An answer to a disappointed patron.
Ok, let’s fuckin’ go there.
I have a million other things I should probably be doing right now. Approving the mailers about to go out about the merch sale. Getting Ash some new winter clothes and snow boots. Trying to convince people to take part in early voting. Cleaning the kitchen. Rehearsing for The Dresden Dolls rehearsal that starts at noon. I am, as I have been since 2020, or 2018?, or 2016?, very behind.
But this comment from the Althing the other day from Deevoid the other day seared my heart to the very core.
So I wanted to respond. I’ll cut and paste to catch you up.
It would be great if you gave some attention to the Patreon community. It’s been a solid two plus years since you started near radio silence on a personal note because of being overwhelmed. We have been here and stayed supportive and are waiting patiently to hear from you. To get a proper, in depth, check in from you about everything that has happened, how you feel, how you are doing, where you’re at, that isn’t just “I can’t talk right now, so overwhelmed, drowning, busy, tired, mothering, barely coping”. Patrons keep the lights on, but it seems like no one is home. Please talk to us. Please sit down and get a wine and share your heart, your life – prove that judgemental journalist wrong and return to being our friend. Otherwise I feel the connection you built with everyone is just going to peter out and disappear, because you don’t have space in your life for us anymore.
Hi Deevoid. If you mean talking about my relationships, that I cannot do at the moment. I think everyone here probably understands why, or at least understands some aspect of why. It is very hard. And unlike me, given years of constant divulging. But I have a kid now and my kid is my first, second, third and tenth loyalty. Everything else, even my desire to share all my feelings, must come second. Stay for the art, and have patience. It will all make sense eventually. ♥️
Hi Amanda, it’s bigger than your relationships. It’s about your heart. I can go back and assemble quotes from every email you’ve sent in the last two years and they all say you can’t talk right now. They all say you are struggling and that you can’t focus on talking to us. You say thank you for the patience and that at some point you will come back. Then, in August you said “I need your help. I need everybody’s help to figure out how to focus my attention. I wanna write more. And I’ve been so off-grid as an artist, as a musician, as a published writer even, that I’m really trying to also get some perspective.” Well I’d like to give you my perspective. You’ve been emotionally absent from us for years. We all understand the awfulness of the past couple years. But what your patrons and you have always shared, is deep honest friendship. Waiting for years for your friend to feel better and tell you what is going on is ok, but please come back. Do you need to go on tour now? I feel like its vital to spend time connecting with the patrons now. It’s been too long. These past years, the only things you share is overviews like I’ve been doing a and b (e.g laundry and taking ash to school) and I’m struggling. But I feel like we’ve lost you because even when you have time to do things, you don’t check back in with us. You don’t talk about your life anymore, your feelings other than vagaries. You now say you are overbooking yourself again doing too many things. But still you don’t check back in with us. You haven’t been available. I feel that the community you have built with us is drifting too far apart to not say something.
What has your last couple years felt like? What have you learned? What are you struggling with? What is making you happy? Are you happy? How do you feel about life itself? How do you feel about Ash? How do you feel about America? How do you feel about your life? Do you miss us? What is your take away from these past years? Is the takeaway that there is no takeaway? Do you still want to connect to us? Why are you going on tour now and getting away from home and getting on the road after you were on the road for years before covid? Do you think the fans need more live music, or do you need it?
Your patrons around the world, waiting to hear from you like the old times, aren’t all going to be able to see you live, and even if they do, one night months from now, won’t it be months to a year before you sit down again and speak to us again? Will you speak to us again? Will the Althing be the only time we hear from you about how you are doing? I’m asking you these things because I care about you and value you and value the relationship you have built with us because it goes beyond the art – we stick around for you. I’ve been following you for many many years now and I valued the connection of friendship that you made with us. I’m just asking you to rekindle that connection.
