Last night I was exhausted. The emotional upheaval from the start of the week resulted in some serious anxiety and a few nights with minimal sleep. I kept good face during work, but by the time I climbed the stairs to my apartment and tossed my things on the love seat in the kitchen, I was ready to make a b-line to bed. Clothes on and all, I was so over it.
Instead I opened up my laptop and browsed through a few impending emails, all responses to an essay I wrote on surviving the anniversary the passing of my mother. While I survived physically, mentally was another story. I lashed out on friends and medicated with alcohol, something I swore I would never do again given that it NEVER works. I grew bitter over the lack of help being offered without really asking it, and didn’t express gratitude to the people that offered it. Needless to say, I felt like a total Grendel.
While my essay dictates that it’s OK to have those feelings, maybe I didn’t act in the best way accordingly. Then there are the emails that took over a day for me to answer.
Given the nature of Thought Catalog, they all game from people around my age, all of which lost a parent, ranging from 10 to 2 years prior. All said more or the same thing.
“Thank you. Thank you for making me feel less alone in this.”
I’m not sure what the reader-writer relationship is supposed to be like yet. I reckon that it has a lot to do with what you write about though I know I was completely and stupidly star struck when I met Buddy Wakefield last year.
“Your poem changed my life!” I said excitedly. Did he not know how big of a deal this was for me? Bluntly speaking, I’m a product of a shit childhood and nothing can really excite me without that devil voice in the back of my mind asking me, “Aren’t you supposed to be jaded by now?”
Prior to reading Nerdua, and Wakiefield, and Kay, and Lahiri, I for sure thought I was an island.
“You love for my work changes mine every day!” he replied.
I didn’t get it until people started responding to my writing a year later. At first I felt like I didn’t deserve it, as stated in the last post.
“I’m human” I thought, ” I don’t have all the answers. Truth be told, when I think of you the question gets a footnote and I’m completely lost again. Don’t these people know that. I’m not perfect. I’m just some little girl behind a keyboard.”
But maybe that’s what the reader needs. Maybe the reader needs to know that books and poems and essays aren’t created by some content producing Twitter machine. In the same way when we dial customer service we want to speak to an actual person, maybe the reader wants to sit down with a piece of writing and feel like they’re listening to an actual human being, a person who thinks, feels, looses, wins, hurts and heals just like they do.
What connects us is our ability to feel, and that’s why emotions, though scary, are incredibly important.
So as tired as I was, I responded to the emails. I tailored each response to the original. I don’t know much about these people except that we have the same unfortunate thing that links us and we’re still battling with how to feel about it. I thanked them for taking the time to read my piece and said that I was happy it helped them.
What I really wanted to say, given the nature of the week, was thank you. Thank you for reminding me why I write and for being the reason I keep writing. Thank you for allowing yourself to be vulnerable enough to tell a stranger the secret of how you feel about something. It isn’t easy, admitting you have emotions and often times it makes you very uncomfortable.
When I am tired in every way and feel like I have nothing left to give anyone, thank you for being that little extra bit of compassion I can scrape from the bottom of my heart and give to you. When you give love, you get it back, even if comes back in the frail form of a sound sleep and energy to push on the next day.