So yesterday I made the leap. I launched my business officially. I've been an LLC for a long time and I've seen clients for about a year. But I signed up for a vendor show three months ago and set the timetable in motion. I figured three months was enough to time to get products ready, get a booth together, and have about two dozen panic attacks (give or take). My timing was PERFECT. For those of you who followed me over from the old anonymous website/blog I used to run, you know what a big leap this was for me. Here I am. All set up. Before the show started. Wetting my pants. It's about to get real.
I sold about 10 necklaces, a whole bunch of other things, and ALL 25 blue nightlights. Sold out of them. 100% gone. Boom. Next time I will bring more. (I have filled all the orders in my shop this morning and now have some nightlights to spare, but for a minute yesterday I had my first sell out!) I handed out over 100 business cards. I had 37 people sign up for my monthly newsletter. Whoa! 37 people VOLUNTARILY gave me their email to get the newsletter. I posted my website on my personal page in Facebook. And <drumroll please> yesterday I had over 1,250 hits on this website. Holy Schmoly!
I had about 20 people reach out to me one-on-one yesterday via email, text, and instant messenger, but after a full 8 hour day at the vendor show talking rape alllllll day long I was too spent to respond last night. I made my husband take me to dinner and put me to bed to recoup. Today I'll touch base with them all.
So here's what I learned:
- It was scary to attach my face and name to my rape, but not NEARLY as scary as I had made it in my head. Reality was waaay better than all the scenarios I had created in my head. I lived and nobody judged or shunned me. I'm still allowed in my county and I don't have to bag my head (my crazy brain had me convinced I would be head bagged shunned)
- There are ARMIES of women like me. I was at a medium sized vendor show and I had a steady stream for 8 hours of women to talk rape with. I barely had a lull or pause between people talking to me. That saddens me, but thrills me because I found my peeps and I am not alone. They are not alone. We are not alone. I made some fantastic connections.
- I heard others' stories without triggering. Granted, nobody gave me the down and dirty blow-by-blow version of their rape, but they talked openly and I was able to hold space for them and hear/feel/share and stay present.
Here was my favorite part of yesterday:
Note: The woman who I tell this story about will read this. She will come here to this blog. I want her to know how much I bonded/connected with her and I how much I want to meet her again. She is my soul sister. I met so many people yesterday that although she told me her name, I do not remember it. Please email me at email@example.com.
I watched a woman with spiky green hair go past me three times. She would read my booth and look from a distance and each time she would pass my booth she would become more agitated. She was like a bull. Beautiful and strong, but angry, and pawing the ground ready to make a run at me. I made full eye contact with her and she charged my booth.
"What the hell do you mean 'You're not broken'?" she asked pointing at the banner at the front of my booth (it's in the picture above). She continued her tirade about being broken and told me a heartbreaking story of ritualistic rape and horror committed by her family. She continued with all the reasons she is broken and finally concluded with "I am broken, you are broken, this stuff breaks you, it's bullshit that you're not broken."
I responded in four parts.
- I hear you. I honor you. I love you. I am proud of you. I believe you.
- I used to believe I was broken too. I spent much of my life feeling broken and shattered to smithereens. I told her my Rubik's Cube theory (I'll cover it in a future blog post). I told her I shared her sense of brokenness.
- I told her I learned about Kintsugi which is the Japanese art of fixing broken pottery (and also a pretty awesome Death Cab for Cutie Album) with powdered gold or silver to make the piece more beautiful and interesting. As a philosophy it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of the object rather than something to disguise. It celebrates and highlights imperfections rather than looking at them as absent or damaged pieces.
4. Lastly I told her that Kintsugo was a deception. "I AM NOT BROKEN," I told her loudly. I have extensive battle damage, every atom in my body has been pulverized, I have spent time in Hell itself. BUT YOU WILL TAKE MY LIFE BEFORE YOU WILL BREAK ME. And you, my sweet sister are the same way. You're not broken either.
And she smiled. And softened. And stayed and talked for 20 minutes. We compared notes and stories and promised to reconnect. I told her I would hug her if we didn't both have PTSD but knowing how hard that is for people like us to physically touch and hug I told her I would send her soul a hug. That made her laugh. She thought she was the only one. I thought I was the only one. Her trauma's origin is much worse than mine, but her soul has seen the same pain that my soul has seen in the years that have followed. I love her. I don't know her, but I know enough to know that I love her. Even her parts that she doesn't feel are worthy of love.
And if you are the man who was with my beautiful green haired friend yesterday who I granted "sainthood" status to, reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll put you in touch with my husband and you can grab a Pepsi and talk about living with PTSD Chicks. :)
Yesterday was a good day.