For fans of Humans of New York and PostSecret, a collection of raw, urgent, and heartfelt stories, shared anonymously.
Helena Dea Bala was an exhausted and isolated DC lobbyist, suffocating under the weight of her student loan debt, when she decided to split her lunch with a man who often panhandled near her office. They chatted effortlessly as they ate; there were no half-truths or white lies, and no fear of judgment. Helena felt connected and unburdened in a way she hadn’t in years.
Inspired, she posted an ad on Craigslist promising to listen, anonymously and for free, to whatever the speaker felt he or she couldn’t tell anyone else. Emails from people desperate to connect flooded her inbox, and she listened. Within months, Helena quit her job, deferred her loans, and dove into listening full time.
The forty first-person confessions in this book are vivid, intimate, and real; they range from devastating traumas, to lost loves, to reflections on hard choices. Some accounts are quotidian, like that of one increasingly estranged husband: “I want to feel that we’re not just roommates—that we’re not just waiting for the kids to grow up so that we can move on.” Others are deeply disconcerting, like that of a sex addict employed by a religious organization and several are heartening, like that of a mother who dares to hope that her daughter, born with life-threatening heart defects, will one day walk down the aisle: “Sometimes you need to have the audacity to believe that it will all be okay, that it is okay to have the same kinds of dreams as everyone else.”
In its complex portrayal of the common human experience, Craigslist Confessional challenges us to explore the depths of our vulnerability and expand the borders of our empathy.
Helena Dea Bala immigrated to the United States as a child. To make ends meet during those difficult first years, she helped her mother clean houses on the weekends. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from George Washington University and worked to become a lawyer and lobbyist in Washington, DC. After her day job left her feeling disconnected and unfulfilled, she deferred her student loans, applied for a credit card, and gave herself one year—one year to just listen. Five years in, she now does Craigslist Confessional full time. Find out more at CraigslistConfessional.com.