Close up Hands Tea x

Sit a bit and hear some observational stories I’ve been steeping.

We interrupt our weekly post —

— to bring you this:

[This is the link – but the story is below…]

tea book flowerPlease support this wonderful woman and help her voice echo into a world that should hear what she has to say about mental illness.  There is a Native American saying, “It takes a thousand voices to tell a single story.”  This mother’s voice, her story, can be heard if you share it.  Today, I ask that you share this post – so that her story about her son can be heard.  My head is bowed and my hands are folded in the hopes that her words are heard by the hearts that need it most.

xo – t.

Writing is hard. Writing your life’s stories? Even harder. Because it requires you show up and bare your soul, at the cost of potential criticism and disapproval. And so this summer, when I was at a blogging conference and felt disapproval from peer bloggers. I almost quit writing. For good.

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, I am constantly evaluating what I share and how much I share, when it comes to my son’s mental illness. I am sensitive and aware there is a line that I don’t want to cross. The trouble is, it isn’t alway obvious where that line lies. So what better time to get the opinions of other personal bloggers about this issue, than while at a blogging conference? While attending one of the workshops, which was led by a panel of esteemed bloggers, they opened the class up for questions. And so I asked one.

“My son has mental illness. I often write about our journey on this path in hopes to create more awareness, to help others feel less alone in the fight and to eliminate the stigma around it. How do you decide what’s too much to share? Where do you draw the line in what you share about your personal lives in regards to your children?”

Holy Moly. I was not prepared for the answers I received from the panel. Resoundingly, the answers I got were the opposite of what I’m currently doing. The answers felt harsh and abrupt and I felt judged. So much so, I walked out of the session once it was over and almost quit blogging.

I was crushed. I felt so inadequate and unqualified.

If these bloggers on the panel, who are well respected and popular bloggers, disapprove of my current approach on how and what I share, then I MUST be doing it wrong. I thought. And furthermore, if none of them WOULD EVER share such private matters about their children as publicly as I am, then I must also be a terrible mother. What kind of mother would do this?!

After this class, I spent the afternoon in the general session not really listening and mostly replaying the tape of my question, and their answers, in my head. Over and over and over. Doubt washed over me. I’d been doing this all wrong. If the ‘professional’ bloggers wouldn’t share the kind of information I’d been sharing, why would I? Why should I? Why am I doing this at all, if I’m so clearly unqualified?

Yes. I went there. I spiraled downwards. Fast. And decided I should just quit it all. The blogging. The writing. Because if it was this unethical and immoral to be writing about my son’s mental health due to invasion of his privacy, then there was nothing left to say.

Okay – so I may have been a little dramatic in the moment. But later that night at the closing party, I came around. How? Thankfully, I ran into another woman, we’ll call her T, who I’d had the pleasure of meeting earlier in the conference. And she saved me. I mean it. She FULL ON saved me. We were chatting and I was sharing with her my woes. Really, I was just feeling so raw and vulnerable. And feeling NOT GOOD ENOUGH. That is what it was. Here I was, in the middle of a conference of 4,000 bloggers – most of whom I felt were better than me. And my experience in that class earlier that day had proven it.

I didn’t belong there.

So when I shared what I was feeling with T, she said something I’ll never forget. And I’m pretty sure, she has no idea of the impact her few words had on me. She looked me square in the eye, over McDonald’s french fries, and told me to keep going. Keep writing. To not give up. She reminded me that all those bloggers on that panel didn’t know me, didn’t know my son and didn’t know our journey. She reminded me of how many people we are helping by sharing our story.

And then she said, “Heather, if there’s one reason I think I am here, at this conference, it is because I think I was meant to be right here with you, letting you know, that you need to keep going, keep writing.”

Wow. I feel so blessed my path crossed with hers.

I learned a ton at that conference. But the best thing I learned, no class lesson could have taught me. I learned to believe in myself. To stand by my point of view. And to not back down, just because someone else didn’t agree with me. And that is a powerful lesson to learn.

For several days after that conference, I continued to replay that specific experience in my head. And as I reflected on it, I also came to this powerful a-ha moment. To stop taking everything so damn personally. Because I asked the question of that panel. I was the one looking for feedback. I just was’t prepared for the answer.

And me feeling so judged and torn down from their responses to my question? That was on me. And only me. They weren’t rude. They weren’t disrespectful. But they were strong in their point of view, which was different from mine. And you know what I understand now?

A different opinion does not equal disapproval. 

And…even if they did disapprove of how and what I’m writing? Who cares! Well, of course I care, because that’s how I’m wired, which is why I spiraled downward so quickly that day. But. Really, who cares? So they don’t agree? That is okay. There is room for ALL OF OUR VOICES TO BE HEARD.

It was such a powerful lesson I needed to learn and really was a beautiful way to learn it. With T bringing me full circle, at the end of the conference, by reminding me of my worth. And reminding me, that I should never, ever…let anyone take that away from me. That I need to stay true to myself and remember my voice, it would be a terrible thing to waste.

Share this!

“Risk! Risk anything! Care no more for the opinions of others, for those voices. Do the hardest thing on earth for you. Act for yourself. Face the truth.” – Katherine Mansfield




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