Monday, December 12, 2011

The asking

As part of my volunteer work, I am expected to circulate a "Friends & Families" letter to my loved ones, encouraging them to contribute to the organization.  It's a reasonable idea, but holy awkward!  These are people who just gave wedding gifts to me a year ago, and now I'm asking them, in the holiday season, to send checks to an organization just because I'm asking?

Considering who to send these letters to is a poignant way to realize that most of the people I know and love are broke, in debt, barely hanging on.  Man, my generation is kind of f***ed right now.  Life as the 99%.  I really can't bring myself to send letters to people who I know are in credit card debt, or a friend whose wife just got laid off, or my traveling musician friend who lives out of her car, or my friend who can't afford a much-needed rehab treatment, or the mom whose rent is being paid by her mother due to poverty.  These friends, I realize, are the ones who have supported me through having endometriosis, and who would understand why I would be requesting funds for an organization working on the disease.

I'm sending the letter to my parents, brother, aunts and uncles, and grandparents, with many prayers that I don't offend anyone.  I'm not sure if this sort of "asking" is more common in upper-class families, but I've never heard of it in my family.  Class boundaries are fascinating and seemingly never-ending.  I rewrote the letter a hundred times, eliminating a layer of ego in the writing each time.  (But take out too much ego and there's not much letter - or me - left.)  Since it's a topic I'm passionate about, and I love writing, it's tempting to pen a dramatic saga of my journey with endo.  But my goal is a sort of pure transparency - here is the situation, give if you feel called to.  No sales pitch, no theater curtains opening and closing, no recreation of my endo pain on the page.  If checkbooks are opened in the midst of this endless recession, so be it.

Why do I need to feel awkward about every damn thing I do?  It's exhausting.  Clearly, I fear judgement and criticism.  I hope with time, my voice gets louder and the other voices get quieter.  I'm working on it.

You can contribute to the annual campaign of the Endometriosis Association if you choose to at this link.  Email me if you'd like to know more about the organization.  Do any of you have endometriosis, or a loved one with endo?  Have you ever written a letter like this?


  1. Could you not just be honest, and say that you have been "asked" to "ask" by this organization you volunteer for? And then go into why it's a good cause, etc. People/You might find it a little less awkward if they know the context around it?

  2. Yes, good point. I did try to add in some context.