Add it to my tab

I wrote this piece a couple of years ago to be included in an anthology but instead, offer it here to you. It needed to sit for a bit and bake in my head, so to speak. As I hit almost 13,000 followers and 124 countries, I am thankful for your readership, your kind comments and the blogs you share with me. Sometimes it truly does take a village, even if it is a virtual one.

Some of us are given extra credit in this lifetime.

While our friends stay happily married, birth two amazingly compliant children in his and hers onesies and do not dally with carb addictions of any sort, we—um, well we struggle.

My theory is that we struggle because we signed up for the PhD program in life, while our seemingly lucky friends decided upon the correspondence course.

This theory may be total horse crap but it makes me feel better.

Up to a certain point in life, we track with said friends. We attend the same schools, the same parties, mark the same milestones.

And then, we graduate to the advanced courses.

Our husband goes off the rails, perhaps, and we find ourselves divorcing him. Dealing with the requisite financial and emotional woes of our situation.

We might have a child with issues.

Maybe, somewhere in the middle of all of this, we deal with the fact that we were not mothered properly.

And, we decide to drown our sorrows in mashed potatoes, cheddar chips and cheesecake.

Our friends listen sympathetically for a time. They offer what support and advice they can.

But, eventually, it becomes a situation where they feel their calm, together lives denote a badge of honor. Versus our rather messy, chaotic lives.

And so it begins.

They may call to check in but instead of support, the unwanted advice keeps coming. And if it was good, sound advice from fellow battle-tested souls, we’d be thrilled. Truly. Bring it on, sisters.

But it is not. It is pull-yourself-up-by –your-bootstraps, folksy wisdom that does not really help us much at all. From a person who has never been in our situation. And is drinking a kale smoothie while we eat our cheesecake.

Someone who does not know the terror of waking up and going into full-blown panic mode because my God, how will we make both tuition and the mortgage this month. Someone who has never wondered if her middle-aged body can be seen naked and loved by a man whose children it did not bear.

And, as we try hard to be gracious and grateful for support—any support—these friends wonder why we have not solved our problems in spit-spot fashion and moved on already. They probably wonder why we call less often and are often a bit cranky when they do.

This is usually where those of you who have been through the wringer nod your head in agreement or guffaw sarcastically.

Go ahead. I’ll give you a minute.

It’s therapeutic, that guffaw, isn’t it? I know.

If we’re very lucky, and our crazy situation has caused us to blog, then the very wise among us put a toe in the water. We share a bit more of our struggle, hoping to God the people from work are not reading this particular blog.

I’m not talking about reality TV show type sharing. Some of us do that, yes. But others of us reach out online in much shyer fashion. We work our way up to sharing a few details and keep others to ourselves, so as not to hurt those we love—namely, our kids.

And, while we feared haters—the black hats who come gnashing their teeth, we amazingly do not encounter them.

Instead, we find peeps.Fotolia_60289333_Subscription_Monthly_M.jpg

They are battle-tested in the most delightful ways.

They say things like this to you when you admit to sobbing in the most inopportune places: “The very first Christmas after my husband walked out, I attended the gorgeous annual service in NYC at the Cathedral of St John the Divine. One of the elements of Paul Winter’s concert there was a bagpiper and I sobbed my heart out; I’d last heard one at my own wedding, barely 3 years earlier.”

And you realize you are not crazy. Not the only one. That you will not sob forever, because this blogger is now happily remarried and has given up her public crying habit. Check out Broadside Blog. She’s a tough chick but has a heart of gold, really.

When you admit, yet again, to crying—this time because online dating makes you miss an ex that was no picnic—a person like A Sassy Redhead tells you about how she met the love of her life online after a lot of frogs: “That first date lasted 5 hours. The conversation never stopped. No awkward silences. I knew when he stood from the table, he was the one. I blushed. I giggled like a grade school girl. I could hear my heart beating with every word that left my mouth. We married 8 months later. At the end of March, we’re having our second anniversary. And I promise you, I love him more today than I did the day I married him. I look forward to our hours of conversation about nothing and I sometimes get sappy with tears when someone says, ‘So, how’s married life?’ Please don’t stop searching. Please don’t give up. Pray a lot. Don’t settle. He’s out there. I promise you he is. And he’s going to find you. Let him find you. Let him search you out and let him court you and let him give you butterflies. He’s searching for you right now. And when love comes, it comes out of left field. When you least expect it. And you won’t recognize it, but it’ll recognize you. Then it’ll be as clear as a beautiful sunrise. I promise.”

