I always identified myself by what I did. I was an amazing student and the As proved it. They were validation. Then I was the most amazing employee and I felt like I was capable and worthwhile because everyone told me how great a job I always did. But now...
Like everyone else, I frequently get asked, “So, where do you work/what do you do?”
Oh my god, I hate that question. I fucking loathe that question.
“I'm not working right now.” And because it's a college town, “Oh, so you're in school?” “Um, no, not right now.” And the reply more times than not? “Must be nice.”
Must be nice. No, really, it isn’t nice.
I lost two dream jobs because of how broken I am. Two jobs I would have given anything for. But being too crazy, too anxious, too scared, too unhealthy, and having too many physical limitations to work... One day that will be different. I know it will. While I thank the universe constantly for all the help I receive on a daily basis, this isn’t something I want forever. I want to work; I want a job and insurance and awesome coworkers and a purpose.
Regardless, I have no answer for that goddamn nagging question. “What do you do?” No answer. None. It makes me feel...lost. And embarrassed. And worthless.
But, see, I received two emails that make me question that belief. Actually I’ve gotten many, many, many emails that do so but these are two that blew me away. No, that’s wrong. They all blow me away. I'm going to focus on what these two say.
A person told me they had been contemplating suicide. It was planned. For some reason they decided to go to my blog and spent the entire night reading through the “mental health” tags here and on my LiveJournal. Years of my crazy; my ups and downs and ups and downs. Because of that they made it through the night. And they thanked me for stopping them from doing something they could never undo.
Someone else sent me an email the same day their mom died. They told me that my writing about my mom's sickness and death, my grief and pain, helped so much. That I said what they couldn't. The idea that someone would lose their mother and a few hours later think of me and thank me...it was the most humbling experience of my life.
There have been others. So many others. Telling me what my blog helped them do. See a psychiatrist, admit to needing meds, going sleeveless, wearing a dress without tights, seeing beauty in their body, not hating themselves, realizing fat people are human, surviving pain and misery and abuse and depression. Thanking me and making me cry.
And I realize this IS what I do. I just write about my life. That's it. And for some reason I have trouble understanding, that helps people.
As I was writing this, I remembered something. For 20+ years whenever anyone asked me what I wanted to do with my life, I had only one answer.
“I want to help people.”
That's all. I didn't know how or in what vein but that's what I wanted. That's all I ever wanted. It's all I still want. And I assumed that would require schooling and degrees and a job title. But, somehow, I stumbled into a way to do that without those things. Without intention even. Because I NEVER once thought my silly little blog would matter.
That's why I'll never delete this blog, even with all the bullshit. even with how vulnerable it can make me feel, I can't shut it down. Not because of what it gives me (which is too much to even measure) but because of what it gives others. And, ugh, I feel like such a pretentious twat saying that. I think part of the reason I have trouble acknowledging the fact that my writing helps people is because it feels so fucking egotistical. Having someone tell me I saved their life is one thing but saying, “I saved someone's life” just feels so wrong. It's just so intense and amazing and important and to say it out loud... The words don't do it justice.
The emails and comments I receive leave me speechless. And “thank you” is never enough. I want to find words that tell the senders that, my god, I never dreamed I could help someone that much; your words bring me to tears; you give me purpose; you humble me; you make me feel worthwhile and whole. But even those words aren’t enough. Because there aren’t words that can tell you how much you make my heart overflow.
I'm helping people. Even if I don't understand it, it's true. It's what I've always wanted and it's what I do. I don't know how to say that when people ask. But maybe it doesn't matter whether I can explain it or not because it’s everything to me…even without a job title or office.