Every Tuesday at 10:45am you can find me sitting quietly in the therapy waiting room. There is an unspoken glance and head nod as the patient before you exits the door. Usually, it is the same person that comes out of the door every week at 11:00am, but yesterday it was someone I had never seen before. I noticed the white therapy receipt in her hand and kept to myself as she walked by. Then the young woman suddenly stopped and turned around.
“I’m sorry, but I have to say hi.”
Her sweet voice snapped me out of my iPhone trance. I smiled back at her as she said, “You’re McCall. I follow your blog and Southern Smash. You are such an inspiration to me. I was going to walk by, but I know I would kick myself later if I didn’t introduce myself and say thank you for what you are doing.”
My jaw hit the floor as she expressed such genuine vulnerability and kindness in that moment. I quickly realized she was someone who had messaged me before and even shared some of her recovery artwork. To say this young woman is a talented artist is a massive understatement. As we spoke, I told her that I did not realize she was a ‘Tuesday Girl’. She laughed and said what seemed to be a slightly shameful, yes.
I smiled and quickly said, “Ain’t no shame! I’m going on my fifth year of being a Tuesday Girl! I’m a therapy veteran at this point. Do what you’ve got to do to keep fighting the good fight!”
The more that this blog and Smash grows, the more messages I receive. I read and respond to every single one (although it usually takes me a while). Each message is filled with words like ‘inspiration,’ ‘so grateful,’ ‘be like you’. I am beyond touched by every email and message, but I often have trouble accepting these heartfelt compliments. It is a surreal place to be in and there isn’t a textbook or class out there than can tell me how to best respond and frankly, how to take this whole experience in. So I do what I do best, I respond from my heart. I offer my story and listen to theirs. I never pretend to be a professional. I do not carry a special degree or letters behind my name, only battle wounds from a long fought a war, a war I proudly won and continue to win everyday.
Yesterday was the first time I have been ‘recognized,’ but that is not what made my day. It was connecting with another Tuesday Girl, connecting with another recovery warrior. Being able to relate to each other and share our struggles is the greatest gift we can give each other. It is no doubt beyond scary to be vulnerable and say hi to a stranger, but the reward is worth it – not for her, but for me. I was and am SO grateful she stopped to say hi. In true McCall fashion, I gave her a monster hug and told her to stay in touch.
As the courageous young woman walked out of the door, the woman sitting on the other side of the tiny room looked up from her magazine. She had witnessed the whole encounter.
The woman plopped her magazine down and taking off her glasses said, “Okay, who are you and what are you writing?”
I smiled back at her and said, “I write a blog about recovery.”
She said, “Wow. A celebrity.”
I shook my head, “No celeb here. My name is McCall. I’m just me.”
And to the brave girl, who I know is reading this, thank you for being vulnerable and sharing with me. You said I inspire you, but it is you who inspires me. You are the reason I do what I do. Keep fighting the good fight, trust in our Mary and most of all believe in yourself.