Facebook posts through the years, clearly DC was in the place I needed to be, even when I was “happy.” From about March onward, most of my comments are counting down the days until my biannual pilgrimage home to Florida, and then again in the winter, how much longer until Christmas? While I was home, I was brimming with joy. And I can’t believe it took me so long to recognize that I could be that way all the time.

Happiness is, of course, in the eye of the beholder. My happiness now is informed by the misery I experienced in DC, just like my gratitude and appreciation toward my new husband is bolstered by knowing how unfulfilling love could be. And perhaps on some level, I’m grateful to that pain for giving me the knowledge to appreciate fully what I have now.

I’m also grateful to this little anxiety dragon book for so many things. Most importantly, providing me an outlet to explore my feelings and my mental health in the safety of an allegory. But also giving me a chance to download my heart, inspect it, and realize why I’m feeling the way I do – especially when it comes to the things that scare me.

Although I thought it cosmic irony that Empath’s 5th anniversary was so close to my wedding day, it turns out that this little book was resurfacing because I needed it. I just didn’t know it at the time.

Empath and The #Coronuptials

As I wrote in the newsletter this month, I’ve been in a bit of a low mood these past few weeks, what with the wedding, pandemic, and everything else throwing my life into disarray. But not recognizing the sadness for what it was, brain chemicals, I began to panic. I wasn’t overjoyed about my wedding  – what did that say about the marriage itself? Was this that sign that everyone said they ignored when they married the person they eventually divorced? Was I missing some giant red flag that I would kick myself for later? Was I making the same mistake again?

But in true Lauren fashion, I refused to even entertain the thought, even refused to admit it in my mind. I spent days staring in the mirror, barking at myself to pull it together and just be happy. After all, I had very little to complain about in the grand scheme of the world. So I wasn’t getting the dream wedding I’d planned and dreamed about since I was a little girl, nor was I getting to share the day with 200 of my closes friends and family, but I was getting a wonderful man. That should’ve been enough to make me smile. Why wasn’t I smiling?

Was it him? Was I making a mistake? No, of course I wasn’t, I told myself. He’s the perfect man, he’s generous, he’s funny, he makes me so happy. So why wasn’t I happy? Just be happy. Nobody else will be happy unless you’re happy. Just do it. Stop moping.

The days drew closer and I continued to spiral downward until it was the wedding day. And as I struggled to gin up even the most basic “I love you” letter to my now-husband, the little voice continued to ask if I was doing the right thing. This was the happiest day of my life and I could barely muster a flicker of life. I was annoyed by little things that shouldn’t have annoyed me, and annoyed at myself for being annoyed by them. I floated through the ceremony, completely shut down, and the next day cried for two hours and struggled to pinpoint why – even for weeks later.

But when I sat down to write this month’s newsletter, I finally managed to peel back enough layers to reveal the truth. I had built this day in my head where I would be the best version of myself no matter what happened – flawless, graceful, unbothered by anything that would go wrong. Instead, I was a pandemic bride, acne-ridden from wearing masks everywhere, bloated, agitated by the stupidest stuff, and, most importantly, depressed. I wasn’t making a mistake by marrying my husband (quite the opposite, in fact). I was really just upset with myself for not being a better person in the face of all this adversity. The more I criticized myself for not being a “Teflon Bride,” the worse I became until I was too far down to climb out.

So when I was writing the newsletter, I typed “I forgive myself” and I began to cry – a sign that I had come to the end of this twisty forest and arrived at what I needed. And like tyllwllwch in the darkness (read the book), my heart settled and all the good feelings returned.

Reminding Myself of Things I Know

In the days since, it’s dawned on me that while it was a bit of cosmic irony that Empath’s fifth anniversary, it wasn’t because I had come to the “happily ever after.” I needed this book to resurface to help remind me how to Slay My Fears. Up until now, I haven’t had a need to pick through difficult emotions or understand the underlying reasons for why I act the way I do. But something about this book makes me get introspective, and I’m so grateful it does. By going deep, saying things I was afraid of, and being honest with myself, I have been able to slay this particular anxiety dragon and it felt damn good to do it.

My low mood is hanging around a little bit here and there, but it’s mostly disappeared. In its wake are all those butterfly feelings that a newlywed wife should feel toward her husband. Every day with him is an absolute joy, and there’s nothing better than sitting around and talking about nothing in particular. I’ve also been a lot more open about how I’m feeling and I’m so grateful for his patience with my proclivities. I really hit the jackpot with him, and I’m grateful I didn’t screw it up.

I like to think that every hard time has a lesson somewhere in it, and I think this was a reminder that even my own mental capacity has limits. There’s a freaking pandemic happening out there, and every time I leave the house, I carry a little anxiety with me. I can and should forgive myself for not being at my best, and I shouldn’t expect myself to be more than I can give.

After all, who I am right now is enough for my husband – and for me, too.


Slay Your Fears with Empath

After a mysterious voice promises an easy out to her problems, Lauren finds herself in a fantasy world with magical powers. Just one problem: There’s a dragon that might want to eat her.

