Please welcome Rachel E Bledsoe to #BeREALationships.
I’m used to being alone. I prefer the silence. When you’re alone, no one expects anything from you. You rely solely on yourself. When you fail, you’re only letting yourself down. I am my harshest critic. I can beat myself bloody without ever raising my voice or speaking out loud. The words I speak inside my battered brain are cruel. They are unforgiving torture devices stretching what little self-esteem I have to a breaking point.
Writing is a solitary sport. I don’t have a room full of people telling me what I should or shouldn’t say. No one is tearing apart my grammar and scolding me for natural Appalachian dialect; a language I learned to hide when I began writing.
A few years ago on an early morning, I was promoting my recent cranked out semi-humorous non-masterpiece. There’s the trade-off with this ‘glamorous’ lifestyle. We aren’t just writers. We are mass marketers, promoters and social media managers. Day to day we are selling our words and our brand. As I was diligently promoting my latest piece, I received an odd friend request from a writer on Facebook. I had been following this person’s blog for a few short months.
I read too many words. Dozens of articles every day. If I am able to recall with vivid detail the exact moment I read your words, you are special to me. My recollection means your words stirred an emotion inside of me and they are stuck in my gut forever.
The friend request which came to me on that particular day has changed my life. Briton Underwood, otherwise known as Punk Rock Papa, has molded the voice you are reading right now. He encouraged something inside of me I didn’t know existed.
I do remember the first words I read of his, The Metallic Box. It was near Christmas and I had found him through the Facebook page of the Original Bunker Punks. I can recall with the exact precise timing I first read his words because Omaha Steaks were delivered to my house as a present from my sister. I sat on a love seat not as thrilled about dry ice as my husband seemed to be. Instead, I was mesmerized by words on screen. From there I went on to read more and more and more of his words.
Following his friend request, he invited me into a special group. Think of it as a safe-haven for writers, freaks, and all that falls in-between. I’ve never belonged anywhere, but I belonged here.
I spent a great many nights in this special place. I built friendships and made a writing home here. None of my homes last. Not my childhood one, and most days the home I’ve currently built feels as if it is hanging by a short, worn out thread. My writing home didn’t last either. This is what I guess is the way of the world. Nothing gold can stay, right?
One constant has remained. I call him “Punk”. When I’m scared to write the truth, I go to him. When I’m struggling with where to go, he has one answer. It’s the same answer every time: Write your fucking book.
He told me probably a year ago about my voice. How it was great but I had to learn to use it. Quit being afraid of it. I’m scared of my own damn voice. The rage hidden inside of it terrifies me. To find one person to encourage it, to find a person who isn’t afraid of it… I hold that person dear in my heart as family to me.
A random friend request changed everything you are reading today. I wouldn’t have published a lot of the words you’ve read if it wasn’t for Punk’s encouragement. Sometimes, a few kind words are all one person needs. Maybe then, after hearing or reading something uplifting and encouraging, people wouldn’t feel utterly alone anymore. Maybe they wouldn’t be as frightened to say what it is they really need to say. Maybe their own truth isn’t so scary when someone is beside them being an ally instead of an enemy.
None of these words do our friendship justice.
I am a lady with beauty and rage tucked into two petite, fast typing hands. Some call what I do a “gift.” I call it madness. I’ve been writing since I first learned to make marks on paper, the fear has never gone away. One thing has changed though.
I am a woman who finally knows when I sit down to type I am not alone anymore. I have a best friend in this fucked up writing world. I have a friend who has read every shitty detail of my life and almost every horrible moment I’ve experienced, and he still wants to be my friend. He still keeps reading all these words which never seems to end. No matter what I write, I know I have one person who will read and give me support when I walk around feeling vulnerable and exposed to the masses.
This is the part no one understands. We write the absolute worst. We tell thousands of strangers the horrible, gruesome details because writing is the only way we know how to tell our stories. Then it’s done. Our words are out there. People, strangers, are reading and commenting on our lives. To me, it’s as if I’m walking around naked. I’m supposed to smile and you’re not supposed to notice I’m not wearing any clothes. The world pretends we are brave.
I am not brave. I message a friend and he makes me laugh. He tells me I did something good and he tells me to never stop being who I am. It’s a friendship I don’t deserve but my heart is filled with gratitude because I have someone like him in my life. There are days he rips his guts out too. On those days, I say to him “you did something really good. Never stop writing.”
One Punk found a Misfit. A Misfit found a friend. Our words probably tally in the millions by now. There are three hopes I have for our future:
I hope to always use my voice.
I hope he never stops writing.
I hope we will always be friends.
Rachel E. Bledsoe is a writer and an Appalachian Misfit Mama. She enjoys swimming, long walks on the beach, and Marie Antoinette biographies. She is the sole voice and writer behind The Misfits of a Mountain Mama. You can visit her on Facebook or on Twitter @MisfitMtMama.