I Really Think I May Have Actually Left My Heart In San Francisco

(I wrote and re-wrote this a million times, and we're just going to leave it the way it is, okay? We're just going to pretend you all were there in the room, if that works for you? Because I have to just say this to those people in that room, and all of you that read here WERE in that room, at least to me. Thanks.)

A few weeks ago, I received an email that, quite possibly, changed the course of my life.

I had submitted a few posts to that Community Keynote thingy the girls at BlogHer were pulling together, and I would have bet you *this* toe they weren't going to choose one.

They chose one.

Was I nervous? Not really. Honestly, once I saw the list of bloggers who were speaking with me, I figured I would be drowned out under a sea of amazing, powerful voices. I mean, really; Schmutzie? She's incredible. I'm just some chick who no one's ever heard of with a terrible attitude and a complete lack of ability to swallow a birth control pill on schedule.

I arrived in San Francisco, along with a large part of the women who's blogs I stalk religiously, and my first night in town was spent drowning in a sea of voices I'd spent the past half a decade trying to discern from a screen with Ariel font. I drank those ladies in, and also managed to drink the left half of the bar we were saddled up to, leaving me almost no time to worry about silly little things like, oh, standing on a stage and talking to you all 20 hours later.

If you don't think we're all not totally smashed out of our skulls, you've got another thing coming. That would be VDog, Christine, Kimmylyn, Maria, Don Mills Diva, Aimee Greeblemonkey and my drunk ass.

20 hours later I stood on a stage and started talking to you all.

They'd asked me to read a post I'd written 5 months ago when I started taking anti-depressants. Anyone who's ever dug through my archives (read: no one) knows that I've got some, well, gut-wrenching stuff tucked away for safe keeping in there. I live-blogged a divorce, if that gives you any idea. I really didn't even give more than a few test-run reading's worth of thought to what I was about to say until I started saying it.

And then I got to the part where I had to tell 1,000 people that I slit my wrists when I was 8. And then I realized just what it was I was saying up there, and that I couldn't back out now, and that I was stuck. And then I had 0.0008/10 of a second to muster up a bunch of courage that I don't actually possess and continue.

I stood on an empty stage and told 1,000 people things that I haven't ever even told my father. I knew that the room had gotten veryvery quiet, and with every word I panicked just a little more. These are not topics for public consumption; mental illness, child abuse, suicide. And yet, I kept talking. The more I grew afraid of what you all were going to think of me, the harder I wanted to say Every Single Word out loud for the whole world to hear. Half way through that reading, I just started crying. I cried because I was afraid, I cried because I was standing there, reliving awful things in my head, and I cried because for the first time in my 33 years of life, I was owning it.

When it was over, I turned and ran off that stage as fast as I could. I couldn't see anyone in the crowd through my own tears, I couldn't breath, and I more or less could not stand up anymore. I fell right dead smack into the arms of Fussy, and I think that's when I realized she was crying a little, too. And then I looked up and those other 21 people backstage with me? THEY were all crying. And then someone turned me around and shoved me back out onto that stage again, and you know what? YOU were all crying, too.

See, I really REALLY though every single person in that room was going to scoot away from me on the Group W bench* when the whole thing was said and done. That the exact OPPOSITE reaction happened means more to me than I will ever find the words to tell you all. The tears and the hugs and the winks and the handshakes and the nods and the emails that have followed since that day have been overwhelming in the most amazing sort of way.

I've been writing my blog since 2005, and I've always considered it a hobby. I've always giggled about it, and downplayed it, and I don't tell anyone in my real-life life about it because perhaps I'm the slightest bit ashamed of it. Or, I was. What happened to me, personally, last weekend in San Francisco is that I realized that this silly little hobby of mine in less than 5 minutes changed someone else's life. Me, sitting at my kitchen table typing out some post that I was so afraid to publish I had to email it to three people first, helped someone, anyone. It gave someone the courage to talk about their own problems, or maybe it gave them the courage to email me, or maybe it gave them the strength to talk about their issues with their spouse or their doctor. Or maybe it just helped them find the courage to walk up to me and say Thank You at a bar later that night, and maybe that was their first step in getting help. I talked to so many people in the days following, so many people who openly shared a bit of their stories with me, many whom said outright that they'd never talked about these things before, that I cannot help but be changed a little by it.

I love my silly little humour blog. I love making someone laugh throughout their day. I love, most of all, making myself laugh at the insanity that runs around so rampant in my head, I'm thinking about getting a head-cat to catch and eat some of it for me. But you know what? Under all that glibness (is glibness a word? It is now) is something important and real and relevant and I am not afraid of that anymore. I am not afraid to say that I hurt and I bleed and my demons seriously fucking outnumber my angels and that sometimes I cannot laugh, no matter how hard I try. I am not afraid to say that I love my kids, but raising them is really the hardest thing I've ever done. Because maybe you'll read that, and maybe you'll need to read it, and maybe you'll know that you're not all alone, just like I did at 5pm Pacific on July 18th, 2008. Just like I think all 22 of us did.

Photo by Greeblemonkey. Hey, did you know we used to be neighbors?

Hi, my name is Shannon, and this is my blog. It's no longer just my hobby, just my humour blog, or just my mommy blog, it's just Shannon's blog. And Shannon, well, she just realized that she's a writer. Maybe they're not all gems, but I am a damn good writer, and I'm not hiding from that anymore. I'm not running from that anymore. I am a writer, god dammit. Who really likes to laugh, and came from a terrible gene pool, and had a really shitty childhood, and isn't totally recovered from it yet. But I'm trying, and I'm not alone. Welcome to my blog, where you are SO not alone.

To the three of you who have any clue what the Group W Bench is? *smooch*