Another tough broad, that Sassy Redhead, but so very kind to me in my time of need. She made me cry as I waited to order my egg sandwich in the Panera line.

I guess I cry a lot sometimes. Hmph.

When wondering if I would ever feel like the world was not too loud, too fast, too much for me, My Path With Stars Bestrewn threw this my way: “I’m right beside you in every word of this post, dear K. I, too, have survived some shattering losses, and like you, those experiences altered me. At first, grief and loss made me feel like a hermit crab without a shell. I couldn’t return to my former shell, yet I couldn’t find a new shell to move into. I felt exposed and raw and sensitive, and in this state, I changed. I was no longer willing to waste a single second of life’s preciousness with people who were rude, unkind, judgmental, small-minded, petty. I withdrew from negativity and created a positive space for myself . . . I pick my perspective now. I savor life. Had I not waded through loneliness and grief, I might not have arrived at this calmer place. My healing process has been very much like an upward climb toward a greater vista. And I like the view from here! As you navigate the unknowns and climb toward your own place of peace, I wish you love, light, and laughter. I so admire your spirit, your candor, your good, good heart, and your gorgeous writing.”

There are so many more really genuine, kind people I should recognize but it would take hours and more words than I have right now.

There is no substitute for hearing from someone who has walked in your shoes. Nothing that can replace someone who will take your messy bits, which you are so bravely placing before them, and hand you some glue.

It turns out, when I need a hug now, I go for the virtual model. Because my experiences have surpassed those of my family and closest friends. My posse, it turns out, lives all over the world. From New York City to Australia, downstate Illinois to India.

Pretense is never pretty and usually fairly obvious to me. In the real world or online. What I love about my online saviors is their complete lack of it. I may not know every detail of every bit of their life, as I do with some besties, but what they share they share completely. Courageously. Without batting an eye.

They make something out of their loss. Instead of just watching me falter in mine.

I have a posse of single mommy bloggers. Online dating, child rearing, healing emotionally from a divorce—I have learned so much from them.

I have been schooled by bloggers who admit their struggles with anxiety. Creativity and anxiety/depression seem inextricably linked sometimes. I’ve learned I’m not the only one wide-eyed with shallow breathing at 3 a.m. For some reason, that helps.

Parents of kids with ADHD and other issues share in the hopes of sparing the rest of us their struggles. With schools, administrators, teachers—you name it. Their advice beats the blank stares I get from parents whose biggest issues are Johnny getting benched during a game.

I know some people have more dramatic stories. They were saved from one particular thing when they were in the most dire straits. The bulimic who got help because of her fellow bloggers. The gay teen who realized he was not alone in the world in being bullied.

I am not these folks. I have had my share of ick. But it has been spread across multiple areas of my life. My saving graces in the form of my fellow bloggers are an everyday thing. The dramatic is always riveting. But usually, for most of us, it is the every-day saving that makes a difference. We don’t cut ourselves, starve ourselves or threaten suicide. But we need support as much as the next guy.

At its base, these folks—my online encouragers–are living out loud. Remarkably real, messy lives. And in their sharing, they bring a beauty to their mess—and mine.

Thumbs up made out of flour
My online encouragers are living out loud.

They reassure me that it is ok to have the mashed potatoes. That they also carry an extra 10 pounds and we will get around to that when we are good and ready. That boys with ADHD can grow up to be the most creative, successful individuals. That women who divorce in their mid-forties can find someone to love again. That we all sob in the shower occasionally and wonder how we will get through the day. The week. The year.

Isn’t that really the beautiful bit? From ending what was supposed to be a lifelong relationship to struggling with stuffing the pain along with mashed potatoes. The truly devastating to the just plain annoying and mundane get tackled.

By people on our side and in our corner.

Some of whom we will never meet or talk to in the traditional sense.

It turns out, we do not need to do so to save each other.

My world has expanded and contracted in two short years because of that truth.

Hallelujah.

Pass the mashed potatoes, friends.

But tomorrow, you will have to tell me about that diet you mentioned in your blog.

Just add it to my tab.

 

 

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41 Comments Add yours

  1. Love this. I can so relate to the beauty you describe of the connections we make in our cyber community. It’s a special kind of support, and I have appreciated yours–I hope you can feel mine, too! (And congrats on the size of your community! That’s wonderful!)

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you! For the support and the kind words. A certain kind of magic happening in this ether that I love to see unfold.

  2. I just love this, K! I feel the same way about this crazy life of bloggers. I have my friends in my “real” everyday, local world and that is great but there is something about connecting with those who share their heart with the tapping out of words and we somehow blend our lives together with the sharing of those words. I love this blogging world and what we share together! Thank you for sharing your words with us! Big hugs and love to you!

