Well, sometimes, a person posts something that obviously IS about you. And then you're left wondering how best to respond.
For example, yesterday I posted this:
And this morning, I awake to see this as a Facebook friend's status calling out someone for lashing out at others instead of accepting their own blame for their situation.
I get it. She sent a message asking if I would take the time to check out the GoFundMe page, create a Rainmakers project for it, and try to assist her family. On Saturday, I replied that I would read through it and see how we might help. And then Monday morning, she reads my post and is bothered enough by it to call me out, albeit anonymously, in her own Facebook status.
She says she fails to understand. So for her, and to anyone else wondering, let me explain.
I get it. You have a family member, or a friend, or a co-worker, or a friend's buddy... someone... that you know is in desperate need. You want to help them, and that's wonderful. You think, "hey, maybe Rainmakers could do something?" So you share the information with me. And now it becomes mine to sort out.
But here's what you don't know. Your request for help is not the first one I received Friday. It wasn't even the second. It was the fourth. In one day. And the other three were just as important to someone else.
Meanwhile, I'm still trying to sort out requests for help that came in LAST WEEK. Because the requests keep pouring in. Now that the word is out that Rainmakers has helped folks in need, there is a non-stop flow of stories of people in terrible situations who need help.
And now, to the specific Facebook status criticizing me for my own post:
You certainly got one thing correct. You fail to understand. Because for someone like me, reading endless stories of people hurting breaks my heart. I take it all in, because I don't know any other way of processing it. And then I carry all of them around like they are my own problems, hoping that I will find some inspiration or have a stroke of brilliance as to how I can somehow fix everything.
Here's what else you don't understand. All of these stories over the last few months have taken their toll on me. Learning about so much pain and misery and tragedy has nearly broken me. Where before I was a generally happy person, I've become moody and sad. Where before my attitude was positive and my outlook bright, I've become negative and everything seems dark and bleak.
How can I be happy when there is so much pain and suffering? How can I go about my day acting as if things are okay when they obviously aren't?
And here's some more information to help you understand. That darkness threatened to consume me. My real-life friends are very concerned about me, worried that I'll reach a point where all of this is too much to handle and I'll do something stupid. Yes, a couple of people closest to me fear that all of this pressure will be enough to push me too far and I'll end up trying to kill myself. Yes, it's come to that.
I'm not saying the demands of Rainmakers are the only factors. But they are certainly the most public and the most heartbreaking. Because I know that each and every request is critical to someone, and it is horrible knowing that we can't possibly fix them all.
So you criticize me for making a public statement that I can't save the world? Fine. That's your right. But you should also know that making that post was my way of saving my own life, so you'll understand if I don't feel the least bit apologetic that it seemed to bother you.
Are people to blame because they ask for help? No, of course not. But each of them only knows their story and what they are asking. They don't know that they are one of a hundred similar stories that are asking for the same help. They don't seem to realize that I also have a full-time job and personal demands that require my attention, and coordinating efforts to raise money for other people takes not only time but also energy that I don't always have.
Well, people know now.
You want me to take ownership of my problem? Absolutely. Because of my involvement with Rainmakers, people bring countless stories of need to me with the hope that I can find solutions. But I can't. And then it becomes my problem, because I take them all in and personalize them. It's my problem because I can't stay detached and objective. It's my problem because I hurt for each and every one of these people.
So yes, I agree. It's absolutely my problem. It's me to blame. And it's me that has to fix this for myself.
And here's how this story ends. I'm going to make this very public statement that I am stepping away from Rainmakers. I expect that will be the end of the group, though I am open to someone else stepping up to head the group. If that happens, they will continue to have my individual support. But I am going to save myself first, and that means no longer taking ownership of the dozens of painful stories that have been sent to me.
Yes, we did some amazing things for a few families. But in the end, the need was way more than the resources we have available. And I can't continue to shoulder the guilt of not being able to help all of the people that have asked for it.
To all of the Rainmakers who stepped up when called, thank you. We made a difference in the lives of so many people. It was a good thing and I am so grateful to each of you.
To anyone else - and especially to those who feel it appropriate to criticize - I invite you to step up yourself and take on this responsibility. Open your Instant Messages and your Email to the steady flood of need. Find a way to sort through all of that. Decide which gets your attention and which gets passed over. And then, do something about it.
I tried. It was more than I could handle. Perhaps you'll do better. I wish you luck.
*Edited to add*
The person I quoted here responded by telling me that her Facebook status had nothing to do with me and that she was talking about something else completely. Is that possible? Sure, it's possible. And if it's true, I apologize to her for thinking it was about me. But the two posts are here in unedited form. Make your own call if one is related to the other.
She insists that her comment was not about me, and I choose to believe her. Which means that there's another casualty from my current mood, my inability to stay objective and my willingness to reach out and talk to someone directly if I think there is a problem. I have removed her quote from this blog and apologized to her for my words, but really, that damage is done.
Yeah. What I need right now is some serious down time. And I'm going to take it.