My friend Amanda is going through some rough shit. Her best friend has cancer and she’s taking a leave of absence from work to be there with him while he battles it. It’s a terrible situation for everyone involved, but what makes it even more complicated is that my friend is Amanda Palmer, and that means canceling her upcoming year of touring. Which sucks. For her. For her friend. For everyone who was hoping and expecting to see the wonder of Amanda.
If you’ve been reading long enough you know that I went to see her a few months ago and was struck with one of my biggest panic attacks ever. Amanda read my tweets about not knowing if I’d be able to leave my hotel room and she did two things for me. She emailed me and told me that she’d arranged for me to watch in a treehouse so that I could avoid the crowds. She also left me a backstage pass so that I could go behind the scenes and visit. It was amazing and incredible, but it took every ounce of my strength to just be there, and when the concert was over I looked at my backstage pass and I knew I didn’t have enough left in me to go and meet Amanda. People without severe anxiety disorders will think this insane, and it is. I simply didn’t have the ability to walk 100 feet to just say “thank you” to someone who has changed my life. I felt like a failure, passing up such an incredible opportunity that would bring me such joy, but I knew it might also send me over the edge into the abyss of mental illness that could take me weeks to climb out of. I sat alone in the treehouse for 20 minutes and thought about my daughter and what it would mean for her to see her mom in bed for a week recovering from a breakdown. And that’s when I decided that sometime being “strong” meant giving myself permission to protect my weaknesses. And my weakness isn’t just my mental illness. It’s my daughter. Who is also my biggest strength. (People without mental illness might need a decoder ring for this line of reasoning, but I assure you, it makes perfect sense.) So I stuffed the backstage pass in the bottom of my purse and I left. A little regretful. A little inspired. A little confused at how such a devastating weakness had just made me give up meeting an idol all for the sake of a little girl who needs her mommy.
Amanda’s post today reminded me of that. She was giving up so much for the sake of knowing that her weakness for her friend who needed her ultimately outweighed everything else.
They say that sometimes your biggest strengths are also your biggest weaknesses.
But sometimes it’s your weaknesses that become your greatest strengths.
For those of you who are new here, my favorite Amanda Palmer song which has pulled so many of us off of our own personal ledges: