Home » randomness » Blame it on the Vaporub: A desperate cry for affirmation

Blame it on the Vaporub: A desperate cry for affirmation

Thirteen days. That’s how long I’ve been sick. I’m tired of being sick. Sick and tired.
Thirteen days of coughing. Thirteen days of blowing my nose until it’s raw. Thirteen days of decongestants, Vaporub, cough drops, and Advil. Thirteen days of steamy showers and propped-up pillows. Thirteen days of walking in a fog. 
I’ve self-diagnosed a bad cold or some kind of respiratory virus because that’s what everyone else around me has contracted, and I’ve never developed a fever. I haven’t seen a doctor because I don’t want to pay $150 to hear him say, “Drink plenty of fluids and rest.” 
As I tick off the days of feeling so crappy, my mood sinks. My outlook on life sucks. Everyone hates me. Nobody loves me. I’m going to take my toys and go home. Meaningless, meaningless, everything is meaningless. I’m pretty sure Solomon had the same virus when he wrote Ecclesiastes.
So this is probably not the best time to make any decision more important than which can of soup to heat. Deciding to quit writing ranks slightly higher than lunch.
I voiced my complaints and my contemplation to the circle of Facebook friends, who promptly assured me that I had inhaled a little too much Vaporub. Get well first, they said. Don’t make any decisions now. And, they added, please don’t quit. 
I breathed in their assurances and backed away from the cliff. Then I scanned the names of commenters.
Cancer survivor. Cancer survivor. Buried her father. Buried his son. 
Single mom. Single dad. Autistic son. Carnival Triumph passenger (yes, that one).
God. I hate myself.
My little virus does not deserve such drama. I am fine. I am not “overwhelmingly discouraged by life,” as I so eloquently complained. I have a cold.
Fair warning: here is the section of this post that gets a little whiney and pathetic. Feel free to close this window now and go back to Pinterest. 
Still here? Okay. 
I’ve been writing since I was an obnoxious, attention-grabbing kid. I wrote stories (badly) and essays, and I had a few teachers who encouraged me and identified the gift God had invested in me. I majored in English with a writing specialization, and I did very well. My professors continued the line of affirmation. I worked at a publishing company answering phones, dabbling in some copy editing and writing “shorts” on travel gear and vacation ideas. My boss, the Antichrist, told me I was good at my job.
I fled the Antichrist and worked at a dental school, editing syllabi and designing the department website. My boss, the anti-Antichrist, loved me.
Then I became a mom, and writing stepped aside to make room for feeding schedules, playgroups, milestones, tantrums — and I had no idea what I was doing.
Years later when I joined MOPS, I was asked to write a bimonthly column for our group’s newsletter, and from that, this blog was born. Once again, I gratefully received the pats on the back I so desperately craved. Writing with honesty and authenticity fed you, and it fed me.
Writing, like any form of art, involves naked vulnerability. The creator digs out the most tender places of her heart, dresses them up, and displays them to the world. Then she waits for the world’s response. 
It is terrifying.
And sometimes, the world doesn’t respond. All she sees are blank stares, all she hears is silence. So she crawls back into herself, questioning her gift, reevaluating her calling. The art inside her won’t stand to be confined, so she lets it out again, hoping this time the world will applaud.
When I was around twelve or thirteen years old, I looked in the mirror and voiced the fear of every twelve or thirteen year old girl in the history of girlkind: “I’m ugly.”
My dad, not breaking his gaze from the six o’clock news, replied, “Quit fishing for compliments.” From that, I learned that my insecurities don’t really matter, so shut up and deal with it alone. Stop being so self-absorbed. Stop whining.
I’m not sure I still believe that. Our insecurities — our scariest parts that cage us with fear — need to be set free, exposed. Only then can they be squelched by the army of those who see us differently, who know the truth.
So I don’t want to cast my line and reel in false praise. But here’s the conclusion I’ve reached: 
I need you.
I need you to comment. Often. I need you to tell me that what I do matters to you. I need you to assure me that I’m not crazy, that you can relate. I need you to laugh with me, to disagree with me, to shake your head with me, perplexed at the world around us. I need to know that God is working and breathing and that something I said moved you a little closer to Him.
I’ve been publishing posts on this blog for six years. And for six years, the bottom of my posts have informed me: 1 comment, 2 comments, 1 comment, No comments. And each time, the silence pulls a thread and a small part of me unravels. And I can’t understand why many of the blogs I read mock me with 31 comments, 68 comments, 238 comments. I know they market themselves better than I do. I know they work harder. I know their words are more skillfully crafted. I know. I know. I know.
But my small audience still matters to me. Most of you are my IRL friends. At least one of you changed my diapers. You knew me as a loud, insecure teenager. You met me for lunch at the college cafeteria. You’ve stood next to me in worship services, playgrounds, classrooms. 
And some of you, scattered across the map, I have never met. But I know you’re there, and you matter to me, too. Your opinions matter. Your stories matter. And I want to hear your voices in the chorus.
We all need each other. We all need to know that we are not invisible, that we are not alone. We all need to know that what we do has purpose, is important, makes a difference to someone. The waitress, the cashier, the teacher — all need to be affirmed in the place where they landed.
So thank you. Thank you for reading. Thank you for letting me know that you are there and I am here and we are together. Thank you for sticking with me through my rants and ridiculousness and introspection. Thank you for opening my eyes and my airways and allowing me to breathe out the life within. Thank you for speaking truth over my insecurities.
Thank you for being my Vaporub.
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11 thoughts on “Blame it on the Vaporub: A desperate cry for affirmation