There was also this comment, from Maggie:
Yup. I messaged Amanda and asked her wtf is going on with Neil since he up and abandoned her and Ash. I asked her, how on earth she, as a feminist can stay with someone who would just up and leave like that during a pandemic. Nothing. I heard nothing. I then asked Amanda if Neil made her sign a non disclosure and not allowing her to speak. Nothing. I have been following Amanda since 2012 and I am starting to feel taken advantage of. 😡
And this, from Angel Rosen:
I had to take some time to digest these comments because… what? The fact that Amanda has had a history of being an intimate oversharer, does not mean that aspect of her is for sale. Also, would you ever say to someone who has been traumatized – “You actually haven’t told me about your trauma enough,” – to someone out outside of the Internet? Surely, you wouldn’t, unless you were someone’s mental health professional… Amanda can fight her own battles here but we all miss her. I’m sure she also misses herself but that person may be inaccessible. Trauma changes people in different ways. She could’ve closed up the Patreon when the Stuff happened in 2020 and shut her doors for life, but she chose to maintain and value these relationships. If you are not enjoying the Patreon posts, you can choose to leave – that’s your freedom and no one would judge you for that. Neil isn’t a character of Amanda’s life, he’s a separate person, and their life is just as much his business and it is Amanda’s, and she’s made it clear that she’s not comfortable talking about it. I don’t think she’s looking for us to encourage that out of her. I don’t think there’s a type of support a bunch of Internet friends/fans/strangers/family can offer her that will change this decision to remain private about things and change how she shares. I’m so sad thinking about this comment.
Angel, thank you for that. I think you understand me deeply.
I, myself, have not been able to shake these comments.
Yes, I have been a huge sharer of feeling and life experiences (I refuse to use the term “oversharer”, I think that term is fundamentally flawed) on the internet for a long time. I shared a lot in my book. I share. I tell the truth.
For the last two years, I have not done much of that. I haven’t done that because I have a kid, and I do not want to damage his fragile and growing relationship with the world by sharing things that could stunt that growth. Anybody with children knows and understands this. Kids change the game, and raise the stakes. They humble you and shut you up. They need to create their own stories about what is going on, what is happening, and who people are.
But given my liefelong habits and plundering my lived experience for art and blogs, and given my long-time advocacy encouraging women to speaking out about trauma and their lived experiences, well, I would hope it’d be obvious to all of you. I have definitely felt the irony and the paradox.
I do, however, take issue with the phrase “if you gave some attention to the Patreon community.” I think you gotta grade that one on a curve. I am not the Amanda Palmer of 2007, who spend 5-7 hours a day on the internet, sharing every photo and experience and throwing a constant part on the internet. I think that would have changed no matter what after I had a kiddo. My time with Ash is precious. He’s 7 and growing up so fast. I have had to turn my attention away from the internet and towards motherhood. But I do think I have explained this over and over, and given a lot of attention – as much as I can, I think – to the patrons and community who have stayed and supported me through the past three years, which have, by a factor of hundreds, been the most difficult of my adult life.
I have never been called to share and say so little, and fight so hard to protect what is immediately precious.
That being said: I think this has been good for me. I now have a patience and a long view of time, trauma, justice, and healing that I never could have or would have had.
The patreon has been supportive me throughout this weird period and that is something that I cannot and do not take for granted. Those who know me trust me that I wouldn’t do anything for no reason. I have been called a charlatan before (epspeically in the Kickstarter days), and that is why comments like this cut me to the bone.
The last thing I want is for peopler to think I am taking advantage of their trust and goodwill. That being said, I have said it here until I am blue in the face:
This is not a monogamous relationship. It’s an – ethically – open one. You talk to me and I talk to you. If you feel that you are not getting enough from me, you can walk away and come back. You can be honest with me, and make comments telling me you are tired of me saying I’m tired. That’s legit. But I can also throw up my hands in your direction and say: I’m sorry. This is what it is right now. This is who I am right now. I tired mother trying to focus on many things. A band. A kid. A silence. A new country, and another new country. Living in a new situation, twice, three times, four times, with a little kid. And all within that silence.
I ask, again, for you to trust me, love me, support me, understand me, and allow for things to unfold – they will – in the time they need to.
