Quick bit of backstory before I dive into this post: over the past year my writing support network has fallen apart almost completely. There are six people I considered my “writing” friends. Two were the tentpoles of my support network, who knew me practically better than I knew myself. Who “got” my writing style intuitively, without having to break it down.
The next two are like the understudies. I don’t talk to them as much, or as deeply, but they’re always supportive and – while we might be different – we always manage to meet in the middle. The third group are my cheerleaders, and sometimes their goodwill and enthusiasm is all I need to get through a rough patch.
I’m not talking to either of my tentpole people anymore and it’s devastating. One in particular was like a soulmate, who faded away with an “I’ll write soon!” that stretched into over a year of silence. We’d been friends over a decade. Supported each other through transitioning into adulthood, various loves and broken hearts, family events that ranged from wonderful to heartbreaking, commiserated over health issues, and even a shared business venture.
I never thought there would come a day when They weren’t in my life. We went from talking every day, to no longer being friends on Facebook (the shallowest of connections at the best of times). Part of me wants to jump across the silence that separates us and ask what went wrong. Another part is deeply hurt and wonders if perhaps they just outgrew me. Sometimes silence is easier to swallow than outright rejection.
But to be honest, the last few months of writing have been painfully lonely. Writing in and of itself is a solitary practice. Sure, there’s writing groups and the like, but not many people will sit with you over Skype while you work through your sixth draft. Yet, They did. We would spend late nights and early mornings on Skype, sometimes with nothing more for noise than our breathing, the clack of the keyboard, or a dog snoring in the background.
I never realized how deeply comforting it was. I wasn’t alone when I faced the blank page, or the next edit, because They were always on the other end of the line. They’d been there – or were there at the same moment – and together we made it through. Losing Them has been more painful than losing my first love, the person I thought I would marry (and that hurt so much I thought I was having a small heart attack after it happened). It feels, as I write this, like a piece of my chest is missing. A rib or a wedge of my heart.
Which brings me to something I started the other day.
I opened a Facebook group for introverted writers. I did it for purely selfish reasons: I need a tribe. Badly. I need a collection of people who understand me. Who I can be my whole self with. I definitely fit the “only needs one person” INFJ stereotype, but in the past fourteen months, I I’ve lost my “one” person three times. Even though I’m an introvert I still need people, specifically people I can share my creative side with.
Without that social stimulus and exchange of energy I tend to sink into depression quicker and deeper, the walls around me closing in faster than the trash compactor in A New Hope. (I’ll spare you the continuation of this metaphor where the trash eating monster is symbolic for my depression). I haven’t had that rapid-fire exchange of ideas and excitement in a long time and I know it’s part of why I’m in such a mental and emotional valley right now.
I’m trying not to put too much pressure on this group. I tend to fall for like-minded souls very hard and fast, only to realize that person might not share my level of attachment. I’m hoping to build a supportive, affection, encouraging group of writers who aren’t afraid to share the good and the bad of what we do. Though – selfishly, again – I do hope I’ll find my people, my colleagues, my tribe somewhere in this mix. Because traveling solo alone has its moments, but I’m ready to be part of a community again. I miss having travel companions.