Available Now

From bestselling author S. Usher Evans comes a unique take about a real-world girl transported to a fantasy land and faced with a dragon that just might be the manifestation of her mental illness. Empath has “broken the feels” of readers around the world and helped them slay their own fears. 

“I think we should just cut our losses and move on.”

If you ask Lauren Dailey, things are totally fine after the breakup. She doesn’t care that all her friends are getting engaged and moving on with their lives when all her dreams went up in smoke. She’s not crying herself to sleep every night. Everything is A-OK.

That is, until a mysterious voice promises an easy out to all her problems, and she wakes up in a fantasy world with the powers of an empath.

Without a way home, Lauren embraces her new life. There’s a village full of interesting characters, including Cefin, a handsome young man who’s everything a fantasy hero should be. She’s getting the hang of doing laundry in the river. And when she uses her empath powers, she’s temporarily distracted from the sadness that followed her from California and crops up at the most inconvenient times.

Still, there’s one large, dragon-shaped problem: The Anghenfil lives in the mountains nearby, and some say he’s got a taste for empaths. And Lauren’s afraid it might just be that mysterious voice tempting her deeper into her own darkness.

Empath will transport readers to a new world, while remaining firmly rooted in the realities of dealing with depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses. Recommended for readers who need help overcoming their own dragons.

This is a stand-alone novel. Content warnings for suicide, substance abuse, and adult situations.

Praise for Empath

★★★★★ “A pint of ice cream for your soul.” – Erin Sky, author of The Wendy

★★★★ “A brilliant allegory” – Elizabeth F., Goodreads Reviewer

★★★★★ “As someone who faces anxiety on a daily basis, this book spoke to me.” – Katrina M., Goodreads Reviewer

★★★★★ “Empath is encouragement to accept your whole self and move forward into great adventure.” – Sierra D., Goodreads Reviewer

Empath Blog Posts and the Slay Your Fears Series

#SlayYourFears Turns 5 – Fear of Rejection

This week, I've been revisiting all my old blog posts on the things that used to scare me to celebrate the fifth anniversary of Empath. Back then, I wrote about the things that scared me, rejection, being alone forever, having no money, and it's been interesting to see which of those [...]

#SlayYourFears Turns 5 – Fear of Being Alone Forever

It's been so fascinating to revisit all the things that used to scare me. I'm celebrating the fifth anniversary of Empath, my anxiety dragon book that has been a quiet hit around the country. When the book first came out, my twenty-or-so fans were treated to a series of introspective blog posts [...]

Empath Turns 5 – And Still Teaches Me Stuff

Five years ago today, I published a little book called Empath. It was my third published novel, a quick side-trip into my psyche in the middle of writing the Razia series. The cover featured a dragon drawn by my very talented cousin Cassondra, a wee babe at the time. I sold [...]

#SlayYourFears Turns 5 – Fear of No Money

Yes, kids, I'm dusting off the ol' blog machine to celebrate the fifth anniversary of Empath, my anxiety dragon book that has been a quiet hit around the country. When the book first came out, my twenty-or-so fans were treated to a series of introspective blog posts about what really scared [...]

Upgrade my eBook Challenge – Empath

The Upgrade My eBook challenge 2017 has been extended to a whole month this year, giving you plenty of time to read the books–and write the reviews! The premise for the contest is simple: You’ve got one (or all) of my books in eBook on your Nook or Kindle, right? (And if [...]

Empath, Passion Projects, and Slaying Your Fears

Two years ago today, I released a little passion project called Empath. Nicknamed the "anxiety dragon" book, Empath was less about "what's popular" and more about pouring my loneliness and ache for home into something else so it would leave me. I'd become overwhelmed with my anxiety, which flares and spirals [...]

Fear of Fear

There's nothing to fear but fear itself, but fear is pretty damned scary. This week, I've been sharing posts from 2015 about the things that scare me, updating them with progress for 2017. For the last post of the week, it's time to talk about the fear of fear. Empath is [...]

Fear of Rejection

A few years ago, I wrote some blogs about my biggest fears to celebrate the release of Empath, a book about a girl and her anxiety dragon. Two years later, I'm looking back on the fears I used to have to see how they stack up. Today, my fear of rejection. [...]

Fear of Being Alone Forever

When you have a fear of being alone forever, you make some dumb decisions. A few years ago, I wrote this blog post (plus a few more) when Empath was releasing. I wanted to share all the things I was afraid of, hoping someone might not feel alone. Two years later, [...]

Fear of (no) Money

To celebrate the two year anniversary of my anxiety dragon book, Empath, I'm re-posting the #SlayYourFears series. Basically, I took a leap of faith and wrote about all the things that scared me. I hoped sharing them would help others realize they weren't alone. Today, I'm talking about my fear of [...]

By |2020-05-12T08:51:28-05:00May 12th, 2020|Empath|Comments Off on Empath Turns 5 – And Still Teaches Me Stuff

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