“Friendship isn’t about who you’ve known the longest. It’s about who walked into your life, said ‘I’m here for you,’ and proved it.” – Unknown
I came across that quote the other day and how appropriate it is right now.
I am humbled and touched by the outpouring of emails, comments, and snail mail in response to my “Dear Suicidal Person” post, taken aback by the kindness and thoughtfulness of so many readers and acquaintances.
I was especially moved by a reader who sent me the dark thoughts of my patron saint, Therese of Lisieux, in her dying days. It was a reminder that even the saints had seasons of doubt and despair. And I was inspired by a friend who visited the Gandhi statue in D.C. and sent along a photo of it with the inscription “My life is my message,” as well as the words on another engraving near it that said, “Whenever you are in doubt, or when the self becomes too much with you, apply the following test. Recall the poorest and the weakest man [woman] whom you may have seen, and ask yourself if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him [her] … will it lead to swaraj [freedom] for the hungry and spiritually starving millions? Then you will find your doubts and your self melt away.”
That assuaged much of my insecurity in publishing my struggles.
Back when I was writing Beyond Blue, I wrote raw, personal posts on a daily basis. In the last few years I’ve become more self-conscious, analyzing every word for appropriateness. Your messages have inspired me to get back to honest pieces, to write from where I am, not from where I want to be, as my editor at Beliefnet once advised me. They’ve confirmed the need for the truth, as uncomfortable as it is to write and read.
Twelve years ago I didn’t know what a blog was. My editor had to guide me through the steps to load my words on to WordPress. It felt like I was submitting my thoughts into a vacuum. However, within a few weeks I was astounded by the intimacy that was formed online with readers, the community that quickly developed among people all over the world. It still feels like a miracle to me today – that by pressing “send” I have the potential to start a conversation in Australia and Singapore.
I feel so blessed to have readers who have followed me through all my transitions to different websites and continue to support me – on my good days and in my darkest hours. I don’t say this enough, but you give me strength to go on, to try do what the engraving said and quiet my self-doubts in order to be of use to others.