  1. Jennifer, Please don’t quit writing. I so look forward to your posts. Someone on FB re-posted one of your posts about a year or so ago and I was hooked. Nearly every post has something relevant to my life or that of a friend and I share most of your posts on FB in hopes that someone else can get a chuckle, a challenge, or affirmation, or just feel less alone. You have a gift. Please continue to share it.

  2. Jennifer, I read everything you write, but never comment. You give me inspiration, and you make me realize that I am not crazy, and other people go through similar things that I am going through. You have a wonderful gift, and I for one, enjoy your writing! Please keep writing!

  3. “Don’t stop believing! “Now that I have channeled my inner Steve Perry, you know how I feel sweetie ( or schweetie). You have a gift, a voice, a place in this world that God has uniquely gifted you to fill. As you write, your instrument becomes part of the symphony to make more of the awesome God and Creator we serve. Sometimes in a symphony we can’t hear our individual part very well, but without it, the harmonies and melodies don’t blend to perfection. Girl please! Keep doing what you do!

  4. hey you! nice link on facebook. that’s what got ME here. i’ll read you, baby, and you KNOW i’m gonna comment. so here’s a few things from your outspoken yankee friend…ready?
    1) in yoga, we stand almost naked (it’s 110 degrees in there for crying out loud) and we face a floor to ceiling mirror with the lights ALL the way on. our teacher, whom we do not really look at, tells us repeatedly… “look into the eyes of your own teacher”. that’s me. i listen with my ears, but my eyes focus on myself. YOU, jennifer, are your own teacher. your own affirmer. you might think you need us, but you need YOU. look into your own eyes and be your own teacher. set yourself free.
    2) it’s not just a cold, sweetie. it’s the feeling sick, lacking strength, losing hope, losing focus, lack of light, fresh air, exercise … it’s similar to depression. it’s not a little deal. i had the flu for 14+ days and it took me MONTHS to get my mojo back. it’s ok to be weak. be weak. revel in your weakness. you know that health is coming. others can be strong for you. i’m strong now, i’ll be strong for you. michael is strong for you. put your kids to work more to do what you cannot do right now. they are strong. and if they are anything like mine, they don’t do enough around the house anyway. 🙂 until then … “drink plenty of fluids and rest”.
    3) let’s say it takes 20 years for your writing to explode into a greater consciousness … so you’re 6 years into it. you never know the path you are on. write with no expectations. write from your heart with no audience in mind. or, to be cliche … dance like no one’s watching 🙂

    that’s it from up here. i’ll keep on reading. even if i don’t always comment. that IS what they call faith, right? keep the faith. keep on writing.

    and get better soon…

  5. We all need affirmation in something-the things we do, our passions, the things that matter, that God has led us to. And we get discouraged and frustrated and we flail-and God finds a way to remind us that He knows what He is doing through you. And your words. And your honesty. Marketing…meh. You are real. You are honest. You are tangible. You and your writing matter..even if your audience isn’t massive. Thanks 🙂

  6. Yay! The links work! The comments work! You are my hero! You were able to not only accomplish writing another wonderful post but also conquer the technological world! Hope WordPress is a better friend than blogger.

    You know, I always read and understand your posts on a different level than many of your readers. I am fortunate to know the inside story in many of your posts because I am blessed to have the other perspective of what’s going on in your life and your quirky mind. I think that’s what is fun about our friendship…we have the same snarky, weird sense of humor! I also think we suffer from the same “not overflowing with affirmation giving” gene. Sorry. I can be a cheerleader at times but mostly I just smile and nod my head. Doesn’t mean I love you and your writing any less, just probably means I’ll give you a call in a little bit! 😉

    BTW, love Jasmine’s comments. I will definitely channel the yoga analogy as I try to accomplish my goals!

    Love ya, friend!!!

  7. Pingback: Namaste | from the corner of my couch

  8. i am an over-commenter. let’s face it, i’m an over-everything. but, that’s why you love me. and hate me. 🙂 🙂 i am blessed to call you friend. inspired by your correct use of periods inside quotation marks. i need you. i need your writing. period. love love – Thing Two

  9. I LOVE reading your words. I love how real you are in each post! Thank you for “doing life” with your readers!

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