HerStories, our new series on women’s friendship, continues today with a powerful essay from Julie DeNeen. Read her story of how her connection with a woman she had never met brought her through a time of personal crisis.
Friendships form in the most unlikely of places. You don’t think your life is going to change because you’ve met someone new. And sometimes it doesn’t.
But once in a while, it does.
It was April 2011. I was in the throes of the deepest and darkest crisis of my life. Having reunited with my birth father in early 2011, our relationship had spiraled out of control and was on the fast track towards the most dysfunctional relationship you can imagine.
I was desperate for help. No one in my life knew what I was going through – having no friends who were adopted, I felt very alone.
Turning to Google one evening, I searched online for stories like mine. “Someone somewhere has to have dealt with this madness,” I thought. A few clicks later, I had stumbled on a blog.
For those of you who blog and wonder if it matters? It does. My life changed forever because of this blog.
I read every entry – gasping for breath when I realized whomever this writer was, she was going through the same thing as me. Since it was an anonymous blog, I had no idea who it was behind the words, but I knew I had to talk to her.
I hit the “contact” button and sent an email to my mystery lifeline. She responded quickly and within minutes, we were friends on Facebook, chatting in the message box.
Me: This is weird huh?
Carly: Yep. I just knew when I read your email we should talk.
Me: I can’t believe there is someone else in the world going through the same thing!
Carly: Let me call you.
I’ll never forget that first phone call. There were no pleasantries or exchanges about the weather. From the moment I said hello, we dove into the grimy and gritty reality of what both of us were facing – reunited birth fathers who had turned our reunions into sexual escapades.
They (whomever they is) say that people bond during trauma. Carly and I bonded instantly that spring, talking nearly every day. We formed a fast friendship and depended on one another when no one else could understand.
By December of 2011, both of us had successfully extricated ourselves from these toxic relationships with our fathers. Back on solid ground, Carly suggested we start a new blog to talk about the hidden nature of complicated adoptive reunions.
I was blogging regularly on my personal site, Life According to Julie and she continued her anonymous blog. But she saw something bigger in her mind and wanted us to do it together.
We set out to create a new blog and it turned into something we couldn’t have imagined. Four months later we were co-owners of an entire community of people looking for help. The blog exploded and several big press outlets contacted us.
Through the next year, Carly and I traveled to Los Angeles, interviewed with ABC news, and flew to Madrid for an adoption conference.
What started out as a horrific nightmare turned into something beautiful. An unlikely friendship that altered my life, changed my perspective, and set me on a new course.
It is because of Carly that I have written my memoir.
It is because of Carly that I was able to get out of the swirling mess with my father.
It is because of Carly that I am now a writer.
She is a dear friend and it is fitting that I would blog about our friendship, when it was a blog that started the whole thing.
So keep blogging ladies. It matters.
Julie DeNeen is a full time freelance writer and blogger. She authors a popular personal blog called Life According to Julie, and also writes on various other sites like Hubpages and Open Colleges. And since that didn’t seem like enough to do, she opened a blog consulting business at http://www.fabulousblogging.com. The best way to connect with her is on Twitter or Google +.
*With HerStories: Tales of Friendship, we are excited to hear your stories of friendship, be they lighthearted, gut-wrenching, or somewhere in between. Send your essays to: email@example.com. We will ask for a 500-1000 word essay (approximately) as well as a 2-3 sentence author bio.
Beautiful and seriously I can’t say enough I love how you too became friends and think the bond definitely is strong from all the two of you have shared. Thanks for sharing a bit more here about that!! 🙂
Thank you Janine. You’re always so supportive!
That is so beautiful, Julie! Perfectly said. It’s amazing how people’s capacity for coping through a crisis — with the help of friendship — has changed through online relationships. People sometimes mock relationships formed online as superficial or not based in the realities of everyday life. But, I think, for so many people, going through all sorts of challenges, they become so critical. Sometimes you just don’t know anyone in your everyday life who can understand exactly what you’re going through, and that empathy, advice, and understanding is exactly what you may need to get through a crisis.
As a sexual abuse survivor myself I know the value of these online connections. As many faults as being this connected has, this is the thing that makes it beautiful. It has shortened the distance for people with similar experiences to unite and find one another.
Thank you so much for sharing that beautiful comment.
I remember the moment quiet well. I too needed Julie as much as she needed me. I started the blog with no idea of how to blog. I knew I needed to write the tragedy as it was unfolding. It was too big to keep inside of me and the heaviness was drowning me. Starting the blog opened so many doors. When I began I didn’t care about traffic and who would read my little old posts. But as I wrote I noticed an audience that was growing by watching the stats. The blog did not bring a lot of the commenters, in fact very few ever commented on my posts.
But it brought Julie and I together and it was the first brick in a huge endeavor I didn’t know would become a scaffolding for many who needed a respite from traumatic reunions.
I love that Julie, and I love what we create together.
I think the blogging community is the modern form of women coming together to quilt, or have tea time. Our gatherings happen over a URL but the community and the support it brings to women is just as impactful, profound and necessary as gathering around old fashion ambrosia salad at a church picnic on a hot summer’s day.
Carly, I absolutely loved your comment- and you are right on about blogging and “tea time.” I am so honored that we could share yours and Julie’s story with this series. Thank you so much! I think this was a beautiful tribute to your friendship.
Such a beautiful story of friendship and it’s clear how close the two of you are. 🙂
Your honesty and ability to share like this is really amazing, Julie.
Wow. Just wow. You ladies have taken a tormented period of your lives and turned it into inspiration for one another AND so many others. That takes strength and courage, and THAT should be commended!!!
Hugs to you both!
What a beautiful post and tribute to your friendship with Carly (yay Carly – you’re awesome, and not just because you love Ann Arbor like I do!). I’m so glad you found each other for all the reasons you mentioned. I love your last sentence too. 🙂
What a beautiful story of friendship and how it can change your life for the better in ways you never would have imagined. –The Dose Girls
What a seriously moving post about friendship. And I totally knew it was going to be about Carly from the first sentence (because I read Julie’s powerful memoir and also saw the news clip online and if you guys haven’t read Julie’s book yet, you totally should). Great post! Thanks to both Stephanie and Julie for sharing!
And PS I was adopted but haven’t met my birth father. He refused to meet. I did meet my birth mother and my 1/2 sister though which was amazing. Of course, they live in Alaska so we haven’t seen each other since the initial meeting a year and 1/2 ago…
PPS YAY CARLY!
It’s amazing how life can point us in new directions quite unexpectedly that change our courses forever. I’m so happy for you Julie. Happy that you have found a friend who shares your journey and that your journey is taking you in places you never dreamed possible that impact so many lives.
Thank you so much everyone for your thoughtful comments!
This was a great post. Thank you for sharing this. We all have different reasons for blogging and this one is so genuine and moving.
Julie, what an amazing story! I, too, have found some amazing friends through blogging, and I am planning to meet a few of them in person this year. You never know where you’ll find inspiration and friendship.
What an amazing story. Thank you so much, Julie, for your openness in sharing this and Stephanie for coming up with the idea of this series (I’m sorry, I’m repeating myself here). I just keep marvelling at women’s ability to be such strong supporters for one another and I loved how your post was a manifestation of that, Julie, with you addressing the readers with words of encouragement. I felt like I needed that this week.
Oh, this is just such a beautiful post. Poetic even. I love it.
I’m very late to reading this, but so glad I did. It amazes me how women can sometimes hurt each other so badly but can so much more often, rise to literally support another when they can’t hold themselves up. I’ve had many such friends, and pray I can sometimes be on that other side.