In my previous post, I outlined 17 proven steps to follow if you want to lose yourself. Who knew so many people wanted to go crazy? Never before did my little blog that I started as a class assignment receive so much traffic, and it most likely never again will. In the days since I posted, I have been torn between removing it, editing out some parts, or adding to it. But what was it they said about not being able to take back words once spoken? I decided instead to do an ‘About last post’ post, because I fear it has been misunderstood by many.
What It Was
1. A means of expression.
I always fancied myself a writer, though I struggled (and still struggle) with finding a niche. My interests are as fickle as they come, and the most profound experiences cannot be recaptured and cheapened to suit an audience. I really had no intention of making the post when I started writing it on October one, but it haunted me for days, so I eventually edited out the most deeply personal bits and posted.
In 2015 I decided to make use of my paid miscellaneous fees and access the psychiatric care at the UWI Health Centre. I stopped going when my counsellor told me to write down a particular experience that I struggled to overcome before my next visit. I still haven’t written it down, and still haven’t overcome it. I decided to write about my year to prove to myself that I have made progress, and I was doing better. And I am.
I always held a certain respect for people who have gone through tough times, but didn’t become victims of those tough times for the rest of their lives. I like to think I am one of those people, and I hoped that when I posted, it would have had an impact on someone else who might have been experiencing something similar. Judging by the responses, I have long surpassed my target, for which I am happy.
What it was NOT
1. A Cry for Help
There is hope for humanity. I almost drowned in the shower of love and support that came down on me. It made me realize how compassionate people are when they know someone has been hurt. Maybe it was my writing style though, that caused some people to miss the point of the post completely. They assumed I wanted a medal of honour for facing the consequences of MY actions. I do not. I learnt quickly that parenting is largely about making sacrifices for your child/children, and I was fully prepared to postpone my education to seek employment to take care of my child. And though I am eternally grateful to those who felt compelled to give, I know there are many people in worse predicaments than the one I weaved for myself who would appreciate your assistance. (I suggest a visit to a children’s home).
2. “A piece of fiction”
I was careful in my writing not to embellish or exaggerate. If anything, I omitted a large portion of the events, and tried to write as lightheartedly as possible, to ward off pity, or any undue embarrassment to anyone mentioned in the piece.
3. “Firing” at anyone.
And that’s all I’ll say about that.
Whew… Now that we’ve cleared that up, here is the Eighteenth, and final, step that you really came here to read.
Step 18: Get Going
On a whim, you make a blog post about your year. Little do you expect that telling your story will actually become such a big part of your story, but it does. Less than 24 hours after posting, a relative you haven’t had contact with for years reaches out, and commits to helping to clear your outstanding balance. You are wary of accepting it, as the last thing you want is pity, but you are not too proud (or foolish) to accept help from family when you really need it. Soon after, you receive a call that may very well have you changing addresses soon. You decide to hold off on making a decision for a while, as you still haven’t quite absorbed the first offer of help, and what it means for you.
Whether somebody at the firm you interviewed two weeks ago read your blog, you will never know, but they also called shortly after it was posted. Thankfully, too, they don’t want you to start until the next few weeks, so you have some time to sort out family matters. Would you look at God, though?
The euphoria gets unsettling, and then nauseating, when you start getting more messages than you have fingers to respond to. Soon you start feeling sad, perhaps because you are not used to being treated like a victim, or someone who needs help. You are not used to needing help. You have never been needy, even when you were in need, because that’s just not how you want to project yourself onto others. You re-read your blog several times, wondering what you said that compelled people to react this way. You realize that your story was incomplete, and people saw this. You had overcome your challenges in your mind, but they were still very much present in your life. Telling your story had now become a part of your story, and no amount of experience in writing could have prepared you for that.
You decide to just roll with things as they come, and you attend school on Thursday, taking your baby with you. This was by far your most nerve-wracking back-to-school experience yet. You arrive on campus over an hour early for a 9:00AM class, and drop off your baby by his dad. In class, no one really seems to care that you suddenly popped up there. You don’t have a big “I dropped-out-last-year-and-had-a-baby” sign written on your forehead (or your body, thanks to awesome genes). This is exactly what you need, and you proceed to slide back into the course that you started last year, only more committed and purposeful this time around.
On Saturday, you decide it’s time to write a follow-up, as the original blog post is still spreading like a modest little wild fire, reaching people around the world, and they are reaching out. It would be unfair of you to share the struggle and not share the triumph. You type and post “The Eighteenth Step” from your phone while your baby sleeps. (Your laptop decided it couldn’t handle the fame two nights ago and crashed 😹). You vow never to post anything that personal again, as you don’t want to give away the juicy bits of your autobiography before you are ready to write it. You commit to keeping your blog alive, if only to write about trivialities for the few readers who will remain after your nine days have ended. You take life one step, dirty diaper, and day at a time, grateful for the experiences that continue to make you the woman you are. No hate. No regrets. No looking back.
And you and your baby live happily ever after.