I know many of you have experienced this as well. You’re going along. You’re pushing hard. Harder. Harder. HARDER. HARDER. HARDER.
And then… you just can’t anymore. You’re just stuck. You come to work and you’re sitting there going, “I know I can do this. I just did a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, z, and q yesterday. What the heck is up?”
Your tank is empty and you’re just freakin’ tired. Like, dude. Seriously. Even cars need a freakin’ break sometimes, and they always need gas.
So do you. So do I.
My tank is leaking. Profusely. I fill it, doing something I enjoy, and then I’m empty again before I have a chance to do much more than open a Word document. I need to figure out why that is.
So, this is my verbal vomit to try and figure out how I got here so I can try to figure out how to plug the hole in my gas tank.
Two years ago, I was fired for “making the men I worked with feel uncomfortable.” For asking them to clean up after themselves instead of making me do it? For asking for rotations on bathroom cleanup? For asking them to occasionally clean the microwave instead of making me do it, or take care of the coffee occasionally? For wanting them to pause until I’d gotten to a good stopping point before interrupting me to take care of their emergency that they could have handled, you know, if they’d actually tried? I don’t know.
I told myself that what I really wanted was to get out of the world of mega-ego-man construction and start fulfilling my dream.
That dream took me to serving authors who, by the way, are overly demanding. Not all of them, but enough of them are that service providers are dropping like flies. Like flies. If it was just me, that’d be one thing, but it’s not. It’s me and a bunch of others. At first, I thought, “Well, this is great for me. More cheddar for this motha.” But here I am, falling like all the others.
Each problem author has a victim complex, has some major issue each week or month—sometimes every day—and they lean on me to take care of stuff above and beyond what they pay for. Like the men I worked with who couldn’t be bothered with helping with clean up when they had a female around to just do it for them. Or the kids who can’t be bothered to take their own dishes to the sink for me to wash them because, well, they’re kids. That all sounds perfectly reasonable. Right?
You know what? I loved working for my authors. For a bit. I felt like I was helping them grow and it was great. I couldn’t be a mom, but I could help them. It was my passion. I was living a dream.
The only thing was, those authors didn’t learn how to walk on their own. They didn’t launch. They just kept abusing me. And when I said stop, they just found others to abuse instead, while warning other authors not to use my services because I stood up for myself, which is the number one thing you’re not allowed to do in this industry.
I’m not supposed to talk about it. As a service provider, that’s not something that can ever be said out loud. I can’t mention names. I can’t mention the instances. I can’t defend myself. I have to remain a voiceless person.
That’s what life was like when I was living with my mom. You know, the one who verbally, emotionally, mentally, and financially abuses everyone around her—except my kids—and who took my kids because I “made everyone uncomfortable” and they “didn’t feel safe being around me,” and she was “just better suited to this because she’d raised two girls already.” She also abused my drive to help people—her—and told me I couldn’t tell anyone what had happened—not what she’d done. What had happened—what was said, what was done. And every time I disobeyed and talked, she’d twist the story to her favor, making me look like the bad guy while she remained the victim.
To the point where she actually got custody of my kids, guys. Like, seriously. The woman was dope. She beat me, she used my kids, my family, everyone I cared about to beat me, and then I broke. I broke and said, “You’re right. Every one of you is right.” Because it really was every one of them. Mom. Dad. My girls. My sister. My grandparents. My aunts, uncles, cousins. Friends. She got to my friends. I was getting it from all sides. Me. I was telling me this, too. Her words were said in my voice inside my head.
I didn’t know how to fight back then. I’d grown up without a voice or a backbone. I was trying to figure it out, but each time, she’d beat me harder or more creatively. So, I disappeared in front of everyone I loved. I’d walk into a room and was completely invisible.
That’s what I feel like right now working as an indie service provider. I’ve got people who are paying less and demanding more. I’ve got people who are telling other authors not to use my services because I stood up to them—giving them full refunds, mind you, and meeting all their demands.
Voiceless. Invisible. Unable to defend myself.
I’m trying to find the gas to put in my tank. I’m trying to get fired up to work with people again. To pay the mortgage. But I’m struggling. I’ve got some AMAZING clients. I really do.
But I do more for my authors—who I don’t even get to claim in public because I’m the “ghost” who helps them—than I do for me.
And that’s what I have to switch. I have to start focusing on me a little more. I need to find my voice and remember how to use it.
I make people uncomfortable because I use the truth. You know, that one thing that must never be uttered? That thing that must never be said, or acted upon? The thing that should never see the light of day? I use the truth. And even when I’m silent, they know the truth is there.
So, maybe it’s time I own up to my superpower and stop trying to hide the truth in order to make people comfortable.
Maybe I should stop being silent and start defending myself.
Because my stories are the only children I’ll ever be able to claim. Well, those and my cat. I already lost everything once.
I should stand up. Fight back.
And close this damned hole in my freakin’ gas tank.