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Montana State Univiersity Billings
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Happy New Year Frank!
I am sure your inbox is flooded with emails about the exhibit right now. My sister and I left Murfreesboro, Tennessee to drive to DC at 2 AM on December 22. We arrived, checked in to our airbnb, and then headed to the Smithsonian. When we got to the museum, we decided to start at opposite ends of the exhibit and go through alone first. After we’d looked at all the secrets, we’d walk through together. I started at the pyramid, and then made my way to the secrets flat against wall. And when I saw this secret, I just stood there and stared at it. I felt as if time stopped for me, everything and everyone around me kept moving, but I stood there staring at a picture of myself, grappling with this overwhelming desire to see the other side of it. I continued through the exhibit, but I kept looking over my shoulder waiting for my sister to make her way to this secret. And when she got there, she stared at it for a few moments and turned to look for me.
We went out to dinner after the exhibit and talked about the ones that resonated with us, the ones that pained us with a truth we hadn’t yet been able to articulate, the ones that made us smile or laugh or sigh with sympathy, but we kept coming back to this one. The next morning we ate breakfast and then began the eleven hour drive back to Murfreesboro. We were home by 10 PM on December 23. This forty-four hour escape from life, with twenty-two hours on the road with my sister, was the best Christmas present I could have given to myself.
I have been an avid follower of PostSecret for as long as I can remember, since its inception. PostSecret carried me through my senior year of high school (I graduated in 2006); my first year of college when I moved from Texas to northern New York; my inevitable transfer to a university in Texas; pursuit of my Masters degree; long-distance relationships, unhealthy relationships, and affairs; and seven years of adulthood.
PostSecret gave me, and my sister, the courage to put her on a greyhound bus from Florida to Tennessee with four young children to get away from a psychologically abusive husband and household five years ago. And four years ago PostSecret gave me guidance and strength to move from Texas to Tennessee to be closer to my sister and my nieces, to be a positive role model and a source of support in their lives. Just one year ago, PostSecret gave me the gumption to leave someone I was engaged to for two and a half years because I realized I wasn’t happy, I never would be, and I never should have been engaged to begin with.
PostSecret has reminded me every Sunday that I am not alone in this life. There’s a sense of isolation when your life appears to be just fine to the outside world, but you’re just trying to keep your head above water as the undercurrent of life’s tumultuous wave tries to pull you under. Every Sunday, I can hold on to a life raft for a few minutes, catch my breath, and get my bearings.
I don’t know how many secrets I’ve written over the years. I write them all the time. In college, I did a project for a creative writing class: a series of secrets in the style of comics from A Softer World. But I don’t remember ever actually mailing you a secret, yet I stood in that gallery and stared at what I swear is a picture of myself.
I suppose I could have just asked my question from the beginning, but I wanted to give you a sense of why my curiosity about this secret is so deep. I don’t know what will happen to the exhibit when it comes down, but my curiosity hasn’t faded. Can you tell me where this secret was mailed from and what the other side says? It would give me a great deal of peace & closure. Maybe it is me, maybe I wrote this secret, and I just don’t remember it. Maybe this picture isn’t me, maybe I didn’t write it this secret… but it’s still my secret.
Thank you for reading and sorting through the secrets, for protecting and guarding them, for treating them with respect and dignity, for sharing them with the world, for a beam of hope and light in this world.
Learn where the PostSecret exhibition is going next, here.
What’s the story on the PostSecret International Suicide Prevention Wiki link that’s always at the bottom of the page?
When I started PostSecret, I was a volunteer on Hopeline. In a way, I was listening to people’s secrets all night. So when the PostSecret website started growing in popularity, I knew I wanted to use its reach to do something positive, rather than just sell space on the page to advertisers. With that motivation, and Casie’s story (that you can read below) the PostSecret community came together to create the most complete comprehensive database of suicide prevention hotlines and textlines. This resource has been helping people around the world for years now and is offered free for any app develeloper to use to match people in need with crisis help nearest them. If you are reading this now and were one of the people who helpped create the database – thank you! And if you were one of the PostSecret contributors that helpped us raise more than $1,000,000 for Hopeline thank you too!
This past Friday night I found myself in a black hole of depression and I didn’t know how I was going to make it through the night. Not knowing where to turn and feeling like I couldn’t stop. I remembered seeing the Hopeline phone number on PostSecret.
I talked to someone there for 2 and a half hours and I truly feel that they saved my life.
Thank you for the website, thank Hopeline for being there, and thank the people that send in their postcards so that others know they are not alone with their secrets.
I wanted to say thank you for posting the email from Casie. I was also hoping you could pass along a message to her, as well. I want to thank her for having the courage to reach out for help and then share it with you and all of your readers, using her real name and even her picture. It’s definitely inspirational.
Every time I see the new secrets on Sunday, I scroll down to see Casie. For me (a mental health counselor) she balances out the bleak postcards and reminds me that people CAN come back from the brink of suicide. She is truly an angel; I can’t imagine how many people’s lives her story has saved over this past year.