Hearts and Darkness

April 30, 2007

I started the Basement just over one year ago. I started the Basement – my secret space, my hidden lair – so that I could write about the stuff that I didn’t feel comfortable discussing in the bright light of blog. But I realized very quickly that a publicly listed blog with my primary blog name in the url wasn’t all that private, and so my foray into semi-private confessional blogging ended before it even began. Then a friend e-mailed me, and asked if she could ‘borrow’ the space, so that she could write about something that she didn’t feel comfortable discussing on her own blog. And then someone else asked, and someone else, and The Basement - as a collective safe bloggy space for rants and confessions and cries for help – was born.

I’ve received and posted some heartwrenching posts. Some that have had happy endings, some that have not. All lot of fear and anger and anxiety and pain have been spilled across its page, and a lot of warmth and love and friendship and support have flooded back. The voices in the Basement have kept me up at night, but the chorus that always responds – so warmly, so generously – has always soothed me. The Basement constantly reminds me that we are all so fragile – that there is so much that causes pain in our worlds – but also that we all have such big hearts – generous hearts that we open to each other and with each other and which can (can, if we will them to do so) keep us from breaking.

Someone, right now, is breaking over in the Basement. Someone is breaking, hard. Harder than I’ve seen in a very, very long while.

This has shaken me to my very core. This breaking has so many cracks, there are so many splinters, they run so deep – I fear that the Basement isn’t enough. I know that the Basement isn’t enough. My anonymous poster, locked in her darkness, needs much more help than the Basement can provide. But it is all that I can provide.

I’m shaken by the insufficiency of this. Which is why I’m writing about it, here. Because this is my confessional space, and this is my confession: at the moment, writing feels insufficient in the face of all that is horrible in the world. Writing – or, in this case, providing a space for writing – is all that I have to offer. I have no other resources; I have only my keyboard, my words, and this space. And it feels horribly insufficient. And the insufficiency of it makes my heart hurt.

But however insufficient, it is something. And sometimes, something is everything. That’s what is going to help me sleep tonight, however fitfully.

Your voices, your warmth, your support – those will help, too. Please, if you have anything to offer – advice, resources, sympathy, empathy, love – do so. I need your hearts in this – she needs your hearts.

Please, and thank you.

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    { 29 comments }

    mothergoosemouse May 1, 2007 at 12:28 am

    Thanks C. Supportive comment submitted.

    Anonymous May 1, 2007 at 2:57 am

    My feeling is, if you know who this person is, the thing you CAN do is to check in with her.. often. Let her know that you’re doing so because you care, and we care. But do it often. Ask how she’s doing. Ask if she feels like she might hurt herself or her kids. ASK. And ask again. That is the only thing you can do until she asks for help herself. But if you feel that she is going to hurt herself, you must call the authorities. She needs you. She trusts you. So do I.

    Anonymous May 1, 2007 at 3:31 am

    I signed in as anonymous there and here. If you’ve read any of my story you’ll know who this is from my first name.

    I’ll try to check back in a day or two and see if being more public myself will help her.

    Ann

    Blog Antagonist May 1, 2007 at 6:52 am

    You have helped. You have given her a place to pour out all her sadness and disappointment and humiliation. That’s no small thing. You’ve given her a place to see that people do care. Just the fact that she’s posting there means she wants help. And you’ve also given her a number to call. Insufficient? I don’t think so. Maybe you haven’t been able to help as much as you want, but it certainly isn’t insufficient. You’re a good egg HBM.

    the new girl May 1, 2007 at 8:31 am

    It is amazing, the amount of pain in the world but just as amazing is the amount and the power of love and healing.

    Chalk yourself up into the latter category and lets all hold space in our minds and hearts for the former…

    Her Bad Mother May 1, 2007 at 9:24 am

    Anonymous #1 – I don’t know who the writer is; I only have her e-mail address.

    Anonymous #2 – Thank you so much, Ann. Your support helps already, I’m sure.

    Kate May 1, 2007 at 9:28 am

    From personal and professional experience – merely providing a place to say it, out loud, and get positive support instead of shock or outrage or other destructive responses, is doing a lot. A lot more than a lot of people already have.

    jen May 1, 2007 at 9:32 am

    Bad. of course. thank you for creating a space that allows for this level of sharing.

    Jenifer May 1, 2007 at 9:34 am

    Thanks for the reminder HBM, I just sent some well wishes too in the Basement.

    Julie Pippert May 1, 2007 at 9:43 am

    I’ll go see what I can do. Sometimes, hopefully, the space and the support will provide a bolster to the rest of what is needed…so you have *done.*

    BOSSY May 1, 2007 at 10:10 am

    Professional help. Confessions are great – talking it through – but she needs Actionable guidance.

    Bloor West Mama May 1, 2007 at 11:27 am

    Thank you for letting us know that someone needed our support. Don’t doubt that you have not done enough, you have provided this poor woman a place where she can reach out and ask for help. Let us hope that this is only the first step in her recovery.

    Thank you so much.