    1. candidkay says:

      Sending those hugs right back to you! Thank you for being a regular reader:).

  3. Thank you, CK, for your kindnesses to me. I have often tinkered with just folding it all up, stepping back and unplugging the blog. I agree with you that instead of haters we find a posse. I count you among them. I know not of your single motherhood, but I know what it’s like to panic and freak out and blame our parents while ultimately realizing that at 45 blaming your parents gets to be a pretty thin excuse. (Unless you manage to put it all together at 45.) but I was 38 when I linked it all together and then 43 when I started to share. Terrified, bolstered by others and by friends and people like you. Were it not for a blog I’d likely still be blaming my parents all the time.

    You are brave. 13k followers… How in earth did you achieve that? You are inspiring. 🙂

    -M

    1. candidkay says:

      Inspiring is good! I’ll take it:). Thank you so much. We sit in our homes and offices, writing, and hope we do just that–inspire, make people feel or think–but we’re never sure unless they tell us. As for blaming parents, my parents did the best they could and were really good people. Trying to figure it out like the rest of it. I would give anything to have them back for a conversation or two. Miss them dearly. Keep writing and knowing plenty of us out here are rooting for you! And 13,000 followers? Grace of God. Purely the grace of God:).

      1. Ditto on the parents being essentially good people and wishing for a conversation. I was saying to a friend who inquired about my mom and my coping that I actually have had some really great moments with her now. And in my aging, I understand her better. As children, we really have no bloody clue of what they’re going through and I’ve just now decided that the jury is out on whether totally shielding kids from that angst and painting life through stained-glass is the smartest move. Not that children need to be walking on shards of it when it shatters, but a semblance of awareness is probably a good thing. It’s a balance.

        But I understand her more now. Talking with my father helps us both tremendously.

        And as for readers telling us… You are indeed blessed to have the comments! And I am too when I get them.

        Keep being brave!

  4. justme3362 says:

    As always, you don’t disappoint. Glad to be living out loud alongside you!

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you! Here’s to doing it effortlessly this year:).

  5. That’s a great, moving way of describing what the blogging world can be. Wonderful.

    1. candidkay says:

      Means a lot coming from you:). Thank you!

  6. Yes, yes and then one more for extra credit. Every reader, every follow, so well deserved. This post is big and tiny intimate at the same time. Beautiful work.

    1. candidkay says:

      Am loving that oxymoron–big and tiny intimate:). Thank you!

  7. Wow 13,000 followers. I am in awe and totally not surprised. Your writing touches so many people. I consider myself lucky to have found your blog every time I read it.

    1. candidkay says:

      You are too kind. I am honored anytime someone says my writing has touched them. Thank you!

  8. Great post and a wonderful attribute to all your followers. I will rise to the challenge of your second last sentence and (after three more tip-toeing round the edges on my HEALTHplan theme) I will write about that “diet” that has helped me lose 18 kg (40 lbs).

    1. candidkay says:

      Bring it on! Would love to hear how you’ve done it, as that is am amazing accomplishment!

  9. Canuck Carl says:

    I learn so much from other bloggers. Their bravery, transparency, and even at times being vulnerable in incredible. Have so much respect for the blogging community.
    Thank you for sharing and capsulizing this so well! 🙂

    1. candidkay says:

      In an age where there can be a lot of ick transported via the airwaves, it’s nice to see technology used to promote good. I absolutely agree!

  10. The beauty, richness and warmth in your words helps me remember true treasures in my life when I need to turn off the water and get out of the shower. I’m on my first cup of coffee for the day. (I usually only have one — a very BIG one — but will not promise there won’t be more today.) I’m tilting the cup now, offering a solitary toast to your courage and inspiration: Here’s to hoping this is the year I discover a way to get the rewards of a sustained diet of kale smoothies without ever drinking one. Cheers!

    1. candidkay says:

      I’ll take that toast and raise you one :-). I’ve actually found a grocery store that sport to kill smoothie that is delicious. Yes, delicious. So miracles can occur-now it’s been proven :-). Wishing you both, delicious kale smoothies and miracles of miracles.

      1. candidkay says:

        That’s a kale smoothie, not a kill smoothie:). Sheesh.

