If you wanted to hear about something fairly inane, simple, innocent, you’re at the wrong blog. Many bloggers keep things light on purpose. They don’t want to burden their readers. I am not one of them. My goal is to share some of my pain in the hopes that others won’t suffer like I have, or at least won’t feel alone. I want to wrestle with deep, complex, painful issues, and I want to do this because that has been the bulk of my life. Today I would like to tell you about the deepest pain I endure. Today, I want to tell you a bit about my bullying story. I’m not looking for sympathy, so please trust me when I say I am going somewhere with this. Please, sit with me a moment and listen.
In some very important ways, my story is a very normal American story. In other ways, it’s a tragedy. What I want you to understand about me right now is this: I am a survivor of long-term, systematic, intense bullying, and it’s still happening to me. Right now. As you read this. I am a victim, and part of me always will be. What happened to me in my youth will never fully go away. Those wounds will not ever heal. Mike and Eric and Perry and so many others in high school harmed me truly, badly and deeply. The pastor and his wife at my church harmed me in different, but equally terrible ways. So did several blood members of my family. Some of these people didn’t realize what they were doing. Some of them were very, very aware of what they were doing. All of them left me emotionally damaged, socially crippled, spiritually scared, and as I sit here writing this, I feel the pain.
In fact, it is this pain, this damage, that has prevented me from realizing my purpose here on earth. I am a writer, but I have told myself for more than 25 years of my life that I could never do it. In fact, the damage is so complete that I didn’t even realize until I was in my late 30’s just how complete. I didn’t have a little voice in my head talking me out of writing, or telling myself that I would fail, so why try. No, the self-confidence issues were, and in some ways still are, so bad that I never even considered writing. It just never even occurred to me that the thing I love most – even more than music and singing – and the thing I was constantly doing in my quiet moments (mentally), was what I was born to do.
A new life, a new spiritual awakening, and a new person who loved me for me alone, these things have given me enough perspective that I now see the damage. I now see how it effects me mentally, emotionally, and even physically. I see now that the crazy ideas and thoughts scratched on bits of paper are all stories that I should have been writing all my life. I’ve statistically lost about half of my productive working years, but embraced the remaining ones. I’ve finally woken up from the nightmare that was my life post-bullying. I am finally writing, and writing for real. One novel done, a second started, dozens I could work on next, and a bunch of short stories.
But as much as I write, I can’t make a living at it unless people actually want to give me money for my writing, and so I’ve been learning as much as I can about how this can happen. In this process, I stumbled upon a TED talk with Amanda Palmer. If you don’t know who that is, you should look her up. She did an amazing talk which you can see on YouTube [HERE] on the way she has been able to give her music away for free, trusting those who love her music to support her. It’s an old model, she explains, and is the way musicians and other creative people have lived for about as long as they’ve been around. Only in the 20th century did that model change. And that’s where I’m going.
My being bullied destroyed my trust in others. In some ways I’ve always been very optimistic, but when it comes to trusting others to “catch” me – to support me when I can’t support myself – well, that needs some work. Amanda Palmer talks about what it takes to trust your own personal “crowd” with things like a place to sleep and compensation for creativity. It’s not all about money – in fact it often isn’t. It’s about trusting that the greater world has room – and an interest – to support people in non-traditional ways. The model you were raised with is “Get a job, do the job, get paid, repeat”. Amanda’s model is this “Create something (do the job), trust you’ll get paid by those who care about your work”. That’s it. It’s very simple, but almost impossible for many to understand, and it’s hand-in-hand for me with my desire to trust in God. In both cases, that little part of my brain, the one that still hurts so much, tries to talk me out of it.
I am trying to trust my “crowd”. You, reading this, you are my crowd. I am trusting you for any of three things, and I am on my knees begging you, yes you, to help me out.
- I am trusting that you will read what I write as frequently as you can and will, and forward what I write to others.
- I am trusting that you will point new people you meet in my direction if they might like what I do, or might be curious about what I do.
- I am trusting you to give me honest feedback about what I do. If something is badly written, I need to know that. If something is well written, I need to know that, too. If something is very relevant to you, or has some serious impact, please tell me.
Can you please help me with this? It’s not much, I promise, but I am asking for your help. Amanda Palmer points out that it’s very hard to ask for help like this, and I assure you it is. But I have a chance to tell some important stories – trust me, my head’s full of them, all screaming to get out on paper – and to bring some joy and happiness into the lives of others. Others will enjoy my stories, but I need you, my friends, to help spread what I do. I am asking you.
And I am trusting.