In a way, the fight with Dana was freeing. Now she’s just one more person in my life who believes I’ll never amount to anything. Over the years, there have been plenty. Now she can high-five with that crowd while I work toward wholeness. Far be it from me to stop her. What I will not allow, though, is for her to throw me away and then later on act as if she always knew I’d be successful. When I said yesterday that I thought what she was saying was mean, it wasn’t really the words themselves. It was taking my insecurity and thrashing me with it. Taking something I already felt horrible about and using it to beat me down further. Nothing about my writing to her is reaching up. Nothing about my writing is making a better life for myself whether it comes from my blog getting famous or from me using my words to propel myself into a different reality. In this blog, I have something she will never have unless she reaches for it. I know myself. I know myself so well that there is no insult on earth that anyone could levy at me that I haven’t struggled with in my own heart.
When I said that it hurt that she was there for all the pain and none of the promise, I realized something important. She’s paid so much attention to the pain that she could not see the promise when it arrived. Does she believe I am a well-respected author? No. Does she believe that I am capable of writing a book? No. Does she believe that this blog is anything more than self-serving ruminations? No.
That is not the truth and I will not accept it. My truth is that people have taken money out of their pockets and with it said, “we believe in you.” I have made enough money now from different donors to know that I am on the right path. Of course I need a real job to supplement my income, and I am not scared of that fact. At the same time, though, that will always be a “real job,” and this will always be my career. I am never more in my element than sitting in the quiet, writing to all of you. It’s the reason I am so dedicated. You lift me up in ways that I cannot lift myself.
The weirdest thing has been happening…. the more I share my work, the more people quote me to me. People tell me the lines that have stuck with them and I know my words’ importance because they have life past my own mind. For Dana, this is my delusion…. that my words matter, that I am respected. I have money in the bank that says that’s not true.
My reach is extending further. My roommate is from Iran, and she started reading my blog. She said, “you are a wonderful writer…. perhaps you would write my story, too?”
All of the color drained from my face and I started to sob. She was surprised and said comforting words, “oh, Leslie…. you shouldn’t cry…. it’s ok….. why? Why these tears?” I said, “you would trust me with something like that?” As you can imagine, her escape from Iran is not an easy story to hear, and I haven’t even heard a tenth. To hear the whole thing and to have her trust that I could do it justice was more than I could emotionally bear without showing so much emotion that I shook with it. I am still recovering, honestly, because her words touched a place in me that said, “Dana is wrong. You will do more than you ever thought possible, much less more than anyone else thought you would.” It set me down a path of hope, redemption, prosperity.
I asked her if it was okay to give her a hug. We stood on the porch, the light streaming around us as our arms reached across an unspoken divide, the one where all the feelings are.