What a strange and wonderful day this was!
Perhaps it's been clear from the blog - or perhaps some of my readers (3 and counting...) are good at reading between the lines, but yes, I've been feeling a bit blue lately.
But maybe it's more accurate to say: I've been feeling very alone. Alone in that ultimate way - like even if I'm surrounded by people, when it comes down to it I'm really, deeply, utterly alone. Born alone, die alone. That sort of debbie downer thinking. It's been coursing through my body lately, impacting every step I take. I just haven't been able to shake the feeling. Even after good days and moments of connection, I still have been coming home to wallow in my solitude. As often happens when I feel this way, I have been pushing away those I love rather than asking for their support. Trying to prove my loneliness is justified or some nonsense like that...
And then - poof! The universe, as it's been known to do, gave me the greatest shake of all.
It actually began a few months ago when a colleague of mine, I'll call him Bob cause that's his name, and I were chatting. Bob, if I'm to be honest, is one of my favorite people at work. He is a reporter, has a blog on our organization website, and I read it religiously. I start my morning with his first column of the day and usually cry at my desk reading some story he has covered. I like that he's a pretend-curmudgeon that deep down wants to believe the world, and the people in it, are good. I relate to his jaded hope...
But anyway, he and I were talking this one day a few months back. Actually, it was in the midst of my little storm cloud hoovering over me, and instead of saying "I'm well" when he asked "How are you doing?" I said: "Pretty shitty." He seemed to like my no bullshit attitude, and asked me to sit down.
We got to talking about life, mental health, work stresses...and then I happened to mention a time in my life I had actually gone on adventures, a time I had been a farmer/farmed. And he perked right up and said, "Now that's a story I'd like to hear!" And then he told me - without knowing if I can write or not - to write the story, cause he'd sure like to read it.
That was two months ago. About a day after the conversation the last line of the story came to me, which has never happened to me before, and I scribbled it down on a scrap of paper. And then I proceeded to stare at that line for two months.
Until this past week when I was talking to my college BFF Adam on the phone and bemoaning my writer's block of late and he simply said, "What writer's block? It's gone. I banish it." We hung up and I spent an hour writing my story. I finished it the next morning on the bus in to work. I wrote and wrote and ended up at the last line I had written two months prior. It still felt like the right way to end the story, which seemed like a miracle in itself.
And then I shared the draft with - of all people - my middle school English teacher. She's great. She gave me good feedback which simultaneously brought me back to 8th grade and brought me forward in my adult writing.
And then I sent the story to Bob last night with a disclaimer and a thanks. Thanks, I said, for asking me to tell my story, for just asking. Thanks, I said, for letting me be honest. This, I said, is one story of many, but I hope it gets at the essence of my experience. Thanks, I told him, for helping me find the words to capture the essential part of this time in my life.
And he wrote back and said: "I'm posting this on my blog tomorrow."
Immediately I had a little flurry of butterflies in my stomach. I also thought, "Shit, I kind of overshared in that piece."
But then I held my breath and waited for it to hit the world-wide-web. On my favorite blog nonetheless! Holy shit!
And when it did, wow, did I ever get the surprise of my life. The feedback came pouring in - texts, emails, calls, facebook accolades. And then, it was mentioned on the radio by one of my favorite hosts. (To be fair, I work at a radio station and it wasn't so out of the blue, but still.) I didn't hear it myself, but plenty of friends did, and they made sure to tell me.
So here's the lesson: I am not alone. In the midst of my deepest self-pity and self-loathing, I decided to be honest about some part of my life story, to be completely vulnerable and real, and people from all over - some I know and some I don't - responded.
And no matter what it is they said specifically, what I was hearing generally is: you are not alone.
My daily meditation for today is called "Be honest with yourself." And it says: "The way to joy, the way to the heart is tender, soft, gentle, and honest."
How true that is. Being vulnerable and honest opens us up not only to ourselves, but to all the people out there who love and applaud and cherish us, and who we love and applaud and cherish as well.
I need to send Bob a thank you note. On it I will write very simply: The world can feel noisy and isolating. Thank you for helping me feel heard.