Thank You for Saying Thank You

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“During my long, tough, sad season I felt lost, discouraged, and misunderstood.
It is my hope that by reading this book, you will discover that you aren’t.”
-Betts Keating, My Movie Memoir Screenplay Novel

These days, after all of my post-traumatic-ness, I no longer have nerves of steel. Unfortunately, they have become more like aluminum. I’m a little softer around the edges and definitely more cautious. Combine all that trauma induced anxiety with my natural tendency towards introverted-ness and, well, an author appearance can be a very tricky thing. Even a simple author appearance, like attending a book club.

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Going to this book club was a no brainer for me. It was close by (I could drive there). It didn’t require a lot of effort from me (all I had to do was show up). They were kind enough to invite me (even an introvert wants to be included). They were willing to read my book and discuss it (still a pleasant surprise). But mostly, this particular group included my sister and one of my college roommates as two of it’s members (an unusually delightful bonus). So what was there to be nervous about?

Everything.

Because that’s the way it works for this post-traumatic introvert. Sometimes I get nervous for no reason.

But…

As soon as I walked into the quaint, quirky coffeehouse where we were scheduled to meet, I realized this was going to be a different kind of author appearance. This was going to be a lot less stressful and definitely more interesting.

As the other women in the book club trickled in, I felt an immediate camaraderie. As we all traveled our way through the usual introductions and small talk while we ordered and arranged ourselves, I found myself greeting them as friends, not strangers. Once we got settled, I could definitely tell, this table of women were my kind of people. This was a group of people who love to read. I felt right at home. Reading and talking about reading is one of my happy places. It’s doubly fantastic when the book in question is my own.

We chatted, we talked, we conversed.

They told me about their favorite laugh out loud moments (eucalyptus oil and walker-walking to movies) and we laughed together. They quoted specific passages and then shared why those particular words meant something special to them. We talked about overcoming. We talked about surviving. We talked about what it means to help someone else survive. The conversation was simple, easy. The give and take seamless. The questions they asked were insightful and challenging. They drew me out of my shell.

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When the evening came to a close and as we were walking out the door, one person pulled me aside.

“I just wanted to say thanks for writing that therapy part,” she said, almost in a whisper. “It meant a lot to me… to know that I am not the only one.”

I felt like saying, “No, thank you for saying thank you because I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one.”

But then we would have gotten trapped all night in a thank you contest so I just said, “I’m so glad.”

And we shared that moment, over to the side, away from the crowd because it’s still not easy to talk about. Even though these days being in therapy carries less of a stigma than it used to. There is a time and a place for it. Sometimes it’s better discussed “off camera.” So that’s what we did. We had a quick aside that was reserved for those of us who have been through it and need to remember we are not alone. My heart broke for her because of the familiarity of her burden. My heart rejoiced with her because of our eternal connection. We didn’t have to explain. It was enough that we simply recognized each other even though we were complete strangers.

So it doesn’t matter what the current state of my nerves may be. Or how my desire to be more open is annoyingly interrupted by my self-conscious, introverted-ness. Being here for this was totally worth it.

She is not alone and neither am I.

Thank you for saying thank you.

 

©2016 Betts Keating. All rights reserved.

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Read more of Betts Keating’s story in her memoir, My Movie Memoir Screenplay Novel, available for purchase at amazon.com.

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