  11. Always a joy to read your posts Kay and this one is a belter. You’re a ray of hope and your honesty is never misplaced or misjudged. Good on you for getting back out there, for living life and not giving up on yourself. It’s all any of us can do.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you so much. As you know, writers right. It’s just what we do. I so appreciate you appreciating my words 🙂

  12. With tears streaming this is just Perfect!
    Because this, yes, Please add it to my tab, and YOU have taught me so much!
    You give me hope and the confidence to do this! This pouring out bits of my soul online and I thank you!
    It’s like just when I need that *something* I find my peeps and get my *fix* and feel right in my mind again, still askew but righter than earlier.
    Thank you from the bottom of my belly!
    I love mashed potatoes 😉

    1. candidkay says:

      If my words traveling through the ether have been in anyway inspirational and helpful, then I am honored. I hope you feel the support that comes through the airwaves and will continue to come. We can do this 🙂

      1. Thank you 🙂
        keeping hope alive!

  13. And it is in finding that truth Kay….your truth….that rebuilds that foundation within, and life begins on a whole, new and beautiful footing. You are building nicely my friend, take a bow 🙂

    P.S. Crying is standing in your truth….it is in holding it back that is a lie, to ourselves.

    1. candidkay says:

      You’ve written me so many beautiful words of support, Mark, that you probably really should have been included in this blog. I hope you know how appreciative I am of your support even over an ocean or two :-).

      1. And for that you have my grateful thanks Kay. Inclusion not necessary as you always include me in every comment in your posts (and maybe too often, I’m a bit noisy sometimes 🙂 ).
        But more than that is to see and hear your journey, and the heart that is growing from a very hard rebuild.
        You are facing, and growing from, all these journey’s Kay, and it is a pleasure to be allowed to share such a wonderfully discovered open heart. We all tend to close over because of the pain, but you have decided a closed flower you are not 😀 , and my friend, the bloom is wonderful.
        Many thanks for sharing Kay (right across that ocean) 🙂

  14. Amy says:

    I still stand firmly behind my words to you: “I so admire your spirit, your candor, your good, good heart, and your gorgeous writing.” And I love these words of yours: “Nothing . . . can replace someone who will take your messy bits, which you are so bravely placing before them, and hand you some glue.” True friendship and loving kindness are indeed the world’s finest glue.

    It takes a brave soul to step out from the shadows of grief and difficult circumstances to admit how hard it has been. To speak the truth. That’s what you do here, so well. You are the real thing, the shining opposite of pretension. And I am blessed to call you my friend. Ours is real life fairy tale, where Hobbits can walk side by side with Warrior Princesses. I’m lucky to live next door to you, right here in Etherland, and I look forward to many new chapters in our ongoing story! As always, much love to you~ xoxox

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you for so consistently applauding my truth and calling me out if necessary. I cannot think of a better next-door neighbor to have in the ether :-). I count myself lucky that our paths have crossed. Wishing you an abundance of blessings in this new year!

  15. hollyhinson says:

    CandidKay, this piece is so very wonderful. You are a phenomenal writer, and I love the blog family you have found and also helped create. I blog, too but have not been as consistent as I would like or marketed it much or connected to many other bloggers. But slowly, I am doing so because of people like you who also recommend others I might like to hear. I am falling in love with all these diverse yet somehow familiar voices who are singing my song – the one that says I am a beautifully broken creature of unlimitless potential and capacity to love. Thank you thank you!

    1. candidkay says:

      Just checked out your most recent blog entry and am loving your candor and humor:). It’s so very wonderful to find a network of people who can lift you up and for whom you can do the same–especially those you may never otherwise have met, because they’re thousands of miles away. Best of luck to you in your blog! I hope you keep visiting mine, as I plan to do the same with yours. Brand new year, shiny and new:).

  16. “I’ve learned I’m not the only one wide-eyed with shallow breathing at 3 a.m. For some reason, that helps.” Everyone wants to feel connected and understood. Great post Kay, honest, real and raw and people need to know that the “perfect” everyone is trying to convince us of….doesn’t exist 🙂

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you! Real and raw seem to go together lately. Thanks for reading and your continued support . . .

  17. Marie says:

    Your fierceness in vulnerability and generosity of truth has created an entire community that seeks to connect and nurture. It’s a beautiful thing, Kay, to map a place of kindness.

    1. candidkay says:

      Your beautiful words brought tears to my eyes. Thank you. The vulnerability is not easy for someone from a rather stoic German family. But I realize it’s oh so necessary for the connection. I know you know that also, because you share it so beautifully on your own blog.

      1. Marie says:

        Vulnerability is terrifying, but it is also exhilarating and empowering. Now, can we just take a moment and celebrate those numbers! Congratulations!

      2. candidkay says:

        Yes! Those numbers make me happy:). Thank you!

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