A Brief(ish) Word on my Voices of the Year Reading

Standing on stage, reading those words, is probably the scariest thing I’ve ever done.

My Voices of the Year Piece

Ever.

I mean, I acknowledge it’s a well-written piece, one I am immensely proud of having written, having pressed published, having shared, having submitted for VOTY, having won.

But.

Sending the girl with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and bouts of depression up on stage to talk about suicide seems like a recipe for disaster. Because I would rather talk about anything that suicide. I would rather talk about menstrual cycles and puberty with boys and Calculus and the weird orange mold spores that grew on our back deck than stand in front of a group of my peers and colleagues and talk about the things I struggle with mental health wise. To talk about the times I’ve felt worthless and hopeless. To talk about the times I wanted to die.

On Stage

But there’s a reason it wasn’t my happy posts that were picked. Not a piece about mothering the heck out of my beloved boys. Not a piece about the grief and loss that come with being a birth mother involved in an open adoption. Not a piece about writing or running or marriage or love or anything in between.

It was this piece.

Because it needs to be read. Out loud. We need to talk about the bridge that is any bridge, the space that is any space, those feelings that we’re told to keep quiet, keep silent, keep hidden. When I arrived at the Grand Ballroom, nearly in tears and having been sick with nerves for an hour and a half prior, Elisa Camahort Page took me aside and told me that my piece, well-written, had been picked because just as people needed to read it, people needed to hear it. Out loud. And then I tried not to cry some more.

And so it is my honor to have stood before you and shared those words with you tonight. Thank you for listening. Thank you for your tweets, your photos, your Facebook statuses. Thank you for coming up to me and saying, “Well done.” But mostly, thank you for sharing your stories. We are not alone in this. We are never alone in this.

With My Piece

It is also my duty to tell you that if you are struggling with suicidal feelings, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255. You are not alone. And, like we’ve seen plastered on our mirrors here this week: YOU ARE ENOUGH.

You Are Enough

 

 

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8 Replies to “A Brief(ish) Word on my Voices of the Year Reading”

  1. Hell, I hadn’t paid attention to who’d won VOTY, and when they announced you and you got up on stage, I poked my friend and said OMG I KNOW HER ON TWITTER SHE’S A PENS FAN! And then I cried. Thank you for being so honest, and for sucking it up and reading out loud.

  2. Jenna, you were magnificent and you handled it beautifully. I can’t wait to see the video, so I only got to hear the muffled-back-stage version! Thank you for sharing your brave words.

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