"Does it really help to have friendly faces around when you fall apart?"

The obvious (and true!) answer here is that yes, it helps immensely. So I'm going to tell a story that's relevant.

Last night I went to a library to watch an amazing woman singing and playing piano (with a bit of ukulele thrown in for good measure). What I didn't expect was to end up sitting on the floor with my head in my hands, sobbing. I pulled myself together enough at the end to stand and clap.

Then a friend who had been nearby the whole night gave me a hug, and the floodgates opened. I began to sob uncontrollably. I was exhausted and hurting. When it felt like I was done crying, we had a quick chat before going to get things signed and meet the singer.

As I got close to the singer, her tour manager, and fellow singer smiled at me and asked if I was okay. I looked at her, smiled, and said, "ha, I just spent half of the concert crying". She chatted to me and rubbed my back, then reminded me to breathe as I stepped up to the signing table. I put down a copy of a magazine with the singer on the cover, and she reacted with "oh I haven't actually seen this yet! It looks amazing! Do you want me to sign it?"

When she signed it, we hugged and I began crying all over again. Now, one of the things this singer is known for is eye contact. When she looks you in the eyes, it's really intense and you feel completely loved and not alone. She looked me in the eye and smiled softly before asking if I was on the Patreon. I said I was, and she thanked me, handed me a signed card and said, "give this to someone who isn't on the Patreon". She took my hand, thanked me again, and that was it. I walked towards my friends and sobbed, just as I had when I met her last year.

Once again, friends were waiting with plenty of hugs to offer. People messaged me all night and someone who had spotted me across the room at the start of the night and already knew that something was wrong was waiting for me when I arrived at our accommodation for the night.

Thank you, Amanda Palmer, for making it okay for me to fall apart in public. Last night the net tightened a little more. I was caught by you and your fans. Hopefully, next time we meet, I'll be a little less fragile, but I know that even if that's not the case, I'll have people there to catch me and hold me. Thank you for that.