I stood in the queue for my first triathlon many years ago, terrified to the point of nausea and tears. I was joke/serious fighting with an older Vietnam Vet named Mike about who was going to get into the water last. My plan was that I would get in the water as the last swimmer because I was so terrified. His plan was that he would be in last because THAT IS JUST WHAT HIS HAPPENING, KIM.
So I got in the water ahead of him and felt a nice kinship as we saw each other several times zigzagging across the pool.
He passed me on the bike (everyone always does) and then I passed him on the run, but in the end? We weren’t that far from each other and I was happy a friendship was born that day. We settled in the back of the pack several other times at several other races. We volunteered together often. We socialized at club events. I really liked him. He had a group he would walk/jog with on my end of town and when I saw him I often stopped to give him a hug. If I was in my car I liked to holler, “HEY MIKE!!!!!” as I was driving past.
Most importantly (she says kinda jokingly) he read this blog. I don’t know if he read it every day, but we periodically discussed it and he would pontificate on the fact that he didn’t always agree with me politically (he described himself as “probably socially liberal”) but he liked reading my writing because it always made him think.
He passed away this week and it’s gotten me thinking a lot about this place on the web where I dump so much detritus from my brain.
I’ve had my life changed by words shared with me by commenters or people who email me, or even approach me in my real life. My mind has been opened, I’ve been made stronger, I’ve been held in comfort by the words of people responding to my suffering and it’s simply been moving to just have people say, “Me too.”
Oddly, I’ve been really blown away by my real-world friends who sometimes stop by and read what I’ve written and connect with me in some way. It’s nice to know that the person I am here is similar enough to the person I am in “real” life that some people can know both and be supportive on all fronts.
All of that said, I’m in kind of a shitty place and I keep trying to write about it here. And when I try – about 99% of you share with me profound wisdom and empathy. But that damn 1% that tends to be a little aggressive with their impatience has caused my already caustic self-doubt to introduce a mind-numbing case of writer’s block. I’ve pulled several entries down recently and dumped them back in “draft” mode because of the comments or emails I’ve received. My vulnerability tends to trigger empathy in most, but polite judgement in a few and that judgement is not healthy for me right now.
I never thanked Mike for the compliments on my writing. I’m not good at receiving compliments, so I think I just was self-deprecating as a response. But I want to thank YOU. Seriously. All of you. Even that 1% that screws with my brain because I know the problem is with ME.
But right now? I’m taking more entries down and getting scared to click “publish” and until that confidence returns, I need to shutter things up here for awhile.
Please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) any time. Most of you have shared with me stories and words that have helped me push forward through some of this chaos and I’m sad to lose that but the self-doubt that has been magnifying my anxiety and enflaming my insecurities is simply making it impossible for me to write and I don’t want anyone to worry.
Hopefully when I come back I’ll say, “We found a medicine that worked! I feel sane again!” Until then, I’ll be dumping photos on instagram like always.
Thank you, Mike, for reading and sharing your kindness. Thank you to everyone who has connected with me in this place in some way since 2004. I can not even begin to describe how you’ve all helped me.
I’ll be okay. The writer in me is just feeling fragile right now and she just wants to hide for a little while until things feel less bleak outside.