If I had stopped making art (or “content”, though that word makes me cringe”), I think I’d feel one thousand times worse. But I have managed, in this bleak era, to dig to the bottom of my soul over and over again and I’ve put out over a dozen really incredible projects and continued to spread the love and funds to so many artists and makers who have been so grateful for the work and collaborating and support. (If you haven’t yet digested my last project with Sophie Strand and Co, it didn’t get very much attention, but it’s one of the best things I’ve had the pleasure of making in a while).
I hope you see that this patreon is about so much more than me, my little art, my little life, my little feelings. It’s about everyone I support. Incliding Ash. It’s about everyone I make art with. It’s about you all staying here with me, and all of us keeping one another afloat.
This is, I think, what love is.
It’s understanding, it’s ebb and flow, it’s allowance.
I am still here.
I am still trying to write to you all the time.
I am trying so hard to do what I can within the constraints that I find myself in.
People have left. People have joined. I have not been able to make everybody happy.
But I know I cannot make everybody happy.
I can do this.
I can cut and paste all of your questions, and answer them.
And because, Deevoid, you took the time to ask them, and because you seem to actually care deeply about me (and the community), and I will answer them here, as honestly as I can.
What has your last couple years felt like?
Like Hell. I have never suffered this much and been exposed at close range to so much human pain, broken mental health, trauma and unspeakable darkness. It has been fucking horrifying. It has also been like Heaven. I got to escape most of Covid in one of the most beautiful countries in the world. It was a very strange combination.
What have you learned?
I have learned that I can survive anything.
What are you struggling with?
Your comment. The balance between motherhood and art. Where to live. What to work on.
What is making you happy?
Playing with Brian. Reading Ash “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe” before bed and before school every day.
Are you happy?
Yes. But after around 4pm every day I get melancholy.
How do you feel about life itself?
More clear-eyed. Far less naive than I used to. I used to have an inherent faith in the fundamental goodness of people that has been shifted over the last few years.
How do you feel about Ash?
I love the bejeezes out of him. And I feel like he will be absolutely fine no matter what happens because I’ve made the right decisions and re-prioritized my life and work to make him the main priority.
How do you feel about America?
I will be very honest: I do not feel good. Even if the midterms go well, I feel like something incredibly dark is happening over here. It concerns me deeply.
How do you feel about your life?
I feel like I am doing the absolute best I can given the situation I am in
Do you miss us?
Yes. I miss you, and being more connected on the internet with this community and peoples stories, and touring, and hugging people constantly, and being in the mix of performers and artists and shows and community sharing….more than I can possibly put into words. I miss it fucking terribly.
What is your take away from these past years?
Is the takeaway that there is no takeaway?
The takeaway is a daily evolution, my dear.
Do you still want to connect to us?
Yes. Here I am. See?
Why are you going on tour now and getting away from home and getting on the road after you were on the road for years before covid?
That is just incorrect: I am not touring. I am doing three shows with The Dresden Dolls next week, and a New Years show in LA. That is fucking it for a while. I am too traumatized and exhausted to do more than that. I would love to tour. But I am not ready, and I won’t be for a while.
Do you think the fans need more live music, or do you need it?
I don’t know what the fans need. I think everyone is a little sore and tramatized right now, and even knowing what we need is hard to grasp.
I can try to know what I need.
I think I need to stay slowed down, and I think I need you to love and understand me, and I think I need you to leave here and come back if this isn’t working for you. I will always be here with my arms open if you return.
I think I need to slowly start putting my band together, and I think I need to read poems, and I think I need to make sure Ash has enough colored pencils, and I think I need to make sure he’s not just eating pizza for dinner, and I think I need to be a whole and healed human before I can be a whole and healing artist.
When this artist has healed herself, she can be what you miss and remember. But it is going to take a moment, still. You cannot rip open a budding flower, you cannot pull the stitches out before the cut closes, and you should not wake a person who is on hour 13 of sleeping off a journey that took her through the woods for days without sleep.
Help me by understanding this.
It’s just been a nightmare from which I haven’t quite awakened.
I love you, Deevoid. Thank you for making me sit down to write and explain this.
And thank you Maggie. And Angel.
And all of you.
I love you, and I am still here, and I am still Amanda.