Isn’t it funny how on a bad day, seemingly small things can send you into a tailspin?
When I used my last egg and scraped the last mayo out of the jar this week, the abyss opened up, and I was a mess.
Is my cupboard bare? No, it isn’t. There’s good stuff in there. Stuff I can easily turn into simple, tasty meals. But on Thursday, there were no more eggs, there was no more mayo – and I knew I did not have enough money to buy both, and wouldn’t have, for at least two weeks. I’m unemployed at the moment, so money is tight.
It is a confronting thing to realise you can’t afford basic things, items which Toby from The West Wing (god I love that show) calls ‘the everyday things, the 99 cent things’. The things we take for granted, like eggs, and mayonnaise.
As the last shell went in the bin, I cracked too.
People sometimes say that there’s no kindness left in the world, or that it is hard to come by. Some days that seems true, some of us just don’t have our eyes open to see it, but I can tell you, Thursday was not a kindness-free-day for me.
In my increasing agitation, I took to the keyboard, to vent about feeling sad, stuck and vulnerable. Not a public broadcast, a conversation in a group of people I felt pretty sure I could trust. The group I chose was the one I’ve been spending the most time in lately, my Pipsters. From here in Melbourne, and in far-flung places from Spain to England to America, these awesome ladies, my homies, my Pipsters PICKED ME UP with the tap, tap, tapping on their keyboards, and created a safe space where I could talk about feeling humiliated by my lack, and frightened of not getting through the next fortnight.
They encouraged me, empathised with me and didn’t gloss over what I was saying, which is so important when someone is having a shit day. Let the person in Shitsville say it is shitful. It is. Don’t rush to “the sun’ll come out tomorrow”. We all know it will.
What the temporary residents of Shitsville need, what I needed, was listening ears and compassionate hearts.
Boy was I in the right place. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. From the bottom of my heart.
There were so many tears, and as I sat at my desk, talking in real time with people, feeling the support and solidarity, reading about how other people have been in my shoes, I was being broken open, my emotional pressure valve hissing and spluttering out the worries of the week.
It may sound utterly bizarre to you (it does to me) but blogging is bringing battered old passions to the surface, it is causing me to be more open, authentic and vulnerable, with the people I am creating an online community with, and with myself…. it is strange, and sometimes painful, but it feels exhilarating too. Being fully alive isn’t about feeling only good things. Neither is blogging!
After I’d been chatting with the Pipsters for a while, I felt a bit better, then a lot better, and so, so tired. All that crying takes it out of you. I woke up the next day feeling completely different. Nothing had changed, but I was no longer weighed down with worry. I was buoyed by people sharing ads for jobs they’d seen and thought I’d rock at, there were links to sites that might help, people shared mayo recipes requiring only two ingredients, people encouraged me, people SAW ME, unvarnished and broken, and not one person turned away, or blithely told me to ‘get a job’ or that what I was feeling was invalid. That’s priceless stuff. Human stuff. That’s community.
Today I can write this from a totally different mindset than the one I was stuck in two days ago. Today’s tears are of gratitude. I am not ashamed of my tears. They are softening me, inside and out.
This week I learned a new lesson about what I’d term humiliation – a feeling I despise with all my being. Maybe what I know as humiliation – a deeply painful, confronting and devastating state of mind and soul, holds within it a chance to be more authentic with people, more vulnerable and ready to say, I need help. Try saying that, even in your mind, I need help. It’s not easy is it?
And yet, we all need it. I need help. You need it. Your sister, your dad, the guy on the bus, the shiny people on magazine covers, who we’re supposed to worship and believe ‘have it all’, the crafters, the ‘successful’ folks we admire and maybe envy a touch, even them – we all need help every now and then. Maybe not every day, maybe not to buy eggs or mayonnaise, but sooner or later, Mayonnaise-Gate happens to all of us.
How GRATEFUL I am that when I was ready to say, even just from the ‘safety’ of my computer, that I needed help, that people were there to listen and to encourage me. That was the help I needed most on Thursday afternoon. Help to be honest, help to be vulnerable and let my emotions out.
Can I exist only in the virtual world? No I can’t. I need my flesh and blood friends too, I need to trust them when the chips are down (or gone!), as I do in the good times. I am undone by friends who demonstrate their love in ways that resonate.
Some cheer my efforts at blogging on, or remind me that Don’t Stop Believin‘ is my ultimate theme song.
Some friends do this with their words, their care, their support and encouragement, their precious time.
Some do it with groceries, or a supermarket voucher.
Some give me money that I know they could have used to buy their own eggs and mayonnaise.
I have friends that take the time to read and comment on my fledgling blog, or come over with pizza.
The yet-unmet-friends who spoke life into my situation this week, wow, thank you.
The pal who asked me how I was on Instagram, and I decided to tell her the truth, which resulted in us having a great chat, she’s sending help. I’ve never met her.
One yet-unmet-friend from Blog With Pip, who sent me a message on Friday asking me where I live, is dropping off help this afternoon.
A lovely friend took me to dinner, paid for my meal, and a second glass of wine, and helped me out, again.
The friend I met in a West Elm store, who I’m enjoying getting to know, said she’ll buy me a coffee next week.
There’s no hierarchy involved. The friends who offer practical support aren’t ‘better’ than the friends who offer a listening ear and words of encouragement. They know that, I certainly know it. We all play our part.
Sometimes we buy the eggs, sometimes we listen and send virtual hugs.
What I’ve learned this week is that kindness isn’t at all like mayonnaise – it doesn’t run out when the jar is empty.
In fact, sometimes that empty jar is a portal to an outpouring of kindness that lays you flat with gratitude.
That’s why I’m not about to stop believin’. Even when mayonnaise makes me cry.