My heart is aching this morning. I didn’t wake up feeling this way, but now it’s all I can do to keep from sobbing. Compounding my morose feeling is the fact it’s Monday. Most Mondays I’m already feeling kind of meh anyway. Usually I sip my coffee and toss around excuses for calling out then remember I’ve used up all of my excuses.
Guess I’ll just have to suck it up and go in.
But I really don’t want to this morning and it doesn’t have anything to do with Monday morning. It’s what happened yesterday. Something I read this past Sunday.
The impact of what I read weighed heavily on my mind Sunday night as I slept and was waiting for me the very minute I woke up. Right now I feel so bad, almost crippled because of an article I read by an author in the Medium community. An author I love, a writer to whom I feel connected. She’s like a sister to me and when she hurts, when she hurts as bad as she did yesterday, so bad it seemed she’d lost hope, I grew frustrated with helplessness and I hurt with her.
The sad thing is there are times, just like today, when all I can do is cry with her. She kind of knows me, but not that well. Maybe she’s read one or two of my articles and offered a comment or two. But I know her work. I follow the shit out of her.
I’m not a stalker, well maybe I am.
I stalk the hallways of Medium searching for authors who write about things she writes about (guys too, I don’t discriminate) because I like what they have to say. Their writing speaks to me most times on a level I never expect it to.
It’s strange as hell I can be impacted to the point of tears because one of my fellow writers on Medium is going through such pain. If you think we’re total strangers then you’re about as wrong as you could possibly be. Some of these writers I’ve followed for the better part of two years. They’ve poured their lives out on the page. Like Hemingway, they’ve sat at their modern day typewriters and bled — for themselves and for us.
Some of these writers have such a fan base it’s impossible for them to recognize each of us who read their work.
But it doesn’t matter.
We read what they write each day, sharing their sorrows and triumphs. We understand the day to day struggles they often write about and feel just as bad as they do when they fail. We applause with genuine pleasure when they reach a successful milestone. A true fan, or follower, and dare I say friend, sticks it out with them.
And sometimes all we can do is cry with them.
For us, the frustration is multiplied because we know how bad they’re hurting right now, and there isn’t a single thing we can say or do to help them. We know they’ll have to struggle through the pain on their own. We know our words of encouragement are useless.
When they hurt, just like we’ve hurt in the past, worn out platitudes don’t help a damn bit. We pray to God whatever is causing them such tremendous pain will just go away and leave them the hell alone.
And sometimes what they write scares the hell out of us. Just like what my fellow author wrote yesterday. Because we’ve read her work so much we understand her tone and are able to read between the lines of her voice.
And it ties our stomach in knots of fear, because we know there may come a time when she and other authors let the pain win. We revile against the possibility of a drastic outcome. We pray they will simply take some time off to adjust, to get their heads a little straighter, their thoughts in line.
And yet, we’re still frightened and almost cursing the thought that maybe this time they’ve taken all they can handle.
Look, I’m gritting my teeth as I write this piece. As a writer who sometimes pins my emotions on my sleeve, words of hellish anguish and pain from a fellow writer can strike me down as if they were my own.
I want to help them get through it, help them get back on track. I need to do something to help them get back to writing strong and beautiful pieces about their lives and accomplishments as they stare the wickedness of life in the face and spit in its eye.
I hurt so much for them and yet there is little I can do, and that’s the single reason I feel so bad this morning.
Someone get the word out to her. Tell her I’m here for her if she just wants to talk. Tell her to send me an email. I’ll reply back with my phone number if she ever needs to call and just talk.
Tell her I won’t serve up rosy “everything’s going to be okay” outlooks on life. I won’t tell her she’s better than this and force her to look at all the wonderful things she’s done with her life.
She doesn’t need to hear that shit right now.
What she needs is someone willing to just sit and listen and if necessary when the silence becomes as oppressive as the pain she’s going through cry with her.
Because, sometimes there are moments when all you can do is cry with them.
P.G. Barnett lives in Texas bliss with his wife. Not so much bliss with two female cats. Thus, the warped sense of humor.
Let’s keep in touch — firstname.lastname@example.org