Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A Dream Come True

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.

4 comments:

  1. OK, so you tell people you're unemployed and they respond "Must be nice?" Fuck those people. Seriously. I would never even think to say that, I mean, unless you said something like "Well, I won the lottery and also just got access to my trust fund, so, yeah, I decided I don't want to work..." then, yeah, that must be nice. But so many people are unemployed right now, or were recently unemployed for a thousand different reasons and I have a feeling very few of them thought it was "nice". Ugh.

    OK, sorry, end rant, that just pisses me off when people make those kinds of assumptions.

    You are a writer, lady, a very tallented one. Even more so, though, you are more than just what you "do"; you are a strong, brave, creative, loving, funny woman. That's way more important than whatever you do to bring money into the house. :)

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  2. I agree with the above commenter. You're a writer! Not only do you write beautifully, but your writing touches and helps people, myself included.

    Think of it as incredibly important unpaid volunteer work. It doesn't bring in money, but humanity needs people like you, for everyone who's emailed you and thanked you, I bet there are 10 more you've helped who haven't said anything.

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  3. I've been following you off and on since SA. I think it's beautiful that your writing helps people. I seem to remember you mentioning possibly writing a memoir or a book, did that ever happen? I think it would be an awesome thing for you to do. Clearly, your writing helps people, and it's something you're passionate about, good at, and perhaps most importantly (when it comes to being a writer), prolific. I started self-publishing about two years ago, mostly shorts and novellas, but am 2/3 through my first novel now. Have you considered self-publishing, if the thought of shopping publishers makes you too anxious? I think anything you wrote and released might do well, considering your fanbase. Feel free to email me if you have questions about self-publishing. I recommend starting with making accounts on Smashwords, NOOK Press, and Amazon KDP. You can get a free formatting guide from Smashwords, and there are plenty of talented cover designers out there (I do my own, but I also went to art school and have experience with Photoshop). I hope you seriously consider it. It seems to me that this is a calling for you, and self-publishing might be the first step to a very fulfilling career. lula.lisbon@gmail.com

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