    Dana May 1, 2007 at 11:28 am

    I was wondering about the Basement recently. I have thought many times of using it, but always changed my mind for fear of being outed or “found out”. Nothing is terrible wrong, but sometimes an anonymous outlet appeals to me when I want to discuss something I normally won’t talk about.

    I’m heading that way right now.

    Her Bad Mother May 1, 2007 at 11:49 am

    Dana, so far as I know, no-one who has written in the Basement has been outed or discovered. Often, I don’t even know who it is that is writing. And when I do know – not even my husband, not even my *cats* (and certainly not WB, cuz she’s got a mouth on her), hear a peep from me about who it might be. To the grave these secrets go.

    MotherBumper May 1, 2007 at 1:16 pm

    Thank the heavens for the Basement.

    Tuesday Girl May 1, 2007 at 3:06 pm

    Confessionals like the basement may save many people. Many mothers.

    Lara May 1, 2007 at 3:58 pm

    the basement has been wonderful for me twice already, and i can honestly say that i’m so grateful you provide that space for any and all of us in the blogosphere. you are a great woman, and all the women (and men?) who have written in the basement are wonderful too. thanks, HBM.

    Fairly Odd Mother May 1, 2007 at 4:44 pm

    HBM, do the people who write to the basement ever let you know how they are doing afterward? I worry about this mom because she is in such a dark place. What a nightmare she is living.

    Lizzy May 1, 2007 at 4:49 pm

    I can’t even find the words.

    But thank you for the Basement, Catherine.

    Her Bad Mother May 1, 2007 at 4:54 pm

    FOM – usually they do, either by e-mailing me and/or leaving a follow-up note at the post. Fingers crossed that this poster stays in touch (I’ve sent her a few e-mails).

    Anonymous May 1, 2007 at 10:30 pm

    hi HBM i will head over to the basement immediately.you are offering up a wonderful opportunity by having the basement.i have even thought about asking you to post something.your heart is kind and generous empathetic and true.i’m headed to the basement now LAVENDULA

    crazymumma May 1, 2007 at 11:05 pm

    That was so hard to read. I cannot imagine what it is like to live it. I hope and pray she finds the help she needs.

    Those fuckers who pray on little children…sorry….but may they roast in eternal hellfires.

    hautemama May 1, 2007 at 11:15 pm

    I admire that you’ve created the basement. You’re making a difference in this world. Kudos!

    Kyla May 2, 2007 at 12:47 am

    You are doing a good thing, Catherine. Not only is the Basement a place to be open and anonymous, it allows reciprocation in the form of comfort and caring. There are many confessional places on the web, but no others answer back with agreat big beating heart of compassion like the Basement. It is something when people have nothing. Something can be enough to get you through at times. I hope this is a first step for her and that she finds a way to make it through.

    the weirdgirl May 2, 2007 at 2:20 am

    Terribly, I’ve heard her story before – the abuse, the lies, the lashing out, all parties turning to make the victim the “fault”. I am no longer overwhelmed. I am just tired, bone tired, and my heart aches – for her and for you. My words for her are obvious, inadequate. Anger would be useful, I think, but it doesn’t transfer. I have met people in real life who have been hurt this way and what do you do? besides be there and treat them as “normal” (because they have never been treated as anything but vilified or whispered about their whole life).

    But worse… I have read too much in my life, and this abuse, this disregard for another human’s wellbeing, the treatment of a person as an object, used to be so much more commonplace in the world. Commonplace and widespread. It HAS gotten better. And every time abuse like this is brought to light, every time someone is made aware of what CAN happen (and there are still those who are not aware), it puts the seeds in place for future prevention.

    The Basement is not an insufficient place.

    Mad Hatter May 2, 2007 at 2:48 pm

    I’ve always loved the idea of the basement and wondered how you came up with it. I’ve even thought of using it myself here and there.

    It does pose a catch 22, though, b/c the blogosphere can never offer enough solace or the right kind of help when life breaks in two. Your words of advice at the end of this particular basement post were wise and necessary. I do hope this woman can find the support network she needs to get her through. In the meantime, I will return to offer whatever words of support I can.

    Damselfly May 2, 2007 at 4:19 pm

    Hey, somehow the Basement escaped me. Going now….

    Tink May 7, 2007 at 2:45 pm

    I think the “Basement” project/blog is an awesome idea. It reminds me a little of PostSecret. There are so many lonely, angry, and hurting people. I’ve been there. Haven’t we all?

    ewe are here May 9, 2007 at 7:58 am

    I was actually ‘glad’ to see this post when it appeared (although I had my hands full of baby and couldn’t comment at the time). Why? Because I knew with absolute certainty that the fact that she was asking for help was a huge postive step in her life (and having this posted was a cry for help, and the fact that your many many kindhearted caring readers would respond to her cry for help. And encourage her to get more. And let her know she’s not alone out there, that others have been through similar times.

    It’s why I like the basement. It offers help and emotional support to those who may just need just a kind word or two, or some understanding, and those who may need a more serious kick in the backside to take charge of their lives and get some help, or those who really really need to find someone to help them in real life. Like this reader. I hope she found it.

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