A dear friend of mine moved to the U.S. Her husband is in the military and he was posted to the Pentagon. It was a hard day for me because we have been together for 35 years. We were separated for over 20 of those years but distance never killed the friendship. It is all due to her not giving up on me because I left all my friends behind. So for the past couple of years we were reunited and lived in the same city. To be honest I have no idea why she has put up with me for all these years.
Before she left, she had a little get together. The people that were going to be there I have known for about 25 years. I had lost touch with most of them over the 20 years I lived away. But I knew I was not the same person they had hung around with. I was a whole different person. But we were so close back then. So when the party approached why was I praying for the flu?
They had loved me back then. I was young, lively, confident and very outgoing. I felt I was now old, sometimes reserved, anxious and very unsure of myself. As a writer I can attest that many do not see writing as a real job. It is something we do as a hobby. So what if they asked me what I was doing? Also, the reality is that very little about me is going to be a secret after the book comes out. They were going to ask me what the book was about. I would tell them, “living with a mental illness.” I would then be less of a person in their eyes.
Everything I am fighting against I was creating in my world. My sins are all between the pages of my book. All of them! The last thing I should be doing is worrying about how people will judge me. I preach that people who live with the same battles as me do exactly the opposite. Yes I am a different person. My life has been damn hard and back then I had life by the tail. Now I have the battle scars of a true warrior. Survival changes you.
I was terrified to go to the party. My anxiety is not exactly a fan of the whole party thing to begin with. I am an odd one though because I can be having a cardiac before a baby shower, yet I can get up in front of 200 people to speak and I get a few butterflies. These folks were not strangers really. I already had myself convinced that I would be judged. As the evening approached I knew I had to figure out a strategy as to how I was going to cope (luckily they were providing alcohol). Something had to give or I was going to back out and I knew that would deeply hurt my friend.
My son reminded me of my accomplishments. He thinks I deserve a medal just because I am still here. I have spent almost 4 years dedicated to writing a book. Trust me this is far more difficult than a person would expect. But I had done it. And done it. And done it (just making my point that many re-writes were involved). I have spoken in front of people about my illness. These things all did make me feel better but nothing so much as the brief comment I read on a post I made.
She could relate to what I was saying. I made HER feel better. She knew she was not alone. My writing had affected her. That was my goal all along. I sure did not have any selfish motives for putting every stupid mistake I have made out there for all to know. I did however realize that through it all…I had done something special. I had every right to believe in myself…to feel proud of myself. That most definitely was not something I was accustomed to feeling. I realized I may have a mental illness but no I was not less than anyone else. I knew I was a good person and that damn well counts for something.
I went to the party. I proudly talked about my book. I proudly talked about me. I also had a wonderful time. Did they talk about me after I left? (I am still old enough that party time ends at 11:00). Yes they did. They said how good I looked. How healthy I looked. That they were excited about my book coming out. Guess I messed up on that one! Assuming the worst. I am so very very good at that!
I am working on changing that. Trying to picture a positive outcome rather than a disaster. Things turned out exactly the opposite of what I had myself convinced would happen. Man did I waste a lot of time and energy! It is far from easy. I have spent 50 years always expecting the worst. I will write another post about thoughts and words. But what we think can either make or break us. Positive outcome. There is a new concept! So I start my work contract today and guess what? It is going to go amazingly!