Our business took part in First Friday celebrations throughout town. We always had a visiting artist that we promoted and as part of my healing process and a way for me to be at work without really having to engage (social anxiety all over the place), I would spend First Fridays working on murals on our walls.
I posted this after our April 2015 First Friday.
Have I told you about the elephants? That in a time when people were being so cruel that I was in awe of the way elephants took care of each other. That my heart was so broken and I wanted to be anyone but me. That if I had to keep living...if I had to be in the world...that I desperately wanted to wear a mask. I wanted to hide. I wanted to be cared for and loved. But people were so cruel. My heart was just broken. And so I began painting these elephant people.
Right before this, another rumor had been started about me. A bunch of people had been told that I did something terrible, they decided that it must be true...but they didn't ask me about it. They didn't talk to me.
Instead, they shared that post up there. And they ripped it apart. When I logged into our business page and saw that people had shared the post, I was flattered...until I saw what they were saying. And I realized why they had shared it.
And so I was really sorry that I had put my heart up on that wall. And I cried. A lot. And I just thought...this will never end. This is my life now. A life where I don't talk to anyone, I don't do anything, I don't have any friends, but people still keep coming for me...and no matter what I do, I can't stop it.
And then there was Lizz Barnes.
I met Lizz once, about ten years ago, and then I never really saw her again. I didn't really know her. She has a business in town and she also participates in First Friday celebrations. She had heard the same rumor that everyone else had, that I had done something terrible which would hurt her business. But Lizz, who didn't know me, asked me about it. She asked me why I had done it, because she had heard that I absolutely had. But I hadn't. And Lizz was the only person who asked me. And when I explained that it was a rumor...another rumor... and that they were devastating to me...
Lizz asked how she could help.
That's what you do. That's the kind of person I want to be. You can't possibly know how much that gesture meant to me but even now, a year later as I write this, I'm just bawling because holy shit...
There was kindness. There was a reason to believe that people were good. In my darkest moment, here was this woman - a stranger - reaching a hand out to me...
And so it has been a year. And I no longer have my own place to host First Fridays. Instead, this past First Friday, I had an art show at Lizz's business. I put all of those elephants up on the wall...I put my heart up on those walls...and my tribe showed up. The people who have been holding me up all year came out and celebrated with me and they got it and they were kind and compassionate and amazing and they showed up.
And Lizz made that possible. Because she heard a rumor and she looked for the truth.
And the next week I bought some jewelry supplies from her, because she sells the very best supplies and when I went to pick up my order, she handed it to me and then,..
She showed me how to do everything better and easier. She gave me tools. She gave me advice. She offered assistance.
Because of a rumor, for a year now this woman has been my friend and just keeps saying, "How can I help?"
She's a light. She's the reason I stamp 'Be A Light" on pennies. Because that's the kind of person I want to be.
In that year, when I lost faith in everyone...I mean, the world was really, really dark...I had very little to hold on to...but I kept holding on because I thought please God let this end soon let me get hit by a truck or make it stop but please don't keep me here I can't keep being here but I'm going to keep fighting and I'm fighting so hard and...
And the lights came.
I couldn't be a light for anyone last year. I tried, but I couldn't. I was just trying to survive my own darkness. And that's ok. You can't always be the light. But if you can't and you're in that darkness right now, hold on. The lights are coming. I swear. And they might come from the most unexpected places.
Lizz? I don't even know her.
Church? I hate church.
But look at all of these lights.
New friends? I'm scared of people.
But look at their light.
Please hold on, love. The lights are coming. I promise.