In the past two months, I’ve started three separate support groups. Two are work-related, having to do with marketing and book promotion. The third is a small group of friends to support our creative process (we commit to daily writing and weekly artist dates.) All three groups have been amazing, helpful, and instructive. I’m really starting to understand more clearly that in order to help myself, what I really need to do is help other people. It feels good, it’s more fun, and it works! When I make a commitment to my group that I will do some particular thing, I nearly always keep the commitment. But most of all, working together with other people makes me feel like I’m not alone. All I need to do is help someone else, and I’m helping myself as well. I sometimes wonder why I ever struggled through anything by myself. It’s just not necessary.
My support group experiences remind me of a favorite passage from one of Anne Lamott’s books, Bird by Bird. Lamott teaches writing classes, and after one class ended, four students started their own writing group. She writes about them:
They end up giving the new students rousing pep talks about how great it is to be part of a writing group, how much they’ve come to care for one another, how it helps them get their work done. They’ve gone from being four tense, slightly conceited, lonely people who wanted to write to one of those weird little families we fashion out of whoever’s around us. They’re very tender with one another. They all look a lot less slick and cool than they did when they were in my class, because helping each other has made their hearts get bigger. A big heart is both a clunky and a delicate thing; it doesn’t protect itself and it doesn’t hide. It stands out, like a baby’s fontanel, where you can see the soul pulse through. You can see this pulse in them now.
Love those lines: “They all look a lot less slick and cool than they did when they were in my class, because helping each other has made their hearts get bigger. A big heart is both a clunky and a delicate thing; it doesn’t protect itself and it doesn’t hide.”
I don’t know if my own heart has gotten bigger, but I’d like to think so.